Archive for August, 2010

Dog and Butterfly

Jolly-looking Dogs, July 22, 2010

Monarch Butterfly, August 21, 2010


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This article was first published in the West Douglas County Record on August 26, 2010.

One summer during my teens, I decided to try entering something in the County Fair, so I brought a few green snap beans that I had been growing in the garden. Unfortunately they didn’t all stay green. I had accidentally mixed in a few that had been in the refrigerator, which made them turn black after sitting on display out in the heat. Any hopes of winning a ribbon were dashed at that point. I vividly remember walking into the old Agriculture Building, finding my blackened, embarrassing, ribbonless beans, and when nobody seemed to be looking, I removed the bad ones from the plate and walked on.

This year marked my first entries in the Fair since the “bean episode.” I entered three nature photos I snapped with my cell phone camera, one of the Moon, one of a beautiful halo around the Sun last March, and one of an interesting rainbow cloud that I saw last May. In spite of playing it safe by entering no perishable food items, I still didn’t win any ribbons, but I don’t feel too bad, because there were many, many fine photos which won no awards, though they were truly well-deserving. How can anyone look upon a beautiful butterfly or a cute cat and not be amazed at God’s creative power? I won no ribbons, but He wins Grand Champion for the awesome things He has made. “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11 ESV

WEB BONUS: Below are the photos I entered in the Fair:

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Venus has recently passed its greatest eastern elongation, that is, its furthest distance east of the Sun in our sky (more info and photos about that here at “Journey to the Stars”), and is drawing ever nearer to its closest approach to Earth in late October. In an attempt to build up the suspense (and let you know what’s going on up there, in everyone’s plain sight), I shall endeavor to show you its changing phase and increase in apparent size at fairly regular intervals. Below, Venus at 6:23 PM CDT, August 21, 2010, angular diameter 24.92 arc seconds, 47.7% illumination, distance from Earth 62,222,852 miles (100,137,974 km):

Today, one week later, not much visible difference, yet. Below, Venus at 5:58 PM CDT, August 28, 2010, angular diameter 27.16 arc seconds, 43.7% illumination, distance from Earth 57,092,020 miles (91,880,700 km):

If you’re wondering where I get all the numbers, my source is www.skyviewcafe.com, my favorite desktop planetarium site because of the wealth of information given about the planets.

As usual, I used the homebuilt 8″ f8 reflector with a 25mm eyepiece and handheld LG VX8360 cell phone camera. One of these days I’ll do a post on what I’ve learned so far about how to manage to take astrophotos with such equipment. Preview: bracing my hands against a solid object such as the ladder is indispensable!

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UPDATE, June 21, 2012: I’ve suddenly been getting many hits on this old post (for which I say, thanks for coming by!), and I think the recent searches for “Mickey Mouse On the Moon” are rooted in the June 2012 discovery of a “Mickey Mouse” crater pattern on the planet Mercury. See this more recent post for a link to the “Mickey Mouse On Mercury” picture from the MESSENGER spacecraft, and feel free to enjoy my “Mickey Mouse on the Moon” photos as well. Thanks again!

(August 26, 2010): Once again the Moon is beginning to wane. One of my favorite sights on the waning gibbous Moon is what I call “Mickey Mouse on the Moon,” visible near the terminator in the lower right of this photo, taken at 5:19 AM CDT, July 29, 2010:

The main crater is Janssen, 190 km (118 miles) in diameter. Mickey’s right ear (left on the photo) is Crater Brenner, 97 km (60 mi) and his left ear (closer to the terminator) is Metius, 88 km (55 mi). Within Janssen, directly South of Metius, is Crater Fabricius, 78 km (48 mi) in diameter. One might imagine, whimsically, that Fabricius is Mickey’s nose, looming rather large, with Janssen’s inner rille system, the Rimae Janssen, forming part of Mickey’s snout. An excellent high-resolution photo of the area may be viewed here, part of The Full Moon Atlas, an excellent lunar map resource I’ve just discovered.

Here’s a series of closeups from my photos, illustrating the change in illumination as the “Mickey Mouse” area nears sunset. First, at 6:09 AM CDT, July 28, 2010:

Next, roughly 23 hours later, at 5:19 AM CDT, July 29, 2010:

Next, at 5:17 AM CDT June 30, 2010, nearly a month earlier, but slightly further ahead in the phase cycle:

And now for something completely different! Below is a closeup from my recent waxing gibbous photo taken 12:22 AM CDT, August 21, 2010. Janssen is there somewhere close to the middle of this area, but I can’t find it. Can you?!?

Sometime I hope to capture the “Mickey Mouse” area just after sunrise on the waxing crescent Moon, and I’ll make an updated post when I do. I’m nicknamed Mickey, and I have a dog named Pluto, so you have my word on it!

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This article was published in the West Douglas County Record on August 5, 2010:

“A merry heart does good, like medicine” – Proverbs 17:22 NKJV

Here are a few church bulletin bloopers which aren’t original with me at all, I just found them
good for a laugh:

As part of the children’s study of Moses and the Exodus, they will
make unleaded bread.

The church board of elders has called a special meeting today to
decide what it did last week.

A cookbook is being compiled by the ladies of the church. Please
submit your favorite recipe, also a short antidote for it.

Midsummer Youth Hike: Meet in the parking lot after church today.
Wear lots of insect repellent and bring a brown bug lunch.

After Sunday School, the little girl said happily, “We had juice and
Billy Graham crackers.”

The Green-Akers wedding was celebrated this past Saturday at the
church. Best wishes to Susan Green and Roy Akers on their marriage.

Our new copier is not as good as the one it replaced, but that one was
worse than the one before that.

Smile. Provide a shoulder to lean on. Say thank you. Give a warm
hug or an unexpected hiss.

Remember to pray for our Project Serve young people, who will be
leaving for their mission trip on a moon flight Saturday.

The correspondence committee will assist with the mailing of the
newsletter and stapling of the annual report to congregational members.

Great News! Doctors have performed a CAT scan on Pastor W’s head and
report that they found nothing.

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This was a very interesting early morning with the telescope. Pluto the 15-year-old astro-dog (not the dwarf planet) got me up a bit earlier than usual, so here’s a series of uncropped photos to show you the relative apparent sizes of these objects as viewed from Earth. Here’s the waxing Moon at 3:15 AM CDT, about a day and half before Full Moon:

Here are Jupiter and the Galileans at 5:09 AM CDT (I already had gone back to bed for awhile and gotten back up to attend to Pluto once again, this time for his main morning walk). More about them later:

And, my landmark achievement of the morning! I realize this doesn’t look like much, but the dot of light just to the upper right of the center of the dark blue field of view is the planet Uranus:

I had already located it when it was still dark, but it’s very hard to see anything in my cell phone viewfinder until there’s a fairly strong light available. Thus I had to wait and keep Uranus in view until the sky lightened up enough to appear in the viewfinder as a round blue background, which happened at about the stroke of 6 AM. I snapped the picture at 6:04 AM CDT. The telescope shows Uranus to the eye as a tiny but unmistakeable pale green disk, a strangely calming, serene sight. I doubt that I’ll ever be able to show it as more than just a dot with my present equipment, but I consider it an achievement simply to capture a bit of its light.

Now, Back to Jupiter. I took pictures of the Galileans at three different times, so we can see their motions. In each of the photos they were in the same order (South to the upper right): Ganymede to the upper left, then Jupiter, Io, Europa, and Callisto (somehow I didn’t get Callisto imaged at 3:17, but it was there in view): First, at 3:17 AM CDT:

Then at 5:09 AM CDT. You can see that Io is much further out, and Europa has moved as well:

Not much difference at 6:06 AM CDT, but they’ve moved just a little more:

All on August 23, 2010, with the 8″ f8 reflector and a 25mm eyepiece.

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Just another day in the life of the Solar System …

At long last I got out to photograph the Moon while waxing instead of waning:

Waxing gibbous Moon, 12:22 AM CDT, August 21, 2010.

Meanwhile, three of the Galileans were in this interesting formation:

From left to right: Ganymede, Io, Callisto, Jupiter. Europa was transiting Jupiter at the time. 12:47 AM CDT, August 21, 2010. I had hoped to photograph them at about 6 AM to show the change five hours makes, but it was foggy!

The following late afternoon I braved hot, steamy weather and the Sun in my face to take this picture of Venus:

6:23 PM CDT, August 21, 2010. Venus can be seen in broad daylight on any clear day that it’s not too close to the Sun. It is currently catching up to Earth like a runner on an inside lane of the racetrack, and will look increasingly bigger and more crescent until it overtakes the Earth in late October. Then after a short period of time when it’s too close to the Sun to see, it will appear brilliantly in the morning sky as it hurries on past the Earth.

All taken using the 8″ f8 reflector with 25mm eyepiece. As always, I was pointing the LG VX8360 cell phone camera as steadily as possible into the eyepiece.

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