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Archive for November, 2011

Utterly unedited, uncropped photos of Venus and the Moon, both with 8″ reflector telescope and 25mm eyepiece, (65x magnification), so you may see the apparent size comparison:

2:21 PM CST 11-29-11 (20:21 UT). Venus is still further away from us than the Sun is, and will appear much larger when the June 5, 2012 transit approaches.

2:27 PM CST 11-29-11 (20:27 UT). The crater Langrenus may be discerned right in the middle of the lit part of the Moon.

LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click for larger view.

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Cell phone camera + toy microscope = a new adventure that’s only just beginning:

Above: Pure Cane Sugar
Below: Iodized Table Salt

Both magnified 75x with Lionel toy microscope.

The Christmas lights are lit on Broadway once again:

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Many must have seen the lovely, thin waxing crescent Moon this evening, as I’ve had many hits from people looking for 11-27-11 Moon photos. Alas, I have none. It was cloudy most of the day, and when it cleared off in the evening, I had just one beautiful glimpse of it minutes before moonset, through the panoramic picture window of a loved-one’s hospital room; but only a glimpse, because I was not there to gaze out the window.

Being eager to please, I’ll offer this hazy-but-passable shot of the Moon at the same illumination (11%) at 9:48 PM CDT 6-4-11 (2:48 UT 6-5-11):

Io zips around Jupiter in only 1.77 Earth day, Europa in 3.55; Ganymede orbits in 7.16 Earth days, and Callisto in 16.69. Thus Io does the most disappearing and reappearing, though they all do it from time to time:

Above: 10:15 CST 11-27-11 (4:15 UT 11-28-11). Left to Right: Ganymede, Europa, Jupiter, Callisto.
Below: Exactly one hour later at 11:15 CST, Io has popped out of Jupiter’s shadow. Left to Right: Ganymede, Europa, Io, Jupiter, Callisto.

All with 8″ reflector telescope and 25mm eyepiece.

“And now for something completely different,” just this very evening I’ve expanded my horizons to include Inner Space as well as Outer Space:

A dash of Real Salt, magnified thirty times with this old Lionel toy microscope that I’ve had for eons:

All with my usual LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click for larger view.

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Below: The Concordia Choir performs Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque (“Light and Gold” in Latin) at the 2005 Christmas Concert of my alma mater, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota

My college and others like it are preparing now for this year’s Christmas concerts, and I love seeing and hearing each new group of young people participating in this timeless tradition. Some, like the angelic-voiced young woman in the video, take on prominent leading roles; hundreds of others simply are voices in the chorus. There are a number of choirs and other ensembles involved in the Christmas Concert, some more prominent than others; but each voice is important, and I, for one, would rather be a small part of something big, excellent, and meaningful, than to be a big part of something mediocre. Believe me, I’ve experienced both.

Throughout college I was involved in the Orchestra as well as the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony, but I was in the big Christmas Concert just once, during my senior year in 1986, which happened to be Dr. Clausen’s first year as director of the Concordia Choir, and he was the first one to introduce the Orchestra into the Christmas Concert. Thanks for including me, Dr. Clausen!

…those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…

– I Corinthians 12:22 NIV

Do small things with great love.

– Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Kinda reminds me of this song:

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As of Thanksgiving night, 2011, the retirement village over yonder has their outdoor Christmas tree lit once again. With no magnification:

With the 60mm refractor telescope and 25mm eyepiece (28x magnification):

This morning, with the 8″ reflector telescope, 17mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow (191x):

The following crowds were gathered on Thanksgiving Day, but they appeared quite serene and completely unaffected by “Black Friday” hype:

Now to astronomy: Jupiter and the Galilean moons at 12:24 AM CST 11-24-11 (6:24 UT), with the 8″ reflector and 17mm eyepiece. From left to right: Callisto, Jupiter, Europa, Io, Ganymede:

These days, just after sunset, you will see Venus shining brightly in the southwestern sky, and Jupiter shining much higher in the eastern sky. Keep watching, because during the next few months they will treat you to a striking spectacle. Evening after evening they will draw closer together until they make a magnificent conjunction high in the western sky after sunset in mid-March. Then, even after Jupiter fades into the sunset, Venus will continue to blaze brightly until the upcoming historic Venus transit on June 5, 2012. You may learn more about the transit here, and much, much more about it at www.transitofvenus.org/

As a “preview of coming attractions,” here’s a table of my previous Venus observations, with my recent 11-20-11 Venus photo added at the bottom:

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)
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)
2:26 PM CDT, September 11, 2010
Angular diameter 32.85 arc seconds
34.8% illumination
Distance from Earth 47,199,203 miles (75,959,754 km)

6:13 PM CDT, September 19, 2010
Angular diameter 37.21 arc seconds
28.7% illumination
Distance from Earth 41,671,869 miles (67,064,373 km)

1:39 PM CDT, September 26, 2010 (18:39 UT)
Angular diameter 41.52 arc seconds
23.1% illumination
Distance from Earth 37,345,447 miles (60,101,671 km)

4:05 PM CDT, October 3, 2010 (21:05 UT)
Angular diameter 46.63 arc seconds
16.9% illumination
Distance from Earth 33,248,887 miles (53,508,897 km)
2:27 PM CDT (19:27 UTC), October 11, 2010
Angular diameter 52.75 arc seconds
9.8% illumination
Distance from Earth 29,391,701 miles (47,301,357 km)
3:23 PM CDT (8:23 UTC), October 16, 2010
Angular diameter 56.44 arc seconds
5.7% illumination
Distance from Earth 27,472,436 miles (44,212,600 km)
12:40 PM CDT (17:40 UTC), November 5, 2010
Angular diameter 59.94 arc seconds
2.4% illumination
Distance from Earth 25,866,740 miles (41,628,483 km)
6:35 AM CST November 23, 2010 (12:35 UTC)
Angular diameter 47.81 arc seconds
16.8% illumination
Distance from Earth 32,427,864 miles (52,187,588 km)
Venus photography generally works better in the daytime, as in the dark its apparent “thickness” gets exaggerated by its intense brightness.
10:02 AM CST November 27, 2010 (16:02 UTC)
Angular diameter 44.72 arc seconds
20.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 34,669,885 miles (55,795,771 km)
9:04 AM CST December 13, 2010 (15:04 UTC)
Angular diameter 34.77 arc seconds
33.9% illumination
Distance from Earth 44,589,852 miles (71,760,411 km)
This photo taken with 60mm refractor & 17mm eyepiece, looking out through the kitchen window!
12:03 PM CST January 5, 2011 (18:03 UTC)
Angular diameter 25.58 arc seconds
48.6% illumination
Distance from Earth 60,611,164 miles (97,544,214 km)
4:18 PM CST November 20, 2011 (22:18 UT)
Angular diameter 11.13 arc seconds
91.2% illumination
Distance from Earth 139,346,992 miles (227,254,246 km)

8″ reflector telescope with 25mm eyepiece, unless otherwise noted. LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

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Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI

… But you’d better be fast, because the deadline for entries is December 1st:

Name That Telescope Array

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About 2:30 PM November 21, 2011:

Our first lingering snow of the season has fallen, but a nearby warm water discharge keeps ducks and geese in the neighborhood all winter.


Pluto investigates signs of webbed-feet activity.


To my eye these duck footprints in the snow are creating a multistable perception effect. How about for you?

I’m sharing this for no other reason but that it’s utterly fun, and groovy, man! Far out! Outta sight!

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