April 16, 2014

Astro-Vid Of the Week: Eclipse-Rise over KSC

Eclipse-Rise+VAB. (Photo by author).

Yesterday, we told the tale of our adventures in eclipse-chasing along the Florida Space Coast. The morning of Sunday, November 3rd 2013 found us on the Parrish Park causeway outside of Titusville, Florida shooting a frame of the eclipse every few seconds. We were fortunate that we had only a low cloud deck from the front that had passed through the day before, which provided us with just enough lingering clouds to be photogenic.   [Read more...]

November 2013-Life in the Astroblogosphere: Chasing the Saros

Eclipse-Sign! (Photos by Author).

It started with a tweet.

Towards the end of 2012, our thoughts turned, as they always do in the month of December, toward the top 100 astronomical events of the coming year. Eclipses always make this compilation, and we duly noted that totality for 2013 would only occur during the brief hybrid eclipse of Sunday, November 3rd. [Read more...]

March 2013 Life in the Astro-Blogosphere: Living the NASASocial Experience.

Smartphones in Action!

(All photos by author.)

Ah, the romantic life of a free-lance science writer. Writing offers you the freedom to set your own hours and wake up slowly when you feel like it; it also earns one the right to “sing for their supper” and starve feral and in the wild, often on their very own time table. But along with the triumphs and tragedies that go with modern day writing online, you also tend to miss human interaction and that convergence of like-minded souls. [Read more...]

Life in the Astro-BlogoSphere; Slight Return.

Have scope, will observe! (Photo by Author).

Nothing in this universe is permanent. Stars are born, happily fusing hydrogen for the majority of their Main Sequence lives, only to swell into bloated Red Giants and perhaps engulfing the occasional civilization orbiting them. It’s sobering to think that billions of years from now, the only evidence to say “Humanity too was Here” might be a few derelict spacecraft orbiting the Milky Way galaxy and broadcasts of Love Boat & Joanie Loves Chachi stretched to absurdly long wavelengths… [Read more...]

Week 6: Homeward Bound.

Sights near & far!

(All photos by Author).

Home. As Mad Max might say, “wherever you go, well, there you are,” but in the end, it’s great to come back into your own domain. Well, at least until you look at the pile of mail and backed up writing projects (such as finishing this six week article) that lies ahead. But just as Batman has his Batcave and Superman has his Fortress of Solitude, we too have Astroguyz HQ, wherever on this Big Blue Marble it might currently be located. The last week of 2012 saw us make the pilgrimage from South Carolina across Georgia and back into the great state of Florida. [Read more...]

Week 5: Down the (Future) Path of Totality.

The author & friends at the DoubleTree Hotel in

downtown Charleston, South Carolina!

(All pics by author).

It’s never too early to start planning, especially when it comes to solar eclipses. Week five of our southeastern sojourn saw us travel down the same path that the 2017 total solar eclipse will take over the Carolinas. We left the solitude and dark skies of the Appalachians as chronicled in Week 4 of the great American Road trip and headed back into civilization… and what a welcome it was!

[Read more...]

Week 4-The Quest for Dark Skies: Into the Appalachians.

A very slender Moon…

(All photos by Author).

The mountains always beckon. In the end, all astronomers must heed the call of dark, pristine skies and head into the foothills beyond the suburban lowlands in search of the universe only hinted at from our backyards. This past week we did just that in our week four installment of the great American Road Trip as we explored the U.S. Southeast and beyond. And, hey, we arrived under pristine skies just in time for this year’s Geminid meteor shower!

One Geminid of MANY seen!

Sunday saw a breakfast that couldn’t be beat at the Nosedive Bar and our departure from Greenville, South Carolina. As reported in week three of our 4-state spanning sojourn, we thoroughly enjoyed this town, a hip Portlandia-esque oasis in the South.

An armillary sphere-spotting at the Red Horse Inn!

A short drive saw us posed to hop across the North Carolina border in Landrum, South Carolina. Actually, we crisscrossed the border twice into “The North,” hitting the two outstanding wineries of Green Creek & the remarkable Overmountain Vineyards. We stayed at the charming Red Horse Inn in Landrum, where we consumed our days’ booty (a bottle of wine) under the stars in the hot tub adjoining our cabin. The Red Horse Inn would make an excellent star-gazing destination, as a short trip down the road finds you in total darkness away from the cottage lights… this would also make a fine group astronomy expedition area, especially as a good jumping off point for the graze line of the August 2017 total solar eclipse passing over the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area just to the west.

Mmmm… beer… line ‘em up!

For our next adventure we headed northward into Asheville, North Carolina. If Greenville is the Portland (Oregon) of the South, Asheville is its Seattle, set long before Grunge became a name brand. We stayed at the enormous Grove Park Inn, a massive hotel complex perched just outside the city. Asheville itself is a wonderful, rambling city sprawling over dozens of foothills that put us in mind of Amman, Jordan, repleate with art spaces and breweries instead of mosques and sheesha bars. The Arts District alone was fascinating, as was the encaustic work of Constance Williams. Hey, we’d never even heard of encaustic in our High School Art I & II days! The Moog factory was also a fascinating stop. Based in Asheville, Moog has been the proud manufacturer of keyboards and synthesizers since 1978. And hey, who knew that they still make the theremin? Sheldon would be glad know… check out the action on Moog’s YouTube and Twitter feeds!

At Moog, where the theremin still reigns!

After hitting the local Asheville  Brewing Company and a fine Tapas meal at Cúrate, it was off to Mars Hill, North Carolina and the Scenic Wolf Resort for a night of dark sky observing. Located at about 4,000 feet elevation in the shadow of Mount Mitchell (the highest peak in the Appalachians) our cabin afforded a fine view of the 2012 Geminid meteors. And this was none too soon, as BBC 5 Live called us up that very night for a Skype interview! With a limiting magnitude of +5.5, I’d say that the Geminids put on one of the best displays in recent memory, with dozen several meteors seen gracing the sky before midnite!

The skies over Mars Hill, North Carolina.

But alas, we had to depart the beloved darkness for light-polluted climes all too soon. Having reached the northernmost apex of our journey, our ingress into society saw a brief stop in exotic Lincolnton, North Carolina… more to come next week!

 

Week 2: A Full Moonrise along the Space Coast & More!

Pool-side solar observing at the Grandview Gardens in West Palm Beach, Florida.

(All photos by Author).

Long time followers of this space will know that we’re no stranger to the Florida Space Coast. This is the hallowed Graceland to which all Space Tweeps must eventually return to. This past week saw the second week of the great Astroguyz American Road trip, as we departed West Palm Beach for a journey up through Cocoa Beach and onward to Jekyll Island and Liberty County, Georgia.

[Read more...]

14.02.12- A Weekend of Astronomy & Fun on the Plantation.

A grand old building! (All photos by Author).

You never know what might be in your own backyard. This past weekend, we journeyed up to Crystal River in Citrus County, Florida for an exciting adventure at the Plantation Resort Hotel and Restaurant, about a pleasant hours’ drive north of the Tampa Bay area. [Read more...]

A Weekend of Sun, Fun & Astronomy at Delray Beach, Florida!

Delray Beach sunrise. (All photos in post by Author).

Stargazing and traveling are literally a “match made in heaven”; as long as there’s a sky to be seen overhead, your observatory can be said to be where ever you make it. Such was the case this past weekend, when we bundled up the ‘scopes and made the pilgrimage to the Atlantic side of the Florida peninsula to Delray Beach for three days of sun, fun and a little surreptitious stargazing while based out of the Marriott Spa and Resort. [Read more...]

Mars Curiosity: Return of the NASATweetup!

A scale model rover and its destination.

(All photos by Author unless otherwise noted).

You could just imagine our excitement. A little more than a month ago, the email appeared informing us that we had been selected to attend the NASATweetup at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of Mars Curiosity! Long time fans of this site will remember that we first attended one of these Twitter-based events at the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston which was the first held at the JSC, and then made a pilgrimage for the tweetup & launch of STS-132, which at the time was the last scheduled launch of space shuttle Atlantis. [Read more...]

Touring the KSC: It’s a Space Coast Weekend!

The Vehicle Assembly Building at KSC…(All photos by Author)

Only now, the story can be told; a true tale of our recent invite to tour the Kennedy Space Center! I know, as long time readers of this astro-forum you are probably saying that we’ve been over these hallowed grounds of space-dom many times before, what with our initial tour of the KSC back in 2008 our NASATweetup adventures at the launch of STS-132 and space shuttle Atlantis and our tips for launch-spotting off of the Space Coast. [Read more...]

Launch Chasing Worldwide.

The final launch of Atlantis from KSC. (Photo by Author).

Visiting the Florida Space Coast? One of the biggest questions we get here at Astroguyz HQ is where is a good spot to watch a launch from. Certainly, the final launches of the Space Shuttle may see record numbers of viewers; getting that front row “causeway ticket” may be next to impossible. [Read more...]

A Messier Marathon.

M37 in Auriga. (Photo by Author).

Spring is deep sky season. As the weather becomes more temperate and the daylight/nighttime balance sits roughly equal worldwide, telescopes at star parties begin to sprout up like springtime daffodils. Now is the time to nab that obscure cluster, or attempt to spy that faint planetary nebula. We here at Astroguyz always try to spot one new object every observing session… but have you ever tried to see all the Messier objects… in one night? [Read more...]

How to Measure the Height a Building… with a Barometer!

(Editor’s Note: This week’s big expose post is totally tongue and cheek, but does serve as a good creative mental exercise in scientific thinking. Back in our High School pre-Internet days, an interesting science dilemma came our way (we used to read BOOKS and NEWSPAPERS in those benighted days). This idea, like so many others, has morphed over decades (via the Internet) to monstrous (re: silly) proportions. It appears to have had its hoary roots way back in a Saturday Review article dated December 21, 1968 and, well, things just get crazier from there…More images are forthcoming!)

[Read more...]

Observing from the ‘Hood’: Good Targets for Bright Skies.

 

 

Stove Pipe scope ready for action...(Photo by Author).

If you’re like us here at Astroguyz HQ, you find yourself in the ‘burbs under increasingly brightening night skies. But you want to use that shiny new Christmas telescope, right? What follows is a list of objects that you can view tonight from the comfort of your backyard, can of beer and barbeque in hand. This list also serves as a peek at our star party faves, which can frequently occur under less than optimal skies; [Read more...]

The Smart Phones Strike Back: The STS-132 NASAtweetup!

Astroguyz in uber-nerd mode! (All Photos by Author).
Astroguyz in uber-nerd mode! (All Photos by Author).

    I got into Twitter about a year ago with some apprehension; did I really want to know (or care?) what someone’s cat did today? Was “micro-blogging” a cop-out to serious writing? After all, a scant decade ago, we barely knew what e-mail was. Here it is a year later, and we’re hooked. Twitter has produced tangible benefits, such as the opportunity to attend the launch of STS-132 last week and the NASAtweetup! Fans of this space will note that we attended our first Tweetup at the Johnson Space Flight Center in March. While that was a stellar session, we’d always wanted to do a launch event, and not be stuck viewing from the peanut gallery or a Home Depot parking lot in Orlando, but up close with the “serious” media.  [Read more...]

The Universe of Astronomy Podcasting.


Ipod.

The Beaten & Battered Astroguyz Nano…(photo by author).

Technology has changed nearly every aspect of astronomy. We’ve gone from auto guiding long exposures on hyper-sensitized film to automated observatories that patrol the skies while we sleep. Technology is just plain cool. It’s hard to imagine that slightly more than a decade ago, the Internet was non-existent, processors were measured in kilobytes, and the latest issue of Sky & Telescope was telling us about that brief comet that had already come and gone. [Read more...]