July 26, 2017

Observations: On the Beach

On the Beach…

(photo by author)

Astronomy isn’t the first thing you think of when you consider spending the day at the beach.

We recently moved our Astroguyz mobile HQ to Pass-a-Grille Beach, a small community in Saint Petersburg, Florida. A small spit of land jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico, Historic Pass-a-Grille has thus far resisted the encroaching sea and the creeping Florida gentrification that has plagued much of the state and Tampa Bay in particular… yes, you can still find lazy, quiet corners of beach, even in the looming shadow of the twin cities of Tampa/St Pete. [Read more...]

Exploring the Largest Telescope in Florida

An amazing scope! (all photos by author)

Florida isn’t known for ideal dark skies and astronomy. Humid bug-filled nights, coupled with hazy washed out skies make for less than optimal viewing conditions to say the least. The state does at least host warm temps, making the wintertime an ideal season for astronomy.

Along with a host of intrepid amateur astronomers, Florida does have a scattering of professional observatories, mostly run by universities. We recently had a chance to explore the largest observatory in the state: the new 1-meter telescope at the Embry-Riddle Campus in Daytona Beach, Florida. [Read more...]

30.10.2012: A Weekend of Apocalyptic Fun at the NecronomiCon!

How many Baktuns in a Pectun again?

(Credit: Stone Hill.org).

The “busy ‘Con season” for Astroguyz has arrived. Sure, it may have came and went with only one event, but what an event it was! Said gathering was the 2012 NecronomiCon, a horror/fantasy/science fiction convention held this past weekend at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in downtown Saint Petersburg, Florida. This is the last year that the convention will be on the St. Pete side of Tampa Bay, and our second year hosting star parties at the event.

The ‘Con in full swing… (All photos by author).

The NecronomiCon is always an amazing mixture of diversity in all that is speculative fiction. We were interested in sitting in on several panels with Guest of Honor Linnea Sinclair and of course the ever present Timothy Zahn. Our own panel scene was pretty light this year, doing “You Can be an Astronomer” and “Cold Fusion: Has the Dream Become Reality” where we were actually referred to as a skeptic in the wild for the first time! Maybe the Skeptics Guide to the Universe will come calling…

Musings of other worlds…

But as the Sun went down, the action turned to the sky. We had a great turn out with a steady stream of Halo characters, Goths and more all interested to look at the universe. The bright lights of downtown St. Pete (and a Saturday nite soccer game just across the road) restricted us to fairly bright targets, i.e. the waxing gibbous Moon and a rising Jupiter. Hey, the limiting magnitude allowed us to just pick out the Summer Triangle high overhead, and Aldebaran next to Jupiter. Even Albireo was a tough grab, akin to doing astronomy from the Las Vegas strip! Still, we star-partied into the wee dawn hours, discussing libration, interstellar travel, and much more. A big thanks to Tanja from Star Splitter Adventures for providing star maps and a wealth of astronomical knowledge.

Armor + star gazing!

But activities weren’t just restricted to nighttime viewing. Saturday afternoon we had a chance to check out the brightest star of all in Earthly skies; the Sun. Sol was a bit bashful at first, hiding behind a thin veil of clouds reminiscent of our view of the Transit of Venus from earlier this year.  Perseverance won out however, and we were able to view sunspots and prominences in both hydrogen alpha and white light.

Practicing safe solar viewing courtesy of Astroguyz.

It was always great to see faces old and new as well as hang out with the crowd. Also a big shout out the Craig MacDougal, who serves as the Assistant Coordinator for the Jupiter Section of the American Lunar & Planetary Observers’ group; it was great to pick the brain of someone so knowledgeable about astronomy. We’re truly not worthy!

A PST view of the Sun.

As for this years’ trends, we noticed much more panel discussion on writing romance in terms of science fiction, fantasy & horror. There were lots more discussion on the e-business end of publication, with the Amazon Kindle being the focus of the market.

One day, it’ll be true!

All in all, it was a great 31st year for the event; we hope to make “the 32nd NecromoniCon” (after the world doesn’t end again) in 2013!

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...]