sff_corgi_lj: (Science - Deep space)
I was told that the Caledon chat-channel in Second Life went all frothy over collectively discovering that 'Gears' was an available surname (when you create an account, you have to choose from a list of surnames the company generates, then add your own given name). One of the names suggested to go with gears was 'Antikythera', which didn't ring a bell.

Chalk it up to bad mental file management - 'Antikythera' was saved as 'ancient Greek computer so there'. You might remember there was quite a bit of excitement when people noticed, after nearly a century of it sitting around, that this was actually a sophisticated astronomical calculator of a sort the Romans couldn't be bothered with because they were, y'know, Romans (at least they built good roads). The Device uses several cleverly-calculated gear interactions to reproduce specific astronomical phenomena - positions and eclipses and such - to come up with calendar and position figures. Here's some of the sorts of numbers involved - and mind you, the Greeks built the machine, but the Babylonians did the observations! Cut for lots of extreme lay geekishness )
sff_corgi_lj: (Holidays - Brighid)
Other than OMGoddess, actually being on time for a holiday for once, I don't have much to say. Other than the yard's looking much better of late.

Might have soon, though.

Well... I do have this: Somewhat appropriate to a holiday celebrating the dawning light of the year and the flame of knowledge, if anyone else is inflicted with being awake at dawn (like the song says, 'It's a great way to end a day'), Venus and Jupiter are doing a most spectacular minuet in the east. Jupiter was below Venus in the sky the past two days at eyecatching angles, and is now above by two degrees. In two days, it might be worth getting up early to see the two shiniest planets with a barely-there crescent moon all in very close proximity. (Pluto's in the shot too, not that anybody can see him without extreme effort.) On the 16th, according to my software here, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury will form a pretty line across the lower sky. I always have a problem seeing Mercury around here - horizon's are too messed up. Either it's all trees or all clouds, and no way to climb above either. OK, one last set - March 5th, when the moon again, Venus, Mercury and Neptune will be in a tight clump just as the sun's rising - erm, rising at my latitude and such. Your sun may vary. Neptune, of course, is barely visible from here without extreme measures (optics, decent darkness) and Mercury might be washed out already by the time of the closest approach... but they'll all be there.

Don't forget the total lunar eclipse on the morning of the 21st - very good for North American East Coast and Steelhead City early birds.

And that it's Kellie's birthday. :D
sff_corgi_lj: (Write - Stephen J. Cannell)
Little scratch of light, as I was looking to see if Orion was visible yet, over in the centre of the eastern sky - it ran south > north, as short as it was. I've usually got too much light pollution and humidity for sightings like that.

woof horizontal rule

Anyway, I have a couple of writing questions for my Flisties who indulge yourselves thusly (i.e., most of you, I think).

1. When you sit down to write, how long do you write? I mean, do you have a set wordcount goal for each session, or do you just go with the flow? And if you flow, what do you average?

2. How do you define a chapter for yourself? How long do they usually run for you? (I can't help but to be reminded of the pathetic excuses for chapters that litter Fanfiction.net, where they're barely a single printed page's-worth with a threat to withhold in the author's notes.)

[looks to upper right, to upper left, on inside of eyelids] ...yeah, I think that's all. Just curious.

woof horizontal rule

ETA: Tchah, I did forget something: [livejournal.com profile] copperbadge on the closing of Harry Potter canon. VERY well said.
sff_corgi_lj: (Science - NASA)
APOD is acting funny for me tonight, so I had to use this link to share an extraordinary photograph with one of my work teammates. The fact that anybody would be able to take such a sharp, clear photograph of the International Space Station from the ground astonished me (that's 190 miles up, and moving fast!).

Danny responded thusly:
Such a thing of beauty, so broad a spectrum of brainwaves creating the interpretation of vision-like packets of data dispersed into the network only to come together and build the complete picture that are psychosynergy conduces, delivers and thus I say... wow!
Quite a turn of phrase, no? :D
sff_corgi_lj: (HP - Sirius)
The day of heliacal rising of the star of Sirius
Year considered : 2007 AD

Latitude of the place of observation : 25,82 degrees
Altitude of the place of observation : 0 meters
Temperature of the ambient air : 28,00 °C
Humidity of the ambient air : 75,00 %

Common name of the star : Sirius
Latine name of the star : alpha Canis Majoris
Hipparcos number of the star : HIP32349
Visual magnitude of the star : -1,44

Day of heliacal rising of this star: 01/08/2007 AD
Time of heliacal rising of the star : 5 h 10 min
Time of rising of the Sun : 5 h 31 min
Height of the star above the eastern horizon : 5,5 degrees
Height of the Sun below the eastern horizon : -4,86 degrees
Coefficient of atmospheric extinction : 0,271 magnitudes per airmass
Brightness of the background sky : 2901645 nanoLamberts

sff_corgi_lj: (Science - Deep space)
I'm so glad the APOD displayed this right after it happened, because I missed taking a lousy photo of it myself *grin*, but I wanted to share it with you anyway.

Click here for the 148Kb, 1024x690 long-exposure photo of the close conjunction of Venus and a quarter moon on May 19th.
sff_corgi_lj: (Science - Deep space)
Saturn's North Pole has a currently-inexplicable permanent hexagon around it. The photographs here are infrared; there's more explanation about the image-taking, and other discussion including a terrestrial experiment that suggests how the formation exists (maaaaybe) in this blog entry from the Planetary Society.
sff_corgi_lj: (Science - Deep space)
Ack, I'm lateish. Meant to do this from work, got too busy.

Astronomer Maria MitchellMarch 3:
Maria Mitchell
sff_corgi_lj: (Pentacle)
Quarters and cross-quarters countdown clocks - too cool, and globally-minded. Your PC clock has to be right, though.
sff_corgi_lj: (Science - Deep space)
For those of you perturbed (haha, orbit joke!) about the current state of planetary astronomy:

Leave your comments! No registration needed.
sff_corgi_lj: (HP/ff - Dogstar Academy)
I would have been more on-time with this, but Certain Witches were hogging the Semagic.

Batch 32! (with a bunch of photos from Myfanwy of Sirius (and Samwise), some of which actually belong to Batch 31)

woof horizontal rule

Also, I promised Blade that I'd show her what a Royal Poinciana (Flamboyant, Delonix regia) looks like:
woof horizontal rule

And just because:

FIRST SIRIUS SIGHTING, WHAHOOOO!! His helical rising was actually August 1 according to one website, but A: that's still too close to the sun to see anything that date, B: Miami's horizons aren't, unless you take a boat out onto the Bay and hope it's a clear morning on top of that. I was working an overtime shift, that, once I got through with work and packing up and Panera and driving home and getting attacked by puppies and all, made it feasible for me to stay up that little bit longer to look to the horizon, such as it is (between roofs and trees, actually).

I had some entertainment of a sort while I waited - Mercury was conjuncting Venus! Now, Venus is so easy to spot (she's apparently around full phase right now, too), but figuring out which glimmer was Mercury? A little trickier. This is only the second time I've ever knowingly seen the planet. Horizon issues, remember? As the sky started to glow gemstone blue, it became more apparent when the speck of off-white below Venus brightened a little, to my eye, instead of fading like the stars. I tried taking a photo.


'Tried' is the operative word.

Take a look, if you want to have a snigger. Curse my sudden but inevitable poor low-light photography!

I got all vexed by clouds to the south, thought I'd spotted Sirius struggling through the excessive humidity, went inside to do... oh, something, came back out to look again and realised I'd been rooked by a ringer. Hey, c'mon! They were heavy clouds, it would have been the right amount of filtering, and the star was in the right place at the right time! (It might have been Murzim, beta Canis Majoris.) Here is the real thing. Yes, it's another pathetic photo, but it's better than nothing. Isn't it? Kinda?

Through my binoculars, Sirius looked gorgeous. That low in the sky, his light was getting refracted like crazy, so the effect was that he glittered prismatically, flashes of red, blue, green... really beautiful. And also shining very strongly against a sky that had definitely lightened to a luminous, transparent lapis blue.

Now to wait a month or so, so I can see him at more convenient times....
sff_corgi_lj: (Twa corgwn)
I didn't think I was really going to have much for today (it always ends up taking pictures on Saturday, mostly; partly because they aren't doing anything during the week when I'm home you haven't seen a lot already) but we Did Stuff Saturday - visited work, visited a dog park... Meissa really needs to get over her antipathy of socialising. 'Cause I say so.

So here we have Batch 19 - pictures at home, pictures at work, pictures at the park. No subdivisions, I think you can tell which are which....

In addition, a wee bit of fuzzy astronomy:
Luna, Venus and technically... Uranus (460x520px, 10.91Kb) )

The dogs got me up extra-early, and I found this lovely arrangement to the east. When I checked StarCalc (excellent, excellent app!), I found I'd actually photographed, fuzzy as it may be overall, three planets, not just two. Although the Miami murk, the camera's complete lameness in low light and distance prevent its visibility, Uranus is just a wee bit above the two shiny things there, in a nice triangle formation.

Blurry planets (398x198, 5.14Kb) )

Wobbly, but kinda neat looking. Venus and the moon. How... senshi-like.
sff_corgi_lj: (Science - Deep space)
Crux Australis

Crux Australis

My crude attempt at reproducing, perhaps not realistically, but effectively, what I'm seeing when I look south. Gamma Crucis is definitely not white, even to the lightly-garbed eye. The three stars I can see for sure play hide-and-seek between the poinciana and the palm trees.
sff_corgi_lj: (Science - Deep space)
OMGOMGOMG O Lady Nut's overarching belly!!

Take THAT, Lochac College of Arms - especially you, Hund-at-the-time.

Last night, being chilly, was unusually clear here. The bestest part of the sky (I'm not biased), comprised of Taurus, Orion, Canis Major and Minor and Argo Navis, sets pretty early on now - Canopus disappears into the horizon-murk around 20:30, 21:00ish, for instance. I was up waytoolate, having been at work until midnight, messing around until midnight-thirty, then talking to [livejournal.com profile] stormrunner for about a half-hour while sitting in the driveway before going in and spending hours on-line for various reasons.

It was, in fact, while talking to the aforementioned M., that I watched the stars straight ahead of me, being due south. There was one that was showing up unusually low - horizon-murk, remember? And trees, whatever foliage Wilma condescended to leave us. This star was arcing the sky even lower than Canopus, and definitely fainter. I can regularly see to about 4th magnitude around here. Kinda pathetic. I made note of the pattern I was looking at (let's see, one straight up from there, and another about the same brightness forming a sort of triangle that shape...) and came inside, eventually accessing first Heavens Above, then StarCalc to try to figure out what I'd been looking at.

For certain, I was observing at least part of Centarus (the Centaur) and Lupus (the Wolf) both. But... how much? What StarCalc told me, I had a hard time believing. I went outside, got my binocs from Ein-y-Gwyn and spotted another star, even further down toward the horizon, straight below where Canopus curves and in a narrow, narrow window of tree-cover. A brighter star, too, than what I'd been looking at before.

I drew the star-patterns on my hand, went back inside and compared: I had just been looking at Alpha Centauri from my very own driveway. THE star-of-stars of science fiction, especially Star Trek. And what's more, backtracking the chart to the time I'd been on the phone -- Crux -- the Southern Cross. No need for trips out to the middle of Biscayne Bay at the Summer Solstice, no astronomical overnights in the Keys required... the Southern Cross that we're not supposed to be able to see from the continental Known World was RIGHT THERE IN MY BACK YARD. I think only Gamma Crucis was really visible, but I also hadn't been using the glasses on it.

I feel so vindicated. :D

And now I'll shut up.
sff_corgi_lj: (Science - NASA)
Pluto has THREE moons!
sff_corgi_lj: (Science - NASA)
One of the guys from the interesting webcomic A Miracle of Science is running a poll on Pluto's status - planet, Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) or both? G'wan, who can resist a poll like this? :D
sff_corgi_lj: (HP/ff - Canis Mutatem (my 'fic))
In the Black family tradition... no, I'm not taking Dogstar Academy too siriusly... I gave both my corglets star names. Meissa Morwen's name got to have a bit more thought to it, as she was the 'planned' puppy. Her face has a disproportionate amount of white on it, so eventually I found the name 'Meissa', meaning (more or less) 'shining one' and/or 'white spot'. Quite apropos, I thought. And it had euphony with her milk name, which serves as a lovely middle name for her now. (see the star Meissa here)

Dot... I mean, Gemma... was a different matter. She's a funny puppy, very sociable, trots right up to people with her tail waving -- and her name origin is kind of obvious. She's got her mother's forehead spot. She also made me think of Dot Warner, so I was fine with the name. My mother, however, threw fits (humourously, mind you).
Ma, yelling at puppies: 'Get your own apartment! I won't have anything to do with a dog named "Dot"!'
...and to me, it was:
'Why don't you name her something Welsh?'
[insert droll look here] You mean, like 'Rhybrawst'? Orrrr 'Creiddylad'? 'Gwledyr' perhaps?

Well, she can be 'Dot' part of the time, right? But now she needed a 'dress-up' name. Unfortunately, there's a dearth of 'D' names in astronomy which would either be suitable (unlike 'Draco') or easily pronounced (unlike 'Dschubba'). Now, Deneb does mean 'tail' in a bunch of different constellations (most notably Cygnus, of course), but Ma wasn't going for that. Anyway, I couldn't find the transliteration of the Arabic for either 'dog' or 'happy'. Meh.

However, that little spot on her head suggested a diadem or tiara, and Spacedog intriguingly suggested that Alpha Coronae Borealis shows as green due to perceptual blending -- and the Latin name, 'Gemma', was a popular British given name when pronounced with a soft 'G'. What put a capper on using Corona Borealis as a source constellation is that it's one of the few constellations for which a Welsh name has survived the transition from oral tradition to written -- it's also Caer Arianrhod, so it is kind of Welsh. (see the star Gemma (Alphecca) here)

Ma went for that. So 'Gemma' it was... not that either puppy's really answering to anything that doesn't also smell like chicken soup or Pup-peroni....

(Yes, I am pronouncing it with a hard 'G', I'm linguistically oooollld (Latin/Celtic)).
sff_corgi_lj: (Science!)
Maria Mitchell

Astronomer Maria Mitchell icon

Maria Mitchell was born August 1, 1818 on the island of Nantucket in Massachusetts, one of ten children. Not many girls of that time were lucky enough to have a father like William Mitchell, a Quaker 4 and a dedicated astronomer and teacher himself; her mother, Lydia Coleman, urged her girls to learn occupations and seek independence. William was delighted with the early talent his daughter demonstrated for science. Instead of considering such interests useless for a girl, Maria's father did everything he could to further her knowledge of mathematics and astronomy.

As first librarian of the Nantucket Atheneum, a job she started in 1836, Maria continued her studies in astronomy from her father's brand-new four-inch telescope on the roof of the Pacific Bank. He used it to do star observations for the United States Coast Guard; Maria would help him with his measurements and also got to use the telescope on her own. In 1847 she earned international renown and a gold medal from the King of Denmark when she discovered a comet from this very location.

In 1848, Maria became the first women member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and later became a fellow of the society. The Association for the Advancement of Science made her their first female member in 1850. In 1849 she was offered a job by the U.S. Nautical Almanac Office as a computer (one who does computations) of tables of positions of the planet Venus. She also started traveling to attend scientific meetings.

In 1856 she received an offer from a rich man named General Swift to accompany his daughter Prudence on a trip to the South and to Europe. Maria accepted and took her almanac work with her. They went south to New Orleans, then to London, where Maria visited the Greenwich Observatory. Prudence returned to the States, but Maria remained in Europe. She went to France on her own, then continued on to Rome with Nathaniel Hawthorne's family. She had hoped to visit the Vatican Observatory, but she was told that women were not admitted. She tried to get special permission and finally succeeded, but was allowed to go in only in the daytime. She was not able to look at the stars through the telescope at night. After her return home, she was presented with a new telescope bought with money collected by women for the first woman astronomer of the United States. She used it to study sunspots and other astronomical events. 4

Maria Mitchell was also the first person, male or female, appointed to the Vassar faculty, serving from 1865 to 1888. Mitchell was a marvelous teacher whose students adored her because she held them to a very high standard of intellectual achievement (despite the fact that they were "only" women!) and because she believed in them. Mitchell is famous for asking generation after generation of Vassar students: "Did you learn that from a book or did you observe it yourself?" 3 Vassar gave her access to a twelve-inch telescope, the third largest in the United States at the time. 4

In 1873 she attended the first meeting of the Women's Congress. The Congress was also attended by many women's rights activists, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, etc. She then helped found the American Association for the Advancement of Women, a group of moderate feminists who sought expanded professional opportunities for women, serving as its president from 1874 to 1876.4

In 1878, Mitchell, her sister (Mrs. Phebe Kendall), and four Vassar graduates traveled over 2,000 miles by train in the heat of July, wrangled with stationmasters over lost luggage, pitched their tents on a hill outside Denver, Colorado, and pointed their telescopes to the center of the solar system. All that-to witness an event that would last exactly two minutes and 40 seconds. 3

Maria Mitchell retired from Vassar in 1888 because of poor health, and died on June 28, 1889 in Lynn, Massachusetts. Soon after Maria's death her friends and supporters founded the Maria Mitchell Association on Nantucket in 1902. In 1905 she was elected to the Hall of Fame of Great Americans at New York University (now at Bronx Community College). In 1994, she was elected to the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. The house on Nantucket where Maria was born is open to the public during the summer.1, 2

1 http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/95aug/mitchell.html
3 http://physicsandastronomy.vassar.edu/mariamitchell/
4 http://www.distinguishedwomen.com/biographies/mitchell.html, Danuta Bois


Jun. 14th, 2003 05:26 pm
sff_corgi_lj: (Default)
I'm in Marathon -- I've finally seen the Green Flash!!

Edited to add:
Here, check this out -- http://mintaka.sdsu.edu/GF/ -- explanation.


sff_corgi_lj: (Default)

October 2012

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