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Messages - Mark

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TAC Visual / Re: Big New Sunspot gif
« on: September 02, 2017, 11:48:24 AM »
Just peeked with my 10x42 binos and solar screen.  Nice group of three with a fourth leading by itself.  Fun!

TAC Visual / Finder Charts for Asteroid Florence 8/31 9-11 pm.
« on: August 31, 2017, 05:50:19 PM »
Here are some good charts, with pointers.  I hope some here will try this.  Supposedly mag 8.75.  It certainly is one big rock, if you haven't been reading about it.

TAC Visual / Venus and The Beehive
« on: August 30, 2017, 07:17:37 PM »
Tomorrow morning.  1 degree 40 minutes apart.  Single binocular FOV or in RFT.

Wonder about this as imaging target.

TAC Visual / Morning conjunction of Mercury and Mars, with Venus
« on: August 30, 2017, 03:01:53 PM »
Check it out.  9/16 morning conjunction of Mars and Mercury 12 arc-minutes apart, Venus sitting above.  You'll need a clear horizon. 

Observing Intents / My CalStar Prep Is Underway
« on: August 30, 2017, 02:42:46 PM »
Yeah, its three weeks off (to the day), but I'm starting to gear up.  So, here's my OI.

After pinging the usual suspects I've observed with over the past few years or so, it looks like this will be a "Three Mark CalStar" for me.

How long has it been since I've attended?  Whatever... Whisper Canyon looks pretty interesting.  I'm polishing my primary with Blue Poly Wax, and greasing my bearings.

See you all there!  If you don't have a ticket yet, better do so soon.


Observing Reports / Re: IN THE MOON'S SHADOW
« on: August 23, 2017, 02:41:32 PM »
Interesting.  For me, the show was at 2nd contact.  Looked like a shock wave explosion moving away from the black disk, with spikes inbedded.  That is an *impression* - it all happened so fast and unexpectedly.  When fully eclipsed, the corona was twisted, for sure.  It just wasn't as big or well defined (internally) as I thought it might have been.  Temps, yes, chilly.  Shadows, really weird.  Color of sky around during Diamond Ring was eerie and amazing - odd blue.  Shadowy horizons were almost opaque with dim haze.  Whatever things were, I got my money's worth.  Mind-boggling.  Where did you go to see it?

Observing Reports / Re: IN THE MOON'S SHADOW
« on: August 22, 2017, 10:30:16 PM »
I did see the Corona, during full totality, but didn't descibe it as it was tenuous and not the most amazing feature at totality.  I expected more streamers, and for it to be larger.  I'd estimate, from memory, it extended about 1x the solar diameter away from the black disk.  I don't think I've seen those prominences in photos yet....  the "Bailey's Beads" I saw were nearly concurrent with the Diamond Ring, maybe slightly after.  But then, having never seen a total eclipse before, I'm not experienced at this.

Where were you observe totality from?

Observing Reports / IN THE MOON'S SHADOW
« on: August 22, 2017, 12:39:16 PM »
There is no way to describe this. But, a scene in Carl Sagan's Cosmos, where Ellie sees a galaxy up close from the outside, and says, in rapture: "no words, no words…. they should have sent a poet" gets there. Good old Carl, a way with words (and science).

I joined a group of eclipse-goers in Oregon, on the Calpooia River south of Salem. Hosted by friends of Max Vanderwyst, childhood friend of my son-in-law and his family, this was an intimate group in a friendly, relaxed environment. Pleasant shade camping, next to the river with nice swimming holes.

But this is about the eclipse.

Once the temperature changed noticeably, we all went out to a huge field next to the property. We watched as the Dragon ate the Sun, taking an ever larger bite, while the temperature continued dropping. A hot day now was chilly enough I had some shivers. The horizons took on an eerie opalescent hazy glow. Birds in trees began chattering. Nearly all traffic on the nearby road stopped. The only real sounds were of excited children in our group.

Excitement grew as the last tiny sliver sat, for what seemed almost tantalizingly long. Then darkness.
Off came the solar glasses. Things happened so fast, so fast I could hardly think of what to so. I stood there, as the black disk of the moon hid all but some bright glow… then… then…

The Diamond Ring sprang outward from the trailing edge of the Moon. The sky was a strange almost muted turquoise blue. The Sun, the Diamond, was a brilliant creamy bulge on the side of the Black. Rays emanated from it. The edges of the Black were ringed by a bright glow. Up near the Diamond, Bailey's Beads showed as small, what I would call glowing lumps of red lava, points of light, arcing up around the northern edge of the Black.

People were screaming. Jumping. Crying. Standing agape in amazement. The children were holding each other jumping up and down, 7 year olds and younger yelling "this is awesome!!!"…. what a sight of humanity in sheer awe. My daughter in tears.
I stood, mouth open, dumbfounded, thinking of Sagan. No words… no words.

It passed so quickly. But that's life, isn't it? A spectacular moment. No amount of reading, or hearing people's descriptions, and certainly not this one, can touch what occurred. Its like describing God. You can't. You're not that.

What were the best parts of being in the Moon's Shadow? The Diamond Ring is awesome. Way more than awesome. It is other-worldly. Like the Sun disappeared and a brilliant space ship arrived, glowing off one side.

Its described as spiritual, transcendent, and yes, I have to agree. I've seen and experienced something I'll never forget (the first time is always memorable), and I did it with my pregnant daughter, her husband and his family, and many new friends who shared something that words can't touch. "They should have sent a poet." The kids will be talking about this in the year 2100....

Texas, 2024. Plans already made…..

Observing Reports / Re: The Pinnacle of Dark Skies
« on: August 05, 2017, 10:41:09 AM »
Hey Brad - stumbled across the picture today.  Surprise!  What year was it?

TAC Visual / Experienced Eclipse Chasers. Your input please.
« on: August 02, 2017, 08:54:51 AM »
I know there are many experienced eclipse chasers here.  This month's will be my, and undoubtedly others, first.

How about posting what to watch for, and how?  Visual stuff.  I recall listening to a recording made by someone experienced, and they were calling out the various events as each approached.

I'd like to have such a list, as the group I'm going with are not only eclipse newbies, but total astronomy noobs, far as I can tell.

Thanks for any and all suggestions.


Great observation Steve.  Reminds me of how surprisingly easy it was seeing that new glob near B86 a few years ago.  Interesting what can be seen.  With I'd been there!

TAC Visual / An observation about observation.
« on: July 26, 2017, 02:22:11 PM »
Last Saturday at Pinnacles, I had a brief moment of the type of observing we all hope for.  They're really not all that frequent.  Seeing was incredibly steady, and transparency superb.  It wasn't just me, I head others in the dark mentioning "like Bumpass Hell" or "only seen it like this at Lassen".

My views of the Veil and Crescent Nebulae were tremendous.  So much so, the Veil was at times a confusing large area of nebulosity I couldn't place, as I hadn't seen such detail before.  The Crescent showed easily all those parts that I'd seen previously, but in crisp sinewy details making the views new.

My old friend Dean Linebarger used to say observing is a lot like skiing (he was an avid skier), its all about conditions, and you may get truly great conditions only a few days of the year.

Dean was right.  I think being regular and running into those moments, getting such views, is what really drives the hobby. At least for me.  I got quite lucky, for about an hour, at Pinnacles last weekend.  More of that, please!


Observing Reports / Re: The Pinnacle of Dark Skies
« on: July 25, 2017, 07:47:42 PM »
Smart choice going home.  It's really an easy drive.  I got some sleep in my car, setting the alarm for 6:30 to be gone before the rangers arrived.  I was something of a zombie on Sunday.

Observing Reports / Re: The Pinnacle of Dark Skies
« on: July 25, 2017, 11:23:30 AM »
I mentioned poor seeing.  When it was good, it was very very good.  When it was bad, it was horrid.

Transparency was also coming and going.  We had some unusual warm air currents invade the observing site for a while.  I think with those, the poor transparency arrived.

I think Pinnacles can be, and likely for those who go regularly is, a great place to observe.

What I saw could be best described as "Lumpy Darkness".  On the subtle side of subtle mottling.  I chuckled when McCarthy told me he was looking at Sh-2, which I spent a few years chasing down.  Its a world of eye-torture. :o

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