Monday, March 20, 2006

No longer Sloohing the night sky.... On line

As of this week I have cancelled my membership to the Great Slooh Robotic Telescope in the Canary Islands. The latest upgrade on the software program to their website looks great! Plays music while the target is loading plus many added features. Unfortunately the telescope targets never loaded and filled the screen for me to view. I did get a 10 second look at Saturn. Thought I had a great photo. But when I checked the mission log file, later....Nothing was there. My dial-up mode just cannot catchup with their new system and keep up with their programs megabytes any longer. I was always patient with the program they ran this past year. I would wait the full 5 or 10 minute time frame, per object, for the photons to accumulate and sometimes got a chance to take a clear photo. I did manage to gather a view shots in my download file. Like a wide view of Omega Centauri, NGC 5139. One of the last photos filed before they changed to the Slooh 2.0 system program. It was a great way to spend a cloudy evening. Following the targets set by a team stationed at that robotic telescope for an evening at my desk, with my three volumes of Burnham's Celestial Handbooks, learning more about each Celestial target. Until I can acquire a High Speed link, I will use my Burnham's Hanbooks as reference and call up my file photos to review any line.So, if you have a High Speed modem and want to spend a cloudy evening slewing from a home computer, go to and sign up. The Commander membership will give you a year's worth of dark sky site seeing from the Canary Islands.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cloudy Night Skies!

Only two nights with Stars during the past three months!
The Group has only set up twice this year. Both at Elementary School outings. Rebecca Creek on February 13 and Hoffmann Lane on March 9. I have only set up in my backyard once this year!

Weather forecasting and planning with clouds can be tricky to determine the best chances to catch a starry night. Weather forecasting has come a long way. With NOAA satellites and computers, today's science of weather forecasting brings us a faster technological predicting machine. But a lot still depends on Old Mother Nature and Luck. A Clear sky is what we look far, but there are partly cloudy nights.
What % of the sky is covered when you want to see the stars?
Here are some of the defined sky conditions set by the NWS:
Mostly Clear When the predominant/average sky condition is covered 1/8 to 2/8 with opaque (not transparent) clouds. Sometimes referred to as Mostly Sunny if this condition is present during daylight hours.
Mostly Cloudy When the predominant/average sky condition is covered by more than half, but not completely covered by opaque (not transparent) clouds. In other words, 5/8 to 7/8 of the sky is covered by opaque clouds. Same as Considerable Cloudiness.
Overcast(Abbrev. OVC)- An official sky cover classification for aviation weather observations, when the sky is completely covered by an obscuring phenomenon. This is applied only when obscuring phenomenon aloft are present--that is, not when obscuring phenomenon are surface-based, such as fog.
Partly Cloudy When the predominant/average sky condition is covered 3/8 to 4/8 with opaque (not transparent) clouds. Same as Partly Sunny. Even a Mostly Clear sky forecast could have some clouds. A partly cloudy sky could have 50% cloud cover.
Planning a Sky Watching event in the night sky with clouds can be a Stargazers' dilemma.
This next weekend has clouds in the forecast. The best way to predict is to step outside in your backyard at night, when you look up in the night sky and see an ocean of stars , set up, align then begin to explore the night sky. Good luck forecasting your next backyard event,

Friday, March 10, 2006

No more monthly events

At a time of year that usually brings a rash of star gazers, monthly events were suspended.

Disappointed in past turn out and participation, the person scheduleing the events decided to suspend all monthly events off the calendar.

Time to re-evaluate group participation and events.