Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Solar Photography

I took this photo of sunspots today with the kids I'm teaching in the Astronomy Summer camp at Warner Nature Center. You can see the umbra and penumbra of the larger spot on the right and the smaller spots would probably be called pores. You can see some lighter faculae to the left as well. This was my first attempt at solar photography.

I used a meade 8 inch SCT and a 40mm Tele-Vue plossol lens. The camera was a 3.2 megapixel Olympus C-740 and I used afocal projection. I held the camera with my hands as I don't have a special mount to hold it in place.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Sad Mac

There comes a time in life when it is no longer fiscally wise to dump money into a computer. I was feeling all happy about the shiny new bigger and better hard drive in my ibook. I say WAS happy because now it was a huge waste of money. (Did I mention the new battery as well?)

My ibook is dead. It has the infamous and nasty Logic Board Failure. I called apple and they told me that while they finally admit there is a problem (after years of denial) they will only service computers that are less than three years old. How old is my computer? Three years and four months.

Of course it is.

Apple made a bad product and they should fix the bad product no matter how old it is. Gimme a break. If a car company realizes their engines are catching on fire due to a manufacting defect and then they say,"Well, we realize this is a problem but unless it catches on fire within three years of manufacture we're not going to fix it. Maybe you should just buy a new car, I mean come on, it's three years old!"

Now the good news is that it really isn't my computer. It is my work computer and so if we have to buy a new one it doesn't really come out of my pocket. Still, I work for a non-profit that has to work hard to save money. It irks me that corporations can make products that are so unstable and we are supposed to drool over them and fork over our cash to buy the newest model. It is almost enough to make me want to buy a PC. Almost. Of course, that will never happen as I think even less of them. I'd rather use a typewriter.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Curse May Be Lifting

It had been a while since I had seen a new bird but I recently added three birds in three days. No, none of them were the Indigo Bunting.

I set out for a canoe trip on the St. Croix river and what at first looked like a pair of eagles flying together turned out to be a pair of Sandhill Cranes. I'd heard them many times this year but this wa my first sighting.

At the first campground I heard a song that I knew I should know. It was Sweet Sweet oh so Sweet. Or something aproximating that. I spotted a yellow bird on a branch and the binoculars revealed the beautiful red streaks on the breast of a male Yellow Warbler. Wonderful.

At the next campsite at Goose Creek I heard a similar song to the yellow warbler but it was slightly different. I got a great look at the underside of a bird sitting directly above me but that didn't help too much. Finally a pair of birds flew past. One was yellow and black while the other was orange and black. They were American Redstarts. Absolutely beautiful. The Sibley guide doesn't do them justice.

So, gentle readers, that brings my count up to 89. Here I sit on the cusp of 90. What will it be? how long can the indogo bunting elude me?