Roland Roberts's blog

Transit of Venus 2012, Clouded out in Brooklyn

A couple of dozen folks showed up in Shore Road Park hoping to get a peek at Venus transiting the Sun today, but the weather did not cooperate. After setting up shortly after 5pm, I had to cover the equipment due to some light rain which passed through. Eventually the Sun peeked through a thin spot in the clouds long enough for me to get the (filtered) binoculars pointed at it and several people were able to get a brief look before the Sun disappeared back behind the clouds. Alas, that was it for the day. Around 7:20pm, I packed up.

Random Drupal Failures

I've been rather frustrated with my web site lately as I've been getting random Drupal failures telling me it can't find "settings.php." Utter nonsense; the file is there, permissions are correct, and it usually finds it just fine.So, if you've been confronted with a rather odd home page or link when navigating my site, I apologize. I think I may have worked around it, but seeing how it pops up randomly, it's hard today. It's gone right now, but we'll see about tomorrow....

M31 with a Meade DSI Pro II - redux

Okay, temptation overtook me again Wink. I pulled out the IR blocking filter and took an hour's worth of images, plus enough calibration frames that I should have been able to eliminate the flaws in the previous images. The results, below, are better, but there are a few nagging issues.

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M31 with a Meade DSI Pro II

The weather was just too clear last night to avoid the temptation, so I dragged out my equipment and started taking pictures. Admittedly, almost anything done from here in Brooklyn, "pretty-picture" wise, has to be considered practice since it rarely works out unless its the moon or planets. But I thought I would try either the Veil Nebula or something in Cygnus with a deep red filter, which blocks most of the city lights, and use it as a black-and-white image.

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Misleading Math, Fuel Economy, Public Transportation.

I'm listening to a radio commercial about the shuttle bus to Newark Airport. They want to claim 184 passenger miles per gallon. My minivan is not particularly fuel efficient, getting about 22-23 miles per gallon (note the missing "passenger" qualifier). On short trips around town, like a run out to Home Depot, I'm the only one in the car and that becomes 22 passenger miles per gallon.

Physics Central Web Site

I guess this falls into the "how far behind are you in your reading" category. The December issue of APS News reported that Physics Central was a finalist in the web awards from the Institue of Physics after a redesign late last year.  PhysicsBuzz was listed as a finalist in the "Best Blog" category. I would write more, but I'm busy browsing the site right now....

Water Pressure Experiment

Usually I'm blogging about astronomy, but the March issue of Science and Children had an article "Water Pressure in Depth" that covers an experiment that is part of the Webelos scientist activity pin, and something I have done with Webelos. They turn the simple demonstration activity into an inquiry activity. They also use plastic milk cartons which are easier to come by than the coffee cans I used (doh! why didn't I think of that then).

Easy Moon Phase Model

I just saw this one in the March issue of Science and Children, and it's something I definitely have to incorporate into the moon phase activities I do with the kids. The original comes from the Top Science web site, and while I've enjoyed their short ads in the magazine, I never looked at their web site. Definitely a good resource. (I'm resisting the urge to whip out the credit card and buy a bunch of stuff...for now anyway).


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