Performance of AstroTrac TT320X-AG

It's been a busy year. I bought this at NEAF back in April and have only just now been able to get out and give it a spin. The new feature, of course, is the autoguiding. With the original TT320, the specifications state a periodic error limit of 5 arcseconds per 5 minutes. As it works out, when using my Borg 45ED lens, the pixels in my Canon 350D are about 5 arcseconds wide. What I've seen is that I can, with great care, get exposures up to 4 minutes long, but some of them invariably show trailing and have to be thrown out.

Happy June Solstice Day!

For those of you who missed it, yesterday marked the June solstice, the first day of summer. Of course, my children disagree about the "first day of summer" part since they know the first day of summer doesn't really happen until after school is out and here in New York City, the last day of school is June 28.

Estimating Risks

The April 24, 2010 issue of Science News has an interesting article entitled "Gambling on Experience" which reports on research into how we (people) guestimate risk in real life. I call it interesting both because it is an interesting social question, but also because of a recent dialogue about the topic of cell phones and brain cancer risk reported in a popular magazine.

Sun|trek Educational Site

The January 2010 issue of Physics Today's web watch section mentioned the Sun|trek web site which contains a number of resource for learning about the Sun and it's effect on the Earth.  The material is varied and the comment about being "devoted to teaching schoolchildren" is a bit vague on the age group, but the format includes a large number of images and other materials that make it engaging, certainly for middle school and possibly for older elementary students (depending on the lesson).  Of course, some of the material is clearly target

Physics at Home, Science Projects

The American Physical Society has a nice web site called "Physics Central" which has, among other things, a section called Physics@Home.  For those of you who put off you science fair projects until the last minute, have a look at some of the things you can try at home.  The laser and jello experiment looks not only interesting, but also quite yummy.

Light Pollution from Digital/Video Billboards

This has been one of my pet peeves for a while, and my kids can already point out the things I'm going to whine about as we drive along the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) coming home from Queens.  There are several of these video billboards along the road.  I have always found it ironic that there are laws dealing with "distracted driving" when the driver does something to distract himself, but nothing about allowing third-parties to deliberately try to distract the driver.  I mean, what else does any billboard do but try to draw attention to itself. 

Elements of Humanity

I first saw the reference to the Elements of Humanity web site in Physics Today although I subscribe to MAKE Magazine who made the site.  Elements of Humanity is a set of interviews with 12 scientist and engineers who talk about what inspired them to choose their careers.  Some of them are fascinating for teachers, some more so for students, but all of them are well done and help break the stereotype of scientists in white lab coats.

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