Life in the Fast Lane?

I don't think I'm actually in the fast lane, but it sort of feels like it. The past month has had me away for two weeks, one with the Cub Scouts in Alpine, NJ and another at the Summer Star Party in Savoy, MA. Between that and being in physical therapy three days each week since the shoulder surgery at the end of April, time is passing too quickly and I can't keep up. Fortunately, most of our bills are in autopay mode, so the only bad thing happening is that too much paperwork is piling up and not being recorded and filed.

Modeling the Moon's Phases

I originally built these models a couple of years ago, but didn't realize it was something "novel" until I got some comments at this past year's NEAF where I had brought them for the children's section. Quite frankly, I think it works well with adults, too, as I've heard some well-educated adults propagating common misconceptions about what causes the phases of the moon. The idea is simple enough. One side of the moon is illuminated by the Sun, the other is not.

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.


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