TV Turnoff Week Stargazing

Apr 21, 5:15pm -- I'm going to plan on going to the park at around 8:30 unless it is completely overcast.  But I do not expect the weather to be suitable for viewing at all.  Please use your common sense and have a look at the sky.  If you can only see clouds, or if you can't see any stars, it won't be any better a few blocks away at the park, so you may as well stay home.

We will be trying, once again, to have a stargazing time in Shore Road Park (see map below).  Unfortunately, this time is scheduled for a weeknight due to scheduling conflicts.  And, since the sun sets later now, we can't start until 8:30.  TV Turnoff week occurs this year duing the 3rd quarter phase, so the moon will not be visible during our outing, but Saturn should be visible and we can take a brief tour of the constellations and stars bright enough to be seen above the city lights.

NEAIC: Tonal Mapping

J-P Metsainio is giving a talk on his techniques for using narrow-band imaging to produce very sharp high contrast color images.  The technique appears to be a very clever application of the idea of using lower resolution in the color channels and blurring the noise (to reduce grain).

NEAIC In Progress!

Well, I've made it to NEAIC (again).  This year promises to be better than ever with an opening talk by Tony Hallas discussing CCD Noise (I'm sitting here listening to him now).  Vendors have contributed some very nice goodies for Friday's raffle (and some of the vendors aren't even here).

Asteroid Impact in Nubian Desert Tracked

Science News is reporting on a first of its kind: an asteroid that was tracked all the way to its impact on Earth.

The asteroid was apparently about the size of a car (hmm, would that be a Hummer or a mini-Cooper?) and since the trajectory was well-tracked, the impact site in northern Sudan was found an much of the debris recovered for study.  The ony scary part is this sentence:

Open Source Physics Educational Java Tools

Well, it's good news bad news time.  I was excited to find these via an article in the Physics Teacher.  Clearly, I haven't been paying attention, because they've been mentioned before, but the item which caught my attention was an article that used a program called Tracker to analyze 2D motion.  I immediately thought of using for projectile motion (what is the muzzle velocity of a Nerf® gun?).

C/2007 N3 Lulin from Brooklyn

Well, sort of.  I got out briefly tonight with my wife's Canon 12x36 IS binoculars (that's Image Stabilized).  The position of Lulin is easy enough to find with Saturn less that 6º away and two reasonably bright star nearby to help zero in on its location - Leo 59 at mag 5 and Leo X-63A at mag 4.6.  Leo 59 is only half a degree away.

Another Reason to Turn off the Lights

Yet another study has found a connection between cancer and night-time lighting.  Last time it was breast cancer, this time is it prostate cancer.  In Darkness, Melatonin may Suppress Breast and Prostate Cancers, Science News reports on another study that shows a link between burning the midnight oil and human health.

Pendulums

For his science fair project, Jonathan investigated pendulums.  His
hypothesis was that how fast the pendulum swings, its period, should
depend on how heavy it was.  So I arranged to have 1-inch diameter
pendulum bobs made of copper, steel, and wood.  We suspended each from
a horizontal beam, carefully measured so they were all the same length,
then swung them back in synch.

How Fast is Sound?

A few months ago, I read an article in The Physics Teacher (published by the American Association of Physics Teachers) on measuring the speed of sound using a couple of microphones hooked up to a computer's line-in jack.  Apart from having to make a trip to Radio Shack to buy some parts to convert two standard unpowered microphones into a pair of powered microphones for stereo input, the process was amazingly straightforward.  I did a quick proof-of-concept in the dining room one evening and go

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