John's Ramblings and Musings 

Pam & Randy Shivak and Dorothy O'Neal and I at CAMP SOLARACTIVITY in Smith's Ferry, Idaho on August 21st, 2017 for the Great American Total Solar Eclipse

Shiloh Observatory compleX (SOX) Dedication - May 20th, 2017

The SOX Solar Observatory, the first building in the Shiloh Observatory Complex

The SOX Solar Observatory, my first building in the Shiloh Observatory Complex. On May 20th, 2017 we held a dedication cceremony for the first observatory building to our Shiloh Observatory Complex. We invited friends and neighbors over to partake in the festivities! Now, if the weather holds out, all will be fine. The prediction calls for mostly clear skies until after midnight, then rain...

An 8
We hung the SOLARACTIVITY Banner and Telescope Viewing on the carport facing the street to help people find us.We hung out banners on the side of the future Spectro BuildingAn 8" Reflector and 8" SCT were setup for guests to use.
We displayed some of our images and books, etc on the POD Deck.And we set up our outreach display tablesShowing off the Sun and the Solar Observatory.
Jeff manning the 8" Newt.The Red Rope Lights were fun, while preserving our night vision Bob manning the Meade LX200

We put up our popup tent and umbrella to shade our guests. It was quite sunny.

Some of our neighbors and astronomy friendsWe strung red lights to keep dark sky adaptation after dark.
Our neighbor, Amber, checking out Planets in the eyepiece.Our neighbor, Amber, took this photo of Jupiter & his attendant Moons through the 6" Refractor with her smartphoneAmber commented: "One of the coolest things I've seen, ever. The first picture is Jupiter and 4 moons, and the second, its Saturn! I'm glad my phone could pick it up through the telescope. I mean, just look at it! Its amazing! Thanks to our neighbors for allowing us to view."
We had a wonderful time with our new neighbors and friends from the astronomy club. The weather was fabulous and the skies were clear. The Pizza was GREAT and the sodas were cold, and it doesn't get much better than that. Dorothy and I would like to thank everybody for making our special evening a success.





Astronomy Week/Arbor Day at Hickory Science Center with The Catawba Valley Astronomy Club



On April 22nd, 2017 Dorothy and I were at the Catawba Science Center in Hickory, NC with the Catawba Valley Astronomy Club and doing solar outreach for Astronomy Week and Arbor Day. We had some more hi-res solar images framed for our table. Since the weather was mostly cloudy we only broke out the Sun Bucket.
All setup on the lawn and ready for visitors...Our display table looks nice with Dorothy's added touches.Dorothy is manning the Sun Bucket, our homemade Solar Projection Scope

One of the administrators at the event estimated that we
had about 500 visitors over the course of the morning.
 I'm calling this event a SUCCESS!!!

NEAIC & NEAF 2017



Some of the interesting people we met at NEAIC & NEAF In April, 2017 in Suffern, NY. This event is truly a Who's who of who and what is relevant and happening in current astronomical circles. The talks and presentations were all top notch and cutting edge. For gearheads, the latest, greatest gear, software, etc was on display and for sale at special event pricing. Plus it was nice seeing so many friends there, as well as the new friends we made...
Charlie Warren of Amateur Astronomy Magazine & I at NEAIC, 2017Pamela & Randy Shivak w/Stephen Ramsden in the background at the NEAF Star PartyFrank liked my presentation and we talked for quite a while afterwards...Dorothy O'Neal and Caroline Moore at the Registration Desk
Fellow Black River Astro member, Ed Swonger and Chuck Cynamon and Randy ShivakFellow Black River Astro members, Pamela Shivak, Dorothy O'Neal and myself at Applebees.Gary Parkerson of Astronomy Technology Today, my fave astro magazine!!!Fellow Black River Astro member, Ed Swonger and I at NEAICBob Moore has it ALL going on. What a guy!!!
The walk of Fame!!!The DAYSTAR Booth was always busy!!!Fred Bruenges and Joey rockin' the DAYSTAR gear on the observing field.

‎I presented my lecture HIGH RESOLUTION SOLAR IMAGING to a packed room at the 2017 North East Astro Imaging Conference in Suffern, New York. We talked about seeing and how to quantify it and more importantly, how to select your site and gear to improve seeing. We showed how the NYQUIST SMPLING THEORY can be utilized as a guide to select the proper gear to resolve seeing issues and to assure optimal system performance and matching cameras and scopes and other elements of the imaging train to avoid undersampling and stay within the confines  & restraints of the seeing and your equipment. 

Here's a link to a VIDEO of the Solar Star Party at NEAF, shot by Stephen Ramsden.Dorothy and I at Suffern, NY for NEAIC/NEAF.







A couple of months while my friend & nephew Todd O'Neal was visiting we placed 3 piers in what will eventually become the SHILOH OBSERVATORY COMPLEX.  (SOX)

My image made AAPOD˛ for January 26th, 2017

Here's a 4 panel mosaic, shot in my backyard Observatory, showing the similarities and subtle differences between various monochromatic wavelengths of Solar light.

All were shot with "Little Levi", a 102mm f/7.0 refractor on a Losmandy G-11 in a SKYSHED POD using a ZWOASI174mm CMOS Imaging camera.

The upper left frame was shot with a Tele Vue Powermate (2140mm EFL) and the DAYSTAR FILTERS Calcium H QUARK. 

The upper right frame was shot with a DAYSTAR FILTERS Hydrogen Alpha QUARK Chromosphere, tuned offband. (3070mm EFL) 

I tuned the H-Alpha Quark off-band to closer resemble the features of NOAA AR2603 and enhance the comparison with the other filters.

The lower left frame was shot with a BAADER Herschel Wedge and Continuum Filter at 2140mm EFL. 

The lower right frame was shot with a DAYSTAR FILTERS Sodium D QUARK. (3070mm EFL)

This shot was awarded Picture of the day for January 26th, 2017 on the AAPOD˛ website.









The Total Lunar Eclipse (FIASCO) of September 7th, 2006
I'm always excited to see an eclipse, lunar or solar. I read about the total lunar eclipse of September 7th, only to have my hopes dashed by learning that it would NOT be visible in North America.To ease my disapointment I looked for some other event taking place in the night sky to distract me from the pain of missing yet another eclipse. So, I learned that there was going to be a minus 8th magnitude Iridium flare at abt 8:30 from my location and I set out to capture it. While waiting for the satelite I was acclimating my eyes to the night sky while setting up a camera in hopes of capturing the flare.
Then I noticed the moon rising low in the east. It had that ruddy red appearance so often seen when the moon is eclipsed.
 I quickly switched gears (Hey, I'm used to multi-tasking) and snagged a shot. 
Then, to my surprise,  a small semi-circular depression appeared in the top of the moon.
Wow, just like an eclipse, I thought. I snagged another shot.
The bite got bigger.....and bigger......and bigger.........
Meanwhile, I'm shooting away and totally enjoying my little lunar eclipse.
I had come to witness an iridium flare and instead, had seen
a total lunar eclipse!  I began to wonder at the
implications of what I had just witnessed.
Could I claim bragging rights as the only person in
North America to witness the total lunar eclipse
of September 7th, 2006, WHILE in North America?
Lost in reverie, I imagined the honors that would be
 bestowed upon me by the astronomical community.
I bet they will hold a parade in my honor.
I imagined being admitted into the Royal Astronomical Society
as a lifetime honorary member.
Next, Dubya would invite me to the White House
 and give me the keys to the Hubble Space Telescope.
For a brief moment the universe was mine.
I forgave those pesky clouds every bad curse
 I ever bestowed upon them...........
Finally,  the cloud totally obscured the moon. I stood there for a moment dumbfounded. What a show!

...I was shaken from my reverie by my alarm. Reality stormed back upon my consciousness. I had set my alarm to go off six seconds before the Iridium flare reached -8th magnitude, so I could start an exposure.
Now, here I was, standing here like a dummy, the camera pointed at the horizon and the satellite getting away. Instinct kicked in. I grabbed the tripod handle in my left hand the the shutter button with my right hand.
As I began slewing the camera upward I was scanning the sky. There's where the moon was, there's Sagitarius. Go up from there and find Lyra. Form a triangle and there inside is Aquila and Sagita. There it is!!! 
Iridium 46! It's brightening!!!!FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!

I hoped with all hope that I had the camera pointed in the right direction. I didn't have time to look through the viewfinder. I aimed from the hip like they do in those cheesy old western movies and depressed the shutter button.
The shutter opened and then immediately closed. Huh?

I wanted a 15 second exposure.  I had it all figured out on paper. 6 seconds before the flare, 4 seconds for max, and 5 seconds after max. That would give me a nice  picture like the ones you see in the magazines.
What happened? Then it sunk in. The camera was still set at 1 1/2 seconds, where I had set it for my last moon shot. SH@#%$&IT

I had become so enthralled with my little "eclipse" that I forgot to set up for the satelite. But then I started to rationalize. Hey, maybe it turned out anyhow.  1 1/2 seconds should capture an object as bright as -8th magnitude.
Maybe I had captured the flare after all. I quickly set the camera to view mode, crossed my fingers and looked at my last image. And there was a nice big bright spot in the frame. I was elated. SUCCESS!
(at least for a moment.) When I got home I pulled the card from my camera and viewed the image on my PC.mOH, NO! While shooting the moon, I had placed the camera in autofocus mode.
There was my Iridium flare, captured in all it's OUT OF FOCUS glory.So, for those of you who have never seen an out of focus iridium flare I offer the following images.
(Complete with those pesky clouds!)
Feel free to lok at this photo and laugh at my silly mistakes.
Because, ten years down the road, when I look at this picture, I'll remember a cool September evening,
a beautiful blood red moon rising on the eastern horizon and a really nice iridium flare.
Selective memory being what it is, I'll forget the rest of the details............
I'll simply remember yet another perfect observing session under the stars.