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Showing posts from 2011

Icosahedral Planet Models

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I wanted to make a Christmas present for my middle-school-aged niece, and I wanted it to be science-related. So, I found these images at various places on the web (starting at the very nice page assembled by Steve Albers). I then wrote a computer program to turn the images into the maps you see here - projected onto icosohedra (20-sided solid objects).

It reminded me once again what a remarkable time we are living in. When I was born, *none* of these maps would have been possible. And many of them have only been made possible in the last decade (in fact, the Mercury and Vesta maps were just made this year).

Here is an example - our very own Moon:



You can find all the images at Google Plus

Edit: People who were not logged in to Google+ could not download all the pictures. So I've also uploaded the album to Flickr.

There are maps of:

Callisto Deimos Dione Earth Enceladus Europa Ganymede Iapetus Io Jupiter Luna Mars Mercury Mimas Phobo…

Lunar Eclipse over Horsetooth

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I went out early this morning to catch the last lunar eclipse until 2014.  This one is unique, because, from the United States, it occurred near sunrise.  So you can see the pink light on Horsetooth mountain from the pre-dawn glow in the east.  The moon went behind the mountains before totality.

This picture was taken at about 6:45 AM local time on a DSLR attached to an 80mm f/6 telescope (480mm focal length), a 1/2 second exposure at ISO 400 (and then computer-processed somewhat to enhance the contrast).

Doo, doo, doo, lookin' out my back door

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My first serious attempt at astro imaging - taken from just outside my back door. This is the galaxy M31 in Andromeda. Stack of 50 luminance, 25 red, 25 green, and 25 blue frames, along with 25 dark frames. Exposures were 15 seconds (the mount is not polar aligned). Camera is a Meade DS3, at prime focus of an Orion ED80T-CF 80mm F/6 apochromatic refractor. Mount is an iOptron MiniTower Pro. Images were acquired and stacked with Stark Labs Nebulosity. Final tweaking in Photoshop.



Thirty years ago this fall, as an undergrad, I took an astronomy class at NMSU. As part of that class, we got to try astrophotography. At the time, that meant loading a large, heavy, fragile glass plate with photo emulsion coating into a 16" fixed-mount Cassegrain telescope. I chose M31 as my target. I then had to stand at the eyepiece and manually guide the exposure. The whole setup probably cost $300,000 (it belonged to the university), and I spent about two hours hunched over t…

A year of solar data

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Our solar array has been up and running for a year now.  Since we have micro-inverters from Enphase, I'm able to log data every 5 minutes on how much solar power we're producing (you can browse a summary view of this data at Enphase's public page for our system).  I've saved this data over the entire year (over 70,000 data points).  Here are a few visualizations of the data.  First, a simple contour map of the raw data - blue is 0-2000 watts, red is 2000-4000 watts, and green is more than 4000 watts of instantaneous power being produced by the array:

This is the same data, but smoothed with a 5x5 box filter and viewed in perspective - it lets you see the longer weather events we've had (multi-day winter storms, extended summer cloudy intervals) - it gives the data an interesting "array of stacks" view:


And here is a chart showing the average-per-time-of-day and maximum-per-time-of-day power production (note that in all these charts time-of-day has been cor…

Help Protect Pine Ridge Natural Area!

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This blog post is a call to action for those of you who care about the integrity of Fort Collins' protected natural areas.  I urge you to please help by reading this message.

Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) has received approval to put 90-110 foot high-voltage transmission towers through one of Northern Colorado’s pristine and most popular natural areas — the Pine Ridge Natural Area, on the west side of Fort Collins.  These towers are necessitated by projected new growth and will primarily benefit areas outside Fort Collins, including Loveland and Longmont. These huge towers are already installed along Trilby Road between Taft Hill and Shields and heading west into the foothills.  They have also been installed along Overland Trail Road north of Drake.  These towers have already created a major eye-sores in our views to the foothills and mountains, including impacting the views from our open spaces and community separators.  Now the proposal calls for these towers…