Travels and Images

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Sunday 17 March 2002
Windy and Cold. Another front of some kind blowing through. The cat (Riley) wants out but it is just too cold I think.

Monday 18 March 2002

Snow on the hills around the Antelope Valley. I could hear rain last night, and a lot of wind, but really don't know if it snowed here on the valley floor. Probably not, and it certainly didn't stick. I'd have a picture of the hills, but NASA and the Air Force don't really want people carrying camera's onto the base these days, so the camera isn't in the glove compartment anymore. It's quite a sight after one of our snowfalls!
Went out to the west valley and took some shots of comet Ikeya-Zhang with the digital Olympus C-3040Z camera. I tried taking shots of the Perseids last year out near Death Valley and was unsuccessful. This time I set the ISO to 400, used the maximum exposure, 16 seconds, a tripod, and made sure the F-stop was wide open (F1.8). I got something, but I'll have to process them a bit on the PC. A friends' eight year old was along so I pointed out the Pleiades. Too me they are just a little blurry white cloud when viewed with the naked eye, but when asked he said: " I see one, two, three, four, five, six looks like a little kite!" Amazing.

Tuesday 19 March 2002

Did some processing of Monday's comet shoot. Not as good as I hoped, but much better than the meteor shower fiasco. I see a lot of noise, perhaps ISO 400 was too much. It was too cold to hang around for more than an hour, and we spent a fair amount of time looking at the moon, the big dipper, Polaris, Orion and the Pleiades. Still, the comet is visible, particularly if the image is inverted so that it is black on white. I have proudly sent it off to various friends and relatives. It will be the "Picture of the Week" I think! It's too hazy in the west to get another photo shot in. Also the moon is waxing....

Wednesday 20 March 2002

It occurs to me that I should have taken a "dark frame", i.e., took an exposure with the lens cap on, or in a bag or something, so that I could subtract out the "noise" and get a clearer image of the comet. About ten years ago or so I bought a book on Astronomical Image Processing, but as usual didn't follow through and actually DO anything. Hmmm. It's probably still about somewhere. Perhaps there was even some software, though it would probably be DOS based. I have Paint Shop Pro 7, that may have something I can use. I did use the TIFF mode when taking the shots.

Thursday 21 March 2002

Warm today - literally shirt sleeve weather. Overcast this evening despite the warmth however. The TV weather people are such incompetents that it's not worth the effort to listen to them. The best weather would probably be from the aviation weather sites, but it's been years since ground school for me, I don't remember much about the symbols and terminology.

Friday 22 March 2002

Warm today - I didn't even bother with a jacket.
Tomorrow, down to the computer show in Pomona. And hopefully some gardening prep in the back yard flower beds.

Saturday 23 March 2002

Today's adventure was down to the LA Computerfaire in Pomona, about a hundred miles. It is a huge event and takes up two exhibition halls and is held monthly. I got there about eleven a.m., and the crowds weren't bad - but by 2:00 when I left they were nearly impenetrable. The traffic leaving was also insane - stop and go on both the city streets and the freeway.
I picked up some parts for a friend - cpu and ram. The prices weren't much better than you'd get on-line, which is odd.
The prices on Pentium-4's there are fabulous, one could pick up a case, power supply, Intel motherboard (the only ones I trust), and 1.6Ghz processor for about $400. Memory and disk would cost a little more, but you could easily walk out with a very capable system for under $1000.
I also bought a couple of ATX power supplies and some floppies for those old servers I picked up a while ago. I was going to buy a KVM switch, but an 8-port switch was nearly $200 - and since these systems will be networked and running Linux  I can just log into them via Telnet or SSH. Heck, I could even use the Berkeley "r" stuff. It's deprecated for security reasons now, but this system isn't connected to the internet at all.
It is raining right now - and of course the weather prediction was "clear and windy". Well, it's a little windy perhaps. No gardening.

Picture of the Week

Comet Ikeya-Zhang, from Lancaster, California, USA

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