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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 stars...it looks like a little kite!"
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
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
Wednesday 20 March
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
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
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
Comet Ikeya-Zhang, from Lancaster, California, USA
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