WEEK 36 2020
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Saturday - Super hot, about 113F at the house, up to 117F on the porch thermometer, but that was late afternoon when the sun was hitting the porch directly.
The swamp cooler couldn't possibly keep up, so it was the big window unit running all afternoon and into the mid-evening.
I needed some Neem Oil for the tomatoes, so I went into town for
that. Then I looked for another window a/c, but they'd sold every
I ended up buying a bunch of blocks for the next wall section while I was there. It wasn't too hot in town in the late morning, but it was 106F by the time I got home, so I just parked the truck, blocks and all, in the RV shed for a few hours. Just after sunset I went out and unloaded them. There aren't quite enough to finish this bit, and I need some clay bricks for toppers, but I can get those next week.
My niece is headed up towards Seattle to visit her sister. She sent a picture from Hedge Creek Falls, very neat. I've never been there.
There was a Moon-Mars near conjunction going on, just after moonrise, but the smoke was so bad that I can't say I saw Mars. I did take a couple of pictures, I'll have to download them from the T3i and see if anything is visible :-(
I picked a really rotten time to restart my amateur astronomy hobby.
Friday - Hot.
AH and I went into town and refilled our propane tanks. There was a pretty good crowd,but we got there early and it wasn't too bad. He actually went in and did a bit of shopping while I waited in the shade as the help filled things. There was a pretty constant stream of people needing tanks refilled, but usually they were the little 15 and 30 gallon tanks. The cost to me was about $51, for almost exactly two months since the last filling.
Not much to say. I also picked up a little Meade ETX-70AT used. I just couldn't pass it up for $100. It is missing the mount, but since it sits flat on it's base it shouldn't be a big deal. Thats a fair price, the OTA's go anywhere from $50 to $150.
I also ordered a decent Barlow lens. The plastic one in the little telescope's kit is a piece of junk. It should be a big upgrade for the little scope and the C8 (and, I guess, the ETX). I would have settled for a decent Orion or Celestron, but all that was available was the Televue. Televue is kind of an upper-middle-class brand, think Cadillac and Lincoln, not Mercedes or Ferrari. At my age and with my equipment it's overkill, but it was only $25 more and I could order it now.
Most optical places are claiming restock in mid-September.
I also found an article that spells out how to fix up the rather rickety equatorial mount that the little scope has.
Thursday - Hot.
Did a bit of stuff around the house, inside, cleaning and what not.
In the afternoon I went in and had a fitting for the root canal from last week. This took a couple of hours and I was wiped out by the time it was over.
Wednesday - Hot.
I went out and did a little 6' section of wall. This will recess the final wall about 6' from the front of the house, which will match the (notional) wall by the garage. That has to be recessed, because of the electric meter location.
It went OK. I didn't trench for a lower course of block, after the fiasco with my back a few weeks ago, so I'm not entirely happy. On the other hand it's 18" tall, it's not like it's going to fall over and kill someone.
Despite the winds I went out and tried out the new eyepieces in the little scope. The Televue 15mm was a "WOW" experience. The 8mm was good, but the image wasn't as sharp as I had hoped. On the other hand it was very hazy and windy - I had to find Polaris for alignment, the north star, with averted vision! Jupiter and Saturn were neat, but again.
I left the scope out, and got up in the morning and looked at Mars. Without a Barlow the eyepieces only give me 47X and 86X, but that was enough to see some detail on the very very small image.
I need to take the big scope out, but the weather and smoke is horrible.
Garbage truck did a 180 in front of the house again. I guess since I'm not outside in the 110F weather they feel they can get away with it. Maybe I'll just get in contact with the company and have them deal with it. I've tried being nice, it isn't working...
Tuesday - September already. Hard to believe. The year has seemed to crawl, yet here were are, all of a sudden.
Still hot and windy.
I have found the Canon T3i, and charged it up. Despite about a year of non-use the clock was still good.
We had a blood red moon rising to the east, so I went out and attempted some photography. The Moon is straightforward: Manual mode, F400, 1/100 sec, F/11. Except that I couldn't change the f-stop and film speed despite being in manual mode. I'd forgotten how horrible Canon's controls are to use, for example: changing the f-stop, rather than just select f-stop in the menu and use the scroll wheel to set requires you hold down three separate buttons on the camera body, at the same time...
So, while I finally got a shot, the moon was well above the tree's and I was irritated.
Monday - Hot.
My eyepieces arrived in the early evening, they seem intact. The winds were howling, so I didn't get a chance to get out and see how they did.
Surfing the internet I found another truck camper option: the truck pop-top. About half or a quarter as expensive as the ones I was looking at earlier in the year. Around $5k for barebones: and they are back ordered 16 weeks or more. My boomer cohorts have hoovered them all up I guess.
Maybe the Softopper is the way to go for now.
Or just bite the bullet and get a Leer or SnugTop, which will be somewhat secure. I mean, it will keep the honest people out, unlike the canvas cover. But it requires four or five people to put on/off and one of my goals is to be less dependent on people.
Sunday - Hot: about 100F, Dry: about 7% humidity, Windy: gusting to 30mph.
I went shopping with S, picked up quite a bit of stuff, since I didn't shop last weekend.
I assembled and tested the little scope, it works pretty well. Only the 20mm eyepiece is any good, the 3x Barlow and 4mm are junk. It's a flimsy tripod, but probably some weights and bungees will fix that. The RA and Dec controls for the equatorial are a bit stiff too, I hear the grease used is more like glue, so I may redo the gear lubricants. The finder scope works, more or less, but is straight through and so close to the tube as to be almost impossible to use.
That said, the view of the 3/4ths waxing moon using the 20mm eyepiece was very nice, very sharp, just a hint of color. Jupiter and Saturn were sharp as well, the belts on Jupiter just being visible. But with a 700mm focal length and a 20mm eyepiece we are talking only 35X magnification and things were quite small. With the 15mm and 8mm coming things should be better.
Harold in El Segundo got my check and has sent me a tracking number for the two new-to-me eyepieces, they should arrive tomorrow sometime.
I need a decent Barlow, but they are hard to find right now, everyone is out of stock: all this stuff is made in China. No rush though.
I sort of have gear-itis right now, but it's because I know what things should look like in a small scope, and they don't. You never see the views that you see in books, telescopes aren't space probes, but it's a fun and, once you've decent gear, inexpensive hobby.
Harold also sent me a link to a site with some inexpensive gear, ScopeStuff, but they want Paypal. I may have to break down and sign up for that again. I had it, years ago, but let it drop when they got weird and started adding strange conditions to the agreement.