Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rock Shop in Holbrook, Arizona

The world-famous Rainbow Rock Shop, in Holbrook, Arizona!
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I would love to have one of these dinosaurs in my front yard. Mrs. UC would not.
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Ooh, pretty!
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Lots of petrified wood. All of these samples came from private land. It is illegal to take petrified wood from government land.

Posted by Dave

Painted Desert

This is the magnificent Painted Desert, northwest of the Petrified Forest.
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Lots of places to pull off the road and park. The desert looks like this, 360 degrees around.
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There was no shortage of clicking tourists. It was a bit hard to find a spot to shoot the desert without another tourist being in the picture.

Posted by Dave

Puerco Ruins Trail

The Puerco Ruins Trail is an attraction in the Petrified Forest. Just the foundations remain of kivas and longhouses.
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These two pics don't show the nice concrete walkways, wheelchair-friendly, that visit all the building remnants.
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These ruins are smack in the middle of nowhere. I have to wonder where these people got water.

Posted by Dave

The Petrified Forest

Just some more pics from our road trip to New Mexico.
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The entrance to the Petrified Forest, and one of the stumps in the foreground.
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A couple of fallen trees. I don't know if these fell before or after petrification.
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Don't even think about picking up some samples. On the way out, a cheerful Park Ranger asks if you have anything to "declare."
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Just a pic of some interesting hills along the way.

Posted by Dave

Close Up

This is one of the photos I took of the recent Super Moon. Maximum telescope magnification and intense Photoshop sharpening. Awful, isn't it?
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The dark dots are dust on my eyepiece lens. Notice the intense graininess and hotspot pixels caused by the sharpening. But damn! You can almost see Neil's footprints.

Posted by Dave

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Venus Transit Preps with a Seymour Solar Filter

It was a delightful 78 degrees at 2 a.m. this morning when I walked the perimeter with Charlie, our director of security. The Milky Way was directly overhead, stretching from Cassiopeia to the tail of Scorpius. A fine morning to set up the scope. But I had bigger fish to fry than the few shots I took of the Dumbbell Nebula in the Swan Constellation. (Star trails, which means my alignment sucked, so no pics to post.)
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I kept the scope out even after the sun came up, because I wanted to take my first pictures of the sun. I did a rough alignment to the north, which started the motors to humming, then I patiently waited for the sun to rise above one of our trees.
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Yesterday's mail brought our solar filter for the scope. It's a Seymour Solar Glass-type filter that goes over the front of the scope.
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The filter looks like a mirror. It's a thin glass, very lightweight, and the whole filter is well-made.
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OK, so here's one of my first shots. Click on the picture to embignify. You can see some spots, but no flares. This shot was taken through the Orion 80mm scope as a prime-focus lens for a Nikon D3000. ISO 100, at 1/25 second shutter speed. Because I took this pic in raw, not jpg, I had to convert it in Nikon's Capture NX2. I did just a little cropping but no other extraordinary measures.

Posted by Dave

Friday, May 25, 2012

Strong Fences

My next-door neighbors are a delight. My neighbor a quarter-mile away, DickHead, is not. DH likes to get drunk and savage the gravel roads with his 4-wheeler. If brodying in circles on the gravel roads doesn't make him feel better, he starts in on my land and my neighbor's land. DH has done an admirable job of irreparably pissing off every neighbor within a mile of me.
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I don't like fences. I also don't much care for angry confrontations. I decided that a fence was the lesser of two dislikes. So my good neighbor and I put a fence around both of our properties. 3 wires on DOT-approved tee-posts fit the bill. Minimal eyesore, won't harm the critters (no barbs) and DH can't ride through it. And get this--both the wire and tee posts were made right here in God's America! Reasonably priced, too.
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We slugged these posts in with a sledge. Yes, I know there's a tool made especially for pounding these in, but my standards are high and I wanted every post to be plumb and straight on the line. More control with a 10 lb. sledge.

Another of my neighbors complimented us on the fence job, and he plans to put one in also, to keep DH off his property.

Posted by Dave

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Looked At The Trap, Ray!

Yeah, I screwed the pooch, hemmed and hawed, and procrastinated on buying a solar filter for my telescope. So we're going to travel back in time to see how we did this in the old days.
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My assistant, Pedro Glyph, holds the image screen, while I hold the solar lens(pinhole in heavy paper) and the camera.
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We were a bit south of the totality path. This is the maxed-out partial eclipse.
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Here's something I discovered. The solar lens doesn't need to be a pinhole in paper. Here I made a solar lens with my hand. The eye of this shadow-critter is the eclipse image. Mrs. UC just rolled her eyes at my great discovery.
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This is probably the cleverest eclipse picture you'll find on the Innertubes. Yer welcome.

Posted by Dave

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Super Moon!

H/T to Lisa over at Ranger Against War for giving me a heads up on the Super Moon.
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Here's the scope. I use this 150mm(6") Celestron C6 as a prime-focus lens for a Nikon D3000 DSLR. This shot shows the telescope "unadorned", without its normal bling of lenses, guidescope, motor controller and whatnot. This is how I carry it out to the astroslab.
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The SuperMoon. ISO of 100 and shutter speed of 1/400 second. Clicking on the pic should embignify.
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Same pic, just "sharpened" and cropped a bit in Photoshop.
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Playing here. I put the 2X barlow lens on the back of the scope to make for more biggerness. Had to bump up the shutter speed to 1/80 second.

Posted by Dave

Saturday, May 5, 2012

City Of Rocks, New Mexico

Small side trip to the City of Rocks, southeast of Silver City, New Mexico.
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Here's the entrance. Photo by Mrs. UC.
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A-OK! Photo by Mrs. UC.
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Lots of clever camp sites. Photo by Mrs. UC.
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Bunch o' rocks, smack in the middle of nowhere. Photos by UC.
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The cactus garden. Photos by UC.
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Closer, closer. Photo by Mrs. UC.
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Not too close! Photo by UC.

Posted by Dave

Friday, May 4, 2012

Suburbs of Silver City, New Mexico

Nosing around the Silver City area, we turned northward first, to Piños Altos, which is on the edge of Gila National Forest and also on the Continental Divide Line.
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Piños Altos is a rustic place of cabins and steep lots. I didn't take any postable pictures there.
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Back to Silver City, then eastward. On the way out of town, we saw these delightful greenhouses. Clicking on the picture will make it big enough to read the telephone number so that you can buy one.
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This is the coolest thing we saw in Hurley, New Mexico. They know front entry covers in Hurley!
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This is the enormous Santa Rita Copper Mine near Hanover. Lots of 2-story-tall dump trucks running around in here.

More pix soon. I'm just getting started. Between Mrs. UC and me, we probably snapped a thousand photos on our trip to New Mexico.

Posted by Dave

Silver City, New Mexico

A recent trip to Silver City, New Mexico. It's a delightful small town, full of interest.
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Here's an iconic building on the "main drag."
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Some back-alley grafitti.
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This is the main point of interest in Silver City, The Big Ditch. Back in 1895 a flood raced down the main street, carving a 35-foot deep gulley. Less than ten years later another flood finished carving the ditch all the way down to bedrock, about 55-feet below street level. So now it's a park with bridges crossing in two places.

Patios galore overlook The Big Ditch.
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What would any bridge be without grafitti? Well-drawn letters, no?

Anecdote time:
We inquired at the Chamber of Commerce if perchance there was a Starbucks in Silver City. The kindly lady at the desk said, "A Tenbucks here? No, Dearie, we make our own coffee."

Posted by Dave