Stacking Stone

The wall building project is now well along, with sections of completed wall and the outline what it will look like when I am done now apparent.

Tools ready to hand as work continues in the backyard
Tools ready to hand as work continues in the backyard

At this point there is 18 ft of completed wall, another 52 lineal feet of various height walls in various stages of completion from first course laid to nearly topped out. Another 11 feet will be started shortly to complete the first phase of wall building.

To create this much wall over five tons of rock has been loaded, driven 19 miles, unloaded, and hauled to the back yard. Twelve wheelbarrow loads per ton. About 70% of that rock has been stacked into the walls, the remainder in piles awaiting use.

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Christmas Telescopes

We just received the Costco Christmas sales mailer. Every year there is a telescope featured, promoted as a gift. Not just slightly featured either, but included on the front page of the flyer, the first thing you see when you pick the mailer up.

Celestron Astromaster 130EQ
A typical inexpensive telescope, the Celestron Astromaster 130EQ

The telescope this year is a Celestron Astromaster 130EQ, the typical small reflector on an equatorial mount. The deal includes several eyepieces, filters, and a cell phone adapter for afocal photography.

Those of us with long practical experience just cringe when we see such telescopes. These cheap telescopes are usually more of a frustration to would be amateur astronomers than useful. Cheap ‘scopes have deterred more folks from the hobby than we will ever know.

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Mercury at Maximum Elongation

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter
An evening conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter on 30 May, 2013

Today Mercury is passing through maximum elongation, the furthest it will rise above the rising Sun in the dawn sky. After today the planet will slide back into the Sun’s glare headed for superior conjunction on January 10th.

This is a modest apparition, with the planet only 20° from the Sun.

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New Moon

Young Moon
A very young moon over Waikoloa

New Moon will occur today at 05:06HST.

Over the next few days a slim crescent Moon will slide through a number of bright planets low in the sunset including Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn.

This coming weekend, Nov. 30th, offers an excellent night for observing with a slim 4 day old Moon in the sunset. Get out and enjoy the dark!

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A Foggy Night at Kaʻohe

Foggy? Well? Mostly the skies were the beautiful dark Mauna Kea skies we enjoy. Mostly. The fog did flirt with us much of the night, rolling over hard for about half an hour, blotting out the stars for a while.

The Phelps family enjoys the skies at Kaʻohe
The Phelps family enjoys the skies at Kaʻohe

Despite a dire forecast for moisture on the mauna, the weather at Kaʻohe was quite nice aside from a bit of fog. The big telescopes atop the mauna were closed for much of the night in fog and even a little light snow, while we were enjoying the stars in the eyepiece.

There were ten folks who drove up the mauna to enjoy the night… Maureen, Cathy, Andrew, John, Cliff, and myself. Plus all four members of the Phelps family with their own telescope.

The view after sunset was stunning, Jupiter and Venus in a close pair over the summit of Hualālai deep in the bright zodiacal light. The Milky Way arched over the northern sky from Sagittarius to Cassiopeia.

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