A Darker View

A reminder that this evening will see the close approach of Venus and Jupiter. Watching over the last week we have seen these two bright planets growing ever closer in the evening sky.

The closest approach will be about 0.3° tonight, June 30th at 16:14HST. They will be slightly further apart several hours later at sunset.

This is the best opportunity to see the pair at their closest for observer in Hawaiʻi. If you want to see the closest approach you can also try to observe the conjunction in the late afternoon sky. Both planets are bright enough to see in the daytime.

After this the pair will separate slowly and disappear into the sunset glow together.

At their closest the two will be easily close enough to bee seen together in the low power view of amateur telescopes. It makes a fascinating sight to see the two planets together in the eyepiece.

Today will be 86,401 seconds long. That number may seem odd, particularly when you consider that most days are 86,400 seconds long. The difference is a result of the leap second being added to our clocks at the end of June 30, 2015 at 23:59:59.

Observatory Clocks

Two new GPS time servers installed in the Keck 2 computer room

The need for an extra second comes from the irregular rotation of our planet. Due to gravitational interaction with the Moon our planet is gradually slowing its rotation. Other shifts can also cause slight irregularities in the planetary rotational rate. In order to keep Coordinated Universal Time in phase with the Earth’s rotation it is necessary to insert an extra second every so often when the error becomes too large.

Since zero hours universal time occurs at 14:00 Hawaii Standard Time, this extra second will occur at 2pm in the afternoon for my readers in the islands. If you are watching a clock that can account for this leap second you will see this second appear. The clock can do a few things, it could simply stop for a second, holding at 23:59:59 for two seconds. The clock could also count the extra second, displaying 23:59:60.

Generally only high precision time servers and GPS receivers will contain software to correctly implement the leap second. Most clocks do not correct for leap seconds, it is just not that important that this feature be implemented perfectly in most devices.

Network connected clocks will simply adjust the time on the next opportunity. Connected clocks routinely synchronize with an online time standard. Your computer requests the correct time via NTP protocol from an internet time server once each day, this is the usual default configuration for a net connected computer unless you have changed it. Cell phones get their time from the network and may receive their extra second more quickly, maybe within a few moments of the leap.

The rest of the clocks in your life are usually more than a few seconds off in any case.

Last time this occurred in 2012 there were some troubling software crashes around the world. Airline departures were delayed and some major websites went down. There is some concern that similar occurrences may occur this time. As a result some experts have argued to do away with leap seconds and just let the error accumulate. The argument rages and we may see leap-seconds abolished, in the meantime this one will occur.

Now that you know about it, enjoy your extra second today. Remember to watch that clock at zero hours universal time and see what happens.

Over the past months I have made a habit of reading opposition websites. Primarily in an effort to understand the cultural objections to astronomy on Mauna Kea. I have actually learned quite a bit, filling in my knowledge of Hawaiian culture and history. But I do learn other things, apparently this controversy has a very dark and secret element.

First Target of the Night

The Keck 2 laser acquires the first target of the night with the glow of sunset behind

There are local opponents who have a legitimate stake in this controversy. We have also seen other causes that have latched on this debate, often as a tool to forwarding their own agenda. Then there are people completely divorced from reality that seem to think that there is something more to the controversy on the mountain…

… was again soundly defeated atop the tallest mountain in the Pacific by native Hawaiians who understand that telescopes & astronomy have virtually nothing to do with the secret government’s attempt to take over the mountain. The secret government wants to use it for scalar military transmitters & to incorporate it into the Army’s Pohakuloa military base, scheduled eventually to become the largest military base in the Pacific. – Facebook posting by Krishna Davinci, chairman of the Bohemian Grove at Illuminati Network

Ummmm… OK.

Aside from some contradictory grammar, it seems that Mr Krishna has taken every conspiracy theory out there and combined them into a wild stew. This is actually quite common, once a person accepts one conspiracy theory, even wilder theories can easily take root. Take a look at his page, there is more, no theory too far fetched… Chemtrails? Check. Planet X Nibiru? Check. President Obama sacrificing babies at satanic ceremonies? Check. The entire page is so far out there I was first convinced it was all an elaborate satire. Does the Facebook feed need a Poe’s Law disclaimer? Unfortunately, the more I read the more I despaired that someone really believes it all.

Scalar military transmitters? I am an electrical engineer and I have no idea what he is talking about. We do have lasers, and those are cool. In all my visits to the other facilities on the summit I have never seen a scalar transmitter.

I have met a few folks and read more than a few Facebook postings that make all sorts of wild accusations of military use of the summit of Mauna Kea. For most of the past decades the amount of military involvement in Mauna Kea astronomy has been pretty much zero. Since Lockheed Martin has joined the partnership running UKIRT this sort of accusation seems to have gained momentum. Never mind that their stated use of the telescope is to track orbital targets and debris. A use that makes complete sense given the capabilities of the telescope and the need for this effort.

Krishna goes on to explain further…

Furthermore, telescopes are now relatively obsolete & primitive … as are rockets. NASA (Never A Straight Answer) continues to publicly promote them to the sheeple with make-believe projects, because NASA is just a cover for the secret government’s REAL space program ~ which now has at least 10 fleets well outside our solar system using antigrav & antimatter propulsion technology ~ not to mention innumerable interplanetary bases on the moon, Mars, the moons of Jupiter & Saturn … plus several more outside of our solar system. This has been ongoing for over a half century … & publicly hidden from the dumbed-down zombied-out sheeple. – Krishna Davinci

I suppose I am not qualified to cast any judgement here, about a quarter of my salary does come from NASA. On the other hand… Fleets outside our solar system? Bases on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn? Where the hell do I sign up for a transfer to that assignment? I would love to see Saturn up close! Do you suppose that base is on Hyperion? I have always loved that wild little moon.

If we really had these things the US military would celebrate them… Loudly! Why would you need to keep this all secret? Imagine the PR possibilities. With that sort of military power the need for secrecy would simply become an unnecessary annoyance. Besides, that many fleets and bases would need people to man them, you need to recruit a lot of folks. I can imagine the recruiting posters now.

If I disappear in the next few weeks just assume I got my transfer to the Hyperion moon base. In the meantime I need to head to the summit in order to continue fixing the mind control machine. It has been down for a couple weeks and you can see the trouble that has caused.

Steel Stock

A rack of steel and aluminum stock

Subaru Telescope

The sun glints over the tall Subaru telescope enclosure

Subaru Telescope

The 8.2 meter Subaru Telescope within the building.

From all accounts it was a bit of crazy on the mountain today. I did not attempt to go up, even though I had originally been scheduled to do some training today for the summit crew. I have spoken with guys at HP and gotten fragmentary information here and there.

Mauna Kea Protest

Protests on Mauna Kea, June 24, 2015. Photo by Dan Birchall, used with permission.

Word is that the road is blocked in multiple places and will not be cleared until tomorrow morning. This was planned for, if worse than anticipated. The message went out early this morning that regular day crew was cancelled, and only a couple guys would stay to make the attempt if possible, if only to do the basic needed tasks. All I can do is say thanks to these guys! The Keck summit crew is a dedicated and professional organization, and it is amply demonstrated at times like this.

This is also the day I got called in to our HR manager’s office to discuss my blogging. It seems someone, who I will not name but is probably reading this, was not happy with my getting quoted on the BIVN website. Not that I gave David Corrigan the quote, he simply lifted it out of my Monday post about the ahu being constructed at the TMT site. Which is interesting as I was only noting the blindingly obvious fact that the protesters had assembled the ahu in the middle of the road as a dare to the construction crews. In response I simply noted that I had complied with observatory policy.

Continue reading A Day of Protest…

Today Mercury will be at maximum western elongation, as high in the morning sky as it will appear for this current apparition. After today the planet will slide back into the dawn, passing through superior conjunction on July 23rd to reappear in the evening sky in mid-August.

Continue reading Mercury at Maximum Elongation…

Sitting in front of the computer eating a little dessert before bed. In this case that is a little ice cream and pineapple. The nice part is that this the first pineapple we have grown. The pineapple has been a strikingly attractive ornamental plant in the corner of the lanai and now a source of a very nice fruit.

I understand there is chance for another fruit from the plant. Deb has also prepped the top for rooting. Perhaps another plant? There is plenty of room for another plant on the lanai.


A ripe pineapple ready for harvest.

Raccoon Butterflyfish

A raccoon butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula) eating sergeant major eggs off of Puakō