An Anticipated Election

Done.

2020 Hawaii Ballot
The 2020 Hawaii county ballot section for president

Ballots complete, stuffed, signed, and deposited in the drop box at the county elections service center that just opened. While decisions on the various candidates had been made quite some time ago, we had to spend some time reading to understand a few of the county charter amendments I was unfamiliar with.

I cannot recall a ballot I was so anticipating filling out or dropped in the box with such satisfaction. Even if the deeply blue Hawaiʻi result on the presidential election is already well known, filling in that box was something of a catharsis. I may have used a bit more ink than necessary to register the vote properly.

I realize I have voted in nine presidential elections across the decades. I have always made a point to vote, even in primary elections. I look back and realize that years past I often voted without much concern for which party a candidate declared, particularly in traditionally conservative Arizona where the best candidates were usually in the GOP. Those days are gone, maybe for quite a while.

Voting in Hawaii is very easy… Get the ballots in the mail, fill out at leisure, mail them in. Deb and I opted to drop them off directly to the elections office as the service center site is just a skip and hop off the main road into town.

The elections service center for the island’s west side is located in the county office complex off Kealakehe Parkway. Around back in the multi use room, easy parking, no crowd, the kind ladies manning the center will point out the box just inside the door.

Now we just have to wait 14 days for a result, and perhaps a bit more for confirmation.

Andrea Ghez awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics

UCLA scientist and Keck Observatory user Andrea Ghez has been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. She shares the prize with two other researchers; Roger Penrose, a British mathematical physicist and German astrophysicist Reinhard Genzel, for work in black holes and galaxies.

Andrea Ghez presents a community lecture at the Honoka'a People's Theater
Andrea Ghez presents a community lecture at the Honoka’a People’s Theater

There is no Nobel prize in astronomy and the Nobel in physics has traditionally gone to scientists involved in hard physics for discoveries of some new theory or subatomic particle. It is only in recent years that we have seen a few Nobel prizes awarded to astronomers.

Andrea is the only Nobel recipient I have known personally. I can say one thing, she completely deserves it. While her scientific achievements may justify the award, her activities beyond the science are just as commendable.

Continue reading “Andrea Ghez awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics”

Nine-O-Nine

I was looking for another photo and came across a few I had forgotten about. In 2002 the Collings Foundation flew several WWII aircraft into Tucson International Airport and provided tours.

B-17 Nine-O-Nine
B-17 Nine-O-Nine

Each year the foundation took a few aircraft and toured the country, allowing visitors to tour the aircraft and for a more substantial donation provide sightseeing flights. For those who simply toured the aircraft on the ground they allowed something special, allowing guests to climb through the aircraft and see the inside.

As the airport was just a few minutes from work I had to take advantage of this opportunity. Deb met me for lunch and we headed over together to see the aircraft.

Continue reading “Nine-O-Nine”

Globus Aerostaticus

As I worked my way through the evening’s observing list I came to an entry for the asterism ‘Hot Air Balloon’

A detail of Plate 16 of Uranographia by Johann Bode (Berlin, 1801)
A detail of Plate 16 of Uranographia by Johann Bode (Berlin, 1801) with Capricorn and Globus Aerostaticus

This asterism found its way into my personal observing catalog from the one of the Saguaro Astronomy Club observing lists. These lists are an excellent resource for those who roam the starry sky, sort of an ultimate best-of list. These lists are one of the many sources I pulled together when creating my own giant list of where to aim my telescope.

So often I find surprises in my own database among the thousands of objects that I have dumped in there over the years.

Asterisms are simply odd patterns of stars that form memorable groups, but are not necessarily real clusters or other stars that are physically associated with each other. Many of these are well known such as The Coathanger, the Diamond Ring around Polaris, or The Stargate.

When I wandered through the coordinates listed from the Balloon I found a pretty starfield, but nothing that stood out as a recognizable shape, much less a balloon. I wrote down a few comments on the area and a note to myself to look this up later. What is The Balloon?

Continue reading “Globus Aerostaticus”

Neptune at Opposition

Today the planet Neptune will pass through opposition, directly opposite the Sun in our sky. The planet will be well placed for observation all night long, rising at sunset, transiting at midnight, and setting at sunrise. If you are looking to observe Neptune, it is currently shining at magnitude 7.8 in eastern Aquarius.

Neptune from Voyager 2
Neptune from Voyager 2, Credit: NASA /JPL

As the outer planets Uranus and Neptune move so slowly across the sky, the timing of oppositions is driven by the Earth’s orbit and occur each year at nearly the same time. Neptune’s orbital period is 164.8 years, taking over a century and a half to circle the celestial globe once. As Neptune was discovered in 1846, it has completed a little over one orbit since discovery.