Crossing the Saddle at Night

Leaving Hilo I turn towards the shortest path home. It is also my favorite path by far. Not for me the twisting turns, small towns, and driving rains of the Hamakua coast road. I turn towards Saddle Road, to the pass between the enormous volcanoes of Hawaii.

Saddle Road
Saddle Road seen as it was in 2007, before rebuilding
The road is smooth and fast now. The Saddle of legend and rental car prohibition is mostly gone, only fragments remain. While you can still drive bits of the old Saddle, they are no longer the main road, bypassed by the new highway.

Even before the road was re-built this was my favorite route to cross the island. The traffic is far heavier now, the new road no longer offers the challenges and dangers of the old road. Drivers no longer deterred by those dangers now use the new road to cross the island rather than driving around the northern belt road.

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A Waikoloa Star Party

It started simply enough… Donna asked for suggestions, she was looking for activities the Waikoloa Village Association could share with the community. Of course I suggested a star party. Much of our small club lives in the village, this would be an easy and fun event to put together. Al we need is a date and a place.

Star Party!
A local student checks out Cliff’s 24″ telescope, photo by Bernt Grundseth
A date? Sept 23rd would offer a slim crescent Moon, Saturn, and the Milky Way overhead. The 23rd has the added benefit of being a Saturday.

A place? The Waikoloa Stables have ceased being a place with horses. There remains a nice lawn, bathrooms, and a large parking lot. The stables currently hosts a thrift shop and regular community events like the yearly Wiliwili festival.

A plan? Easy… Light refreshments, parking coordination, keiki fire dancers, the local CERT team for safety backup, a sound system, a speaker for the evening, and at least five telescopes for viewing. OK, maybe not so simple.

We can do this.

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Creative Filters for Photography

I have heard it said that the creative filter applications available for phone photography are simply a way to make bad photos look good.

Solar Scope
A solar telescope setup to photograph the total solar eclipse 21Aug2017

I would have to say that these filters are a way to make bad photos look worse.

The web is filled with horrible photos of pets, selfies, and dinner plates, often processed through some creative filter application to somehow make the photo look hip or cool. Sorry, a bad photo is still a bad photo. Often it is far worse for the application of the filter. Fancy colors, brush patterns or mosiacs, it does not matter, it is still just bad.

I am not telling you to uninstall the application, quite the opposite! A well composed photo can be a good photo after application of the filter. You can also use the filter to overcome some limitations of phone photography. Technical defects like color, lighting, and noise are often erased when the filter is applied.

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Autumnal Equinox

Fall equinox occurs today at 10:02HST. Today there will be little difference between the length of the night compared to number of daylight hours. This is the first day of fall as marked by many cultures in the northern hemisphere.

2017 Solstices and Equinoxes
  UT HST
Perihelion Jan 4 14:18UT Jan 4 04:18HST
Vernal Equinox Mar 20 10:29UT Mar 20 00:29HST
Summer Solstice Jun 21 04:24UT Jun 20 18:24HST
Apehelion Jul 3 20:11UT Jul 3 10:11HST
Autumnal Equinox Sep 22 20:02UT Sep 22 10:02HST
Winter Solstice Dec 21 16:28UT Dec 21 06:28HST
Source: USNO data Services