Testing a Mirror

As I have observed lately, most of the small telescope mirrors available right now are out of China, most of those produced by one company, Guan Sheng Optical or GSO. If you want a small mirror, say a 6″ or 8″ mirror, there is not a lot of choice, the mirror makers in the US generally do not do anything smaller than 10″.

Foucault knife edge test
A textbook Foucault knife edge test image on a 6″ f/4 mirror

The GSO mirrors range from decent to pretty bad, with no way of knowing what you will get when you order, just luck of the draw.

But how do you tell?

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Confusion of Time

My body is awake.

World Time Zone Map
A map of world time zones from Wikimedia

At this point I know not to trust my sense of time or internal clock, I have traveled across far too many time zones. Entebbe to Portland required 27 hours of travel and crossed ten time zones. My body is simply not to be trusted.

The previous evening had consisted of little more than making it from the airport to my parent’s house, then directly to a long sought bed.

The clock reads nearly 7am.

How can this be? The time seems wrong and I have no confidence in the old LED alarm clock in the guest bedroom. Was it set properly? I fumble for the cell phone to double check the time. The phone confirms the seemingly inaccurate time.

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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
in southern Pisces just south of the circlet.

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.

A Not Quite Total Lunar Eclipse

Normally when I see a partial lunar eclipse on the calendar I do not take much note. As a partial will not create the deep red Moon that makes a lunar eclipse so striking, it is not something that I usually make a point to view.

A Not Quite Total Lunar Eclipse
A not quite total lunar eclipse on November 18th, 2021

This eclipse was a bit different. As this was a very deep partial, only a few percent of the Moon remaining in the sunlight, it should look pretty good… And it did. I setup the little TV-76mm scope to snap a few photos.

Even a not quite total lunar eclipse can be quite nice. Since this eclipse occured just a few degrees from the Pleiades star cluster it was possible to frame both in the camera with a wider field of view. Thus I changed to a classic 100mm f/2.8 Canon FD lens to shoot a few of the cluster and the eclipsed Moon.

Of course this means I will get to sleep at midnight and need to get up at 5am for work. The price I will pay for staying up to watch an eclipse.

A deep partial lunar eclipse and the Pleiades star cluster
A deep partial lunar eclipse and the Pleiades star cluster