2013 In Review

A year in review article? Really? Yeah, everyone does it, and you get tired of them. I am going to do it anyway… It is a nice excuse to look back over the previous year and see what I spent the last 365 days of my life doing.

As Darker View is intended to be a web diary, in the original sense of the term blog, I can look back through a year of postings to do this. I have to admit a few surprises were to be had, things I had forgotten about!

An active pāhoehoe breakout at Kupapaʻu

Looking back I have to admit it was not a bad year.

Andrew and the Galaxy
Taking astrophotos under the Milky Way Galaxy

The Top Posts of 2013

There were over 75,500 visits to Darker View this year, a substantial increase over last year. This includes two months with about 10,000 visitors, though 5-6k is more normal for a month. Daily traffic is running about 200 visits per day. I am continually amazed that so many people stop by my little molecule of the web to read what I have written.  Perhaps they just come to view the photographs.

A few posts on Darker View attract far more attention than the rest, by a wide margin. There are certain subjects I post about that seem to be of continual interest, garnering a large number of search engine hits. It is always interesting to see what these posts are. Why are folks coming to read Darker View?

Article Views
1 Astrophotography with the EOS-M 3979
2 Snow on the Mountain 3387
3 Mauna Kea Claims Another… 3028
4 A Backyard Telescope Pier 2173
5 Soldering Small 1932
6 The iOptron ZEQ25 1596
7 Degrees, Arc-Minutes and Arc-Seconds 1236
8 SBIG ST-i Autoguider 1146
9 Repairing a Wii Balance Board 833
10 Autoguiding the iOptron ZEQ25 with an SBIG STi 767


A couple posts are on the list because they were linked by sites with a good deal more traffic than DV, Snow on the Mountain and Soldering Small are examples of this. A couple astro-equipment related posts continue to draw steady traffic, months after being posted. Most of the astro-basics posts are well read, appearing in the top 50.

The backyard pier post is a very old post, one that was originally written for my first website over a decade ago. The latest version was edited and somewhat updated when I transferred it to the WordPress version of DV where it continues to get a few hits every day.

There are 1158 posts on Darker View, not counting all of the old stuff still on the older version of the site. Looking through the posts and seeing what people are reading is fascinating.  Will the results change the way I write and what I write about? Probably not.  The purpose of DV is not to generate traffic.  Still, is is gratifying to see that folks stop by.

Waimea Christmas Parade 2013

I may miss some of the events here in town, but I have yet to miss a Waimea Christmas Parade. This year was no exception, I always help out at the CFHT star party afterwards.

The difference this year is that I walked with the Keck float. Actually our parade committee came to me and asked me to take photos, oh… and here is a release form to sign.

Of course this is a lighted parade, not wanting to look out of place I spent the morning soldering and put together a flashing LED hatband for my good cowboy hat. It came out well considering it was put together with what I had lying about. It helped that Deb whipped together a nice band from from nylon webbing to build it on.

As usual the crowd was stunning, half the island shows up for these things. The main street of Waimea is lined ten people deep from end to end, sometimes more than that! Everyone is waving at folks they know in the parade, a true community event.

Looking Ahead to a Starry 2013

I am a bit behind in entry of all the significant astronomical events for 2013. Never fear! Everything important has been entered for January, so I am still ahead of the posting schedule! A few more evenings of blogging and I will have the whole year done.

Comet C/2011 W3 Lovejoy
Comet C/2011 W3 Lovejoy photographed by space station commander Dan Burbank
The year promises to be a great one for astronomy. While the highlight of 2012 was the Transit of Venus, for 2013 it will be comets! We have two comets of interest coming into the inner solar system. The first will show up in mid-spring, comet C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS will most likely be a naked eye object in the spring, with a predicted peak of 0 magnitude around March.

While C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS is a good comet, comet C/2012 S1 ISON is likely to be a great comet. This comet will pass incredibly close to the Sun and reasonably close to the Earth. If we get lucky, and luck is a significant factor with comets, this could be the comet of a lifetime. Predictions for this comet indicate a possible magnitude well into the negative numbers during November and December. These sort of numbers indicate the comet may be visible in the daytime, and spectacular after sunset. Unlike comet C2006 P1 McNaught in early 2007, this comet will favor viewers in the northern hemisphere!

e Moon, Venus and Aldebaran
The Moon, Venus and Aldebaran join up for an evening conjunction
There is a great conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter to take place just above the sunset in May and June. Take the three brightest planets and put them within a few degrees of each other, sometimes closer as the dance progresses. It should be a very photogenic event with the backdrop of sunset color.

No great eclipses this year. There are no total lunar eclipses to be seen anywhere, just a partial and two minor penumbrals. An annular solar eclipse visible in the South Pacific that will be visible as a modest partial solar eclipse here in Hawai’i. A hybrid solar eclipse will be visible across the Atlantic and central Africa.

Meteor showers are a mixed situation for the year, some good news, some bad. We will be able to observe the Persieds in a dark sky after the setting of a waxing crescent Moon. The Leonids will occur during full Moon, but are not predicted to be great this year. The Geminids also occur during a full Moon, damping this reliable shower.

2013 will be a great year for watching the sky. Stay tuned to Darker View for alerts on any significant event occurring overhead.