The 2014 DarkerView Review

In reading my friend Dean Ketelsen’s blog he reminded me that I have not yet assembled my usual year in review blog entry. Darker View is a blog, a web log of my life as blogs were originally invented.

As it is customary to use the new year’s holiday as a reason look back on the previous year I shall do just that. A chance to recall what adventures life has brought us, to remember the little victories, and hopefully not too many failures.

There were 434 blog entries for 2014 detailing a busy year. At least a few folks actually come by to read all of those posts, DarkerView had 69,694 view from 31,607 unique visitors. Looking through the top read posts of 2013 reveals some interesting points…

  1. Astrophotography with the EOS-M
  2. The iOptron ZEQ25
  3. Repairing a Wii Balance Board
  4. A Backyard Telescope Pier
  5. Autoguiding the iOptron ZEQ25 with an SBIG STi
  6. Starscape Photography
  7. Degrees, Arc-Minutes and Arc-Seconds
  8. SBIG ST-i Autoguider
  9. Mauna Kea Claims Another…
  10. Deep Violet, an 18″ f/4.5 Dobsonian
  11. Total Lunar Eclipse 14 April 2014
  12. Rebuilding a 12.5″ f/5 Truss Tube Dobsonian
  13. USB to ST-4 Autoguiding Adapter
  14. Canon EOS-M
  15. Rewiring a Celestron NexStar Telescope
  16. The Hotech CT Laser Collimator
  17. A Red LED Desk Lamp
  18. Shoveling Snow in a Tropical Paradise
  19. Visiting the Summit of Mauna Kea
  20. Elongations, Conjunctions and Oppositions
  21. A Second Try for the EOS-M
  22. Getting Focus Right

It is a surprise just how many of these articles were written before 2014, at least two of these articles are from the old Whitethorn House website, well over a decade old! The telescope making posts make up most of these older, well read articles. It is clear that folks are using DarkerView for reference, finding these old articles in the search engines. Hopefully they are still useful.

Removing the pre-2014 posts from the list dramatically shortens it…

  1. Starscape Photography
  2. Total Lunar Eclipse 14 April 2014
  3. The Hotech CT Laser Collimator
  4. Shoveling Snow in a Tropical Paradise
  5. Visiting the Summit of Mauna Kea
  6. Getting Focus Right

I am not sure that this is good. Is my writing falling off? Or does my older work just have staying power that it continues to serve a use for readers. This will be interesting to watch as I start another year of blogging. DarkerView is here to stay.

The Sky for 2014

What is happening in the sky this year?

There are no exceptional sky events expected in 2014. A pair of good lunar eclipses, a decent Mars opposition, the usual meteor showers, and no bright comets predicted. There is one odd meteor shower that might provide some fireworks in May mentioned below. Otherwise there is always the possibility of a new discovery, a nova or supernova, or a new comet. For now this looks to be a routine year for sky watchers.

Mars during the 2005 opposition
Mars during the 2005 opposition


Venus is as always a fun planet to follow through the year. The brilliant morning or evening star is always notable when it passes other bright objects such as the Moon or Jupiter. In April and May Venus will pass both ice giants, Uranus and Neptune with under a degree of separation. In August it will be Jupiter, passing about 35′ away on August 14th. The approach will be even closer if you are able to observe the pair during daylight hours, closing to 12′ at 08:06HST on the 14th.

Mars will pass through opposition on April 8th this year. This is a relatively good viewing opportunity with the red planet appearing just over 15″ in size. Close approach will be a week later, on April 14th. On September 27th Mars will pass about 3° from Antares.

Jupiter and Saturn continue to be well separated in the sky. This results in one or the other being available for observation much of the year. We start with Jupiter in the evening sky until early July. Saturn is currently in the early morning sky, passing through opposition May 10th and available for observation in the evening sky for the latter half of the year.

Minor Planets

The minor planets Ceres and Vesta are quite close all year. So close they will experience opposition in the same week. The dance will take place with the constellation Virgo as the backdrop. 4 Vesta will pass through opposition on April 13th, only two days later 1 Ceres will do the same on the 15th. At the same time the planet Mars will be just a few degrees south of the pair, going through opposition on April 8th. I wonder if the astrologers have noticed this? If so I am sure they will attach some ridiculous speculations to the event. They do not usually pay attention to the minor planets.

Lunar Eclipse 28Aug2007
Total lunar eclipse, photo is a 8sec exposure with a Canon 20Da on a 90mm f/12 APO


There are two solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses for 2014. An odd annular solar eclipse will be visible from Antarctica and Australia on April 29th. A deep partial solar eclipse will be visible across much of western North America on October 23rd. Neither will be visible from the islands.

The two lunar eclipses are more interesting. Both total eclipses will feature good magnitudes and the eclipses will both be visible in their entirety from Hawai’i. Better yet, the first eclipse will begin soon after sunset, providing an excellent viewing opportunity for outreach. Occurring on April 14th and October 7th, these will be the highlight of the year for eclipse aficionados.

Meteor Showers

2014 offers an interesting year for meteor watchers. Of the three most reliable showers it is the Quadrantids that will be seen to best effect in 2014, untroubled by moonlight. The Geminids will be partly obscured, while the Perseids will peak quite close to full Moon.

In addition to the traditional showers there are predictions for a new shower associated with Comet 209P LINEAR. In late May this debris stream may produce a strong, or even storm level meteor shower. Watch here for more information on this possible event.


While no spectacular comets are predicted for 2014 there are several decent comets available for telescopic observing or photography. Late summer and into early autumn look for comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS to peak around magnitude 6.

As usual you should keep tuned to Darker View for timely reminders of upcoming celestial events. Over a hundred posts are already entered and waiting for the appropriate date to pop up here, reminding you and I to keep looking up.

Welcome to 2014!

Welcome to 2014!

We may be among the last to join in the new year, Hawai’i is always a bit behind, but we do it in style. I have noted that the amount of fireworks going off in the neighborhood is a good economic indicator. The size of some of the local arsenals is fairly impressive this year, in notable contrast to some previous years, there is a lot of crackle, whistle and bang this year.

Fireworks over Palm Trees
A fireworks display over the coconut palms of the Fairmont Orchid resort