Corona Australis

After the house in Phoenix cooled down from 95 to 85 last night, I did my ritual PC file synchs, and also updated my new PC Music Server with my recent acquisition of Arvo Part “Te Deum” (classical) and some old non-traditional 1970’s country rock, originally recorded from an extinct radio station in Gilroy called KFAT. The classical selection is clean (not tape recorded from FM). The sound is astounding on the system down here.

It’s been a long week at work, and the flight down just didn’t seem to be condusive to a nap, so I turned in early. 10PM bedtime on a Friday night?

At 2AM I awakened, and for some reason remembered I’d left the cell phone on the charger, so went to disconnect it. On the way, I peeked out of the latched glass slider into the back yard. Even through the glass, the night sky was flooded with scintillating white and yellow diamonds – the clearest night sky I’ve seen in a long time. Even through my little southeast portal, under the porch overhang and between the cacti and trees, I could see over a hundred stars! This was without my glasses, in a viewing area no greater than maybe 15 x 15 degrees. I couldn’t quite make out the constellations, which seemed as bright as Orion – but I didn’t think Orion would show at this time of year.

Looking at Starry Night this morning, the computer star chart, I was probably seeing the locale of Corona Australis and Scorpius. It is unusual to see anything at all that low, so close to the horizon. I suspect I may have seen the bright open star cluster NGC6231, which is one of the best in the night sky, even to the unaided eye. Whatever I saw, the concentration of bright white pinpoints was awesome – about as good as you might expect high in the mountains!

Mind you, I was not even technically awake! I post this here (instead of our Astronomy page) to remind everyone that you don’t need star charts and astronomy guides to appreciate what’s available up there for all of us. I didn’t even need my eyeglasses. All we need is a clear night and a minute or two to take a look!

Bedtime at 10PM means you can “sleep in” and still get up at 730AM. After making the coffee, I sat outside with my coffee, puffing on my pipe. It was already 85 degrees. There is a lot of work to do here, I can see, but a little gets done each visit. The plumbing tasks are almost done and soon we can tackle the outdoor electrical work I feel must be done. The pool is clean and Hayward, the little bottom pool vac, is chugging away like a Plecostamus in the bottom of?a fish tank, happily gobbling settled debris.

I wish I could just stay here, but it would be more sensible to defer retirement for a couple more years. Right now, coffee and pipe in hand, I can think how amateur astronomers in the Phoenix area have waited a couple of years for a night like last night, while I – a working bloke merely catching up on a sleep deficit – merrily snooze the night away, telescopes indoors and under plastic where they cannot gather dust – or starlight!

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Digital vs. Film

Notes to a friend:

While instant gratification is a very real, tangible (and I think legitimate) reward for digital, I think there are more important rewards. This is still a little hard to articulate, but IMHO my average picture composition quality has gone way up, going as far back as the Kodak Dc260 in 1998 or so. Somehow, I think the knowledge that I can always take another shot often helps me make the first one right the first time. Other times, taking that second or third perspective without fear of running out of film is the clincher.

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