Amature astronomy night

Yesterday my new telescope showed up, after just over an hour of assembly it was ready to go. Unfortunately, darkness was still about 5 hours off.

Once we finally got the darkness, we had a clear night, and a few friends over to play. I learned a few important things:

  • The 9x scope takes some getting used to finding things. I am used to binoculars, which you can flip back and forth to the night sky very quickly. I’m still not all the comfortable pointing it yet.
  • The sighting scope needs alignment, which I found out how to do by accident. I can now cross hair something and it will be in the scope field of view.
  • Jupiter is always a hit, and easy to find because it throws so much light. With the 120x optics (I have 48x and 120x optics included) you can see the cloud bands on the planet, which is very cool.
  • Transit time at 120x is quicker than I imagined. Jupiter does it in about 45 seconds.
  • I got used to the reverse / upsidedown controls pretty quick, quicker than I’d expect.
  • I’m really glad I got the object finder. While I didn’t try using it last night (as calibrating that the first time is going to take some effort), the evening definitely showed me that there is a huge adjustment to finding things with the scope. Having the assistance to find things is going to be appreciated.

I managed to snag 2 satellites in the scope at 48x, which I found with the sighting scope by accident. I think we were at about 6 satellites last night. I also found that I ended up in the same structures a few times by accident, and was starting to be able to find familiar bits of the sky.

All in all a fun evening. It looks like our next clear night will be tuesday, so will need to spend that night figuring out the object finder.

The Schickele Mix Copyright Dilema

One of the constant tensions that exist is the new media age is between preservation of culture and copyrights. Personally this doesn’t get summed up any better for me than the fact that Schickele Mix is now lost to us.

Peter Schickele produced 175 episodes of a radio show that explored concepts in music in a very accessible way. I heard it by accident on our local NPR station 7 years ago, and fell in love with it. This was already during one of it’s many encores, as new shows had stopped being produced the last 90s. Even though I possess no real musical talent (or perhaps because of that), the show was facinating, and taught me incredible amounts about music. I only wished it was still running somewhere.

Because the show was about music, it played full length songs. The royalty rates for those on broadcast radio were something that was payable at the time, but those rates are substantially higher for online distribution. Hence, there are no archives, and a big piece of culture, one that could get people really excited about music, is now unpublishable due to copyright.

When I was in college, I was always fascinated by the fact that all that still remained of Ancient Greek Theater were 40 some odd plays. How could culture like that get lost? In a digital age it seems incredible that it would be possible to loose important parts of our culture.