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Comment Re:Digital tracking? (Score 1) 120

I've done that with a moderate number of exposures.

In my experience, it didn't do much to make it look like a longer exposure. That may be because of the light pollution where I was, or the relatively small number of exposures I was toying with. It does, however, clean up some of the noise in the pictures. Not really an issue when you're only using ~20 second exposures, especially if you use a dark frame and a bias frame. For longer exposures, though, the noise starts adding up, and multiple exposures are a must.

I'm still saving up for a nice telescope and mount, so I don't have much experience with high end stuff - mainly just pointing my camera at the sky and shooting right now - so take all of that with a grain of salt. Give me a year to save up the money I need for a nice 8-12" SCT, a guidescope, and a few other things and hopefully I'll know more.

Comment Re:Projection (Score 1) 120

Also, I hate to double post, but make sure you lock up the mirror on your camera if you have that option. Mirror slap is never good. I just picked up a nice Manfrotto tripod/head, but I still think it takes a few seconds for any vibrations to completely settle. Locking your mirror up should take care of that. It's a minor detail, but one worth mentioning.

Comment Re:Projection (Score 2, Interesting) 120

1) It's been years since I did any work with film, so I'm afraid I can't help you there. I've just got a DSLR that I use now.
2) ~20 seconds. If you go very far beyond that, you'll end up with trails instead of nice clear shots. 30 seconds is passable, you'll just end up with tiny, tiny trails - probably not that noticeable unless you look closely. You may be able to stretch that out a bit more if you have near-superhuman vision, a geared tripod, and a steady hand, but I wouldn't count on it. That's not a bad thing though, there are some great images done that show the movement of the stars. Not every picture has to be tracked in order to be worthwhile.
3) Personal preference. I've taken some pictures at 18mm that I loved, and some at 200mm that made me just as happy. Experiment, and see what turns out catching your eye. Everyone has a different sense of aesthetics. What works for me may not work for you.

For any pictures you do take, I highly recommend the Astrometry group on Flikr. It's a bot that will match up your images with a massive database covering the night sky, and tag major features in your images for you. I certainly don't know everything in the sky I'm looking at when I decide to take a picture, so being able to upload it and have all the major features identified is incredible. In my experience, the people behind it are great as well, and very willing to share the datasets they use.

That said, if you want to get serious about it, you should look at picking up an equatorial mount. It's high on my list, right after a nice intervalometer.

Comment Re:Not economically viable (Score 1) 484

the only part their panels can replace is the upper layer (and only partially, as they don't seem to be counting paint).

You're assuming there would be paint.

FTFA: "The base contains power and data lines and is overlaid by the electronics strata that contains solar cells, LEDs and supercapacitors which would produce and store electricity while the LEDs would "paint" the surface with light."

I can't argue with most of what you said, I just thought I'd point that out.

Comment Re:ISS (Score 1) 48

You typed your zipcode into online submission form?

To be fair, that tells you when it will be overhead. You may still need to break out a compass with an inclinometer to find out where to actually expect it, and that can be a bit of work I suppose.

Of course, if you can get your bearings, you can make good estimations using nothing more than your own hands. Last time I tried (it's been a few years, come to think of it), I was able to estimate alt/az to within about 3-5 degrees... Not as good as many, but good enough for most things. Not everyone seems able to figure that out, though.

Comment Re:Obama == Bush (corporate friend)? (Score 1) 546

Who said I didn't? I was responding to your statement of them being equal, not to whom you voted for.

If you'd rather not lose any freedoms then I hope you found someone else to vote for.> I took your second quote to mean that you didn't read the whole comment that I posted. When I make politically loaded statement, I often have people only make it halfway through my comments before responding - that's one of the hazards of being a critic of Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, and everyone else - you're always going to offend someone and have them jump on you before you can finish.

I see your Dr. Chu and raise you a Eric "pro war on drugs/pro gun control" Holder ;)

You've got a point there. Gun control doesn't worry me too much, even if a lot of Democrats want it, they're not in a position to make it happen right now... The backlash would be too much, there is no way they'd push for it. The drug war thing does worry me a bit. I'm hopeful that Obama will push back against the DEA and raids on medical marijuana, and get Holder in line. There have still been raids, but it's a bit too early to say that it's business as usual. Give it a few months, and if that's still going on, I'll be pissed.

Comment Re:Obama == Bush (corporate friend)? (Score 4, Interesting) 546

He's made some very good pledges about openness and anti-corruption measures, so now's the time for him to live up to them.

It may or may not be a token gesture, but it certainly makes me smile to read the White House's new Copyright Policy:

Except where otherwise noted, third-party content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Comment Re:Obama == Bush (corporate friend)? (Score 2, Interesting) 546

I guess that depends on which freedoms you'd rather lose. If you'd rather lose your 2nd and 4th amendment freedoms then Obama/Biden is your team. If you'd rather lose your 1st and 4th amendment freedoms then McCain/Palin should have gotten your vote. If you'd rather not lose any freedoms then I hope you found someone else to vote for.

I'm a gun owning, cryptography loving, card carrying member of the ACLU. I'm against "assault weapon" bans, and feel that the 2nd amendment should only extend to nuclear/biological/chemical weapons (with reasonable limitations to keep weapons out of the hands of the clinically insane). I have been teargassed and pepper sprayed for protesting outside of a "free speech zone". I've been searched without probable cause while citing Terry v. Ohio - a case which ruled that cops can pat you down for weapons, but not search you further. If you bothered to read what I had written, you'd also see that I voted third party (Libertarian, in this case, even though I think Barr is a dick).

Who supported the FISA bill and wants to pass a dubious assault weapons ban? Interesting way to look at the constitution.

FISA was a huge disappointment. I was seriously considering voting for a Democrat for the first time until that vote was cast, it made me swing back to third party instantly. I never said that I'm all about Obama, just that I believe his administration is an improvement over McCain/Palin. As an example, just look at the nomination of Dr. Chu - do you really believe that a McCain administration would have made such a wise choice?

Comment Re:Obama == Bush (corporate friend)? (Score 3, Insightful) 546

They both had critical flaws which made both of them unsuitable to be our next president.

Okay, let's say that we expect a standard of 10, that's what we consider suitable. Neither a 3 nor a 7 meet the standard. That doesn't mean that 3=7.

Nothing in life is perfect. Inability to compromise is the downfall of Libertarians and Greens everywhere. Both have some great ideas (in my opinion, anything those two group agree on is as good as gold - social issues mainly), but the all-or-nothing attitude that they share keeps them from being taken seriously.

Comment Re:Obama == Bush (corporate friend)? (Score 3, Insightful) 546

Oh come on. I'm so sick of that argument. Every vote matters. I'm as fed up with mainstream Democrats and Republicans as anyone, both tend to have major flaws... That said, do you really think that McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden are equal? Even if I don't agree with them on many issues, I'll take someone with a constitutional law degree over a senile old man and a far-right nutjob any day.

That said, I've voted for a third party all of my life. I've never lived in a swing state, so my vote won't change the outcome anyway. Does that mean my vote was wasted? Absolutely not! I vote for the third party that is most likely to get 5% of the vote, a requirement in order to receive matching funds during the next cycle (see the Public Funding of Presidential Campaigns Brochure). I recommend that everyone who lives in a solid blue or red state does the same. More voices and more opinions brought to the table will only help us.

Saying that every vote is wasted is absurd. If you don't care to educate yourself on the issues or involve yourself, that's one thing. By all means, stand aside and let those of us who do care take care of things. But if you give a damn, either stand up and be counted or shut the hell up.

Comment How Convenient... (Score 1) 315

I've been tooling around with the idea of pitching a night sky proposal to the mayor and city council here... I've got some connections, and could at least get listened to. I've been doing a lot of planning based on the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance's Night Sky Program... It looks like I've got some additional resources to go over now, and a great lead-in to it all.

I fondly remember seeing flashes of the aurora from my childhood home. If I was to go there now and look to the north, all I'd see was streetlights and haze - and it's still a small town. I feel for those who've never had the chance to view a truly dark sky, it's a wondrous sight. If you ever have the chance, when you've got a cool clear night ahead of you, drive out as far away from it all as you can (In Oregon, I recommend heading out to the high desert, out on BLM land - people in other locales will have to find something suitable for themselves) - near a new moon if you can manage it. Watch the sun go down, and the sky fill with stars and planets, satellites both man-made and natural, and take in the amazing scape and wonder of it all. If you've got a telescope, great, take it along - but if not, you'll still have quite a show. It's good for the soul - and with natural light becoming ever more pervasive, there's no time like the present.

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