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Comment Re:you don't want this (Score 1) 404

Yes, that's the point about lasers used as "sky pointers" and scope aiming devices in amateur astronomy: It's self-limiting, because at a dark observing site, everyone wants to keep their night vision intact. So lasers don't need to be very bright, unless someone just geeks out (as astronomy nerds often do), and insists on having the most bad-ass laser pointer at the event. Hopefully, saner minds would prevail and shut it down.

Comment Re:Jerry Pournelle's *rational* view of Fukushima (Score 3, Interesting) 244

"Lucifer's Hammer" (1977), co-authored by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. An otherwise good novel about what a large comet strike would actually do to our civilization, ruined by an ending where the elite Randian/Libertarian survivors save civilization by defending the last remaining nuclear power plant. That's all you need to know about Pournelle's stance on nuclear power. If nuclear power isn't wonderful, then the whole premise of that novel is shot.

Comment Naked eye with a big amateur scope (Score 5, Interesting) 74

This is a very cool object, and because it's (relatively) close, it's visible to the human eyeball in a large amateur telescope, at a dark sky site (not QUITE like this Hubble image, obviously).

I've tracked it down in my old 18" Newtonian/Dobsonian. With averted vision, you can see two "tails" twisting off the pair, much further out in the field than these Hubble images. Here's what it looks like in an amateur scope, but imagine it as just a dim hint in the eyepiece: c/formats/web.jpg

It's nothing at all like the Hubble image... just a hint of grey glow in the eyepiece, but still... there is something about seeing the actual photons from the object hitting your retina that's exciting, for us amateur astronomy geeks, anyway.

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