February 7, 2010

Hello, and welcome to The Star Deck Observatory News & Updates!
It's been quite awhile since the last time I updated this page, and there have been a few things happen since the last update to post.  By now just about anyone with an interest in Amateur Astronomy has likely read, or heard of most of it.  I'll just touch on a couple of the more recent & significant thing of interest to myself and possibly others who might share my same interest.

Not many changes on on The Star Deck Observatory since the last reporting, on a sad note for myself my little star gazing buddy Doc, was put to rest on March 24, 2009,

He developed a rapidly growing tumor/growth in the esophageal/tracheal/mediastinal area of his chest, and did a bang up job of keeping it "hidden" from us until it got the better of him.  Within 9 days of Doc showing the first signs of a problem he was gone, he lost all appetite and in his final 24 hrs stopped even taking in water.  His little mind was with him all the way up to the seconds before his death.  We had been to his doctor when the first signs were noticed and one other time after that within his last week.  The family decided to just spend as much quality time as possible with him and keep him as comfortable as possible.  Doc still got about without help, and was even capable doing his "business" what little there was outside right up to the last few hours, but he would have these awful hacking fits during which he could hardly breath.  His last night was spent out on the front porch with me beside him, because that's where he wanted to be.  It was at this time he let me know in the best way a very smart dog can, he was ready to go.  He had a couple of hacking episode so bad the tears rolled down his face while his sides racked in pain as he pressed his front paw deeply into my chest digging in with his claws looking into my eyes as if saying "Please make it stop!!"

That was in the wee hours of a Tuesday morning, he was used to being out with me on the Star Deck in the "wee hours of the morning" always close by "protecting" me.  I called his doctor's office as soon as they opened to let them know it was time, it was one of the hardest phone calls I think I have ever had to make.  His doctor arranged to come out to the house & take care of Doc's need for a release from his suffering.  After his hacking fits through the night I was actually surprised to see Doc was still with the living as I made the phone call.  I informed the family it was time & we spent the rest of the day sitting with Doc out on the front porch, he mostly just laid there if you sat down on the porch with him & gently petted him he would stretch out his paw to hold it against you or hold onto you. He tried to stand up a couple of times through the day, but you could see his eyes glass over & he would flop back down to the porch on his blanket remain a little disorientated for a few seconds, then his eyes would light up again & he would go back to diligently watching the world go by, chin resting on his front paws.  Yes his mind was still with him as when my daughter pulled into the drive his tail went to attempting to wag, his eyes lit up and he even tried to stand up to go meet her on the drive.  That didn't work!  Refer to earlier statement about glassy eyes & falling over when he would stand.

The other hard thing I had to do that day was go out back & dig his final resting place whilst he was still out on the front porch with the family, there was a weather front with a bad rain storm coming in that evening so this had to be done prior to it's arrival.  When Doc's doctor arrived at the house we moved Doc inside to the living room & laid him on his favorite blanket, everyone gathered around him & in one way shape form or another held him & said their good byes....... Then extremely quickly and painlessly it was over.  We managed to have him in his final resting place just before the rainstorms hit, it was almost cliché the way the rains came in.

Doc was basically a 'rescued' dog, but not in the ways of a shelter, a friend knew we were looking for a dog and had through another friend come across Doc when he had been basically abandoned in an apartment for 5 days with no food or water at 8 weeks old.  Had we not adopted him he would have gone to a shelter, but we did.  It was a case of instant match up when we went to meet him, I think he chose us as much as we chose him.  He was a wild, playful pup for my older daughter who was a puppy lover and a gentle, meek, snuggling little fur ball for my youngest daughter (3yo at the time) who had a bad phobia of all things animal!  She was the main reason we went looking for a puppy, to help her overcome this baby sitter induced unreasonable fear of animals.  Doc rapidly became my youngest best buddy and yes it devastated her when his time came all those years later!  I have had several pets over the years & loved all of them, but none ever bonded to me or was as close as Doc did and was.  I don't think I'll be looking for any more pets any time soon, he was extremely intelligent and ridiculously easy to teach things to.  I'd be very hard pressed to find another animal to measure up, I will & do miss him....still!

On another note!  Moon landing Hoax myth believers everywhere are on the run, rapidly spewing out a whole mess of stupidities to still deny the manned moon missions ever occurred, even in light of the "photographic proof" they have so vigorously demanded over the years.

See the recent photos in from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Nope, this isn't proof to these fools, because ya know any agency that can keep something like faked moon landings a secret for 40+ years can fake anything!!!!!!!!! 8^)  Yup, you'll see claims of "photo shopping it" yada, yada, yada, but most anyone who knows a lick about high resolution cameras, photography, and photo enhancements can tell you, these photos are authentic, you know kind of like folks who might be into astro-photography??!!!  But alas it may be many, many more years if ever before any U.S. based space program ever goes back to the Moon or much out past a low Earth orbit, refer to this latest bonehead now in the seat of the President of The United States.

Good God, after these last few Presidents is the best we, the citizens of this country can do for ourselves??!!  I won't go into my political opinions here, but looking at the track records of our 'leaders' since about 1988 what else is there to say.  We didn't get to this current state of affairs all on the back of one administration, but through the stupidities, bad policies & practices of all them as well as the inactions to correct the problems before they became malignant!  The mortgage and financial collapse were foreseen by anyone with a lick of common sense clear back before the 9-11-2001 attacks were finished being planned.  The current state of the economy & lack of good viable jobs was foreseen when the U.S. began outsourcing all of it's manufacturing based industries under the lousy trade policies & agreements of the '90s...... at least this crap was all pretty obvious to me back then & I'm just your ordinary working stiff.  Don't bother emailing me with any arguments about it, as I would simply delete your ramblings on the issue pro or con prior to ever opening them.  Politics is not the root motivation of this website, not even close.  The NASA smack down has caused a crossing of the line though.  Just when you thought NASA might finally be getting back on the right track with the recent explorations for water and other essentials...... Yet another political smack down.  The world is currently on the brink of so much tecno-potential, unfortunately controlled by the those in power of such narrow, selfish, and limited visions for the future......  A lot of lip service is about all they are good for, and the ball keeps rolling gathering momentum & mass!

Nuff of that!  Not much else going on locally with the Star Deck, after about 14 months of some of the worst seeing conditions I've ever experienced, not many good astrophotos have I been able to gather.  Those rare times there has been some resemblance to a possible clear sky  I have either been indisposed, or the Moon has been in near full, or full illumination.  On the bright side, no pun, I have begun to really learn the ins and outs of some of my photo processing software. I have found good old freeware Iris to be about the most powerful tool I can find for reducing bad seeing gradients & getting the most detail out of iffy images.  I use Nebulosity for my capture, calibration, & stacking, then turn to Iris to bring out the best.  I have PS CS4, but have found when it comes to getting the fine details to show in a less than perfect sky condition photo NOTHING shines like the Iris does!  Thank you Christian Buil!!!!!  Iris takes a little time and practice to learn, but it is worth it!  You'll find a load of helpful tutorials, links, and helpful information on using Iris at the bottom of the linked home page to Iris.


And THANKS AGAIN Christian!

Well That's about it for now, visit again soon, for I have plans for some articles on Iris along with a few trips n' tricks using it.  All of my equipment is working in fine order, just don't get to use it too much.  The Vixen GPD2 has performed flawlessly since I gave up on any positive help or input from Vixen Optics or Vixen Japan and just fixed it myself, it's a good outstanding mount for an economy mount, albeit a bit overpriced, if you get a good one from the manufacture.  I think I am done messing with economy mounts though, my next mount will likely be an AstoPhysics along the Mach1GTO lines or similar if I can ever come up with enough "fun money" to justify spending that much on a telescope mount for AP.  I'm looking to possibly attend the Nebraska Star Party of 2010, so if that works out maybe I'll see you there!

Clear Skies!!

Mark Jordan
The Mad One
39 47' 06" North X 85 46' 10" West

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