Nov 202017
 

For a number of years now the PTO has sponsored a youth soccer team. This year I was invited to one of the games and my schedule finally allowed me to attend (on the second try). So, here they are, the 2017 Pear Tree Observatory U8 boys soccer team after their quarter final match.
 

I would like to thank Coach Blake for the invite and the team for the much appreciated plaque. We are looking forward to the 2018 season.

 Posted by at 13:53
Sep 222017
 

As many of you know the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft made an Earth gravitational assist fly-by today. The spacecraft needed the slingshot maneuver to make it to its rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in August 2018. The spacecraft will orbit the asteroid for up close study, then drop low enough to grab a sample of the surface for return to the Earth in September 2023.

NASA put out a call to amateur astronomers to take images of the spacecraft as it approached the Earth. So, for the past week I have been attempting to do just that. Last night the spacecraft was finally bright enough for me to catch it in a series of exposures. Even so, the speed, brightness and size of the spacecraft makes it very difficult to see.
 

The above image is the third of eight 300 second exposures that I was able to get before the clouds closed in. The circle shows the location of the automobile sized craft which should give you an idea where it will be in the following animation. The craft’s motion is from upper right to middle left.

I had to stretch the images as well as invert them to make the faint streak a little more visible. This close to the Earth the apparent velocity of OSIRIS-REx is obvious.

 Posted by at 14:37
May 152017
 

The Jupiter session on May 13 went long enough that I decided to stick around a little longer and see how Saturn was looking. Saturn is 17° lower on the southern horizon than Jupiter. That puts it right in the light dome from Eglin AFB and, on the 13th, only 34° high. The atmosphere wasn’t too bad and the resulting images were acceptable.

 Posted by at 21:55