The “Great American Eclipse” lived up to it’s name

Posted by on August 28, 2017 in Astronomical Event, Astrophotography | 1 comment

When I was asked last week about how many eclipses I’ve seen, I must respond define ‘seen’. Ultimately, I’ll answer with “1.5.” My very first total eclipse adventure in 2010, had our group missing the eclipse by 500 feet. Huh? The drivers hired to take us to the viewing site in Patagonia planned four years earlier, decided at the last minute that they had a better place for us. With totality being a scant 1 degree above the horizon, there was no room for vertical error so being placed 500 feet below the original site put the sun right behind...

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Distant Suns T+30 years and counting

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Distant Suns App | 0 comments

Distant Suns T+30 years and counting

Thirty years ago, last April, a new software application for the Commodore Amiga went on sale. Named Galileo, it eventually would be renamed Distant Suns and go on to be one of the longest lived consumer software titles in history. When growing up I loved planetariums. So much so, that I actually wrote and produced my own show for my 7th grade class, giving it at a local community college’s planetarium. Whenever I went to a show, I would always sit in the back row hoping to “catch a star” right before misbehaving horizon shutter would close...

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God Speed Gene Cernan

Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Essay, Space Travel | 0 comments

God Speed Gene Cernan

The past year has seen the passings of three of my childhood “heros,” two of which were moonwalkers and the third the country’s first man to orbit the earth. The deaths of the original astronauts from the 60s will obviously grow in the coming years. With the passing of Gene Cernan, cuts the number of men who did leave footprints on another celestial body down to six out of the original 12. From Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin and from Apollo 12, Alan Bean. Flight 15 is Dave Scott, the commander, his co-pilot, Jim Irwin was the first of the club to...

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Godspeed John Glenn

Posted by on December 12, 2016 in Essay, Event | 2 comments

Godspeed John Glenn

The term “hero” has been one of the most overused and misused words of the past couple of decades. (“diversity” being at the top of the list and the phrase “celebrate diversity” deserves to be put out of its misery with a litter of rabid dachshund puppies). Baseball players who get a walk-off grand slam at the bottom of the 10th, a movie celebrity who takes on a controversial role, a singer to performs even though they a hangnail, are today’s “heroes.” Or are they? Usain Bolt is a terrific athlete. But he’s no “hero.” American Van Cliburn,...

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Yet more weird crap in Mike’s place

Posted by on September 4, 2016 in NASA Space stuff | 1 comment

Yet more weird crap in Mike’s place

Back before Apollo 15 I met someone who had a friend at the space center in Houston. I wrote him, Ron was his name, and asked for various odds and ends regarding Apollo. What I would get in the mail would lead to a lifetime of collecting, and sacrifice of anything that appeared to be the quaint notion of “savings.” Apollo 15’s “flight plan” Ron had sent me a copy of Apollo 15’s “flight plan” and a copy of the Apollo Operations Handbook. I had seen an Apollo flight plan before, and that was in a touring exhibition of the Apollo 11 command...

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If you want an Apollo Command Module, just build one…

Posted by on May 7, 2016 in Education, Space Travel | 1 comment

If you want an Apollo Command Module, just build one…

Like many of space-nerds in training who grew up in the 60’s, we longed to have our own Apollo spacecraft or Apollo Command Module. Few get a chance to actually realize that. I started working on my own, around 1969, starting on the panels. Made out of cardboard with red felt-tip lettering for the controls, surplus toggle-switches (5/$1) and “real” buttons that I could press, I stopped after a single panel when I couldn’t figure out how to do a “real” FDAI (the artificial horizon globe) or computer displays. However, Luigi Pizzimenti went...

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Freedom 7 + 55 years

Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Essay, Space Travel | 0 comments

Freedom 7 + 55 years

As I am writing this, it is the 55th anniversary of the launch of the Mercury Spacecraft, Freedom 7, our first manned spaceflight. It’s hard to underestimate how important it was to the national psyche after being upstaged by the Russians (RUSSIANS!) several times from first satellite, first spacecraft to the moon, first spacecraft to use solar-cells, first to photograph another body up close, and so on and so on. It was especially difficult, when the weight of their spacecraft was so much more than ours, it really spoke to the advanced state...

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Ed Mitchell and Apollo 14

Posted by on March 14, 2016 in Essay | 2 comments

Ed Mitchell and Apollo 14

The passing of Apollo 14 astronaut, Ed Mitchell, recently marks in a way, “the beginning of the end” of the Apollo era. As I write the I am listening to the air-to-ground audio of their mission, that occurred 45 years ago in February, 1971. Mitchell’s colleagues, commander and first American in space, Alan B. Shepard, and command-module pilot, Stu Roosa both passed away some time ago, leaving Ed as the sole representative of the third landing on the moon. But now the Apollo 14 crew are the first to have completely die off. As the youngest...

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Weird crap in Mike’s place: Gemini 5 flight plan

Posted by on November 26, 2015 in Fun, NASA Space stuff | 0 comments

Weird crap in Mike’s place: Gemini 5 flight plan

In the arena of space collecting there are many levels to handle the many different interests and bank accounts. The most cost effective are things such as patches from the various missions, photo or other swag commonly found in NASA gift shops or on the web. The more serious collectors opt for autographs from Apollo era astronauts, or even flown artifacts. Several online dealers advertise flown items such as small pieces of parachute material in Lucite paperweights or embedded in the covers of pens. However amongst the most serious of...

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Ms. Astronaut

Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Essay, Fun | 1 comment

Ms. Astronaut

Not too long ago I attended a talk by Stephan Pastis the creator of one of my favorite comic strips: Pearls Before Swine. Of course he described the process of getting a strip selected for syndication (a process ultimately aided by Scott Adams), how many times he had to submit and so on. This reminded me of my own experience in that arena. Being a “child” of the 60’s…uh, not the bead wearing “peace, man!” slacker types, my sister filled that roll, I had two things I wanted to be when I grew up. The first was an astronaut. Astronauts were in...

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