Last night the clouds cleared out by about 9pm and Rebecca and I had a spectacular view of the lunar eclipse from the back deck. Our friends Pete and Carol joined us along with our neighbor Katie. It was really nice to share the event with friends and be able to step inside to warm up periodically.
Normally, I think the full moon is the least exciting moon to look at in a telescope because it looks completely flat. When there’s some shadow, you can really see the surface details. The eclipse is something totally different though. The colors are amazing and what I found particularly interesting was how it seemed to become a sphere again once it was completely in shadow. Especially in the binoculars, it looked like a little ball that you could just reach out and grab. Another nice surprise was being able to see stars near the moon. Normally they’re completely washed out. You can see one at the lower left in this photo.
I was worried that the moon was going to be too high in the sky and my telescope wouldn’t be able to track it because the eyepiece or camera would run into the mount but it turned out that I had just enough clearance to get 30+ minutes into totality. That gave us plenty of time to observe and swap the eyepiece out for the camera to get some photos. This was a 1 second exposure with a 1600 iso taken with my Lumix GX85 connected to my Celestron SE 8 and an f/6.3 focal reducer.
A couple of weeks ago we took a vacation out in the redwoods of Sonoma county, CA. I grabbed a couple of nice shots of the milky way one night. It’s amazing how many more stars you can see at night when you’re not in a light polluted downtown. Below is a 100% crop of shot from my house (left) which is a class 8 sky and one from Cazadero (right), a class 3 sky.
Life is what I always try to understand—its depths and its mystique of rise and fall. I struggle for it throughout my life. From day to day, I understand the greatness brought by this mystique as well as that love is eternal and keeps appearing and disappearing. And what is more, I am very pleased to be alive after realizing that I have overcome this everyday life and been able to reach today. Yet we keep flashing, disappearing, and again blossoming out in this Eternity. Yayoi Kusama
It was a fairly clear night so I tried to take a few more photos from with my camera attached to the top of my telescope. This is a 13 second exposure of Mars (brightest object on the lower left) and Saturn (towards the upper right). Click though to see the full sized image to see some other cool objects. The M7 star cluster can be see way over on the right edge about even with Mars. M8, the Lagoon Nebula, can be seen to the lower right of Saturn. It looks like a line of stars pointing slightly upward (left to right). What’s amazing to me is that from here you can’t see a tenth of these stars with your naked eyes.
Our local UX meetup put on a conference last week and I talked about my experience working on onboarding for Firefox. It was really strange to be talking at a conference again. Back in my videoblogging days I did it often — including speaking at SXSW — but I haven’t done that in many years. Also, I wrapped up my work on onboarding and switched to working on our search experience a few months ago. But still, it felt good to put the things I’ve learned together in a talk. Check out the slides and my notes at Notist.
And a quick note about the conference itself — I was super impressed. It was a really nice event and I enjoyed all the speakers and getting to meet people. I especially enjoyed hearing Dr. Laura Faulkner talk about her work “Beyond the Five-User Assumption.”
Also, thanks to @ProfClayton for the cool sketch notes above.
We’ve had some clear weather lately and I’ve had a chance to take a couple of photos with my telescope. First, I got an attachment that allow my camera to ride piggyback on the tube. This let’s me shoot a super wide field that still tracks the sky. So here’s a shot of Orion.
And then the other night, Jupiter’s red spot was visible so I grabbed a quick shot of it.
Hopefully I’ll get a chance to get out to a dark site this summer and take some more photos.
Rebecca and I went to the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art today. The big exhibit was new works by Ron Mueck. He creates these incredibly detailed and lifelike sculptures (mostly of people) that are either much smaller or much larger than the real thing.
I was only vaguely familiar with his work — as in it’s likely I skimmed this blog post once. Seeing it in person though was exhilarating. And the center piece, Couple under an Umbrella (2013), made me smile, and hopeful and happy. I can’t stop thinking about it.
St. Vincent’s self-titled 2014 album has the kind of cover that would have stopped me in my tracks in a record shop as a teenager. It’s the kind of cover that looks so cool the music has to be interesting at the very least. Back then (mid 80s), sometimes that was about all you had to go on. If you were lucky maybe someone said they heard that it was good or you caught a song at a club. Plunking down eight bucks on a record was often a roll of the dice. A great album cover though was a huge signal. Joy Division and New Order’s great Peter Saville covers persuaded me to buy both at the same time.
St. Vincent came to me via a 2014 version of this. “Digital Witness” showed up in someone’s playlist that I was streaming and that album cover got me. I listened to it on repeat for months.
Later that year Rebecca and I saw her in concert twice. The things that struck me right away were the rehearsed gestures in her performance.
I recognized them right away as akin to the gestural/ritual movement popular in the performance art world (at least the one I was a part of in the 90s). One of the first shows I was in was a movement piece about gay men dealing with AIDS. We had a whole section derived from a morning routine in front of a mirror and another one around bathing.
All of this goes to say that I was really excited to see her new show this past Thursday and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was just her on stage the whole time (somehow I didn’t read a review of the tour beforehand). The set consisted of curtains and lights revealing more and more of an empty stage.
After a quick blackout and costume change, she performed her latest album front to back in front of a video screen with colors and images from her new album artwork and videos. At one point a woman came out in a complete costume just to hand her another guitar (her own design). It reminded me of the time our stage manager swept the stage before the show each night, dressed in a nurse’s uniform.
Anyway, the point of all of this is that I thought this was the perfect distillation of what she’s been working towards over the last few years. It was a beautiful, singular statement — risky and bold. Apparently, this was also a bit divisive but like that article concludes, “The truth is that it was a total triumph.” And I didn’t miss the band. She’s such a bad ass with that guitar, that’s all you need.