Saturday, February 25, 2006

IDA needs help

The International Dark-Sky Association can always use your help, especially financially, for their good works. But I'm talking about their website. What a mess! I received a piece of mail asking me to vote for 6 board members. They kindly included a short bio for each candidate, but I thought I'd go to the website and find out more about them and what their platforms are. No such luck. Not only is there no mention of the Board elections on the home page (if you can call it that), but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere.

You know there's a problem when a website has a link called "Site users guide" at the top (in addition to "keyword index," "site map," and "search the site"!) If you have to explain it how your site works, then you've done something wrong. It's dreadful in just about every aspect.

When I get more time, I'm going to seriously consider sending them a proposal for a redesign. That site is like a cry for help.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Saturn tonight

I finally got out tonight for the first time since about November for a little stargazing. It was a perfect night, if a bit nippy. Except for the fact that I was set up in the backyard with multiple neighbor's lights shining in my eyes, cars passing by, and that goddamn tulip poplar obscuring most of the sky. In spite of all that, the sky was very clear and much more steady than usual. I put my 5.8mm Antares in (345x) and sat peacefully with a towel over my head to block out some of the light and spent a good hour and a half with Saturn.

Saturn is truly amazing. After looking at it for a while, the disk looks completely three-dimensional. You almost feel like you can touch it. And it's almost impossible to believe that those bright rings are a 1-km-deep plate of dust. Tiny Tethys was barely visible in the glare near the rings. Here's hoping we get another good night tomorrow, when I'm planning to head out of town for some slightly darker skies.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The fighting sparrows

We've got a permanent colony of sparrows in the south eave of the house. Normally, they seem pretty content with their prime spot. But this morning a violent turf war broke out among what seemed to be two factions. Such a fussin' and a feudin'! Actually, it was pretty cool watching pairs of them fall out of the air locked in mortal combat.

UK legislates against bad lighting

Under the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005 light pollution will find itself on similar footing to noise pollution and residents plagued by intrusive bright lights will be able to ask the authorities for an abatement order if the light is 'prejudicial to health or a nuisance'.

Fines of up to £5,000 will be meted out to individuals who refuse to comply while businesses could face penalties of up to £20,000.


Sunset 1-12-06

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Watch this space