Saturday, December 22, 2007
I'd like to share a gift that I received the other day. One of the Cubs gave me a small gift and on the tag it read "Thanks for being a great Cub leader". That thought means a great deal to me. It means that people can make a difference by giving of themselves.
So I would like to thank those who volunteer for good causes, do the right thing even when it is difficult, add humor to our lives, contribute acts of kindness and respect, and expect nothing in return other than for others to carry on and do the same.
Everyone have a great 2008!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
When I joined the 433rd, we had our Akela and our Bagheera. And since Baloo was taking some time off and might return, I had to find something that else that fit from the list of characters. In other packs, a common fourth was Kaa, Chil, Hathi, or even Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.
Mang doesn't get much mention in the Jungle Book. All of the names above get more play in the book, but they didn't feel right. Mang was a great choice given my interests and the fact that both astronomers and bats are nocturnal. There was also the wonderful rhyme :
Now Chil the Kite brings home the nightAnd, I always liked a good party!
That Mang the Bat sets free.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Fall stargazing can be tough with all the overcast evenings we get. Tonight was one of those cool clear nights where the stars were brilliant and I was out for a walk. The first thing I saw was Orion low in the south east. Even through city light pollution it is magnificent.
Cubs need to know five constellations as part of their astronomy badge. Orion is an excellent choice because it is easy to find, provides easy pointers to other constellations, and contains a number of interesting objects that are also part of the knowledge needed for the astronomy badge.
Orion's belt is a cluster of three stars running east to west that have been credited for the positioning of Giza's famous pyramids (this has been debunked see Wikipedia). Orion's left shoulder is Betelgeuse, a massive red giant that would swallow Earth and Mars if it replaced our Sun. It so big and the gases inside it so spread out that it has been called a red hot vacuum. It is also the first star, aside from our Sun, to have a picture taken showing anything more than a point of light! One day this star will explode in a supernova bright enough to be seen in daylight. Then it will fade away.
Just below Orion's belt is a series of stars and nebula that are often referred to as Orion's sword. Among these is the great Orion Nebula a stellar nursery where new stars are being born.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Here's a snippet from episode 6 "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" where we find out that Gordon may have been a Cub. Gordon and Archie are both codebreakers. Josh, the head of the hut, has a good heart; although, he's a bit out of his depth when it comes to details, concepts, directions, and codebreaking.
Gordon: Archie's very cynical about religion.Hut 33 was extended for another season.
Josh: But Archie, our whole fabric of society is based on the teachings of the Bible. There's a very inspiring story of that baby who grows up to be really really famous.
Archie: You mean Jesus.
Josh: No, no, no, no. It starts with an M. I think he's separated from his parents and brought up by wild animals.
Gordon: Are you thinking of Mowgli!?
Josh: That's it! Which book is that in?
Archie: Jungle Book!
Josh: You mean, The Book of Jungle. Is that the old or new testament?
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Please note that the 433rd does not control where the Next Blog link will take you.
Update: Google has been taking action to clean this up. There is a good article, here.
Nonetheless - use with care.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
This site was the guinea pig and we hit a problem with Google's blogger where the header image doesn't always display. It seems this is a known problem and there is a fix about to be published.
Waiting with worms on our tongues :) --Oh sorry, that was bated breath.
Update 11/29: Google fixed the problem.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Clear sky charts are forecasts for specific locations that are cleverly extracted from satellite photographs collected by Environment Canada for weather forecasting. The forecasts provide a lot useful information about observing quality beyond just cloud cover.
Below, I've included a few charts for Toronto and several Scout Camps we use:
|Blue Springs Camp|
|Camp Goodyear (WildFlower Obs.)|
|Haliburton Scout Reserve|
Thanks to Attilla Danko and Allan Rahill (at CMC) for this resource. If you find it useful, please use the email links on the charts home page and let them know.
Update: The name Clear Sky Clocks was changed to Clear Sky Charts to avoid a trademark issue with a company called Sky Clocks.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
While I'm an avid amateur astronomer, for one reason or another I have never been lucky with comets. Either they or I have been in the wrong place or time and not linked up. In 1986, I saw Comet Halley in the Comet Kohoutek was a major dud.
Comet Kohoutek was a major dud.
Tonight I came to our pack meeting opportunistically armed with some basic information about Comet Holmes, a camera tripod, and a pair of 11x70 binoculars. By around 8pm the cloud cleared off and both Cassiopeia and Aurigae were visible. I went out to the church parking lot and looked high up in the north east through the light pollution of
Comet Holmes is unusual in that it is brightening as it moves away from the Sun. With its tail pointing away from us, we see only the head of it straight on. The comet itself is about 2km in diameter, yet the gas cloud forming its head is well over 1 million km across, almost as large as as the Sun.
I quickly found the nice little jewel box of stars in the core of Perseus and nearly jumped out of my skin! The thing is huge and right where it was supposed to be. Faint in the city sky, fuzzy, absolutely amazing, and visible from a parking lot under street lights. Within minutes I could see a hint of it unaided. Better still, every Cub present was able to see it and score a requirement for their astronomy badge!
Update 2007-11-17: Holmes is now the largest thing in the solar system - Incredible Comet Bigger than the Sun.Update 2008-2-6: Here are two composite images of Comet Holmes that may be of interest.
This multiple exposure shot shows how Homes chanes and moves over time.
This shot shows Holmes from Earth and a close up of the head taken by the Hubble.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Update: If you really want to start with a telescope you should read Avoiding the Christmas trash-Telescope Blues.
Most inexpensive telescopes are very poor instruments that will be difficult to use and lead to frustration. Poor quality eye pieces, useless finder scopes, terrible tripod mounts, and advertised high magnifications that are unusable. Terrence Dickinson, a respected astronomy author coined the term "Trash Scope Blues" for these disappointments.
Different types of telescopes suit different purposes, requiring the buyer to consider trade-offs. Leave these decisions until you're more certain of what you need.
So what to get your budding astronomer? A good pair of binoculars, and a beginners' book on astronomy!
- Dickinson's, "Night Watch" (4th ed.) is a good beginners book that I recommend. It contains lots of useful information, including discussions of telescopes for when you're ready to move up.
- Binoculars for astronomy need to be able to gather a lot of light, so 8x50's are better than 8x25's (the 8 is the magnification and the 50 is the diameter of the lens in mm). You may want to read Tips for Store-Testing Binoculars. A rule of thumb is that the second number should be 6 to 7 times the first, hence 7x50's or 8x50's are good for astronomy. Of course, the larger the optics the heavier the instrument. While I have an excellent pair of 11x70's, they are simply too big for children unless mounted on a tripod. Also, look for binoculars that can take a standard (camera) tripod adapter.
And if you really want to investigate telescopes, there are
- For a great example of where binoculars are better, consider our look at Comet Holmes. Also, I missed opportunities to see two magnificent comets, Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp, in part because I had no telescope at the time and didn't consider binoculars.
- A useful chart on binocular size can be found here.
- If you're looking for a simple free starter planisphere, look here.
- If you are considering a telescope instead of binoculars you may want to read a good article about the different types of telescopes. It covers reflectors, refractors, and compound designs. I'd also suggest talking to serious amateur astronomers about the pros and cons of each. BTW. Binoculars are refractors.
Friday, November 9, 2007
For information on the 433rd and events, please see the group web site and blog.
I welcome participation from the parents and youth of the 433rd and beyond.
Good hunting and good seeing!
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
- Your first telescope ...
- Knot Games
- Comet Holmes visits the 433rd!
- Weather forecasts for Stargazers
- Move to 433rd.com and image problem
- Browser beware: Next Blog
- Hut 33 finds Mowgli
- Orion returns to the evening sky
- Why Mang?
- Merry Christmas and Thanks
- Astronomy and space in the news
- Help Save the David Dunlap Observatory!
- The Tides Game
- Twilight hours and a sunrise/sunset calculator
- EarthHour - Saturday March 29, 2008 @ 8pm
- The Wolf Moon!
- The Toronto Fire Service visits the 433rd!
- Another asteroid "near" miss?
- ScoutBlogs - the search begins
- Build your own Planisphere (Star Finder)!
- ScoutBlogs #2 Nipissing and the Google Search
- Reflections on light pollution
- You want to get a star named after someone ...
- Wakeboarding in February!?
- How many planets have rings?
- Earth's other moons ...
- Astronomers Badge
- APOD and other astronomy image sources
- The Carnival of Space
- Black Hole discoverer to be eaten by land developers
- Unofficial Carnival of Space Search Widget
- Observatory Tour - March 4th, 2008
- Light Pollution Awareness - The Globe at Night - Feb 25 to Mar 8
- BP Banquet 2008
- Linking with the 9th Benoni Cubs
- Snow Moon Eclipse - simple astrophotography
- Scouts in Space (not kidding)
- Polite Comments are Welcome, SPAM is not.
- Astronomical distances are .... (well) astronomical
- Article on Binocular Astronomy
- David Dunlap Observatory Tour and Photos
- Calculating Easter
- Do you recognize this badge?
- Making MOST
- Browser wars part deux!
- Navigation without a compass (or GPS)
- April - Last chance to see DDO Canada's largest telescope
- Laser pointers, bans, and stupidity
- The 433rd goes to the Moon!
- Emergency Preparedness Adventure - Saturday, May 10th, 9 am - 4 pm
- 50 Ways to get kids hooked on the outdoors!
- Understanding Website Tracking
- Great Cubbing activities at Akela's Cubs!
- Astronomy Sale ....
- Mang's Most Popular
- Astronomy Day - May 10, 2008
- The Great Astronomers Badge Swap
- Yummy Science Experiment - eating up the speed of light!
- Emergency Preparedness Adventure - Photos
- Carnival of Space # 54 is up
- Greenwash, Security Theatre, and Skepticism - Critical Thinking
- What's your favorite asterism?
- Hut 33 returns ... more Scouting connections
- Carnival of Space # 57 is up
- Camp cleanup with destructive science!
- Binocular Astronomy
- Swimup Camp at Wye Marsh (June 21st)
- Gone Home too soon ....
- DMC-eh? Why Canada's new Copyright law is a mistake
- What's a cub to do over the summer?
- Breaking news on NeosSAT
- Mentos and diet-coke explained
- Tunguska's Legacy
- Carnival of Space #61: Tunguska Edition
- Top 10 excuses for not securing your computer
- Using feeds to speed up your browsing
- Carnival of Space #62 - The Image Extravaganza! @ Space Disco
- Hut 33 and Astronomy
- Carnival of Space #63
- Missed it by that much ...
- The Economist Has No Clothes ... Why Economics is failing the environment
- More Scouting possibilities in Hut 33?
- Scam psychology, Whack-a-mole and the next 2012 hoax
- 2008 Scouts Registration
- MOST caught on camera!
- Mang gets a space telescope!
- Hot Jupiter Trojans! MOST finds exoasteroids?
- Background Checks and Scouting
- Carnival of Space #70 is up at Orbital Hub
- What's up @ Blue Springs Scout Reserve - Sky Forecast
- What's Up @ Lloyd Manor Park - Sky Forecast
- Double Iridium Flare spotted at the 433rd!
- Mang interviewed in Etobicoke Guardian
- Pyro Scouts and Boy Scout Trail
- More Scouting insight at Scoutmaster
- DDO Astronomers renew outreach program - Your Real Sky
- Planets and Stars - video - Just how big are they?
- Free Coin Counting Service!
- Scout Scarves, 100th post
- Carnival of Space #72 @ Twisted Physics
- Welcome Chil!
- 433rd.com web site updgrade
- Custom Jigsaw Puzzles
- Apple Day Reminder 2008 !
- Coat Drive for Romero House
- Welcome JOTI 2008 Particpants!
- The Great World Wide Star Count - Oct 20 to Nov 3, 2008
- Spaghetti Western Orchestra?!
- Skies Badge - South Africa
- First JOTI
- TD Coin Counting Machines Pass Scout Apple Day Workout!
- Padua JOTI "Light of the Peace" Video Project
- Carnivals of Space 76 and 77
- Light pollution - even more in the spotlight
- Carnival of Space #78 @ Simostronomy
- Annual Humber West Hobby Show Crest Design Competition
- One year of Bat Blogging!
- Think of the fallen
- 20008 Christmas Tree Sales begin soon
- 2008 Weston Santa Claus Parade
- What's up Sky Forecasts
- What's Up @ Woodland Trails - Sky Forecast
- Carnival of Space #79 @ One Astronomers Noise
- What's Up @ Otter Lake Camp - SkyForecast
- Carnival of Space #80 - (US) Thanksgiving Edition @ Starts with a Bang
- What's Up @ Camp Goodyear - Sky Forecast
- Tipsy Orion
- Carnival of Space #81 @ Tiny Mantras
- What's Up @ Haliburton Scout Reserve - Sky Forecast
- What's Up @ the Torrence Barrens Dark Sky Preserve - Sky Forecast
- 2009 Hobby Show Date and Details
- Avoiding the Christmas trash-Telescope Blues
- Skyforecasts all up for now
- Carnival of Space #82 The Video Edition @ Space Disco
- What's Up @ Camp Samac - Sky Forecast
- Carnival of Space #84 @ Next Big Future
- Ciao Padua - Welcome the Light of the Peace!
- FREE - Toronto Astronomy Festival @ OSC - January 10, 2009
- Project Earthshine!
- Carnival of Space #85 @ Cheap Astro
- Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!
- Carnival of Space #86 @ Collect Space
- Carnival of Space #87 - returns to Mars
- How You Could Pilot a Space Telescope (Upside Down)
- Carnival of Space #88 @ TheSpaceWriters' Ramblings!
- Astronomy Links from Jan/Feb 2009 Scouting Life Magazine
- Easy "Red Eye" Exit Pupil Method
- Carnival of Space 90 - Valentines Day Edition @ 21st Century Waves
- Explore the Night Sky
- Make Your Stargazing Events Shine
- Carnival of Space #91 @ Next Big Future
- Astronomy Tips for the Observer
- Mang NOT seen hitchhiking at Kenedy Space Centre.
- Earth Hour: Be Part of It
- Carnivals of Space 92, 93, 94, 95, and 96
- The Last Planet?
- Space Carnivals 97, 98, 99
- Orbits: Intro to NASA's Orbit Simulator - solar system small body tour
- 100 Carnivals (of Space) on the wall
- See the Sun through an Hydrogen-Alpha filter (May 2 11am-4pm)
- Orbits: Comet/Asteroid/Meteor Close Encounters, Near Misses and Impacts
- Carnival of Space #101 @ Robot Explorers!
- Space badge resource for Girls and Boys
- David Dunlap Observatory slated to reopen in the IYA2009!
- Carnival of Space #102 @ The Spacewriter's Ramblings
- Strange Orbits: Quasi-satellites, Horseshoes, Corkscrews and Earth Stalkers - Earths Other Moons II
- David Dunlap Asteroid
- Carnival of Space #104 - The Arrow Edition
- Carnival of Space #105 @ Space Disco(very)
- Three Ring Carnivals (of Space #106, 107 , 108)
- Shrinking Mars will not appear as big as the full Moon
- Twisted Carnival of Space #109
- Pet Rocks? Naming things in Space
- Carnival of Space #110 @ Kentucky Space
- International Space Station ISS - Watch it Build
- Carnival of Space #111 @ 21st Century Waves
- Mosquitos, Camping, and Astronomy, oh my
- Ribs! Ribs! Ribs! .... BBQ
- Nostradamus 2012: Not fit for the KYBO
- Carnival of Space #112 - The Big Moon Day Show @ Out of the Cradle
- FREE - Apollo Talk and Star Party @ OSC - Tonight July 24th 8-11pm
- UK Astronomy Badge
- The Carnival of Space #113 takes a hit @ The Dynamics of Cats
- Hey Boo-boo, look where they hid the picnic basket!
- Carnival of Space #114 @ Cheap Astronomy
- Strange Planetary Alignment and all I got was a T-shirt.
- Carnival of Space #115 @ New Frontier News
- What's up @ the Ontario Science Center
- Carnival of Space #116 @ Habitation Intention
- Antipodean Astronomical Weather Forecasts and more
- Carnival of Space 117 @ Simostronomy
- Petition: designate David Dunlap Observatory lands a National Historic Site
- What's up @ Gordon's Park Manitoulin
- Carnival of Space #118 @ Cumbrian Sky
- 433rd 2009-2010 registration and information updates
- 3 Star Parties!
- Carnival of Space Hat Trick #119-121
- Pirates on the Grand!
- Star Symposium @ York University - Saturday October 3, 2009
- FREE Spooky Star Party - OSC - Friday, October 30th
- Carnival Quintette 122, 123, 124, 125 and 126
- Review: National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Night Sky
- It's trashscope season again - don't be fooled