Wednesday, July 30, 2014
After the presentation at our astronomy meeting tonight, we went outside the planetarium and set up some of our telescopes to look at the stars. It was a bit hazy, so there was some difficulty in finding star clusters and nebulae, but we found some. I noticed John and Gordan using this home-made telescope from the 1960's because they were silhouetted against the planetarium building in the background. When I lifted my toy camera up, they were not visible on the screen in the back, because it was so dark. So I set the ISO at 6400 and tried a few frames. The camera came up with an exposure of 1/3 second which is a little long for a camera not on a tripod. But it worked, and no one was more surprised than I was.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:14 PM
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Tonight was opening night for the St. Rocco's Festival in Glen Cove, the next town over. It's like the San Genaro festival in Manhattan, but only 10 minutes away. We had sausage and pepper heroes, and bought a cannoli and a napolean for dessert. They have all the usual carnival attractions - games of skill and chance that are impossible to win, of course. And rides. This one looks like a giant canoe and swings back and forth, while the people scream. Well, most of them do. I love that it is called Pharoah's Fury, and check out the face on the kid in the first row!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:22 PM
Monday, July 28, 2014
What just happened here? Nothing. Let me explain. This is the natural outdoor amphitheater where the keynote talk is held on Saturday night at the Stellafane Convention. Everyone sits in the dark, under the skies, and there is a screen where the speaker shows slides as part of the talk. I decided to try a long exposure and see if I could record anything at all. So I put the camera on my knee to steady it, and pressed the shutter release. I was amazed that I was able to capture so much detail. You can see stars in the sky, which shows how dark it was. The scene was illuminated by the light reflecting from the projection screen. So here's the amazing part - I was looking through the pictures, and noticed both of these people with their mouths open. That's because they were both yawning! But it sure looks like something else, doesn't it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:30 PM
Sunday, July 27, 2014
I drove home from Vermont this morning, on I-91, and I was in and out of thunderstorms all the way to Connecticut. When I first started out, I caught up with a group of about eight motorcyclists riding together. They all had rain gear on, and clear goggles, and a covering on the lower part of their faces. Man that is a really tough way to ride home. What would freak me out if I was riding on a motorcycle in all this rain, would be the possibility of having the wheels hydroplane because of so much water on the road. If a car hydroplanes, at least it still stays upright. For these riders, it has to have been a long ride home.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:44 PM
Saturday, July 26, 2014
I have been coming to the Stellafane Convention, a gathering of amateur telescope makers, for 26 years now. Springfield, Vermont is where amateur telescope making was born, back in the 1920's. Telescopes were so expensive, that if you wanted one, and you were not rich, you had to build one yourself. Springfield was home to a number of precision machine tool makers, and they had the knowledge and skills required, and through articles in Scientific American, the information was passed on to other interested amateurs across the United States. But it all started here. The "Pink Clubhouse" is now on the national list of historic places. You can see home made telescopes set up all around the field. The white structure with the domed front is a concrete telescope, made in 1939, and you observe from inside the structure, during the bitter Vermont winters.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:48 PM
Friday, July 25, 2014
This is Chris, and I met him last year when he and his wife were filling in for the owners of the B&B I was staying in. You might remember that I did a portrait of him by windowlight. He is a collector and buyer and seller of old cameras. I mentioned I had an old camera that I didn't want and he said he was interested, so this year when I came to Vermont, I brought it with me. I stopped by his house today to bring him the camera, and I got to see all of his collection. It was amazing - I watched my life flash before me as I spotted so many of the types of camera that I used for both work and play. He is an amazing guy, and we had a really nice visit. He looked up the value of my camera, and so I thought it would make a nice portrait of him with his cameras in the background, and holding the pricing guide for old cameras.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:03 PM
Thursday, July 24, 2014
I was indoors all day at a conference on Double Stars. After the dinner and the keynote talk I was headed back to the bed and breakfast. As I crossed the bridge over the Black River, the reflection of the sky in the water briefly caught my attention. I was not sure if there was a picture there, but I drove down the road and parked in a parking lot and walked back to the bridge. There was something about the muted tones and the dark silhouettes that I really loved the feeling of. And I love the name "Black River." It flows through the heard of Springfield, Vermont, and is a source of power for the many industrial factories built on her shores.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:02 PM