Monday, October 31, 2016
I love Halloween! I got the Jack-O-Lantern carved late in the afternoon which is good, because most of the children in our neighborhood come in the late afternoon, while it is still daylight. Such was the case when these three boys showed up on our porch. I gave them candy and then because I loved their costumes, I asked if I could take their picture, and they said yes. That's a good deal - pose for a picture and get candy, right?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:20 PM
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Lowell Observatory is the place where the planet Pluto was discovered in 1930. Percival Lowell, built the observatory, first to study the planet Mars, then he began a search for "Planet X" in 1905. In 1929 Clyde Tombaugh, a farm boy and an amateur astronomer and telescope maker from Kansas was hired by Lowell Observatory to continue the search. He used this 13" astrograph, which is a telescope used for taking photographs. He used 14" x17" glass plates and made hour-long exposures of different parts of the sky. Then several days later he would photograph the same areas, and compare the plates. If an object moved on the plates between the two exposures, when he viewed the plates, the object would appear to jump. Within a year, he had found the object which was then named "Pluto." He died at age 90 in 1997, and a small portion of his ashes was placed aboard the New Horizons spacecraft, which went to Pluto, now no longer considered a planet.
This is the back of the astrograph, showing the aluminum plate holder on the back of the telescope.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:51 PM
Saturday, October 29, 2016
I just know that since I showed you the aluminizing chamber of the Discovery Channel Telescope mirror, you were probably saying to yourself: "when is he going to show us the telescope itself?" I know you were thinking that. Well, here it is! This instrument is a behemoth! If you look carefully under the telescope there is an electronics technician kneeling down which gives a sense of scale. As I mentioned the other day, inside the structure is a 4.3 meter diameter mirror. The telescope, by the way is a joint project of Lowell Observatory and The Discovery Channel. Oh, and guess where the telescope is located? Right, Happy Jack, Arizona!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:15 PM
Friday, October 28, 2016
I have a bunch of photographs from the trip to Flagstaff, so you will be seeing photos from there for a while. One of the telescopes we visited was the Discovery Channel Telescope, located about 40 miles southeast of Flagstaff. It is one of the newer telescopes in existence, having seen "first light" in 2012. Telescopes have glass mirrors, in this case a disk that is 4.3 meters in diameter, and in order to become a mirror it needs to be coated with a microscopically thin layer of aluminum. In order to do this, the mirror has to be put in a vacuum chamber, the air is removed, and an electric charge vaporizes some aluminum wires, and the mirror is coated. Anyhow, this is the underside of the vacuum chamber, and it seemed to look like a spaceship.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:16 PM
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Wow, when was the last time you were in a holding pattern in an airplane? I don't remember the last time I spent circling. The process these days, is, that if there is going to be a delay at the destination airport, they put a "ground stop" on the departing flight, and then release it so that when it arrives at its destination there won't be any delays. It saves a ton of fuel. The problem with my flight from Dallas to LaGuardia was that while were enroute, the winds increased at LaGuardia, and then they could only use only one runway for both takeoffs and landings. Imagine my surprise when the display on the seat back in front of me suddenly had a "hook" in the course! I thought "What?" About a minute later the captain came on the intercom and announced a hold of about 25 minutes. Three turns in the hold and twenty five minutes, and we were on our way to LaGuardia again.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:43 PM
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
This is a really cool story! One of our members is a STEM coach at her school, and she and a 6th grade science teacher in a middle school challenged some of their students to come up with a project for "SSEP" - Student Spaceflight Experiment Program. These 6 young men come up with a student science project that was sent to the International Space Station! That was two years ago because there were delays in the delivery to the ISS. You can see the title of their project on the screen. These kids are really smart! They came to our meeting tonight to give a presentation about their project and they were really impressive. I took a couple of different photographs of them and couldn't decide which photograph I like the best. Maybe the formal portrait in the planetarium is best. But I loved it when their teacher did a portrait of them with her cellphone.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:58 PM
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
This is amazing! I had my "toy camera" with me at the ready - my SONY Rx 100 - on my flights home. The quality of the images this small camera produces is just astounding! I can take photographs at "film speeds" of 6400 and even 12,800, and the quality is amazing. It is very close to the quality of a full sized digital camera. It is so different from film days, when my normal film speed was 400 and you could get films of 1600 and 3200, but that was it. Digital sensors have changed all that. According to the moving map display ahead of me said that we were going by Nashville. I can't say for sure, but it is really an interesting abstract image, isn't it?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:48 PM
Monday, October 24, 2016
Danny Lyon is an amazing documentary photographer. Back in the 1960's he began creating his own books. His first, was a study of outlaw motorcyclists called The Bikeriders, where Lyon did more than just photograph motorcyclists in the American Midwest from 1963 to 1967. Additionally, he also became a member of the Chicago Outlaws motorcycle club and traveled with them, sharing their lifestyle. Well, I didn't do that. I was driving from Flagstaff to Phoenix when I noticed a group of 4 or 5 motorcycles in the rearview mirror coming up behind me. I had my toy camera with me, and I got it ready. While looking out the windshield to see where I was going, I pointed the camera out my side window and clicked off one frame as each of the motorcycles passed me on the left, without looking. I wish I could claim I saw the other bike in the side view mirror! But I didn't. But it makes the shot!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:32 PM
Sunday, October 23, 2016
We spent all day at Lowell Observatory, listening to papers and slideshows about things of interest to Antique Telescope Society members. Then at 5:30 PM we started an hour long drive down to Lake Montezuma, to a restaurant for dinner, and then to the home and private observatory of one of our hosts at Lowell. He took a discarded, historical telescope over a hundred years old, and restored it from a pile of rust covered junk, and made it look brand new again. It took him five years to accomplish it, and he is a master craftsman. The telescope is just stunning. Since it was so dark down in that area, I decided to do a a few time exposures of the night sky. There were a few clouds around, but you can see how dark and beautiful the sky is down there.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:37 PM
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Every year since I forget when, I have been doing the "class portrait" of the group of people who attend the Antique Telescope Society Convention. Sometimes it is really difficult to find a place where there are steps to separate the rows by height, and then I need nice, soft lighting. Late this afternoon it all came together, and the result is nice. I have been coming to this convention for over 20 years, and so many of these people are now my good friends. It is always wonderful to arrive at the gathering and say "hello" to people I haven't seen in a year. And then each year, there are wonderful conversations with members I may not have met before and we connect over shared interests.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:18 PM
Friday, October 21, 2016
We are at Lowell Observatory, in Flagstaff, Arizona. This is a famous, historic observatory, built by Percival Lowell in 1894, to study Mars. He purchased this 24" refracting telescope, which is about thirty feet long, and used the telescope to search the surface of Mars. He thought he saw "canals" on the surface and he made many drawings, thinking that the canals were evidence of life on Mars. But the great discovery was by Clyde Tombaugh who worked here as a young researcher, using a different telescope than this one, and he discovered the planet Pluto in 1930. We got to observe through this 24" telescope, and saw some globular clusters, which were stunning in this instrument, and the planet Uranus. What a spectacular night! The last photo shows people lined up to look through the telescope. Notice the automobile wheels and tires going around the edge of the dome? And notice that the "dome" is not a round dome, as you might expect? There were two brilliant carpenters who were hired to build this observatory, and the automobile tires and the different style of dome, which have both lasted all these years, are the result of their ingenuity.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 11:58 PM
Thursday, October 20, 2016
I am whipped! Sorry I am so exhausted that this is the best photograph that I could come up with today. These tails are the new aircraft livery of American Airlines. Sorry for almost leaving this out! I flew out of LaGuardia to Chicago O'Hare, then after a layover, flew to Phoenix, rented a car, an drove for two and one-half hours up to Flagstaff, where I arrived at 9 PM. Tired of sitting all day long. I did manage to get this at O'Hare, I think. I promise better photographs for the rest of the week. Better, I guess, if you love astronomy and telescopes!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:54 PM
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
This is a photograph from the little park where I stop to rest at the end of my bike ride. I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of this landscape where I live! What attracted me was the delicacy of the grasses in the foreground, and what clinched it for me was the late afternoon light that gave everything a golden glow.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:22 PM
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
I thought I would go over to the garden and see if I could find a photograph there. I was so surprised to see that "my" plant which I bought at a nursery several years ago, had all these black pods on it! So here's the tricky part... My sister Joan had one of these plants in her back yard. It has small blue flowers on it when it is in bloom. The plant is now close to four feet tall. Joan can't remember which plant it is, unfortunately. I have never seen the black pods on it before - that must be because the plant needed to reach a certain age. I asked Kathy what she thought the pods were, and she suggested that they were seed pods. So I opened one up. She was right, as usual... :-) I should have photographed some of the leaves. I will say that there are three leaves at each junction on a branch. The leaves are about 1.5 inches long, and look like a water drop, and have smooth edges. Any guesses out there?
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:50 PM
Monday, October 17, 2016
Blue sky, sunshine, and temperatures near eighty degrees! What more could you possibly ask for? Another perfect day for a bike ride! The big problem was trying to figure out how to take a photograph while I was riding. I would love for you to see what I see, with both of my hands on the handlebars, and the road speeding below me. But there is no way to take that photo with my hands on the bars. So I had to do a one-hand picture of my shadow on the road, using my iPhone. But don't worry - I have been doing this for years while driving the car! :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:49 PM
Sunday, October 16, 2016
There are a few galleries at the Museum of Modern Art, where there are windows looking out on Manhattan. It is always fun to see what new views you can see. I looked out this window and was taken by the reflected sunlight off some building, onto the facade of this brick townhouse. It feels a bit haunted or something, so I decided to photograph it. There are other buildings in the photograph, but it is really all about the light and the building in the foreground.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:24 PM
Saturday, October 15, 2016
We were invited to Fred's birthday party tonight. Fred said a few words before cutting the cake and we were all moved. He said that he decided that it would be nice to have a birthday party because he realized that he was thankful for how fortunate he has been in life, and in the wonderful friends he and his wife Marla have. He also said that the older you get the more friends seem like family, and the more family seems like friends. It was such a lovely party, and a tribute to the things that matter the most in life.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:37 PM
Friday, October 14, 2016
I should call this "Museum Week" because here I am again in a museum. My friends Ginger and Ron from Austin, Texas, are visiting New York and we spent the day at the Museum of Modern Art. They used to live on Long Island, and would visit MoMA all the time. So this was a much needed visit for them. I couldn't believe how crowded MoMA was. There were wall to wall people everywhere. And in front of some of the more famous paintings, the crowds were two and three deep! This is the famous painting "Starry Night" by Vincent van Gogh surrounded by people, using cameras and tablets! Wait! I am doing the same thing by photographing them!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:48 PM
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Wow, did I have fun yesterday! This is the Parrish Art Museum in Watermill.. I have driven by it a whole bunch of times since it was built in 2012, but never stopped. Well, yesterday it was a destination. The architecture of this building is amazing and I had a lot of fun photographing it. You know how I love architecture. The idea of this building was to have it resemble a shed or a potato barn, and to have it blend into the landscape. And what's really cool is that the landscaping in the field around the museum consists of wild grasses that will be allowed to grow four feet tall. What is amazing is that the building is six hundred and fifteen feet long! Just stunning!
The structure is made up of two peaked-roof structures joined in the middle that make up the single building.
The walls are poured concrete and it is amazing to see them disappear into the distance. There are huge overhangs of the roof on either side
This is an interior view of the central hallway. The roof rafters are exposed wood, along with some I-Beams painted white. The overall effect is one of warmth and light.
There are large skylights on both sides of the corrugated metal roof. The galleries are lit by natural light, rather than the spotlights for each painting that many museums use.
This is one of the galleries, and you can see the soft light on the painting from the skylights in the ceiling. The fluorescent bulbs on the far wall are a light sculpture by Dan Flavin, entitled "the nominal three (to William of Ockham) 1963
The first thing you come to at the museum entrance are these two sculptures out by Montauk Highway by Roy Lichtenstein, titled "Tokyo Brushstroke I & II" They are so joyful!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:55 PM
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
I had a fun day today. My friend Stan and his wife Ann invited me to join them out at the Parrish Museum to look at art for the day. I will show you photographs and talk about the new Parrish Art Museum in Watermill in a later post. There is one work of art in this gallery that consists of three sets of fluorescent bulbs standing vertically, along one wall of the room. As I stepped into this gallery, there was a man standing there and as I raised my camera to take a shot, he turned and walked away! Then I remembered that Stan was nearby. "Go stand there, please," I told him, And I was able to recreate the photo that I saw. I just love this shot, because it is never anything I would have thought of - I had to SEE it, and then my response was instantaneous.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:58 PM
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
I thought I would show you some rare, white ivy. OK, there is no such thing as white ivy. I was using my air compressor and spray gun today, to paint some lattice which will be replacing old lattice under the front porch. After I was done spraying, I needed to clean the spray gun so I added solvent, and went off to the side of the garage to spray the solvent to clean the sprayer. I ended up spraying the ivy, and then I realized that might make an interesting photo. It is kind of ghostly, I think.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 7:19 PM
Monday, October 10, 2016
I was reaching up into the cupboard over the stove for a coffee filter. I accidentally bumped an open box of thin spaghetti which then tumbled forward, with the open end down, and in an instant the spaghetti was all over the kitchen floor! So, how to pick it up? I got a piece of typewriter paper, and slid it under the pieces of spaghetti, and cleaned it up in no time! And what did I do it with the pasta? I put the box and the spaghetti back on the shelf. The theory is, that if I am going to boil the pasta for 10 minutes, I probably don't have to worry about anything that might be on the pasta from the floor. So do you still want to come to our house to eat? :-)
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:09 PM
Sunday, October 9, 2016
I was on my way to the program yesterday when I spotted these birds sitting on an oil boom in the harbor down where the old power plant was. The photo was too good to pass up. I love how they space themselves our so carefully, almost as if they measured the spaces. Of course the big issue is "what birds are these?" Egrets are white, so I think these birds are Herons. But their necks are not long enough to be Great Blue Herons. So now we have a mystery. I love mysteries!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:24 PM
Saturday, October 8, 2016
I attended an FAA safety seminar today, and it was on the subject of UAVs - Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or "drones" as they are commonly known. Two people who spoke fly drones for their photography work. One speaker is a pilot and flight instructor, and the other one who is a professional photographer and who flies drones. They spoke about FAA regulations and registration and flying techniques, and showed some of their work. There was supposed to be a demonstration on this drone outdoors but it began to rain, so no luck with that. It was a really informative afternoon.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:33 PM
Friday, October 7, 2016
This is an amazing scene that I pass every Wednesday night. It is located in front of Huntington Town Hall, and is called Huntington Veterans Park. What you are seeing is only about one-quarter of the flags that are on display. Based on previous years, these flags will be up for several months, and then will be taken down. I assume these are up for Veteran's Day, and they also have them up for Memorial Day, if I recall correctly. It is such a powerful memorial, especially at night.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 10:25 PM
Thursday, October 6, 2016
This looks strange, which is the whole point of why I took this photo. We had another Moon and planet watch at the Cradle of Aviation this evening, with members of two astronomy clubs there with their telescopes. This is my friend Linda and her automated telescope. The telescope is expected to be used at night, for the most part, and the problem is that the controller for the telescope is a computer tablet. But since we were setting up in bright daylight, she had trouble reading her tablet. I said "I have just the answer for you!" I went to the car and found a "dark cloth" in my trunk. Dark cloths are used with 4x5 view cameras, in order to compose and focus an image. So with this draped over her, and her controller, she was able to get her telescope working.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:21 PM
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Just like last night's forecast, the sun is out today! Oh happy day! Blue sky and sunshine! I was able to set up my telescope this morning, and do my first drawing of sunspots on the sun in almost two weeks. It was perfect weather for a bike ride - sunny and 65 degrees. My favorite time of year for bike riding! So the sun is out, and all is right with the world.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:47 PM
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
These are beautiful clouds. So many lovely colors of gray. But I have to confess, I am tired of clouds at this point. I want to see the Sun. I have my sunspot drawings to do. It has been, it seems, much more than two weeks without any sun at all. I need sunshine! It is funny, but I do find that sunshine affects my mood. I feel much better when the sun is out. The good news is that I just went outside tonight and the stars are out! It is clear! Sunshine tomorrow! Oh happy day!
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:42 PM
Monday, October 3, 2016
This is another photograph from the Kidsfest that I attended with our astronomy club. The same group that showed the beautiful orange Corn snake also brought along this beautiful Screech owl! Isn't he just amazing? He is unexpectedly quite small - probably only nine-inches tall. He arrives in a hollowed-out piece of tree trunk, covered with a burlap. He feels more comfortable sitting in the dark, when he is transported. But he is quite happy to sit on his handler's black glove, to which he is tied by a strip of leather, while people get to examine him up close.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 8:38 PM
Sunday, October 2, 2016
This is Sister Ann, and today she celebrated fifty years of taking her vows as a nun! During the service today, she repeated her vows in front of the congregation, as well as a number of priests from churches where she served during her career, who returned for the ceremony. After the service, there was a reception for her in the parish hall. It was a wonderful celebration for someone who has devoted her life to service in the church.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:49 PM
Saturday, October 1, 2016
There is a time of day, long after the sun sets, called the blue period. The light of the sun is "warm" in comparison to the light from the blue sky. After the warm light goes away with the setting sun, as it gets darker, the light outside is blue. You may have seen this if you think about it - perhaps you were in your house and had put a lamp on because it was getting dark out. Then you look out your window, and notice that it is blue outside, as seen through the window. I think this blue light does an amazing thing with the gardens outside the dining room window.
Posted by Ken Spencer at 9:54 PM