Posts Tagged ‘mountain’

Watching Sunset on the Moon, and things that go bump in the night!

August 20, 2011

Well it’s a start.  Sunset on the Moon!

This is the time lapse of sunset on the moon, taken at prime focus with a cpc11 with a focal reducer and a canon 60D.  The conditions were less than perfect.  This was about 9 hrs all in, and really quite an infuriating 9 hrs.

Firstly, since my ‘run in’ with the mountain lion, I’ve become VERY twitchy about things that go bump in the night, and would periodically scan the torch around, looking for ‘eyes’.  There was also an amusing part when a piece of paper blew out of the car.  The ‘sudden noise’ in the dark elicited an immediate reaction from me, which to the impartial observer must have appeared quite funny and disproportionate! (twirling around ready to attack the piece of paper…… hmmmm….  time to switch to decaf!)

Not all bad though, amazing what the heightened senses can find!


For some reason the telescope is lousy at tracking the moon.  I think this is to do with the fact that the Earth axis, and the normal of the orbit of the moon are out by about 6 degrees.  Practically what this means is the moon not only moves at a different rate to the stars (that is it goes around the sky in about 25 hours, not 24 like pretty much everything else).  But even with lunar rate, the tracking is poor.  I think the moon is also moving up/ down due to the difference in the normal of the Earth rotation and the moons orbit, and the mount is not smart enough to work this out.  The practical upshot of which is the moon will drift out of the field of view over a period of about an hour, so I had to set the alarm to go off every 20 minutes throughout the night in order to recenter the moon.

Further recentering the frames, taken every 2 minutes in editing is also a pain in the ass.  Thankfully Sony Vegas now has a ‘motion stabilizer’ feature that takes a lot of the donkey work out of this.

This is the finished product!  Well actually, only part of it.  At prime focus the telescope can get the best part of the moon in the frame.  I just selected one crater, as it shows the shadows nicely.

Tracking on everything else is perfect, in that at the end of the evening I dialed up Jupiter, and it went straight to it.  Cute! Never seen Jupiter by the full light of day before!

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Thunderf00t vs The Mountain Lion

August 13, 2011

The sun was fully down and the full moon just risen (12 Aug 2011) when I was up by the tripod some 10 meters from the car.  The camera was running a timelapse near dusk, but the battery was low so I was just changing it.   It was there that I heard a  twig break nearby on the far side of the clearing. Instantly that was out of the ordinary, and got my attention REAL fast. I can hear nothing else, and that makes me even more nervous:- no creature ambling through the brush, the night hunters are at work. I have no torch on me, and no weapon (normally I carry both a torch and a big ass knife, which in the event of you not being killed outright is enough to put some pretty respectable sized holes in a cat). But I have neither. I have the camera, and now that I think about it, I should have grabbed the tripod too, but I didn’t. Keeping myself fixed towards where the sound was I made my way cautiously back to the car, brandishing the 2000 dollar camera n lens as just a big metal lump (strange how the value of objects can be changed by merely the snapping of a twig in a clearing on a  quiet night up). On getting back to the car, I quickly rummaged around and got a knife, and flashlight. I panned it around the clearing to see two bright green sapphire eyes looking back at me from behind a log. It had come up on me from where I first heard it on the far side of the clearing. It could only have been about 10 meters. Then behind it I saw a second pair of eyes, as green as the first, but smaller, and further off. Green eyes are cats eyes, and from the separation and the distance I could tell this was a big cat. After watching me for a few seconds I saw it turn off into the trees. I didn’t like that at all: all the time I could see it, I knew what the score was. A big cat out of sight, thats more of a worry.
I fumbled around for a video camera, but by that time they eyes had gone and again I was ‘alone in the quiet’. After that I was reluctant to leave the car. Mountain lions are ambush hunters, and the car was awkwardly positioned such that getting out was ‘vunerable’. I slept the night away, and in the morning went looking for tracks. Turns out there was a deer path that went along side the opening, and sure enough, there were mountain lion tracks there, further they tracked up towards the tripod.

Cool, I Haz it.

July 26, 2011
This Picture says it all!

This Picture says it all!

Sunday July 10th (The Old Friend)

July 12, 2011

Up relatively late, well after sunrise, and rolled on down the road to Montrose.  Montrose was a place where I had a spot of bother a few years earlier where driving in the late dusk, only to have a giant truck tire materialize out of the dark where the lights didn’t penetrate.  I didn’t even have time to react, and plowed straight through it.  My only thought at the time was ‘Im going to luck to survive this’ as there was the massive thunk and the car jumped from the impact.  Maybe a second later, and much to my own surprise I still had the steering wheel in my hand and was in control of the car.  In disbelief I carefully slowed down and eased the car to the side of the road, watching in the rear mirror as at least one other pair of headlights swerved and jumped as they hit the truck tire among the smoke of locked wheels burning rubber.  Another guy also  stopped, as visibly shaken as myself, and we chattered for half an hour, telling each other over and over our frighteningly similar stories while comparing the damage to our vehicles.  Mine had fared much worse and was visibly leaking coolant.  That was bad, real bad.  Without coolant the car will overheat and destroy the engine in fairly short order, and I was still 50 miles outside Mostrose.  The guy who had shared my fate with the truck tire decided escort me to Montrose, just to make sure I made it, and get me to a radiator place.  I made it only to find out the next morning there was no real chance of getting it fixed in Montrose.  Further I had realised early on the AC was fracked, although I didn’t find out till later the AC radiator is in front of the engine radiator, and so had taken the brunt of it.  This had clearly caused the AC coolant to evaporate.  Eventually had to drive, very carefully to Colorado Spring to get the car fixed.

However this time all I was up for was to find a coffee shop to upload some stuff.  Spent the day preparing talks, and uploading things like the Phelps interview.  Rolled out in late afternoon towards Durango, and enroute I saw a sight!  An Old Friend from way back, Mount Sneffles.

Sneffles isn’t just one of Colorado’s 14 000 footers, its impressive.  Indeed when I first saw it, my first thought is, I have GOT to climb that thing!  Two days later I did 🙂 and it’s still one of my most fond memories of the West.  You really do feel on top of the world on that mountain, almost on a pillar with the ground dropping away on every side.  Looking down on one side to the jagged ridges of the Sneffles range, and on the other over the gentle hills to other distance mountain ranges of the Rockies.  The hike shattered me though.  You really need a 4×4 with high clearance to make it up to the trailhead (Yankee Boy Basin), and my polite, under-powered, and heavily laiden Little Blue NYer barely made it up the two wheel drive portion of the dirt road (and even that was incredibly hairy and touch and go!).  Still, one of the reasons I’ve been kitting the aerial video rigs up with HD cameras etc, and trying to get stuff sorted for remote piloting even at this obscene altitude is to fly from the top of Sneffles.  However while I hope to get up Sneffles before the end of this year, the time is not now.  I have a conference to prepare for and the I have to get my ass over to TAM (The Amazing Meeting) by saturday 😦 .