Building an ugly but portable observing stool

After putting up with a step stool as my observing chair for the first few months after re-entering the world of astronomy I decided that I needed something more height adjustable and portable. It always seemed that neither of the two steps was ever at the right height to make for comfortable observing and it always seemed that the stool was more of hindrance, overall.

There are loads of designs on the net for building your own observing chair and lots of suppliers that will sell you one but most of them either were designed such that they would be difficult to fit into my Mini Cooper or cost more than I was willing to pay. With a few I even had concerns about the chair portion staying where it was put.

Then I ran across the Home Built Astronomy Projects website and an observing stool design by Rod Nabholz at that looked like it would work perfectly.

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Globe at night, fight light pollution!

It’s time! Go out and help track the lethal (really, it kills. Trust Me) spread of light pollution.

Click on the thumbnail for more info

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ISS over Plano, 2/24/2010

It finally cleared up around here and I was already awake so I jumped into my shoes and put on a jacket to try to get some shots of the ISS as it went over. It promised to be a bright showing and as usual, the ISS didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately my tripod did. I chose to use my lighter tripod due to being able to grab it and run outside but some of the shots show that it was flexing at the beginning of the exposures, even with a 2s delay on the camera. At least two shots came out. Each is a 15s exposure at ISO 400.

The first is the station flying right through the Big Dipper.

with the second heading away past the neighbor’s house.

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Star Party fail (and prevention)

One of the members of TAS brought the following to the attention of the online forum members and I thought it was worth sharing for both a laugh and to point out things that do help to make a successful star party.

On the NASA web site they’ve got a full planning checklist for a star party aimed as planning an event around the passing overhead of the ISS. I’ve copied it after the jump just in case NASA decides to change the original page.

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Mars Feb 15 2010

It was a nice clear night just before I had to leave town and I took the opportunity to capture some video of Mars.


This is the result of 600 frames stacked in Registax

Video was taken through a Canon SD750

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Shuttle sunset

This is a gorgeous shot of the shuttle taken from the ISS as the shuttle approached for docking

Head over to the NASA site for larger versions.

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Watch Jupiter Rotate

This is an excellent movie of Jupiter going through a full rotation as the New Horizons spacecraft flew by it in 2007.

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Got stars?

What are you doing March 3-16?

Have you ever seen the Milky Way (other than in photographs)?

Help figure out what light pollution is doing to our ability to see an enjoy the heavens. You can also download activity packets to share with students, family and friends.

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Columbia and the space program

Seven years ago the shuttle Columbia broke up over Texas.

Why did the administration pick this day to gut the Moon program?

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