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Odd Lots

  • I’ve mentioned this before in several places, but I will mention it again here and probably more than once again before it happens: On December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will be only one tenth of a degree apart. That’s one fifth the diameter of the full Moon. I’ve never seen two planets that close, and I’ve been looking at the sky now for 63 years.
  • As I mentioned in a recent entry, I’m putting my big 10″ Newtonian scope back together for the first time in close to 20 years. Most of the work lay in building a new base. (Termites ate the original, which I cobbled together out of scrap wood when I was 16.) The base is finished. The rest should be easy. With some luck I’ll get it all together and do a star test tonight. If my stars are in alignment, it’ll work. But hey, all stars are my stars, so I can’t lose!
  • While listening to Peter Hollens songs on YouTube, I stumbled across a remarkable women’s vocal ensemble: Brigham Young University’s Noteworthy. They’ve posted a number of videos, and all of them are amazing in terms of pure vocal harmony. Nothing I’ve seen tops their cover of “When You Believe” from the animated film Prince of Egypt. It’s the best song out of a very good bunch, and those ladies nailed it for all time.
  • I suspect that by now you’ve probably heard, but SF legend and former Analog editor Ben Bova died on November 30, of COVID-19 complications. He was 88. Ben taught for a week when I attended Clarion East 1973, and he was spectacular.
  • And as though that weren’t bad enough, Chuck Yaeger died this past Monday, December 7. Yaeger, to me, almost defines the word “badass.” He shot down 13 German warcraft during WW2, five of them on one mission. He rode the Bell X-1 to the sound barrier and beyond, and piloted the X-15 to the edge of space. He fought Death to a draw that lasted 97 years. Godspeed, General Yaeger.
  • Watch for Northern Lights from Thursday sunset to Friday dawn. (H/T to Hans Schantz.)


  1. Ed says:

    Congratulations on getting the big scope back together – hopefully the weather will be suitable.

    Amusing story: earlier this fall I was thinking about an enclosure or observatory, then for some reason remembered an old Sky & Telescope article about a scope design with an eyepiece that didn’t move.

    After digging for a bit I realized it was the Porter-Springfield. And researching *that* led me to just a few pages, one being, you guessed it, your old Junkyard Telescope pages…

    The thing is, I have CPD bookmarked, and come here regularly 🙂

    1. The scope is done. It works great by daylight, and I’m going to be doing some star testing tonight to check out the collimation. (We’re also going to take a look at Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, as well as the young crescent Moon.) I’ll be writing about the scope in more detail here after I get a little experience with it. It seems a lot heavier than it did when I was in my 30s…

      1. Jim Dodd says:

        When I was 42, I got the flu and, when I went to the doctor for help, I said I didn’t think it could just be the flu because it felt worse than any flu I’d had before. He said, “It’s because you’ve never been 42 before.”

        Looking forward to your further writing about the scope.

      2. Ed says:

        It was clear (and cold) here in the California high desert last night. The little 70mm refractor had a good view of the conjunction. A 7mm eyepiece just fit everything into the field of view.

        It’s startling how *tilted* Saturn is.

        1. “Wide open” for Saturn was in 2017. They’re still pretty “open,” heading for an edge-on view in 2025. It’s about 7 1/2 years between edge-on and wide-open. Right now we’re somewhere in the middle, but even so, it’s still a good show. (Carol and I and the neighbors were watching it last night.)

        2. Forgot the link to the page on observing Saturn’s rings. Worth bookmarking if you watch the sky regularly:

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