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Showing posts from 2009

Family Portrait 2009

SumbandilaSat Success

SumbandilaSat launched September 17 and the control team has been stepping the South African satellite through its commissioning activities. Only in the past few days has the amateur radio transponder been activated over the United States, and this morning was the first apparent opportunity for east coast stations to be in the footprint of an active OSCAR 67. I unexpectedly heard nothing at the appointed hour, but when I cast my callsign skyward the downlink was clear and then I had a call from K8YSE. Success on SO-67! John kindly shared a recording of the entire pass, and ZR1JAK mapped stations heard during this and the subsequent pass (which was out of range for me) based on John's captured audio. Let's hope for a long life for the latest easy sat.

Sorry around the Sound

One hundred three at SeaTac today? That's more than uncomfortable, it's "excessive heat." Hard to think that I have nothing to complain about when suffering under temps in the eighties, dew points well past seventy, and sticky everything. Seattle's all-time record high. Wonder when -- in this extreme-weather-event century -- that'll be broken. Meanwhile, sorry to all the wilters out there. And be sure to get that heat cleared out well before the twelfth so my visit isn't stifled!

AO-51 Apollo 11 Special Event

Frustratingly unclear image for a 70-degree pass, which I am attributing at least partially to the Arrow antenna, though perhaps unfairly. It's identifiable, though, and audio reception was decent.

Moon Landing

I was awakened to watch it. Age 10. Groggy memories. Wood cabinet black and white, northeast corner of the living room, from the sofa, surrounded by palpable attentiveness. Borrowing from NASA and encountering other lunar tidbits. This graphic shows the approximate locations of the Apollo moon landing sites. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio NPR story Here . Commentary on story Here . Hoax and Futurama Here . AMSAT Special Transmission July 20 AMSAT-NA will mark the 40th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing with a special event on AO-51. AO-51 will transmit a message commemorating the event Monday, July 20 during evening passes in the U.S. and Europe. The message will be transmitted on the 435.300 MHz FM downlink and will contain a Robot 36 SSTV image as well as a voice message.

What did I see?

Got to the playground around 5. Chatting while A- swings. Glance to blue sky and see bird in flight coming my way. Big. Floating closer. Eagle? Wingspan about right. Wings fairly flat. Head looks light. Body's dark. Tail is dark. And long and large, well suited to the bird. Neck doesn't look folded or extended. It's come in from the east just north of where we sit. I'm getting my best view. Still trying to stay engaged in the conversation, but this thing doesn't look like anything. Wings rounded? Pointed? It's turning north. "It'll fly over our house in a minute." Hopeless now. Cormorant? Golden Eagle? Anhinga? LBH?

Thank you, Roger Griswold

I've always appreciated the TV meteorologists who keep an eye on the sky for something more than weather. A quick hint during the evening newscast about a planetary conjunction or lunar eclipse is always welcome here. And the weather man ought to know if it's worth looking up; no point seeking Venus beside a waning moon if it's nothing but clouds up there. So tonight, when WCSH's Roger Griswold specified the start and end times for an overhead pass by the International Space Station, and added that it would be as bright as an "evening star," we made plans to step out into the clear night and crane our necks. He said "southwest" so that's where I was looking. Fortunately A- had motile eyes and said "What's that?" to a solidly bright object racing toward us from the south-southwest. Instantly we were all on it, our first-time view of the ISS blazing in the sun. Boy, that thing cruises!

Thank you, Brian O'Donovan

The host of A Celtic Sojourn on WGBH radio also hosted last night's event at the Berklee Performance Center. Quite an enjoyable evening with... Maura O'Connell (and her accompanists, John and...?) Masters of the Celtic Harp (Gráinne Hambly and Billy Jackson) Lóchrann (Diarmaid Ó hAlmhain, Caoilfhionn Ní Fhríghil, Aoife Greene, Eibhlin Healy, Pauric Stapleton, Brian Shinners; good luck in Philadelphia, Brian) Folk Arts Quartet (Ivonne Hernandez, Hannah Read, Julie Metcalf, Liz Davis Maxfield) Donnchadh Howard and...? Kieran Jordan and friends


No thoughtful patriot can fail to be interested in the conflict that is going on in Massachusetts over the Bacchante of the Boston Public Library. If the sculptor and the donor had been actuated by malice, and determined to throw into the classic shades of the library something in the nature of a Pandora's box, for the confusion of the culture of Massachusetts, they could not have succeeded better. The New York Times, February 6, 1897, Wednesday, Page 6 This statue by Frederick MacMonnies scandalised Bostonians when it was first sculpted, and was not allowed to be placed in the courtyard for which it was comissioned. 100 years later we are no longer quite so prudish, and so it was finally placed where it belongs follwing the recent restoration of the courtyard.


I did the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend. First time in a few years. Last time, I think, was on the Big Island. Big difference in species composition between the two sites! Over the weekend (F-Su-M), I noted 22 species from our yard. The Pine Siskin irruption this year is massive and we have hosted a few for several weeks now. Daily high counts were 25-7-14. Common Redpolls arrived just in time for the count, with 6-1-2 enjoying the thistle/niger/nyjer. We've got Song (1), American Tree (3), and White-throated (1) Sparrows hanging out, and for the first time this winter a Hairy Woodpecker came to the suet usually reserved for the Downies. Most of my counting has been through the windows, but while I was outside on Sunday a Pine Grosbeak whistled from atop the spruce and this afternoon a lone Bohemian Waxwing made an appearance at the top of a creekside tree (that's only the second time I've seen a 'PIGR' in the yard and the first 'BOWA' for more th

Severe Space Weather Events

Suggested by Alan WA4SCA. Prompting Charlie N5TD to recommend a course offered by MetEd (Meteorology Education and Training) : Space Weather Basics.