Led Astray By (A) Photon – WordPress, Jetpack, and The Perils Of Embedded Clear Sky Charts (And Other)

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

CNYO has been anticipating our first observing session at Beaver Lake for this year, with the first of our two Spring dates (April 23rd) already clouded/snowed out. The forecast for April 30th hadn’t looked too much better based on Monday estimates, leaving us to wonder if attendees would be stuck indoors with a lecture instead of outdoors with the rest of the universe.

I woke up early on the 30th to blue skies and a very bright Sun, certainly already exceeding the expectations of the past few days. But what of the afternoon and evening?

As I am prone to do on the day of an observing session, I headed right for the CNYO Cheat Sheet, where one can find the sky conditions for a large part of Central New York in the form of several Clear Sky Charts (CSCs – and, based on the different cloud cover at different locations, even begin to piece together how the skies at your location may change). The morning’s CSCs are shown in the image below.


You will note that the bars to the far left (representing the morning) are not the dark blue squares that would indicate an almost cloud-less sky. As the red text at the bottom notes, sometimes the CSC images from a previous session are still sitting in your browser’s cache and, to make sure you’re looking at the newest data, you should hit Page Reload. Well, 5 or 10 of those didn’t change matters at all. I clicked on the Downtown Syracuse image in order to see what the actual CSC website said about today. An almost perfect band of dark blue – prime observing weather (when the wind is mild, that is).

So, what happened?

The first clue came when I right-clicked on one of the images in order to see just the image in my browser. When you do this, you should see something like: cleardarksky.com/c/SyrcsNYcs0.gif?1

What I saw for the link was the following: i1.wp.com/cleardarksky.com/c/SyrcsNYcs0.gif?1

Something is afoot in Boötes.

A quick google search indicated that the i1.wp.com (which might also be i0.wp.com, i2.wp.com, maybe more) site is, in fact, an image (maybe other) repository for wordpress.com that is supposed to speed up your page downloading process (by being faster than the same image you might load somewhere else) and is called upon, specifically, by Photon – one of the functions built into Jetpack (itself a large suite of plugins for WordPress that very generally make my life much easier by providing Site Stats, Contact Forms, etc.). That said, this is no good for the Clear Sky Chart, as you don’t know how many days ago that i1.wp.com image was saved (and it clearly ain’t today’s!).

To disable this feature (if it was turned on, anyway), go to your WordPress Dashboard and click on Jetpack on the right-hand side.


At present, Photon is the first clickable item at upper left. Click on “Photon” to reveal the following image:


Click on Deactivate and go back to your Clear Sky Chart-containing page:


You’ll note that the Clear Sky Charts are fixed (revealing an excellent day for Solar and Night Observing) and you’ll also see that the NASA/SOHO image is different, the SWPC/NOAA image is different, and event the Wunderground logo is different. Quite the site fix!

If you have the same problem, I hope the above fixes it. If you know of a site running the Clear Sky Chart and it doesn’t reflect what you see outside, let the site admin know.

TACNY John Edson Sweet Lecture Series – Automation For The Construction Industry And Construction Robotics Semi-Automated Mason (SAM) System

Tuesday, 12 May 2015, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Networking starting at 5:30 p.m.; Lecture at 6:15 p.m.

Onondaga Community College, 101 Whitney Applied Technology Center

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The manufacturing industry has seen significant gains from automation over the past few decades. The construction industry can benefit from automation in the same way as they address the unique challenges in the construction industry. The lecture will discuss a number of areas that can be addressed and the SAM system platform that can address the mason area specifically.

Those interested in learning more about construction robotics and related topics are invited to attend the free TACNY John Edson Sweet Lecture on Tuesday, May 12, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Onondaga Community College. Walk-ins are welcome, but we ask that people RSVP by emailing sweet.lecture@tacny.org by May 8, 2015.

2015april28_scottpetersScott Peters is the Vice President, owner and technical lead for Construction Robotics (CR). He received his B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 2001 and since then held various roles in a range of industries including General Motors, Intel and Progressive Machine Design. Scott has over 10 years of experience as an engineer and team lead in various functions including process controls, new product development, team and project leadership, manufacturing engineering and applications engineering. In addition, he is an entrepreneur and has successfully developed and licensed technologies in other industries, leading the product development from concept through commercial prototypes. He has been involved in CR since inception in 2007 and has led the technology development, including the NYSERDA grant, provisional patent application, and first system prototype. He currently holds 5 patents and 5 pending patents. In 2011 and early 2012, he split his time between CR and PMD, where he worked in the applications group, developing new, innovative system concepts for potential customers. His innovative approach to product development has helped bring the SAM system to market after strong exposure in the industry.

2015april28_01f54bdChristopher F. Raddell, P.E., New Technology Marketing Manager, is an accomplished marketing manager with over 25 years of marketing and business development management experience launching products coming from research and development and well as technology development, engineering and services. Supporting clients with business development, marketing, new product launch strategy and support, R&D stakeholder development, research funding proposal and grant writing. Recognized for possessing passion for building winning teams focused on client needs and implementing best practices throughout the lifecycle of business development. Business Manager for new technology start-up operations coming through SRC’s Advanced Technology Initiative. Responsible for developing new business markets and opportunities in government R&D programs relating to new technologies in the areas of biotechnology, bio-forensics, advanced materials, radars, electronic systems, and training system tools. Developed new opportunities in ChemBio, cyber security, emergency response, and human health risk assessment markets for both the government agencies and commercial markets supporting government contracts. He spent 27 years with the Parsons Corporation starting as a project engineer and ultimately a Vice President of Business Development for the Infrastructure and Technology Group.

TACNY John Edson Sweet Lecture Series

TACNY John Edson Sweet Lectures, a program founded in 1913, features discussions about topics in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an informal atmosphere. A minimum of six Sweet Lectures are held each year.

Technology Alliance of Central New York

Founded in 1903 as the Technology Club of Syracuse, the nonprofit Technology Alliance of Central New York’s mission is to facilitate community awareness, appreciation, and education of technology; and to collaborate with like-minded organizations across Central New York.

For more information about TACNY, visit www.tacny.org.

June 21st International SUNday Session & A Major Kudos To The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project

Greetings fellow astrophiles,


I think the image about covers it.

With special thanks to Stephen W. Ramsden, The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project, Rainbow Symphony and Lunt Solar Systems, CNYO’s second hosting of International SUNday is going to include (for the first 100 people, anyway) an extra dose of solar safety. Stephen et al. have made available 100 solar glasses to send off to organizations hosting International SUNday events – and we’re anxiously awaiting a box of them!

CBSAP_Large_Logo_White_ShadowCNYO ran a session for International SUNday on the Onondaga Creekwalk last June 22nd (see the observing log HERE), complete with H-alpha and Baader scopes (and we even had a good day for it, which is a bit of a rarity in CNY). I learned about the event from Stephen’s talk at NEAF 2014, where I found his lecture to be equally informative and inspiring.

I urge you to check out the website and Facebook page for the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project – the amount of outreach Stephen does is tremendous (I am also happy to direct your attention to the Donate Button on the Project’s website to show a little love).

We’re getting the attending scope list together presently and will have another announcement or two (and scheduled Facebook and meetup events) shortly. I expect we’ll again host the session along the Armory Square slice of the Creekwalk – again next to Walt The Loch West Monster.

Stay tuned – and we hope you can join us on SUNday, June 21st in giving a little extra attention to our nearest star and reason why we’re all here!