Category Archives: Online Resources

12 Free Months Of Astronomy Technology Today! Tell’em CNYO (Or Your Own Club) Sent You.

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

I am please to (have been given the go-ahead to) report on a special deal going on for new subscribers to Astronomy Technology Today (ATT,fb) – the announcement making its way into my inbox courtesy of friend (and fellow KAS member) George Normandin of Kopernik Astronomical Society and, in order to make sure that posting to the website was legit, friend (and managing editor) Gary Parkerson of ATT.

Brief, Biased Background

From the ATT website: If you’re an advanced star gazing enthusiast or would like to learn more about getting into the hobby, you need to subscribe to Astronomy Technology Today!

We are the only magazine in the world dedicated entirely to telescopes and related equipment. We offer both print and digital versions and as a subscriber you can view every back issue online, which means that you’ll have access to over 400 reviews, how to articles, new product introductions, industry news, ATM articles, astrophotography, and much more.

ATT, to me, is THE magazine for the committed, equipment-minded amateur astronomer who wants to keep track of the very rapid developments in scopes, CCDs, software, and image processing, just to name a few areas. This is not only evident in the quality of the reviews provided by professional amateurs on all ranges of equipment, but is also evident in the advertisers, including all the big name companies and distributors, but also including many of the very niche markets and suppliers of those “little extras” that you know were borne out of one astronomer’s own need to solve a problem. The reviews themselves are always well constructed and exhaustive – seeing someone hammer on a piece of equipment for 6 to 10 pages is not uncommon. I am also privy to some new info that the magazine itself is undergoing a bit of an expansion – no details, but I eagerly await what the next issues have to offer.

And, of course, CNYO members will know that I’m strongly biased, as not only has Ryan Goodson published in the May-June 2014 edition of ATT (fine details about the Paracorr Type-2, pg. 53), but I was pleased to provide a review myself of an NMT scope in the May-June 2013 issue (a 16″ NMT Dob, pg. 37) – and I’ve been a subscriber ever since.

ATT is a wealth of info. And it’s already inexpensive! And now even more economically enticing for up-to a year for CNYO or other club members.

The ATT Deal

The procedure works! I subscribed for the free year using a CNYO email address, so promise that you can get to the end from the beginning.

Follow the link below and use the Discount Code: “club” (no quotes, lowercase), then select the ONLINE ACCESS SUBSCRIPTION $12 option (as below – note! If your page says “Renew Your Subscription,” this code will not work – blame your cookies).

www.astronomytechnologytoday.com/?l=/sub_store/subscribe.asp

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You’ll immediately be taken to a Customer Information page to fill out. If the first page worked, you’ll see a “Discount for club -$12” at the top of the page and a “USD $0” at the bottom. You’re good to go! Fill in the Customer Information and skip the Payment Info. If you’re feeling associated, give CNY Observers as the Astronomy Club Name (and consider yourself an official member with all of the benefits that current members also don’t have).

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Hit Submit Order, and you’re good to go (and’ll have a confirmation email show up soon after).

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That’s it! I encourage everyone to take advantage of this great offer for a great magazine – then keep ATT going by going official when you get your Renewal notice. Also, if you’ve got a new piece of equipment and something profound to say about it, consider putting an article together and submit it for consideration. You could save someone many dollars and all their senses!

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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

A Universe Of Free Resources Part 1: Astrofilo/Free Astronomy Magazine From astropublishing.com

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

Author’s Note: Have an online resource you find valuable enough to want others to know about? Please consider writing up a brief post for the CNYO website so we can include it in our list! If you’re not the blogging type, then please send along the info to info@cnyo.org.

It can be rightly argued that the internet’s greatest benefit to society is the amount of information made freely available. It can also be argued that the internet’s greatest drawback is the amount of information made freely available. And I’m not just talking about the many, many nonsensical pseudo-scientific videos that go viral on Facebook that accost your logic centers and disappear the next day. Websites and bloggers who consistently provide organized, well-researched, up-to-date information about any topic are worth their weight in bookmarks. This is particularly true in astronomy, where what we know about pieces of the universe both close by and beyond the first visible photons seems to change noticeably by the year.

Every hobby has its online resources, and hobbyists who want to keep their knowledge bases current eventually discover where to go to find out what’s what. My plan this year is to start highlighting some of these resources in the hopes of speeding up the discovery process to those who want to quickly cycle their way through to “the good stuff.”

Free Astronomy Magazine, From astropublishing.com

2015mar6_FAM_marchapril_2015_coverLong before the rise of the www, numerous RSS feeds, podcasts, and amateur astronomy blog sites, our community relied heavily on the august Sky & Telescope and venerable Astronomy Magazine as one-stop shops of current events and new discoveries (and our friends across the pond extra-enjoyed Sir Patrick Moore and Sky At Night). The serious gear-centric amateur astronomer might also feel a hole the size of the Boötes Void without a subscription to Astronomy Technology Today. All three have taken the internet to heart and incorporate web specials and social media as part of their everynight activities.

Back around 2009, an Italian group started Astrofilo, an online astronomy magazine regretfully (well, for us non-Italian readers) in Italian. I’m sure the pictures were great regardless, but things finally got more interesting for the rest of us in May of 2014 when the magazine was made available in Italian AND English. As described briefly by the magazine editors on another web post

Our content is written with the collaboration of professional astronomers, and while suitable for all levels of interest, aims to avoid the over-simplification characterising many other sources.

2015mar6_FAM_marchapril_2015_tocThe completely free PDF magazine uses the best that social media and our direct feeds to global space agencies has to offer, providing well-written, highly informative articles complete with embedded videos and all of the best images that fly by our favorite astro (and general news) websites. Once you get used to the interface, you’ll quickly be able to jump around pages, zoom around for better views, and download the magazine in PDF format (which may make your life a little easier if you’re reading on a tablet or slower laptop).

Do give the current issue on the astropublishing.com website (and the many available back issues) a good look, which includes a nicely varied list of topics (click on the image at right for a view of the current Table of Contents).

Ciao!