Friday, October 31, 2003

STL Tower Photos are in

The STL tower photos are on my Club Photo site.
You can click on the thumbnails to see larger versions of the pictures, and you can click on the larger versions to see even larger versions.

STL Tower Update

All the guy wires have been changed on the STL tower without incident. We are thankful for that.

There is more work to do; like repairing a hole in one of the tower legs, installing the replacement antenna, and repairing the lightning rod.
We almost never have thunder and lightning here on Bonaire (we did this week though) but since the towers are the tallest things for many miles, we still need good lightning rods.

Rich West promises to take some STL tower photos today.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

STL Tower repairs

The guys have been replacing the guy wires on the STL tower at the transmitter site. It turns out that the guy wires were in worse shape than we thought, so we are thankful that we did this in time, and that we had the parts on hand to do the job.

The STL antennas themselves are also totally corroded away where they attach to the tower and need to be replaced. Fortunately we have a spare set of antennas, which we can install. We'll need to get another pair of antennas for the backup STL channel. There is also a hole in one of the tower legs that will need patching.

I'm bugging Rich West for pictures, which I will post as soon as they are available.

Astro Photos added

I've added more closeup webcam images of the moon that I took on Aug. 16.

I also added a new image of Mars and one of Uranus, both from Oct. 27. I'm pretty sure that the image scale of the new Mars and Uranus photos is the same as the other photos of Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter. Mars now appears quite a bit smaller and the ice cap has shrunk dramatically as well. It looks like dust storms are starting to kick up as well.

I had hoped to image Uranus and Neptune, but they are too dim for my current equipment setup. I took a bunch of images of Uranus on two nights using all sorts of settings for the camera. The resulting picture is only a blurry blob, but at least one can see how big Uranus appears compared to the other planets.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Recent TWR Bonaire projects

The guys recently repaired one of the cement signs in front of the office on Bonaire. After some 30 years or so, they had started to fall apart. The signs.... not the guys.

They also painted the roofs of the transmitter hall and the studios and offices with a special roof paint that helps seal them. Photos have been posted.

Today they are out replacing the guy wires on the STL tower at the transmitter site, so it doesn't fall down and knock down any of the big towers.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Moon near Jupiter

The moon was really near Jupiter Sunday night. It was a nice sight.
In fact, as seen from Brazil, the moon passed in front of Jupiter. On Bonaire, they were too far apart to capture in the telescope, but I did take a photo with the 4x zoom lens on the camera.

I also took a picture of the setup I used to take the closeups of Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, and the moon. I used to have a Celestron C8 just like the one in the picture, but sold it a few years ago. It is on the clubphoto site here.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

New Astro Photos Posted

I've added pictures of Jupiter and the moon to my Club Photo albums site.

The first three pictures show Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter at the same scale, I think. So you can get an idea of their relative size in a telescope eyepiece. I imaged Mars the day before it's closest approach to earth back in July, so it looks big. It looks smaller now and will continue to shrink as it and the Earth move further apart.

The moon pictures are close ups shot with the web cam. I'll have to consult some moon maps to see if I can identify the craters in the photos and get some idea of how big the various ones are.

Monday, October 20, 2003


The sky was really clear and dark Wednesday night, so I set my alarm for 4 am. on Thursday. When the alarm went off, I peered outside through blurry eyes and it still looked good. So I dragged out a table and chair, power cords, telescope, computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and most importantly - the Phillips Toucam Pro webcam.

The Moon and Saturn were conveniently positioned right next to each other, straight overhead. I shot a bunch of avi movies of Saturn and the Moon, and a couple of Jupiter, which was coming up as dawn broke.

Now I'm ready for hours of fun indoors at the computer as I learn how to process the image files and make beautiful pictures. I've done one of Saturn and posted it on Club Photo, along with a shot of Mars that I made last summer when it was closest to the Earth.

I had tried my hand at astro photography some 15 years ago using film cameras, and I must say that I'm having a lot more fun in the digital age. It is much easier to get usable results, although it will take a lot of practice to match the truly awesome images I've seen on the internet. (no web link here, ha-ha, don't want my images to suffer by comparison)
I can see why web cam astrophotography is a rapidly growing worldwide phenomenon.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Guy Wires Repaired

The guy wires stabilizing the four towers of our antenna array are made of a composite kevlar strand material. But the attachment points at the ends are good old steel. Our super corrosive Bonaire environment made short work of the galvanized guy wire ends in the space of about two years. So our guys replaced the lower ends of all 48 guy wires and have coated them with a special Shell Ensis waxy/greasy compound, dubbed monkeysnot by a veteran TWR missionary, who shall remain nameless. Hopefully, the new guy wire ends will now last for many years.
Here is a collection of photos showing the guy wire project.