Comet Catalina

CometCatalina20160118

Can you spot the comet?  (Hint: it’s kinda green.  And kinda fuzzy.)

I braved the cold last night to play with a new toy: an iOptron SkyTracker. It’s a camera mount that tracks the rotation of the sky so you can take longer exposure pictures. Neat!

I have a sky-tracking telescope, but I rarely get it out because it is so heavy and hard to move. The SkyTracker is extremely portable and I expect I’ll be getting it out a lot more.

This was my first night out with it, and I must admit I hadn’t practiced using it, so I don’t think I had it set up as well as I could. Even with my poor setup, I could take 30 second exposures with no star trails. And with a low ISO, I got some nice colors.

I’m hoping for clear skies tonight so I can get it out again.

Camera geek info:

Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/1.8, 30 second exposure, ISO 100

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.8 lens, manual focus at infinity

iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead

Tripod

Fourth Quarter 2015 Stats

Now that the New Year has started, it’s time for some accountability before the new resolutions. Which means reporting stats.

October 2015 Stats

HOURS SPENT WRITING: 8.2

HOURS SPENT WRITING WORDS: 3.7

WORDS WRITTEN: 382

WORDS/HOUR: 103.2

November 2015 Stats

HOURS SPENT WRITING: 12.3

HOURS SPENT WRITING WORDS: 1.5

WORDS WRITTEN: 119

WORDS/HOUR: 79.3

December 2015 Stats

HOURS SPENT WRITING: 9.2

HOURS SPENT WRITING WORDS: 9.2

WORDS WRITTEN: 2374

WORDS/HOUR: 258.0

I spend my writing time in October trying to fix the ending of a short story, most of my writing time in November on research, and most of my writing time in December on editing my current novel. While I’ve had better writing quarters and better writing months, I am happy that there are no zeroes in here. And I am happy to be back on the writing wagon. Now to go check off “write every day” for the first day of 2016.  Here’s to a more productive 2016!

Halloween Costume – Lise Meitner

LiseMeitnerPurse

A friend of mine hosts an annual Halloween party, and I always struggle with coming up with a costume. Another friend posted a link to Take Back Halloween! and I found they had a costume for one of my favorite under-appreciated female scientists: Lise Meitner.

Lise Meitner worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (KWI) from 1912-1938 as the physics expert in the physics-chemistry team researching radioactivity. She and Otto Hahn (the chemist of the pair) studied a variety of reactions, including what happened when a uranium atom was bombarded with a neutron.

Unfortunately, in the middle of their research, the Nazis rose to power and annexed Austria. As an Austrian of Jewish decent, Meitner’s position at a German institute was precarious. Banned from leaving the country, she managed to escape anyway.

She continued to correspond with Hahn. Hahn and fellow chemist Fritz Strassman had discovered barium was a result of bombarding uranium.

Meitner, the physicist, then figured out with her nephew that if they used the liquid drop model for the uranium nucleus, the nucleus might split, and they could calculate the energy needed to split the nucleus and the other resulting fragment: krypton. It all fit! They coined the term fission to describe the split. Their paper describing this discovery was published seventy-five years ago.

In recognition of her work, an element was named for her: Meitnerium (109).

Should you wish to read more about her, I highly recommend the biography Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics by Ruth Lewin Sime.

The Take Back Halloween! page features a young Lise Meitner, but I am going as the Lise Meitner who escaped from Germany. Although in real life she did not really escape from Germany with the secret to the atomic bomb in her handbag, in my costume I am including a handbag with a diagram of fission, a train ticket from Berlin to Groningen, the periodic table entry for Meitnerium, and a slide rule.

Happy Halloween!