Sunday, 9 November 2008

A rooftop view

It's been an eventful day even if it was a Sunday and I tend to watch the NFL all day. I decided to tidy the downstairs area while watching the violence and as usual left it untidier than ever, but the refrigerator looks as good as new - at least from the outside. After relaxing for a short while I did some smaller tasks I'd been planning for ages such as working out the eyebrow trimmer that I received for free with my latest shaver. I managed to slice my thumb open with it, but come on, who hasn't done that in the past?

After I cleaned up the blood it was time to figure out my new camera. I haven't treated myself for over six months and finally decided to buy a new digital point-and-shoot camera which arrived on Friday. Fortunately my bandaged thumb wasn't needed for this, but I think I might need to visit one of our urgent health clinics tomorrow to see if I need stitches. Then I'll sue the manufacturer just like any decent American.

This thing is incredible, I had no idea how much digital photography had progressed, but right now it's also a little beyond me. The 160-page manual isn't written particularly well although it doesn't appear to be a direct translation from Japanese, so I think I'm in with a chance. It's going to take a few months to really understand the capabilities of this thing though, which seem infinite.

So, since the local NBC channel was broadcasting the Sunday night game without any sound (again), I thought I'd try out the camera for the first time during sunset and from the roof - the lower portion of it and hence not so much vertigo and the shakes due to being one misstep from certain death, or at the very least an inconvenient paralysis.

The optical zoom is fantastic (x18) and with digital zoom I can get it to x78 but with that mode it can't deal with camera shake too well. Who cares? My last camera managed x3 and it was ahead of its time when I bought it during the stone age. No one even thought of dealing with camera shake digitally in those days.

From left to right, and a very, very long way away, there's the UKIRT, the UH88 inch, Gemini and the CFHT. Until now I had no idea I could actually see the UKIRT from home, I'd never seen it from here even with binoculars. The image is a little blurry and I'll try again in the future with a tripod. This camera actually came with one but it seems to be designed for people no taller than 6-inches and I'm considerably taller than that.

Perhaps, ten years from now, I'll buy a camera that will actually image the tourists up there from home. I'm sure there were hundreds of them there this evening enjoying the sun sink below the clouds. It's always an amazing sight.

Finally, the fear of falling off the roof took over so I left and went out into the yard to see if there was anything interesting to photograph. There wasn't much to be honest, it was getting dark, but I did get this last photo, Venus and clouds at sunset from Kaloli Point through the utility cables:

I'm going to have a lot of fun with this thing but suspect I won't figure out how to use it properly for several months. Then, perhaps, I'll start on the four software packages that came with it...


Zuzana said...

I have once been to the Arecibo in Puerto Rico. Got reminded of that reading this post, seeing your pictures. It was very intriguing place. Often wondered how it would be to be working there, instead of being just a biochemist.
But I guess life as an astronomer is much less romantic, and much more like hard work.

Tom said...

It's hard work, the hours are a little crazy, but it's still a wonderful job! I've been to many observatories around the world but I haven't visited Arecibo. I've heard Puerto Rico is very beautiful so I might just try and kill two birds with one stone in the future...