January 24th, 2008

abstract butterfly

fly me to the moon, cheap

I am a firm believer in kitchen-table wisdom and cheap technology.

A recent perusal of Sky and Telescope, coupled with foreknowledge bordering on the psychic [i.e., I read something somewhere] of next month's total eclipse of the moon, got me on a reading binge about Astrophotography. I had a five year old book on the topic, acquired from the under 5.00 bookstore which is gradually turning into a children's bookstore. This book, five years out of date, made astrophotography sound halfway affordable, someday. But then I entered that murky netherworld of CCD technology, apertures, gizmos and fancy astronomy ordering house pricing in the back of magazines. When I found a website by an expert on astrophotography, explaining how the hobby cost him tens of thousands of dollars, I was not ready for prime time. As is so often the case, every time the technology becomes affordable, they raise the bar so that one "needs" a gizmo that costs roughly what the old technology used to cost.

Then I found a book on the internet for 12 dollars by a science teacher in Maryland. Its whole point was/is astrophotography on the cheap. I paypaled off the funds, and this week I got his book in. It's wonderful--nicely bound, solid, useful information. Best of all, he explains how to get do-able pictures of bright objects with a point-and-shoot and a cheap telescope. This man is playing handbells in the same choir in which I play, in which it's not so important to have the million-dollar pipe organ as it is to make a nice sound with inexpensive romper room bells. I can hardly wait to return from vacation and try to implement his theories.

My fantasy is to have a website of nothing but Creative Commons moon photos. Lovely seas. Gorgeous crescents. Shimmering orbs. Rather like a cherry cobbler.

I love being energized by something I read. I was listening to Nora Young on the CBC a few weeks back talk about the Kindle, the new electronic book surrogate. She made the point about how a book is such lovely old technology. It's user-friendly, it's a pleasure to read, and it's an experience. I love to read, and reading fuels my happiness so often.

In other news of our atmosphere, the ice storm is heading toward Dallas, while I have a 6 p.m. flight to warmer climes scheduled tomorrow to head me from Dallas to a warm and lovely place. Let's hope the ice does not impact the flight, as vacation is nearly in session.