Monthly Archives: July 2012

First Observation

Since I built my prototype telescope I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to make a good lunar observation.  Last night was it.

Given the current lack of a tripod I wanted to try for something bright and easily targeted.  So the moon is the obvious choice as it would have been for Galileo.  Last night I had a nice clear night with a nearly full moon up high enough that I could easily target it from my front deck.

I was amazed.

This is still only a small telescope in the sense that I’m looking at about 14x magnification just like Galileo, but even given that I was startled at how clearly I could see the moon.  Well, parts of it anyway.  Just like Galileo’s telescope mine has a very limited field of vision.  So limited in fact that I can only see about 1/3rd to 1/4 of the moon at any given moment and I must pan the telescope slightly to see all of the moon.

But that is kind of the point.  I’m trying to recreate Galileo’s conditions and ultimately his observations.

So all in all I’d say a successful first observation.  I imagine that Galileo must have had the same sense of “gosh wow” that I have and that he may have done very little in the way of writing down anything for the first night.  But being eager to continue and being ready to engage in more detailed and more accurately recorded observations as soon as possible.

For him, I’m sure that will have happened immediately the next evening.

For me, not so much.  The pressures of modern life being what they are I will have a few more mundane things to deal with and really, before I can begin to be even remotely accurate I need to get myself a tripod.  My camera tripod seems to have vanished into the ether so I may need to just purchase a new one (thus forcing the old one to rematerialize) and building a simple rack to attach my telescope to it.

For now I am well pleased.


So I’ve gotten motivated finally to start working on my Carnival idea as well.  What’s that?  Glad I pretended that you asked.

It seems these days that when you go to most SCA camping events the evenings entertainment options are rather limited.  If you walk out to the center of the eric (the central fighting field for all you non-SCA readers) and look around the site you can pretty easily see that your choices are:

  1. Go to that camp fire and get drunk with those people
  2. Go to that camp fire and get drunk with those people
  3. Go to that camp fire and get drunk with those people   — or —
  4. Go to that camp fire and get drunk with those people

Yeah, the options are fairly limited.  Yes, that is an over-simplification but one that I think most of my SCA peeps can at least grudgingly admit to.

Of late Rose and I have been hosting Bardic Circles at our Baronial Pavilion and this has gone reasonably well.  We are happy about it and continuing the practice as much as we are able.

But I’ve had this carnival idea kicking around in my head for years and last year I got really excited about it again after reading “The Night Circus” – a really wonderful novel that has not a damn thing to do with anything SCA related but I was still moved by.

So the idea is this — create a kind of carnival consisting of a variety of acts and a few small “sideshows” (like tents for gambling, general games and fortune telling) and ending with a bardic circle that creates a nice friendly environment for those of us who:

  • have kids
  • are not interested in getting drunk
  • would rather not compete with the noise of the larger parties

and generally just enjoy something different.

Having spoken to enough people to form a possible core group of performers I’ve finally started a private newsgroup for us to kick ideas around and see what we can get going.  I am hopeful that we’ll create something new and different for people to experience at SCA events.

I’ll keep you posted as we move along.

I built a telescope last night. What did you do?

Okay, so that’s slightly smug of me.  But really, how often do you get to say things like that?

So the whole fiasco with the lens works out like this —  I goofed.  What I thought was the proper double convex lens (the kind where both sides push outward for those who always get convex and concave mixed up) for the objective end of the telescope (the end pointed at whatever you want to look at) was, in fact, a double convex meant for the eye piece.

What I thought was a perfectly flat piece of glass was, in fact, a very subtly shaped double convex lens that was meant for the objective end of the telescope.

Yes, these lenses came in boxes that were labeled, but unfortunately the printing on one of them was so badly smudged that it was utterly unreadable, so I found myself getting things mixed up.

I had, inadvertently, glued the eye piece lens into the objective end of the telescope, and due to other aspects of it’s ultimate construction I couldn’t simply reverse things in order to make it work.  So I needed to find a way to cut it back out without damaging either the lens or the tube, a process I expected was going to be long and painful.

I was wrong about that too.  After only a few careful minutes with an Exacto Knife I was able to carefully cut away enough of the glue that I was able to free the retaining tube holding the lens in place without damaging anything.

After that, a careful rearrangement of the pieces (and an email or two with the person who sent me the kit) and I was able to quickly reassemble the telescope into a good working order in just about ten minutes, not including the fretting time I spent double checking every last thing because I didn’t want to screw it up again.

In the end I had a working “Galileo style” telescope.  I think I’m not really going out on a limb here by saying that he didn’t use cardboard tubes, but functionally it recreates what he used and I am amazed that he could see anything with it!  The field of vision is tiny!  I was unable to do much more the verify that I’ve got it working correctly.

I had no intention of staying up until 12:30 AM waiting for moon rise so that I could attempt an observation with something that provides enough light and is a big enough target that I’d stand a chance of seeing something.

So, there it is.  One telescope.  If you would like to see pictures you can check the link to the photo album on this page.

As I have planed this is the prototype.  I built this one so that I could understand the construction and general requirements.  I will be attempting to extend what I’ve learned so far from this into creating an even more “realistic” recreation of the telescope itself as well as building, with significant help, a fairly accurate reproduction of a tripod for the telescope as well as creating a decent historical representation of an “astronomical observation” setup as I can.

Ultimately the goal is for me to put a nice setup together and take it out on to the Eric at an event at night to create one of those “teaching in place” moments that I love so much, and then, from there, to create a Kingdom A&S class.

Stay tuned for further updates!


So, in an attempt to get started on my telescope I got started and pretty much immediately messed up by putting the wrong lens into the end of the telescope.  Unfortunately it’s held in place by a glued in retaining ring.  So now I need to carefully break away the glue and switch in the correct lens.  *sigh*

Fortunately for me the guy who sold me the kit has been very helpful via email and has already said that if I don’t manage to get the lens free without damaging the tube he’ll just send me another one.  Yay!

So, that’s where things stand at the moment with that part.

I also mentioned this project last night to a few friends and they all got really excited to see where I’m going with this, including one person who will help me build a wooden telescope tripod.  So I need to find some images and see if I can make a pattern to make one.

So that’s what’s up next!

Initial Photos of my Telescope

I opened up the box and pulled the kit out.  I knew it was a simple cardboard tube kit, but I’m actually pretty pleased.  The lens they provide are actually over a very high quality.

The kit itself will only take an hour or so to actually build at this point unless I take the time to decorate it.  I hadn’t initially planned to decorate this one, but now I’m reconsidering.

In any case, I have created a simple photo album in order to document the process.  I’ve put up a couple of pictures of the kit as it came.

My telescope kit has arrived!

My telescope kit arrived yesterday.  Unfortunately it was late enough when I got home that I didn’t get a much more of a chance to do anything other than take a quick look.

Tonight I’ll take a longer look and start making plans.

A few more things added

Added a bit more information about my telescope project and a separate page which will be the class I will eventually teach.  Right now it’s just an outline, but as I progress it will get fleshed out a great deal more.

I also added a new thing I’m interested in researching: Henna Tattoos.  I’ve gotten kind of interested in tattoos in general though I know I can’t commit to one for myself.  Henna seems the perfect compromise.  So I’ve put down a stake so I can remind myself to do more research with an eye towards eventually trying it out on myself and maybe others who are interested in it.

It’s on the way

Just received a confirmation email that my telescope kit is on the way.  Hopefully I’ll have it soon!

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