Putting the lunar back in lunarbovine

I had the telescope out last night to take a couple of shots of our nearly full moon. I’m slowly getting better – there’s a bunch of factors that make astrophotography really challenging. One, you have to wait for perfect weather. Two, even the tiniest vibration in your setup (wind, footsteps, camera shutter) will cause blur in your picture. Three, the moon is moving! Fast! When you’re looking at a tiny slice of the sky you really get a sense of how everything is whirling around through space. The moon is pretty bright so it’s not a huge factor, but without a star-tracker robot to keep locked on celestial bodies, you need to keep shutter speeds pretty fast to prevent motion blur. (but you want long shutter speeds to collect a lot of light, soooo)

Anyhow – I’m failing better and better. :) Here’s a shot from last night. Lots of dust on my sensor and inside the telescope – I’ll have to blow it clean soon with some compressed air.


Review: The Martian

I managed to get my hands on a copy of The Martian before the movie adaptation starring Matt Damon hit the theatres. :) The trailer for that film is full of spoilers, by the way – so best be avoiding it if you’re interested in the book or the film.


In the book, astronaut Mark Watney is accidentally left behind on Mars when a sandstorm threatens to overwhelm the crew of the Ares 3 Mars mission – the book follows his struggles to stay alive in an unrelenting environment while he tries to figure out a way back to earth.

Set in the near-ish future, the book is a gold-mine of details for anyone who hopes to someday spend some quality time on the red planet. Although much of the technology is made up, it feels plausible – certainly the author Andy Weir has been doing his homework.

There’s a few stretches where the details get in the way of the plot (there’s some tediously long math bits) but there’s enough constantly going wrong in Mark Watney’s life that the pace stays pretty brisk throughout the book.

This is a book that celebrates intelligence, resourcefulness, and preparedness. Definitely a recommended read if you’re into hard sci-fi.

Speaking at Refresh Ottawa

Last week I did a tech talk about web images in front of the members of Refresh Ottawa at the Shopify offices. Refresh is a neat meetup group and I’ve enjoyed the talks I’ve attended, so it was great to be able to contribute back to the group. It’s a pretty relaxed atmosphere (free pizza!) so it’s a good place to try out a new talk and see how it goes over.

This is the first talk I’ve ever given using Google Slides – I was a little terrified that the internet was going to cut out and kill my presentation, but it ran pretty smoothly! So many cat pictures!


Credit to Natasha Roebuck for the pic!


Nice home for a frog, or a turtle. Snapped this at Sarsaparilla trail, again. :) I like that spot, but the hiking trail is super short, so we ended up doing a big hike around the greenbelt nearby, just south of Bell’s Corners. Lots of really neat things to see in the bush there. (and not too many bugs!)