That's me standing next to the rolloff housing for the Apache Point 2.5 meter Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
View from Kitt Peak
This is the 2.1 meter telescope...one of many telescopes on the peak.
We spent a wondeful morning at PIMA Air Museum learning a lot of history and viewing an excellent military aircraft collection. We were occasionally treated to the a pair of A-10 War Hogs and British Tornado fighters doing maneuvers overhead. At 7000 ft elevation, Kitt Peak was about 20 degrees cooler than Tucson. Since the grounds closed at 4:00pm, we didn't get to see as much as we had hoped, but what we did see was educational and the landscape views were fantastic.
Glad the weather cooperated for the views. Too bad the clouds kept the domes shut that night.
Conner stands near a historically significant plane. This plane transported home, upon their release, the Americans held hostage in Iran.
Aiden is like his big brother, Conner, in that he wants to be a pilot.
A slice of the moon brought back by lunar astronauts. Sure would like to add that to my meteorite collection. The guy watching over this said it is worth about $10 million, mostly because of shipping & handling.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
(My Vac Day 12 blog post is below this one.) I love my Nikon lenses. I've been a Nikon guy for 22 years. So what was I thinking when I bought a Canon XSi 450D last year? I bought it for astrophotography. When we were preparing for this 2 week vacation, I originally planned to take my Nikon D90 and an array of lenses. When I envisioned myself lugging around the D90 and 3 or 4 lenses at the various theme parks, I cringed. Decided to take the XSi instead since the body is smaller and lighter, and I only own 2 lenses for it. What could go wrong?
The XSi has done fine...until today. The main dial stopped working. It temporarily stopped working a few days ago, but later it worked. Today, however, it died. Rotating the dial does nothing to change the aperture and/or shutter speed. Back when I realized I was going to take the XSi on this trip, I ordered the battery grip. Thank goodness I did. The grip comes with a dial for vertical use, so I can use that to change the settings.
The lens in the picture above is the wonderful Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 super wide-angle lens. The lens hood you see pictured didn't come with it. That's a replacement. You see...the one time I let someone else (Cynde) carry the camera, the Tokina lens hood vanished...somewhere between the 10th and 1st floors of the Disneyland Hotel on the day of our checkout. I've hauled that camera all over Arizona and southern California and not once did I knock the hood off. Cynde has the camera for 5 minutes and *poof* the lens hood vanishes. You'd think we could just retrace her steps and find it, right? We tried, and no luck. So when I visited OPT, I was glad they had this hood. Problem is this hood threads on, which means I can't use the UV filter in conjunction with it unless I want severe vignetting. The other lens I have is the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. It includes a nice 1:2 macro feature at 75mm f.l.
Border Patrol checkpoint. The dog didn't detect anything, so they waved us through.
It was a long drive from San Diego to Tucson. Interstate 8 dips down to the U.S./Mexican border several times. The Border Patrol presence was thick. We saw several roadside busts going down, including a van full of people. The border wall/fence was interesting to see. Much of the drive is very scenic with the multiple mountain regions on both sides of the road. At one point, we dropped in elevation from 4100 ft to 2000 ft within about 5 miles. The temperature increased 7 degrees in that short duration. Tomorrow we will try to hit Kitt Peak visitor's center and Pima Air Museum all in one day.
The fence/wall along the U.S./Mexico border.
The West Inn is the hotel we stayed in for 5 nights in Carlsbad just north of San Diego. We picked this hotel because of the close proximity to Legoland and the beach. The hotel was wonderful. All of the staff were very friendly. The hotel is privately owned and they thought of everything. Every night the hotel provided fresh baked cookies and milk. Our evening schedules centered around this snack event. The morning breakfast buffet was well done (much better than most hotels), and the large lodge area allowed for plenty of room to relax.