Saturday, November 7, 2015

Today's Moon and Planets

The planetary conjunction continues and the Moon was again a part of the show today. Here's how the Moon and Venus looked this morning:
And here's a wider shot that also includes Mars (at the top):
Jupiter is still out there too, I just didn't capture a shot wide enough today to include it as well. The Moon will still be in the sky tomorrow morning, but will have moved away from the grouping of planets though.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Moon with 3 Planets

The planetary show continues in the predawn sky. This morning the Moon joined the conjunction of Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Here's how the crescent Moon looked alongside of Jupiter:
A wider view takes in the whole show:
Look for the Moon to be nearer to Venus tomorrow (Saturday) morning - a sight that's worth getting up early to see.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mars & Venus: Side By Side

The pre-dawn planetary conjunction continues and Mars and Venus are now right next to each other in the sky:
It will be a great show for the rest of the week. Get out there and take a look.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Planets, Unite!

I've been waaaaaaaay too busy to see much of the recent conjunction of Venus, Jupiter & Mars, but I was able to catch them this morning from my new home.
Not a bad sight at all. If you haven't been up early to take in the sight, be sure to do so. A crescent moon will join them the mornings of November 6th & 7th - a sight not to be missed!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Visit to the Set of Star Trek Continues

It's no secret that I am a big fan of Star Trek. Regular visitors to my blog know that I frequently blog about Trek, especially classic Trek from the 60s. A couple of years ago I discovered that there is a group of extremely dedicated fans that are creating new episodes of TOS Star Trek called Star Trek Continues (STC).
STC is extremely faithful to the original Star Trek and well worth watching. The sets, props, costumes, lighting, scripts, effects and acting are all top notch. You shouldn't take my word for it though, you should watch one of their episodes and decide for yourself.

I've blogged about STC before and, after having supported their first Kickstarter campaign, my wife and I got to collect one of our perks by visiting their set last January. While we were there the STC cast & crew was filming for their fifth episode. That episode "Divided We Stand" has just had its premier so the veil of secrecy has been lifted from our visit and I can share some photos.
I was amazed by the size of their production crew. At one point as we were watching the filming of a scene I counted 25 people, about six of them were actors in the scene. The rest were for lights, sound, camera, hair, makeup, costumes, continuity and a whole lot more. There were others scattered here and there about the studio bringing the total somewhere up to around 35 or so.
Here we are in Sick Bay with the cast during a break in the filming of what we now know to be a pivotal scene in Divided We Stand.
The Sick Bay set looked really great all lit up for filming. Here' a portion of the set above and a close up of some of Dr. McCoy's instruments.
After seeing the filming in Sick Bay, we got our set tour from Chris Doohan. That's Chris (above, left) standing with Steven Dengler, who plays the Security Chief.

For STC Chris is playing Scotty, the role his father had in the original series. His involvement in STC really helps to connect their new episodes to the legacy of the original series. Of course, STC is all about keeping that legacy going and they do so in many ways.
Here is Chris in front of the Jefferies Tube (at left) and the view looking up into this set piece. It is hard to see here but inside it is labeled "GNDN" which was an inside joke during the production of the original series. It stands for Goes Nowhere. Does Nothing.

Of course, no tour of the Enterprise would be complete, especially one conducted by its chief engineer, without visiting the transporter room. 

The transporter controls.
Even the corridors are awesome.
Unfortunately it was pretty dark on the bridge set when we were there (filming was taking place elsewhere, so lighting needed to be controlled), but it was still wonderful. There were many signs of the great attention to detail displayed in recreating the bridge set.
A still of Spock's science station above and a short clip of it below.

Here's the helm with its controls and Sulu's viewer. 
They've even got the chronometer, a wonderful addition to the set.
While on the Bridge, I got to sit in the Big Chair. 
Here is what is currently STC's lone engineering station, a panel from Auxiliary Control. Their last Kickstarter (held just after our visit) was so successful that they have been able to build an Engineering set, which we'll see in future episodes.

All-in-all it we had a great time visiting the 23rd Century.

Big thanks to Kasey Shafsky and Lisa Hansell for their time and attention in getting our set visit arranged and of course to Vic Mignogna and the entire Star Trek Continues cast and crew, including their photographer Donald for providing some of the images here (the bad shots are mine). 

We'll continue supporting Star Trek Continues and look forward to more great things to come from them.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lunar Eclipse 2.0

We had a wonderful sky show last night. Was it a Super Moon? A Blood Moon? Nah, it was just your basic (but quite beautiful) total lunar eclipse. Our second of 2015. I enjoyed the event with a bunch of college astronomy students and members of the general public at an observing session last night.
Way out west here in California (where I now reside) the eclipse had already begun at moonrise. It was a nice sight seeing the Moon rise in the east already partially eclipsed, but the real show began as darkness fell and the Moon advanced further into Earth's shadow.
Here it is, nearly total, through a thin layer of cirrus clouds.
Ah, totality.

Here are some people in silhouette seen against the city lights of San Marcos and Vista. Their glow illuminates the cirrus clouds. The Big Dipper can be seen through the clouds. With all this this light pollution it is hard to imagine that the Milky Way was visible from our observing site, but it was.