mid-summer blues

It is July 15th and the summer feels so close to ending already, the next 5 weeks will go very quickly.

I have not made it back to the CAO since last new moon, but I will head there tomorrow and the forecast looks like there might be one good imaging night. I have purchased Backyard Nikon, and downloaded software for SkyNyx – I will do some driveway testing tonight so that I am not fumbling so much with learning tomorrow, and can hopefully just start capturing images. I am looking forward to hanging out with the gang, and Andrew Wright and his family are joining as my guests on Saturday night: I can not wait to see Sam and Lucy’s reactions to seeing things through the telescopes.

At AstroCats I purchased a Telrad to replace my crappy finder scope, which I think has been a source of problems with alignment. It always moves, and so if I am unable to set up before dark, and find a distant object to use to align the finder scope, I’m pretty much screwed – this was my first ‘wrong silo blues’ issue (amongst others), and I think the issue I had at Davin with Rob C. in May. Phil and Chris came out for moral support and to help me install the Telrad, and that first test of accuracy was successful and hugely relieving. Tonight on the driveway I will fine tune it against stars, and hopefully that will be that.

As for Imaging Saturn…I have yet to capture any usable data this year so far. I think after this weekend I will plan two more visits to the CAO, whatever the state of the moon, so long as the forecast is hopeful. I hope to end up back at Grasslands during the labour day weekend, but I will be on battery power there, and I have no idea if the smoke from the horrible forest fires will inhibit the seeing at that point (it sounds like it, there was a report that the fires will burn until the snow starts to fall).

I am also way behind on processing my 2011-2014 images for the Winnipeg exhibition…I have the pc laptop and Registax, and have found what I think is functional software for converting my .mov files to .avi (Lee H. pointed out to me that it’s likely re-writing the metadata/headerfooter, rather than re-processing, hence the quick conversion times, which makes complete sense). I just need to convert a bunch of files and start really learning how to use Registax.

In the meanwhile, I have spent the past month setting up studio in the garage and have been preparing the fabricated materials that Ray sent to me for the Flappy Rings (I am making 29 wall-mounted kinetic pieces that will loosely depict the ring-angles for each year of Saturn’s orbit, along with the appearance of the rings as the planet rises and sets over any given evening). I purchased two 16-channel PWM servo drivers from Adafruit, soldered and resoldered them, fixed my bad ground connection to the barrel jack, and played with the code (all with a bit of help from Ray, Rob, Garnet, and some good fb encouragement), and was able to run a full-size version to stress test the servo against the weight of the ring. A bit more fine tuning is needed, but I ran it for 8 hours and the gears do not seem to be stripping, no backlash, and so I ordered the remaining servos. The next weeks I will need to finish assembly and wiring for all 29, and maybe try to find a local gallery or studio where I can do a rough install. Ray is working on the Orbiter in Winnipeg, and I will spend more time there in late August before the semester begins.

Time is running short, I feel it, and the next six months until install will be pretty intense. Speaking of time, I submitted a proposal to a UAAC panel on the topic of art and temporality (in contrast to art and spatiality)…I will be there in Halifax in November in any event, but it will be nice to write about and present some research about art and spacetime in multiple senses. I hope it is a successful proposal!

In the meantime…I also am looking forward to shooting a lot more video of the Sun through a hydrogen-alpha filter…I may have found my all-night venue to screen a Real-Time-Slow-Motion loop of this in Toronto this fall, I’ll post more about it once confirmed. Life is good. The garden (and bunnies) are growing. And dusk is coming so I’ll get myself prepped for my evening driveway testing.

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