Thursday, July 27, 2006


Tuesday Night was very clear which is what I came here for. I had picked up at the sign in a "Nebraska Star Party Planetary Challenge Sheet" and started to work on it.

Object ra dec Time Date Desc

ic4593 16.11.45 12.04.17 23:40 2006/07/25 Small Planetary
ic4599 16.19.23 42.15.36- 23:00 2006/07/27 Small Planetary
ngc6153 16.31.30 40.15.13-
ngc6210 16.44.30 23.48.00 23:54 2006/07/25 Small Planetary
ngc6302 17.13.44 37.06.14- 00:00 2006/07/26 Mid sized Planetary
ngc6337 17.22.15 38.29.01- 23:40 2006/07/27 Small Planetary
ngc6309 17.14.04 12.54.38- 00:12 2006/07/26 Small, very near Moderatly bright star.
ngc6369 17.29.21 23.45.35- 02:40 2006/07/26 Small Planetary
ngc6445 17.49.15 20.00.34- 02:42 2006/07/26 Mid sized,dim planetary
ngc6543 17.58.33 66.37.59 02:48 2006/07/26 Bright blue Planetary, "The Cats Eye."
ngc6563 18.12.03 33.52.06- 23:30 2006/07/25 Small Planetary
ngc6572 18.12.06 06.51.13 00:20 2006/07/26 Midsized Planetary
ngc6567 18.13.45 19.04.34-
ic1297 19.17.23 39.36.47-
ngc6781 19.18.28 06.32.23 01:55 2006/07/26 Nice largePlanetary
ngc6804 19.31.36 09.13.30 02:05 2006/07/26 Midsized Planetary
ngc6818 19.43.58 14.09.11- 02:10 2006/07/26 Small Planetary
ngc6826 19.44.48 50.31.30 02:14 2006/07/26 Small Bright Planetary
ngc6853 19.59.36 22.43.16 02:16 2006/07/26 Big & Bright (also known as M27, The Dumbbell)
ngc6891 20.15.09 12.42.15 02:25 2006/07/26 Smallish Planetary, 2 in same field of view.
ngc6894 20.16.24 30.33.55 02:30 2006/07/26 Midsized Planetary

I used 2 32mm eye pieces, one with a O3 Filter (good for detecting Planeary nebulas,) and one without. I would switch the eye pieces back and forth trying to detect the planetarys. This works because of what planetaries are, which is old dieing stars. They have burn't all of their hydrogen in their cores and have then started burning the helium into heavier elements. One of the heavier atoms is oxygen and the O3 filter can detect excited oxygen.
With a O3 filter in, stars should be diminished in brightness and planetarys should remain as bright. For higher magnifications I switched to a 15mm. 32 mm eye pieces should give 63x, while the 15mm should give 135x.


Sight Seeing

Allen Beers and I did some sight seeing on Tuesday (7/25.)

Valentine had a grass fire recently, burning in excess of 3000 acres. It apparently started up near the towns communication equipment and was caused by an electrical short. The fire took out some of the communications equipment making the response to the fire slow. A number of homes were lost and unfortunatly it appeared to effect mostly the less well to do neiborhoods.

Allen and I then went on and did a hike at Smith State Park to the North East of Valentine. Smith Falls in Smith State Park has Nebraska's highest falls(about 65 feet, or just shy of 20 meters.)

We were then ready for lunch, Allen wanted to go to McDonnalds. But I talked him into going to a "Local" Resturant. Cheryl and I hae previously checked out most of them and I talked Allen into "The Bunk House" a local "Diner" type resturant. The food and service are pretty good and the price is reasonable. I had chicken fried steak.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Nebraska Star Party Time

I like the Nebraska Star Party, very clear dark skies. It is advertised as having the darkest skies in all of Continental USA, and I believe it. The party is held 30 miles outh of Valentine, NE at Merritt Resovoir.

I had planned to leave town as early as possible Sunday 7/23. I actually cleared Des Moines at 9:00 am after having breakfast with Cheryl at our local Perkins (she didn't want to come on this trip.)

I am pulling a camper behind my little Ranger Pickup and I am not supposed to use overdrive while towing, so that imits me to about 65mph. Therefore, my inentions are to take the secondary highways and avoid the interstate where possible.

So the route I selected was,

I-80 West from Des Moines to I-680
I-680 (North around Omaha) to I-29
I-29 North to Hwy 30
Hwy 30 West to Hwy 77
Hwy 77 North Hwy 275
Hwy 275 North to Hwy 20
Hwy 20 West to Valentine
And then its just a short 30 mile jaunt south to Merritt Resovoir.

It actually was a rather pleasant drive, no problems, but it took about 10 hours. Total distance driven, about 430 miles.

I crossed into Nebraska at about 11:30 and stopped in Blair, NE at 12:05 and had lunch in a Runza resturant. I had what they call a Swiss Cheese Runza:

Well it was a cheap meal, costing only about $5.00. I understand Runza is a chain that is in Nebraska only. The only other thing worth mentioning is that I passed through Norfolk, NE the home town of Johnny Carson (for those of you old enough to remember him.)

I set up camp at about 19:00 visited a little with some of the other DMAS members and then made a couple of hamburgers. Ate both of them and had a can of pears.

Went out to the observing site and set up. The sky was excellent, giving twice the contrast that I normally see at DMAS, but there was a pesky wind of around 20 mph making observing difficult. I was tired anyway, so around midnight I gave up and went back to the campground.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Game of the Week

These were both Queens Gambit Accepted and I had white in both games.

Game 1:

1.d4 d5
2.c4 dxc4

3. ... e5

He would like me to take his pawn, which would allow him to exchange Queens and remove my castling capabilities.
4.Nf3 exd4
5.Bxc4 a6
Not exactly the line I know, but it creates a nice attack on his King side.

6. ... Qe7
7.0-0 Nc6

That's it with the QGA, white gets very fast development and black can become very constricted. Note black can not take e4, since Rook to e1 pins the Queen to her King.

8. ... f6
9.Bxg8 fxg5

I decide to exchange my bishop for his knight, wrecking his king side pawn structure. Its always nice when your opponent helps you with your plans.

10.Bd5 Qd7

I threaten to exchange my Bishop or his knight, messing up his queen side pawns. He defends the knight with his Queen, leaving his g5 pawn undefended. After my knight takes his g5 pawn, there is a very nice 3 piece attack on his f7 square.

11.Nxg5 Na5
12.Bf7+ Ke7

Wins the knight because his King must retreat.

13. ... Kd8
14.Qxa5 h6
15.Be6 Qe7

Black realizes his position is hopeless and resigns.

Game 2

1.d4 d5
2.c4 dxc4
3.e4 c5

My opponent plays the c pawn up instead of the e pawn. Same idea though, if I take he exchanges queens and removes my castling capabilities.

4.Nf3 b5
5.a4 cxd4

6.axb5 d3

As in the image above, it looks like my position is very constricted. But I don't believe he can hold onto his central pawns. They are over extended and therefore my strategy is to colapse his center.

7.Qa4 Qc7!

A good move, which allows him to hold onto those central pawns (at least temporarily.)

8.b6+ Qc6

I didn't want to exchange queens, but it looked like my best alternative. It leaves my nasty pawn on b6 and he can't take it with his pawn, because my rook would then capture his.

9. ... Nxc6
10.Nc3 Bg4


Threatening Nc7+, forking the King and Rook.
11. ... Kd7

At this point I came up with a plan. Move the Knight e5 and allow his knight to capture (as if he has any choice since its check,) then Rook takes a7+ and after his rook recaptures the pawn goes in unhindered. And thats how it worked! I love it when a plan comes together.

12.Ne5+! Nxe5
13.Rxa7+ Rxa7
14.bxa7 e6!

Another cute move, trying to get as much of my material as possible. But after looking it over, I decided to let him take it. Since my queen will take back and be on a good central square and recapture his knight (or Bishop depending on how he plays it.)

15.a8Q Bc5
16.Ne3 Bxe3
17.Bxe3 Ne7

I probably should have taken the Rook and been done with it. But I wanted to attack the King, not go on a piece eating lark and the game was in the center.

18.Qa7+ Kc6
19.Qc5+ Kd7
20.Qxe5 Ra8
21.Qb5+ Kd8
22.Bb6+ Kc8
23.Qxc4+ Kd7

Black Resigns!!!

What should be learned from these games.

1. I personally don't recomend playing the QGA as black, but our local master says it is very sound. As black only play the Queens Gambit Accepted with caution (and book knowlege.) White in my opinion has a decided advantage and for black to win against a prepared player takes some depth of knowlege. To know how to play this with white, I recomend reading "Attacking with 1.d4, by Dunnington." Both of my opponents here were moderately strong, the first had a 1448 FICS rating and second had a 1417, while mine was 1379 (it goes up and down.) I think they pick up a lot of games from players who don't know how to defend in the QGA.

The game of the week was number 2, he was a little more booked up and therefore was more challenging. And its always more fun when you can force a pawn promotion!


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Image of the week

The contenders are:

A Lesser Yellowlegs, taken from a fairly inconspicous position. I got off several shots without him or her noticing me. I am above the creek by about 8 feet and about 20 feet horizontally away. I am behind some trees "a sort of natural blind."

This deer is a considerble distance away, maybe 100 feet or so. I got lucky and saw her out in the clear. The creek is in a gully and she is down in it, probably getting some water.

And in my humble opinion the deer picture is much better. It gives a glimpse of the beauty of this park.
Now the bad news from this week. I saw a pair of Blue Herons this week, but the camera action was to slow to get them.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Image of the week

The contenders:

1. Image was taken last Wednesday. He or she was one very agitated Catbird. I don't think I was causing her to be upset, since I could hear her before I got there and well after I left. Anyway, when I usually walk by them, they totally ignore me.

2. A female Cardinal, taken Saturday. Not the best photo in the world, but the best I could get, She kept moving around making taking the photo difficult. This photo looks a little grainy, but most were just a blur.
3. A young rabbit, taken Saturday. She was just sitting by the trail, munching on some grass.

And the winner is:

The scwewy wittle wabbit!!!