Astrophotography by Anthony Ayiomamitis

Amateur Astronomer Jokes

I am not sure if amateur astronomers are a "twisted" group of puppies or not but we have shared our dry and sarcastic humour frequently on our newsgroup of choice (sci.astro.amateur). One particular thread that I and a handful of other regular participants participated in reached a point that led AOL to ban the newsgroup from its list of available newsgroups on its servers as a result of its filters picking up certain "keywords" that raised warning flags about the suitability of the newsgroup for the general public. The interpretations provided below are my humble attempts to "qualify" what we really meant (don't laugh too hard) and, as a result, any errors in these interpretations are solely mine.

Of course, it would be a shame to let our contributions go to waste and, as a result, I have captured the complete list and proudly present it below. Of course, the list has grown with the addition of new material which surfaces on an ad-hoc basis on SAA. If you have anything additional that may be worthy of consideration and inclusion, please let me know.

After reading the list of comments with obvious and intended interpretations, you will certainly be asking yourself what the hell your mind was doing in the gutter in the first place?!

  1. Comment      : "Exactly how long is your tube?"
    Interpretation: Telescopes and, more specifically, the optical tube assembly, are described in terms of the focal length and aperture of the tube and lens.

  2. Comment      : "I need a friend to help me grind this thing."
    Interpretation: An aspect of amateur astronomy is "ATM" or Amateur Telescope Making. Of course, a key aspect of such a venture is to grind your own mirror blank into a lens.

  3. Comment      : "I want to get in a little naked-eye action."
    Interpretation: In addition to using telescopes, amateur astronomers also use binoculars and simple naked-eye observation when pursuing this wonderful hobby. Eclipses, meteor showers and bright comets are common "naked-eye" events.

  4. Comment      : "What's the closest anyone's ever gotten to Uranus?"
    Interpretation: Uranus is one of the outermost planets of our solar system and, regrettably (?), rhymes with a certain anatomical part. This coincidence can be attributed to a poor adaptation of the Greek word for the planet Uranus ("Ouranos").

  5. Comment      : "You need a bigger unit so you can go deeper."
    Interpretation: A key consideration when purchasing a telescope is the aperture (or "size of the unit") as there is much greater light gathering ability with a larger lens and, hence, for fainter and deeper objects to be visible and discernible.

  6. Comment      : "What's the best way to mount a Short-Tube?"
    Interpretation: As noted earlier, a key characteristic of a telescope is its focal length. Certain aspects of astronomy - such as astrophotography - are best carried out using shorter focal lengths ("short-tubes") whereas others - such as high-power planetary imaging - are best carried out using longer focal lengths ("long-tubes"). Mounting of course refers to the exercise of attaching the OTA to a tripod and mount.

  7. Comment      : "Reasons why smaller apertures are better."
    Interpretation: Although larger apertures may be able to gather much more light than smaller apertures and, therefore, allow for the observation and imaging of fainter and deeper objects, they have the disadvantage of covering a very narrow area of the sky. In contrast, smaller aperture telescopes provide wider views which, at times, can be an advantage. Of course, for the former, focal reducers, field flatteners and telecompressors can help alleviate the problem of narrow-field coverage.

  8. Comment      : "Are you going to shoot the Virgin tonight?"
    Interpretation: Shooting of course refers to the process of taking a photograph (emulsion) or image (CCD) and "Virgin" is the well-known and very large Virgo constellation.

  9. Comment      : "She kept observing it as it rose higher and higher."
    Interpretation: Of course, heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon and stars rise and set.

  10. Comment      : "Mine is bigger than yours."
    Interpretation: A common "affliction" with this hobby is "aperture-fever" where one is always seeking to get a bigger and bigger aperture telescope by continuously upgrading. I bypassed this problem by getting a monster (Celestron 14" SCT) up-front.

  11. Comment      : "Who says aperture doesn't count?"
    Interpretation: On the basis of some of the interpretations provided above, I trust the interpretation here is clear.

  12. Comment      : "We do it in the dark."
    Interpretation: A significant portion of this hobby involves the night sky and, hence, for a desire for darkness (and as much of it as possible) to help in seeing more and fainter objects.

  13. Comment      : ".....and all night long."
    Interpretation: Of course, a continuation of the previous concept. In addition to light pollution, a frequent nemesis of the amateur astronomer is overcast and cloudy skies which further reinforces the need and desire to pursue this hobby all night long when skies are clear (and stable).

  14. Comment      : "EYEGASMS!"
    Interpretation: After all, astronomy is a hobby and profession involving the visual sense.

  15. Comment      : "I use shower caps over the end of my 10 and 6 inch..., you will need the extra large size for your 12.5 inch."
    Interpretation: Of course, lenses must be protected using caps and the references to 6, 10 and 12.5 inches are lens apertures.

  16. Comment      : "Do you have your angle of the dangle correct?"
    Interpretation: Since we are dealing with the observation of the universe, a four-dimensional animal, angles are all too important and significant.

  17. Comment      : "Viagra kept me going all night long!"
    Interpretation: As noted earlier, clear skies are much sought-after and, as a result, the need and desire to go at it all night long is common practice.

  18. Comment      : "I love going deep ...."
    Interpretation: An aspect of astronomy is the observation and study of deep-sky objects with attempts to hunt down deeper and deeper (ie. fainter) objects.

  19. Comment      : "The deeper the better."
    Interpretation: A variant of the previous item.

  20. Comment      : "Aperture always wins."
    Interpretation: A variant of an earlier item (see ""Mine is bigger than yours").

  21. Comment      : "Mir finally coming ...."
    Interpretation: After a stint in space spanning over 15 years and coupled with the construction and near-completion of the ISS, the time has arrived for Mir to be brought out of orbit allowing both atmospheric drag and gravity do their thing.

  22. Comment      : "Mir going down ..."
    Interpretation: Further to the above interpretation, the MIR space station will be brought back to earth and allowed to splash down into the ocean. Since the MIR space station is Russian property, the Russians will not only be assuming the responsibility of its return to earth but will employ their typical technique in retrieving spacecraft by having then fall into the ocean.

  23. Comment      : "Mir getting wet ..."
    Interpretation: As noted with the previous interpretation, the spacecraft will be brought back and allowed to fall into the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.

  24. Comment      : "Mir real hot on re-entry ... news at eleven."
    Interpretation: Although the space station is both big and heavy (weighing over 135 tonnes), friction with the earth's atmosphere will allow up to 90% of the space craft to not only get real hot (over 5000 degrees Celsius) but also burn during re-entry.

  25. Comment      : "Mir fizzles on entry ..."
    Interpretation: Please see previous interpretation.

  26. Comment      : "Mir finally gets laid ... to rest."
    Interpretation: Having spent over fifteen years as this planet's first space station with various close calls for disaster including over 1500 computer "glitches", oxygen and air purification system failures and collision with a Russian supply ship in 1997 which almost totally destroyed Mir, the station's end was greatly overdue. As a result, Mir being laid ... to rest ... was something that has been planned for some time.

  27. The Ten Twelve Commandments for Amateur Astronomers:

    • Thou shalt have no white light before thee, behind thee, or to the side of thee whilst sharing the night sky with thy fellow stargazers.

    • Thou shalt not love thy telescope more than thy spouse or thy children; as much as, maybe, but not more.

    • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's telescope, unless it exceeds in aperture or electronics twice that of thy wildest dreams.

    • Thou shalt not read "Astronomy" or "Sky & Telescope" on company time, for thine employer makes it possible to continue thine astronomical hobby.

    • Thou shalt have at least two telescopes so as to keep thy spouse interested when the same accompanies thee under the night sky or on eclipse expeditions to strange lands where exotic wild animals doth roam freely.

    • Thou shalt not allow either thy sons or thy daughters to get married during the Holy Days of Starfest.

    • Thou shalt not reveal to thy spouse the true cost of thy telescope collection; only the individual components, and that shall be done with great infrequency.

    • Thou shalt not buy thy spouse any lenses, filters, dew shields, maps, charts, or any other necessities for Christmas, anniversaries, or birthdays unless thy spouse needs them for their own telescope.

    • Thou shalt not deceive thy spouse into thinking that ye are taking them for a romantic Saturday night drive when indeed thou art heading for a dark sky site.

    • Thou shalt not store thy telescope in thy living room, dining room, or bedroom, lest thou be sleeping with it full time.

    • Verily, observe not through thy neighbor's AP or Tak, lest thee be utterly consumed by the lust of apo-fever, and thy brain and thy bank account shall shrivel and wither like branches in a flame.

    • Verily, observe not through thy neighbor's Dob of Goliath, lest thee be lain bare to the fires of aperture-fever, and thy sanity, thy sacroiliac and thy life savings be crushed as ye grapes of wrath.


    MOSCOW, RUSSIA (DPI) - Despite skepticism from foreign observers, the Russian Space Agency is confident that it can bring Boris Yeltsin down to Earth under full control next week.

    Yeltsin, last seen high as a kite on vodka and bad herring, is reported to be over the Earth in a geosynchronous orbit above Minsk. Plans to bring him down include telling him he's not President anymore, and that the Rocky & Bullwinkle movie was a box office disappointment.

    "That should really knock the wind out of his sails," said Russian Space Administrator, Boris Skywalksky, "he really loved Bullwinkle. He reminds Yeltsin of Brezhnev. If that doesn't bring him down, we'll tell him that his mother never really loved him. After bringing him down so low, we have a healthy supply of uppers to raise his spirits, but they're carefully calibrated to raise him no higher than sea level. We're all aware of the threat to international navigation and air travel that an orbiting inebriate poses."

  29. Sigh. Can I get a "do over" in this hobby? Examples of why I need one:

    1. The squirrels ate my power cord when I ran inside to answer the phone.
    2. The hubby picks WWF Monday Nitro over shivering with me in the cold.
    3. My shoe froze to the ground while viewing a double star group.
    4. My coworkers found out I starwatch and now make Uranus jokes at my expense.
    5. The dogs think I'm ignoring them.
    6. The new neighbors across the street just installed a light on top of their house to shine on their TV antennae [no joke!].
    7. The power company drove by and cut off the branch that was blocking the streetlight.

    Maybe I should take up knitting.


    There were three volunteers that were trying out for a new NASA experiment on sending people to different planets.

    They called in the first volunteer and asked her a question. "If you could go to any planet, what planet would you want to go to and why?"

    After pondering the question she answered, "I would like to go to Mars because it seems so interesting with all the recent news about possible extra terrestrial life on the planet."

    They said, "Well okay, thank you." And told her that they would get back to her."

    The next volunteer entered the room and the NASA people asked him the same question. In reply he said, "I would like to go to Saturn to see all of its rings."

    They also said, "thank you", and that they would get back to him.

    The third volunteer, a blonde, entered the room and they asked him the same question that they had asked the other two volunteers. "What planet would you like to go to?"

    He thought for a while and replied, "I would like to go to the sun."

    The people from NASA chuckled, as the sun isn't a planet, but they decided to play along with this idiot, and asked "Why? Don't you know that if you went to the sun you would burn to death?"

    The blonde smirked and crossed his arms confidently across his chest. "Are you guys dumb? I'd go at night of course!"


    • You think that not getting enough sleep at night is a good thing.
    • You ask your optomotrist about the availability of H-Alpha Sunglasses.
    • You center your vacation time around the New Moon.
    • You don't buy a house until you've had a chance to see how dark the neighborhood gets at night.
    • You build your dream home with a roll-off roof (or optionally, a rotating dome roof).
    • All the night lights in your house are red.
    • Somebody asks you where you live and you tell him the latitude and longitude of your house.
    • Somebody asks where your town is and you pull out a map and show him how to "starhop" from town to town to find it.
    • You've named your kids and pets after stars or constellations.
    • A pair of binoculars and a small refractor are always in your trunk, just in case.
    • Your neighborhood seems to always have more than its share of non-functioning streetlights and porchlights.
    • You can hand-draw your own star charts down to the 7th magnitude -- from memory!
    • When you take a new vehicle for a test drive, the first thing you do is run by home to see whether your telescope will fit in the trunk.
    • During droughts, farmers in your area collect donations to allow you to buy more telescope equipment (to make it rain).
    • You spend more money per year at your favorite optics store than you do at Wal-Mart.
    • You plant and trim hedges (especially evergreens) and erect yard art to block nearby lights.
    • Your friends and colleagues tell just you about the beautiful sky they saw the other night.
    • You have a propensity for buying toys that glow in the dark.
    • You rewire your house to 12VDC so that it's compatible.
    • Your spouse complains about always having to turn the brightness up on the monitor in the morning.

  32. Q: How many sci.astro.amateur newsgroup subscribers does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: 1462

    • 1 to change the light bulb and to post that the light bulb has been changed
    • 14 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently;
    • 7 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs;
    • 27 to point out spelling/grammar errors in posts about changing light bulbs;
    • 53 to flame the spell checkers;
    • 41 to correct spelling/grammar flames
    • 6 to argue over whether it's "lightbulb" or "light bulb" - another 6 to condemn those 6 as anal-retentive
    • 2 industry professionals to inform the group that the proper term is "lamp"
    • 15 know-it-alls who claim *they* were in the industry, and that "light bulb" is perfectly correct.
    • 156 to email the participant's ISPs complaining that they are in violation of their "acceptable use policy"
    • 109 to post that this group is not about light bulbs and to please take this discussion to alt.litebulb
    • 203 to demand that cross posting to alt.grammar, alt.spelling, and alt.illuminati about changing light bulbs be stopped
    • 111 to defend the posting to this group saying that we all use light bulbs and therefore the posts *are* relevant to this group
    • 306 to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best for this technique and what brands are faulty
    • 27 to post URL's where one can see examples of different light bulbs
    • 14 to post that the URL's were posted incorrectly and the post the corrected URL's
    • 3 to post about links they found from the URL's that are relevant to this group which makes light bulbs relevant to this group
    • 33 to link all posts to date, quote them in their entirety including all headers and signatures, and add "Me too"
    • 12 to post to the group that they will no longer post because they cannot handle the light bulb controversy
    • 19 to quote the "Me too's" to say "Me three"
    • 4 to suggest that posters request the light bulb FAQ
    • 44 to ask what is "FAQ"
    • 4 to say "didn't we go through this already a short time ago?"
    • 143 to say "do a DejaNews search on light bulbs before posting questions about light bulbs"
    • 34 to say "FA: on Ebay---vintage light bulbs---no reserve"
    • 66 to killfile anything with the words "light" or " bulb" in it
    • 1 Autobot from the Usenet Self Awareness Project to post that the lightbulb controversy generated the most posts
    • 1 DejaNews subscriber to respond to the original post 6 months from now and start it all over again


    • 71 to post how much they'll miss one (or more) of those who are leaving the newsgroup.
    • 15 to post how leaving the group never solves the problem.
    • 1 to remind folks that there's a pledge they've agreed to (inside S.A.A. joke!)
    • ...... all of which will generate new sub-threads of spelling/grammar correction, cross-posting complaints, etc.

  33. Q: How many astronomers does it take to change a lightbulb?

    • A: I thought astronomers used standard candles.
    • A: Two: one to change the bulb, the other to complain about the light pollution.
    • A: Only one, but you have to go to Hawaii to get the really good bulbs.
    • A: Three, plus or minus seventy-five.
    • A: Eight:
      • 1 observational astronomer to measure luminosity and redshift of bulb
      • 1 theoretical astronomer to calculate spherical coordinates of bulb
      • 1 departmental head to write to SERCPPARC, for project funds
      • 1 astronomical engineer to design and build the bulb replacing satellite
      • 1 starling SIG programmer to write satellite control and data reduction software
      • 1 NASA mission control expert to arrange satellite launch and say "t-2 go for main engine start........" etc
      • 1 remote observer to manipulate the satellites arm once in elliptical orbit around light bulb
      • 1 Grad student to act as scapegoat in event of mission failure
    • A: Four:
      • A research student to sit around and not learn anything.
      • His/Her supervisor to explain how much harder it was to change light bulbs when he/she was a research student.
      • An amateur astronomer to make sure it's a low pressure sodium light bulb with proper shading to reduce light pollution (right kids!).
      • Some technical johnny to actual change the light bulb and generally keep the place running while the astronomers contemplate their NGC's.
    • A: 10^8, because astronomers love really big numbers !
    • A: None, they wouldn't change it because it ruins their night vision.
    • A: What's a light bulb ?
    • A: Four:
      • One to actually change the darn thing.
      • One to operate the CCD camera to measure the number of photons it emits whilst his friend operates the computer to do the task (bit techie)
      • And another to complain about how the CCD is out of focus and how the light bulb actually looks like a polo mint.

  34. Amateur astronomer taglines, taglines and more taglines ...

    • New restaurant on the moon. Great food, no atmosphere.
    • Gravity brings me down.
    • The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity. (Harlan Ellison)
    • A day without sunshine is like night.
    • Astronauts do it above the atmosphere.
    • Astronomers do it all night.
    • Astronomers do it anually.
    • Astronomers do it Charging, Coupling and Devising (CCDs).
    • Astronomers do it cosmologically.
    • Astronomers do it ellyptically.
    • Astronomers do it hyperbolically.
    • Astronomers do it in clusters.
    • Astronomers do it in nebulae.
    • Astronomers do it in the dark.
    • Astronomers do it in voids.
    • Astronomers do it in X-ways.
    • Astronomers do it meteorically.
    • Astronomers do it on mountain tops.
    • Astronomers do it orbitally.
    • Astronomers do it parabolically.
    • Astronomers do it spectroscopically.
    • Astronomers do it telescopically.
    • Astronomers do it under the stars.
    • Astronomers do it universally.
    • Astronomers do it variably.
    • Astronomers do it while gazing at Uranus.
    • Astronomers do it with binaries.
    • Astronomers do it with dwarfs.
    • Astronomers do it with giants.
    • Astronomers do it with heavenly bodies.
    • Astronomers do it with lenses.
    • Astronomers do it with light.
    • Astronomers do it with lights out.
    • Astronomers do it with long tubes.
    • Astronomers do it with mirrors.
    • Astronomers do it with sextants.
    • Astronomers do it with stars.
    • Astronomers do it with Uranus.
    • Astronomers do it with Very Large Bottoms Interfeering (VLBI).
    • Astronomers do it with young stars.

  35. Top Ten Things Dumb Guys Think We Should Do About The Asteroid Headed for Earth in 2019

    • Use my full power as President to mobilize the nation
    • Can we talk about this after wrestling?
    • Stop, drop and roll
    • We should start testing them baseball players for asteroids
    • Bubble wrap
    • Stay calm -- it's just as scared of us as we are of it
    • Has anyone phoned Superman?
    • Doesn't the pharmacy sell creams for that sort of thing?
    • Special helmets
    • Have NASA tow the Earth a mile to the left

  36. Top 5 signs an amateur astronomer is getting old:

    #5. Their 16 inch primary adjusts to the outside temperature before they do.
    #4. Humm. . .the Orion Nebula; was it IC 42, NGC 42, or M 42 ???
    #3. More and more objects appear to be "faint fuzzies."
    #2. Star images suffer from coma but the telescope's optics are just fine.

    And the number one sign an amateur astronomer is getting old is ...

    • He is downsizing his scope so he can still carry it out of the garage??
    • I forget.
    • You give up astronomy for a less aerobic exercise.
    • WHAT?
    • He dozes off in the middle of a sentence.
    • You find you have barrel marks on your eye socket from falling asleep at the scope after five minutes of guiding.
    • You buy an APO scope and join the local astro club. There you sit on your fat ass telling the younger members how to observe m31 m42 m31 m42 m31 m42 m31 m42 m31 m42 m31 m42 m31 and not learn a damn thing about the rest of the sky.
    • You start to miss your 8" solid-tube
    • You go an entire observing session without noticing that the dust cap is still on.
    • You find yourself spending cold and clear nights inside your warm house in front of a computer trying to think up clever posts for S.A.A.
    • When he finds himself viewing Haley's Comet at its closest point to Earth in 72 years.... For the second time.
    • Is that our hearing aids whistling? or someone's go-to?
    • You use "... it's the most practical vehicle for hauling the telescope!" as a transparent and weak justification for buying a mini-van or station wagon, vehicles that suddenly look *really* practical. Just a couple of years ago you wouldn't even look at one!
    • Your primary develops increasing signs of flop.
    • Your 8" no longer yields satisfaction in DEEP sky work.
    • Your tube is always cool, even at warm weather.
    • You cannot pump up the magnification, no matter how good seeing is.
    • You cannot focus as fast as you used to.
    • You grow fonder of visual work.
    • Continued bad seeing!
    • Oh, hey look, Lawrence Welk is coming on.
    • You start having false recollections about how good Tasco telescopes used to be.
    • Observing chairs sink deeper into the ground.
    • Knowledge of your own mortality becomes a new motivator.
    • Your spouse encourages you to go outside on clear nights.
    • You forgot most of what you ever knew about astronomy.
    • Your spouse knows more about astronomy than you forgot.
    • Your wife actually understands what you are talking about but you don't.


    • One middle-aged amateur astronomer for sale.
    • Knows his way around night sky fairly well, familiar with most astro equipment.
    • Capable of setting up scopes himself and making simple repairs.
    • Can drive to dark sky site without supervision. Good driving record.
    • House-broke. Has own tooth brush. Own teeth.
    • Able to feed and dress himself, not picky about food or clothing styles.
    • Will bathe whenever he is told to do so.
    • Likes animals, doesn't get along with kids.
    • Can stay in back room with small electric heater or large dog.
    • Limited time offer, buy now and keep your expensive telescopes from gathering dust.

  38. Top Ten Reasons President Bush Isn't Into Astronomy:

    • Not "kick ass" enough.
    • Had a bad experience in a planetarium on his first date.
    • Can't stop giggling at thoughts of "Uranus", "Full Moon" and "Big Dipper".
    • Tried to learn the constellations, but realized invading Iraq was easier.
    • Would like to own a telescope, but can't deal with the "made in China" stamp on the shipping box.
    • Looked at names of bright stars and decided they had ties to Al Qaeda.
    • Strongly believes that aluminum tubes can only be used by Saddam for clandestine nuclear purposes.
    • Still holds a grudge after being hit on the head by a meteorite when he was a kid.
    • Kim Jong Il owns a Questar... it must be an evil hobby.

    • And the number one reason President Bush isn't into astronomy is ...

    • Dick Cheney says it's for sissies!

  39. Top Ten Reasons Why Liberals are into Astronomy:

    • Does not involve firearms, animals, or the exploitation of the workers!
    • Large telescopes can make up for physical inadequacies.
    • Mastery of arcane trivia is a great way to impress girls at parties.
    • Few social skills are required.
    • Buying Chinese telescopes supports that last bastion of Communism.
    • They think that Algore and Alqaeda are stars in Perseus.
    • No one notices pink, spiked hair, numerous body piercings, and bizarre tattoos in the dark.
    • It's a great way to blame US industry for light pollution - even in countries on the other side of the world.
    • They can drag political issues inappropriately into SAA unchallenged.

    • And the number one reason why liberals are into astronomy is ...

    • Because President Bush is not into it!

  40. Top Ten Reasons Why *Saddam Hussein* Isn't Into Astronomy:

    • Meade equipment too expensive from Iraqi distributor.
    • Baghdad astronomers won't go along with naming every constellation "Saddam Hussein".
    • Afraid a big Dobsonian might be mistaken for a weapon of mass destruction.
    • Why buy an eyepiece the size of a hand grenade, when you can own the real thing?
    • Doesn't want to be made fun of by his terrorist buddies.
    • Used to be a member of the Stellarvue group on Yahoo, but got banned for pissing off Vic.
    • Tried to learn the constellations, then realized jerking Bush around was more fun.
    • Being a tyrannical dictator and founding member of "the axis of evil" takes up too much time.
    • Perpetual bad seeing at presidential palaces.

    • And the number one reason why Saddam Hussein isn't into astronomy is ...

    • Sky and Telescope always arrives a month late.
    • Damn tracers keep him busy looking for the radiants.
    • He's too busy with his head up his ass to realise he's in line for a nuking if War Munger Bush gets his way.
    • Used all the aluminum tubes for nukes. None left for scopes.

  41. Top Ten Reasons Why Bill Gates Isn't Into Astronomy:

    • Would eat into precious "money counting" time.
    • Already at his limit of dweeb-iness.
    • Starry Night Pro keeps crashing his computer.
    • Wants to be more like George Bush and Saddam Hussein.
    • Bought Meade stock when it was at $78/share.
    • Too busy at night having sex with another person.
    • Doesn't see any sense standing out in the dark, catching pneumonia, when he could be planning new ways to crush the competition.
    • Steve Jobs thinks it's great.
    • NASA won't sell him the Hubble Space Telescope.

    • And the number one reason Bill Gates isn't into astronomy is ...

    • His wife won't let him.
    • Everyone knows you can't do astronomy from Seattle!
    • Can't monopolize more than one eyepiece at a time.
    • His proprietary MGC list never caught on.
    • He has a hard time observing through windows.
    • They wouldn't sell or move the Palomar Observatory site to where he lives.
    • He spends all his nights installing O/S patches.
    • Latest SQL Server worm ate all bandwidth between observatory and laptop.
    • Afraid Steve Ballmer will come over and trash observatory in sweaty, simian dance.
    • Too busy designing a score of $100 Microsoft Certified Amateur Astronomer tests.
    • Too busy checking patent applications on Fraunhofer achromats.
    • Too busy trying to order upgrades for Halleys 86.

  42. Top Ten Reasons Why Astronomy Is Better Than Sex:

    • Guaranteed to get at least a little something in view.
    • If you get tired, wait 10 minutes and go at it again.
    • Nobody cares if you are ugly.
    • You don't have to compliment the person who gave you a view?
    • Person you're with doesn't fantasize you're someone else.
    • 40 years from now, you can still participate regularly.
    • If you wear a Bill Clinton mask, no one thinks you're kinky.
    • Doesn't matter if kids hear you moaning, oohing and aahhing.
    • Less guilt the next morning.

    • And the number one reason why astronomy is better than sex is ...

    • All scopes look the same in the dark.
    • You still have to wait until dark if you're going to pull it out in a public place.
    • You'll never worry about a telescope missing it's period!
    • No Condoms!
    • Size DOES matter.
    • An eyegasm doesn't leave a wet spot.
    • The scope is not going to ask "what are you doing?".
    • A telescope doesn't care if you take a few pictures and then show them off to your friends.
    • You can sell it and it's legal!
    • You can have as many telescopes as you like and no-one will complain.
    • Friends will lend you their telescopes ...
    • Your telescope will not get upset if you borrow someone else's occasionally...
    • If it ain't 12 inches, you can always get a bigger one.
    • Your main telescope doesn't get jealous if you sneak a peak through another instrument.
    • You really don't mind if some body else asks if they can have a turn, as a matter of fact, your quite proud to let them have a chance at it too! (Just so they can see what there missing)
    • There's a good chance that if you tell someone you've got a 10 incher - your probably telling the truth.
    • Because no one thinks you're weird if you wear red goggles while doing it.
    • Nobody laughs at short tubes.

  43. Top Ten Reasons Why Michael Jackson isn't into Astronomy:

    • Doesn't want to be labelled an "oddball".
    • Past the bedtime of his young observing chums.
    • Afraid fellow astronomers might notice a suspicious resemblance to the "face on Mars".
    • Could accidentally spill the beans about his home planet on sci.astro.amateur.
    • No money for telescopes, saving up for a new nose.
    • Who cares if a washed up, creepy old pop icon discovers a comet?
    • Not interested in a hobby that doesn't attract more children.
    • Hard to stargaze when you're hanging upside down in an attic.
    • No room to store a scope; closets already full of skeletons.

    • And the number one reason why Michael Jackson isn't into astronomy is ...

    • We're not really sure, but THANK GAWD he ain't!
    • The intense glow from the bleached skin on his face would be projected down the eyepiece and light up the sky with a horrific sight and cause world wide panic.
    • Keeps losing one glove at Star Parties.
    • Discouraged with the lousy views he gets with a veil draped over the front of his scope.
    • He's been arrested too many times while trying to scope out "Uranus".

  44. Top Ten Reasons Osama Bin Laden Isn't Into Astronomy:

    • Not much to see when you're disguised as a camel.
    • Muzzle flash from AK-47 ruins your night vision.
    • Plotting death to Western society causes fewer muscle cramps than guiding astrophotos.
    • Stargazing does little to further the goals of Al Qaeda.
    • Disillusioned after Dad bought him a Tasco 625x refractor for graduating from Terrorist Academy.
    • B-52 bombers put a real crimp on fun at Afghan star parties.
    • Mailed copies of Astronomy magazine never seem to catch up with him.
    • Thinks Jack Horkheimer is a weenie.
    • Eclipse chasing is out of the question.

    • And the number one reason why Osama Bin Laden isn't into astronomy is ...

    • To get mentioned in yet another lame Top Ten List!

  45. Top Ten Reasons Homer Simpson Isn't Into Astronomy:

    • Smithers keeps inviting him to star parties... suspects it's "a little fruity".
    • No chance of surpassing Bart's comet discovery.
    • Already been in space; too many ants, not enough beer.
    • Burned down the only observatory near Springfield.
    • Can't see any stars from the living room couch.
    • He's as dumb as a sack of s-----.
    • Once you get past the tower of blue hair, Marge is more fun at bedtime.
    • Astronomy club meetings less entertaining than an evening at Moe's.
    • Too much light pollution from nearby Krusty Burger. Mmmmmm, Krusty burger......

    • And the number one reason why Homer Simpson isn't into astronomy is ...

    • He's just a cartoon character, folks.

  46. Top Ten Reasons Not to Get Your Space Shuttle Serviced at Sears:

    • Minor body repairs done with "18,000 mph duct tape".
    • Mechanics keep screwing with the radio settings.
    • Tank insulation with "bargain brand" foam.
    • Coffee in waiting area tastes suspiciously like hydrazine.
    • Recommended #1 by the Iraqi Space Agency.
    • Tiles replaced with chunks of styrofoam, spray-painted black.
    • Small change missing from ash tray after every visit.
    • If you look like a "60-Minutes" reporter, they won't let you in.
    • Can't get out the door with less than a $6,000,000 repair bill.

    • And the number one reason not to get your Shuttle serviced at Sears is ...

    • Their slogan is, "We fix it right, or you die".

  47. NASA's Top Ten Theories to Explain the Shuttle Disaster:

    With all the confusion and second guessing that's going on, it's good to see the possibilities are getting narrowed down ...

    • Flight Control software by Microsoft.
    • Some joker dropped water balloons from the ISS.
    • Illegal stow-away tried to escape landing gear bay 20 minutes too early.
    • Ran into rare, migrating flock of space geese.
    • Sh*t happens.
    • Just goes to show those extended warranties are a waste of money.
    • Women folk on board distracted the driver.
    • Negative vibes from the "Axis of Evil".
    • Who cares? It's almost time to kick the crap outa Iraq.

    • And NASA's number one theory to explain the shuttle disaster ...

    • "Disaster? What disaster???"

  48. New Product Announcement

    We have been busily working in our shop since returning from WSP this year. As many of your know, the dew was unusually heavy this year. There was a big demand for dew control equipment, and the sound of hair driers often drowned out the steady roar of traffic on US 1. The many hair driers exacted a toll on the site's electrical system, and circuit breakers popped with regularity. Those of us at Flurry Astro-Innovations thought, "there has to be a better way."

    After weeks of development, we have come up with a better dew control solution - the propane powered "Dew Slayer!" Slip the Dew Slayer onto your lens cell or around your primary mirror, push the igniter switch, and you'll never worry about dew again! You're off the grid and ready to fight dew anywhere, any time! (Replacement tanks are readily available on any hardware store or store that carries camping equipment.) The Dew Slayer puts out enough heat to handle the wettest nights. Our test department was able to fry eggs on an 18" Newtonian primary with the Dew Slayer set to maximum (naturally, such extreme settings are unnecessary for simple dew prevention).

    I suspect some of you have concerns about stray light from the gas fired Dew Slayer, but rest assured it has been fully baffled to prevent any stray light from detracting from your view. Careful testing has shown that the baffles function perfectly.

    The Dew Slayer is now available to fit all AP and TMB APOs, all Meade and Celestron SCTs, and all standard sized Newtonian primary mirrors. Dew Slayers will soon be available to fit the 10" AP Mak and all TEC Maks. Custom sizes can be tailored to any existing telescope at an additional cost.

    For those of you who camp, we will also offer an accessory kit that will allow you to use you Dew Slayer for cooking.

    We will be announcing prices and availability soon.

    Clear skies, Alan, for Flurry Astro-Innovations (makers of Astro-Stilts and Chromagalore)

  49. Another New Product Announcement

    "I Can't Believe It's Not APO!"

    NEW!, from the makers of "I Can't Believe It's Not Meat Loaf!" and "I Can't Believe It's Not Painful!"... an exciting new product which is guaranteed to improve the performance of your cheap, embarassing achromatic refractor.

    Have you lusted after the kind of youthful, sexy, totally hip image quality that only a fine, apochromatic refractor can deliver? But, look at the prices! And, forget about the waiting lists! There must be another way!!

    Now there IS, with the all new, "I Can't Believe It's Not APO"! Using advanced optical theory and NASA-tested space-age materials, you can quickly and easily improve the image quality of ANY fuzzy, color-laden achromatic lens. Even Chinese ones!!

    Just follow these Three (3) Simple Steps that Even a Cretin Can Understand (Not approved for use by Imbeciles):

    Step One: Order Our Product!
    Step Two: Open packaging and place 10" diameter space-age polymer material on flat work surface.
    Step Three: Remove 1" diameter "Apochromizing Disk" from center of space-age polymer material.
    Step Four: Carefully trim edge of space-age polymer material and position over the front of your telescope objective lens. Make sure "Apochromizing Disk Aperture" is centered on lens.
    Step Five: Apply user-supplied adhesive strips to securely affix product and ensure years of viewing excellence.

    All for only $49.95 + $24.95 S+H+I (local taxes applicable, 15% gratuity also recommended).
    Order TODAY! Operators are standing by!!

    And, to the first 500 customers who call within the next 30 seconds, we'll include the "I Can't Believe It's Not Burlap!" lens cleaning cloth, at no extra charge!!!

    It's another World-Class product from SpoofCo.

    ORDER *NOW*, DAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  50. Another New Product Announcement

    Own a large Dob or feel vertically challenged?
    Tired of climbing ladders?
    Sticking to smaller Dobs to avoid needing a ladder?

    Your problems are over.... Annoucing the new "Astro-stilts!"

    Now you can look through any telescope without a ladder.
    Easily adjusts to any telescope or observer.
    Independent adjustments make them ideal for the Vermont countryside.
    Now you can show up at the next major convention ready to use any telescope.
    Sneak a peak while others are busy climbing the ladder!
    Be the first to reach the new heights of amateur astronomy - Astro-stilts!

    Here's what some folks have said about Astro-stilts...

    "I thought nothing could beat my ladder, but after getting Astro-stilts I sold it!" - Mike Harvey

    "In poor seeing, shorter Astro-stilts work better." - Todd Gross

    "At least up to two feet, I have not found Todd's claim to be true." - Alan French

    "Coming soon! A review of Astro-stilts on my Web page." - Ed Ting

    "No one can make Astro-stilts accurate to one inch for such a low price. Only Zeiss makes quality Astro-stilts." - Markus Ludes

    "I love my Astro-stilts - they make me feel so tall! I even wear them in the ER." - David Toth

    "You can read all about Astro-stilts in Starware." - Phil Harrington

    "Meade Astro-stilts are Autostar compatable." - Recent Meade Ad

    "I have friends at Stanford that know more about Astro-stilts than all you AMATEUR astronomers put together." - jjgoss

    "Astro-stilts don't really make you taller - it's just a common myth among amateurs that they do." -R Anderson

    Alan, President Flurry Astro-Inovations
    Makers of....

  51. Another New Product Announcement

    "Flurry Astro-Inovations announces "Chromagalore""

    Announcing the introduction of the "Chromagalore", a valuable accessory for the owners of fine APOs. Just insert the "Chromagalore" into your focuser and you will have the performance of a fine achromat. Now you can see that secondary color you've been missing all those nights!

    The "Chromagalore" will be available for all AP, Tak, and TMB scopes. A version for Televue scopes will also be available.

    Alan, President Flurry Astro-Inovations
    Makers of....

  52. Another New Product Announcement

    "Flurry Astro-Inovations announces "FatScope""

    Got telescope?

    Flurry Astro-Inovations brings you FatScope - full size, heavy duty, precise, vinyl renditions of your favorite telescope.

    FatScope brings the lust to your room. Big, bold, visual impact that shows your telescope, or your dream telescope. Astro-Physics, TEC, TMB, TeleVue, Vixen, Celestron, Meade, Orion, William Optics, Astro-Tech. FatScope grabs them all.

    FatScopes last. Thick high-grade vinyl resists tears, rips, and fading.

    FatScopes move. Peel and place whenever, wherever. Great for the office (cubicle friendly sizes also available).

    FatScopes clean. Rich, vibrant colors will not fade.

    FatScopes stick. No loss of adhesion. No damage to your walls.

    That's FatScope. Do You Lust Enough?

    Alan, President Flurry Astro-Inovations
    Makers of....

  53. Top Ten Least Popular Astro Products for 2003

    As Chosen by the Editors of "Light Pollution" magazine.

    • Ronco Telescope Humidifier.

      Ed. comments- This might help astronomers with sinus problems, but the drawbacks seem obvious. Hilarious infomercial, though.

    • Maglite "Police Buddy" Billion Candlepower Flashlight.

      Ed. comments- Our tests show that when shone down the tube of an 18" Dobsonian, retinal combustion is achieved in 0.6 seconds. Product lacks "flaming eyeball" warning label. Manufacturer claims this is being remedied.

    • Meade Series 5000 GPS "Super-Huygenian" oculars.

      Ed. comments- Meade takes the optical magic of this classic lens design and adds GPS. Sheesh...

    • Eddie Bauer Astronomer's Raincoat.

      Ed. comments- Nice styling. Excellent quality. Wrong target market. Not enough pockets.

    • Depend Astro-Briefs.

      Ed. comments- Our field tests reveal this product meets and exceeds it's claims. Will absorb a two-four, rather than the stated 12-pack. A very practical product for die-hards (especially astrophotographers), but just too gross for 99% of stargazers.

    • Celestron Vibration Amplifier Pads.

      Ed. comments- Further evidence that Celestron is losing it.

    • The George Foreman Eyepiece Warmer.

      Ed. comments- Kept our test eyepieces toasty warm, but we weren't impressed with the "grill marks". Claims that it "cuts the fat" seemed dubious.

    • Sky and Telescope bathroom tissue.

      Ed. comments- Rates a zero on the softness and absorbency scales. Very uncomfortable. However, good reading on cloudy nights. We enjoyed the enclosed subscription cards for the toughest clean-ups.

    • Bushnell "Diffracto-Max".

      Ed. comments- Confusing instructions, flimsy packaging, overpriced. Tasco used to make a better one.

      And the Number One least popular astro product for 2003 ...

    • The Questar Solar Spectroscope Polaroid SX-70 Camera Adapter.

      Ed comments- We love the venerable SX-70 instant camera, but who needs a Questar Solar Spectroscope to adapt it to?? The ultimate dust gatherer.

  54. HUBBLOMETRIA 2000, by Wil Tirion

    Hey 20" Dob owners -- boy, have we got the star chart for you! This new title drills all the way down to 17th magnitude to get all those ghostly objects that the wimpy Uranometria couldn't deal with! We've read your letters and realize you've been dying to see things like quasar 3C395 and elliptical MCG 3-32-38. Now your wish comes true.

    Using cloning technology, 760 humanoid copies of Wil Tirion have slaved away in an underground vault in Poland for 10 years, in Dark Age scribelike fashion, to bring you this astronomical masterpiece. Each 11 x 17" chart lavishly covers 5 arc-minutes of sky.

    The companion book is underway, and has gotten up to about page 100 so far.

    Customer pays all freight and loading charges.

  55. TASCO's Back!

    Business Wire.


    It was gone but not forgotten ... and now it's coming back! TASCO will soon be returning to the telescope marketplace, thanks to the efforts of Rocky Mosele, Marketing VP of the International Star Registry. When contacted for comment, Mr. Mosele stated, "This was a natural fit. We knew that TASCO had been a best-selling and respected name in the telescope business for many years, and we were looking to sell a line of scopes to compliment our services already offered by the ISR. Clients who contacted us often asked if we also offered telescopes to see 'their stars' with, but we didn't sell any and were hesitant to recommend one brand over another. Now that the TASCO brand is being revived by ISR, it's a great win-win for everyone involved." Retailers who previously sold TASCO telescopes will be delighted to know the popular brand will soon be available again, but with some changes in store. Mr. Mosele highlighted some of the brand's shift in focus, "In our opinion, the old TASCO was expending too many resources toward the more 'serious', 'high end' segment of the astronomy marketplace. Their efforts to prop up Celestron and also develop and sell TASCO-branded computer controlled scopes for the more advanced astronomer, was a poor business plan. Also, their continued involvement in the 'Sport Optics' market (binoculars, spotting scopes, rifle scopes, sun glasses) further diluted resources. The new TASCO division of ISR will focus exclusively on offering customers great value-for-money. By sourcing new lower-cost suppliers in the Orient and employing even more attractive packaging, we'll be able to sell telescopes at prices that'll be irresistable to anyone interested in astronomy. So, very soon, our thousands of satisfied clients will be able to look for their stars with a telescope good enough to be approved by the International Star Registry. We can hardy wait!"

  56. New Study - Naglers can damage eye muscles

    EMBARGOED UNTIL: 11:59 pm (EST) March 31, 2003.


    A study to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that extended use of ultra-wide field telescope eyepieces such as the TeleVue Nagler can cause damage to the muscles which control the focusing of the eye lens.

    The Nagler has an apparent field of view (afov) of 82 degrees. Researchers found that this places abnormal stresses on the radial muscles in the eye when used for prolonged periods of time.

    In normal vision, the average eye has a field of vision of about 50 degrees. Beyond this is the area referred to as peripheral vision. Normally, a person's eye would move to take in an object in the peripheral field, or a person would simply move their head. But when looking through a Nagler type eyepiece, one normally keeps their eye focused on the center of the field of view, which causes the radial muscles to contract in an abnormal fashion and can cause long term damage to the muscles.

    Researchers recommend that those who frequently use telescopes visually restrict themselves to eyepieces with no more than a 50 degree afov, such as Plossls or Kellners.

    While not suggesting an outright ban on the sale of Naglers, the researchers are suggesting the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) at least place prominent warning labels on Nagler eyepieces, and recommend a product recall so that they can have new field stops fitted reducing the afov to 50 degrees. All future Naglers will be fitted with the reduced field stops.

    Follow-up press reports and comments:
    • Has anyone ever been diagnosed with Nagler Induced Occular Disorder? With all that are out there, I would think that at least some would.
    • This is true. Naglers don't damage anyone's eyes. But they can kill your bank account! Clive.
    • Actually, my Ophthalmologist suggested that my own eyesight disorder was induced by those "expensive but potentially unsafe eyepieces" (his words). I didn't believe him, of course, yet my eyesight continued to fail. It was a year ago today that I lost my eyesight altogether -- April 1, 2002.

      I'm now collecting Naglers for a class action lawsuit. Please send yours to me as soon as possible (we are particularly in need of a 31mm). Thanks, Greg.
    • I am very sorry about your loss, Greg. It might not be much use to you now, Perhaps the makers of those wicked eyepieces could send you a new TeleVue 127 as compensation. Of course, high-end refractors may be even more dangerous than previously thought. So be careful with it.
    • Those worried about this effect can contact me directly for a mailing address to send their nags and pans to for proper disposal. Chuck Taylor.
    • This study is not as new - preliminary results led researchers at Zeiss Jena one year ago to further experiments. They found out that when you switch between a Nagler an a special Kellner eyepiece with AFOV of 28 degrees you get an average AFOV of 50 degrees. Important is the fact, that you have to use the special Kellner between 40 and 60% of time to avoid Nagler-damage to the eye.
    • Those who own Nagler eyepieces and who wish to avoid this malady are welcome to send their dangerous eyepieces to me -- send me an e-mail and I'll reply with my snail mail address. I'll charge you $10.00 per eyepiece for taking these time bombs off your hands. Regards, Joe S.
    • Any potential eye damage from Naglers is offset by the benefit of maintaining bilateral symmetry of the buttocks. Naglers keep the wallet from getting too thick, thus causing one bun to have a dent in it.
    • Actually this is a follow up to a previous study. At that time I undertook the task of collection Naglers and disposing of them properly.

      At this time, I have crushed over 2000 Naglers. I process them in batches of 50, currently I have about 25 waiting to be crushed.

      It is important to realize that there is a cost associated with the proper disposal of these eyepieces. This is because of the strict EPA standards as well as the bonding and certifications required. Each eyepiece must be photographed and its distruction documented.

      For those of you ready to send your Naglers to me, please note that with each eyepiece is necessary to include $35 to take care of my out of pocket expenses. If you are unable indeed unable to meet this requirement due to being naturally cheap or just broke, I do take charity cases. Just Email me and see what we can work out.

      Something some of you might be interested in is the list of those who have sent me their Naglers. Some of them are quite well known and while I have promised confidentiality, I feel comfortable including the initials of some of those who are more notable.

      A partial list initials of those who have used my service:

      1. R.C.
      2. TMB
      3. VD
      4. VM
      5. S and A F
      6. RM
      7. AN (!!!)
      8. AM
      9. GS
      10. MS
      11. JD
      12. TF
      13. ML

      A word to the wise: Currently I am the only facility certified by both the EPA and OSHA to disposed of Naglers. I see several other people have posted that they indeed can take care of your Naglers but these people are either naive and do not understand the difficulties associated with proper handling and disposal procedures or worse yet, they maybe foolishly coveting these once valued eyepieces and hoping to use them.

      Another bit of inside information for those looking ahead: The authors of this study have a second study ready to be published which addresses the more general issue of wide field eyepieces and the associated health risks. This study included other Televue eyepieces such as the Panoptics and a wide range of other manufacturers including Zeiss, Meade, UO, Takahashi and others.

      Currently they are holding off publication while I develop OSHA and EPA approved techniques for disposal. Jon Isaacs.

  57. It Was Cold

    One winter night back in 1978, it was cold outside. I knew it was cold outside because I was outside and I felt cold - very, very cold. But I didn't think about the cold all that much. Nor did I think too much about how amazed I was at what I was seeing through the telescope - the telescope that I was using to see into and through the cold. But I was amazed. And the cold made me somehow made me feel more amazed than I would have been if it weren't cold. It's like I had some sort of feedback loop type thing going on where I was amazed at what I was seeing through the telescope but even more amazed at how the extreme cold couldn't keep me from staying outside so I could keep on seeing what it was that I was amazed at seeing, what I was staying outside to see, even though I was very, very cold. This, in turn, made me even more amazed at what I thought I was seeing. Because I didn't really know what I was seeing. Back then, I'm not even sure if I knew there was anything up there except the moon, the sun, the planets...the stars in our own galaxy. No, I'm not even sure what I knew back then. But I do know one thing about back then, about the place where I was back then when I didn't even know what I was seeing back then. I know it was cold back then - way, way, back then, when it was cold back then.

  58. Astrology 101

    • Aquarius: There's travel in your future when your tongue freezes to the back of a speeding bus. Fill that void in your life by playing Whack-A-Mole seventeen hours a day.

    • Pisces: Try to avoid any Virgos or Leos with the Ebola virus. You are the true Lord of the Dance, no matter what those idiots at work say.

    • Aries: The look on your face will be priceless when you find that forty pound watermelon in your colon. Trade toothbrushes with an albino dwarf, then give a hickey to Meryl Streep.

    • Taurus: You will never find true happiness - what you gonna do, cry about it? The stars predict tomorrow you'll wake up, do a bunch of stuff, and then go back to sleep.

    • Gemini: Your birthday party will be ruined once again by your explosive flatulence. Your love life will run into trouble when your fiance hurls a javelin through your chest.

    • Cancer: The position of Jupiter says you should spend the rest of the week face down in the mud. Try not to shove a roll of duct tape up your nose while taking your driver's test.

    • Leo: Now is not a good time to photocopy your butt and staple it to your boss's face, oh no. Eat a bucket of tuna-flavored pudding, then wash it down with a gallon of strawberry Quik.

    • Virgo: All Virgos are extremely friendly and intelligent - except for you. Expect a big surprise today when you wind up with your head impaled on a stick.

    • Libra: A big promotion is just around the corner for someone much more talented that you. Laughter is the very best medicine, remember that when your appendix bursts next week.

    • Scorpio: Get ready for an unexpected trip when you fall screaming from an open window. Work a little harder on improving your low self-esteem, you stupid freak.

    • Sagittarius: All your friends are laughing behind your back (kill them). Take down all those naked pictures of Ernest Borgnine you've got hanging in your den.

    • Capricorn: The stars say that you're an exciting and wonderful person, but you know they're lying. If I were you, I'd lock my doors and windows and never never never never never leave my house again.


    • Takahashi is pleased to announce that it has acquired the well known American company, Unitron. With this acquisition, we will be intoducing a new product line under the brand Takatron or Unihashi, pending final agreement.

      The first new product under this new line will be a 102mm f/16 fluorite refractor which will be the most color-free lens ever produced. Even Mars will appear pure white!

      We fully expect to be attacked by Valery D for "trying to foolish peoples with lack of special knowledges," and by Shawn Grant who will say they suck. We are prepared for that.

      Further details will be announced late summer.

  60. Bush Responsible for Mars Approach

    • According to Democratic insiders, carelessness on the part of top officials of the Bush Administration has allowed the planet Mars to approach dangerously close to Earth. While pundits of the Bush inner circle deny responsibility, claiming that this is a cosmic phenomenon that naturally occurs every 60,000 years or so, Bush critics claim otherwise.

      "They had 60,000 years to prepare for this!" , cried Charles Schummer of New York. "How could they be so careless?"

      Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey was quoted as saying, "First we had to suffer the Perseid Meteor Showers, known to have been allowed to happen under the first Lincoln Administration, and now this. Where will it all end? When will the GOP begin to care about stopping this. If not for us, then for the children.!", he said.

      Senator Ted Kennedy quoted an unnamed source that "92% of all cosmic events" adversely effect the ozone layer and contribute to airborne particle pollution worldwide. This coupled with the GOP's deregulation of all American seismic activity, that resulted in the Mt. St. Helens eruption, further proves that the current administration is soft on environmental concerns.

      Mayor Daly of Chicago called for more "common sense" meteoric control legislation. The Perseids cannot go unchecked. Why, we could start losing satellites at an alarming rate, quoted the Mayor. If allowed to go on uncontrolled, someday Satcom 6 might take a hit, and NOBODY will be able to watch Everybody Loves Raymond anymore. Then what? We need to stop this as soon as possible. It is time for GOP inaction on these issues to end.

      Former President Bill Clinton stated that if he were in the Whitehouse, he would have ordered that three or four decommissioned Saturn V rocket boosters be fired at the Red Planet, pushing back to where it came from. He went on to say, "Man, those big rockets are huge! Standing up there, pointing to the sky, absolutely magnificent as their massive engines throb to life...ah well, I sure miss Monica".

      A spokesmen for the Bush Administration could not be reached for comment. When it was attempted to reach the President on his private line in the Whitehouse residence, someone sounding a lot like Mr. Bush spoke in a fake chinese accent, "So sorry, This is chinese houseboy. Nobody home now. Call back rater, prease." Suppressed laughter could be heard in the background as the phone was being hung up.

  61. Top Ten Technical Errors/Anachronisms in the Movie "Apollo 13"

    Compiled by a bunch of genuine NASA dweebs who actually noticed these things.

    • The NASA "worm" logo appears on a glass door.
      The logo was not developed until 1976.

    • One engineer checks an astronaut's addition using a slide rule.
      Slide rules are not used for addition.

    • Jim Lovell's license plate is new.

    • The astronauts point out the Sea of Tranquility while on the dark side of the moon.
      It is on the other side.

    • A technician at the cape is wearing a Rockwell International logo on his coveralls.
      The Apollo capsule was built by North American, which did not become Rockwell International until after the Apollo program.

    • The gantry arms for the Saturn V are released in unison, not one at a time.

    • During entry, the spacecraft is shown hurling directly at the earth. At that angle, it would punch a brief but fiery hole through the atmosphere.
      It should be aiming towards the horizon.

    • The paint pattern on the Saturn V is for the test configuration, not the launch configuration.

    • The astronauts look at their intended landing site while on the dark side of the moon.
      It is a good thing they didn't land - no communications with Earth, it's dark and very cold.


    • In space, from outside the capsule, propulsion jets do not make any noise.

  62. I've just damaged my CCD camera!

    The message below was posted on the sci.astro.ccd-imaging and uk.sci.astronomy newsgroups on Oct 12/03 and is a real story!

    • Well if we didnt experiment we wouldnt get anywhere, however heres a word of warning. Last night i tried spraying freezer spray on the ccd chip of the camera, with the idea of reducing noise and even though it was only a short 5 second spray the CCD chip Died.

      SOB SOB


    Follow-up reply by another reader ...

    • Hayley, I am puzzled that you should do this? If you join the groups relating to your CCD camera (eg StarlightExpress), people will explain exactly how to treat the camera. Your reasoning is peculiar because noise is not 'reduced' by such things. Are you pulling our legs? BTW, it may not be damaged. Check out the manufacturer and forums before giving up. The chip may simply have 'gunge' on it.



    Follow-up reply by original poster ...

    • I only wish I was .... I dont belong to any of the forums on CCDs, I didnt spray the front part where light enters I sprayed the electronics side I though it would be risky if I went over board with the cooling, but it was only a short spray, i was shocked, I will look at it today. I thought CCDs were cooled for electronic noise reduction?


    Follow-up reply by another reader ...

    • Noise is most certainly reduced by lowering temperatures, but only by applying SLOW cooling to prevent shock damage. In a lifetime in electronics, I have never even possessed a can of freezer spray, let alone shot a blast into sensitive electronics.

      Do you know it is definitely dead ? What are the symptoms ?


    Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

    • Oops! sorry to hear about your accident.
      You may get the chip back by reflowing the solder joints on the board, but it's not easily done without cooking the chip. The chip may be physically damaged (cracked) but its possible that one or more other components on the board are fried as many freezer sprays are great conductors and will short-circuit everything.


  63. You know you're a rural Georgia astronomer if:

    • The most important part of your instrumentation is the pickup truck.
    • The sheriff has more than once mistaken your Dobsonian for a still.
    • You have a Telrad on your deer rifle.
    • Your battery box plays 8-track tapes.
    • You have a Tasco refractor up on blocks in your front yard.
    • You fry *everything*, including your Naglers.

  64. Astronomy in the Snow

    We're currently sitting under about 6-inches of the fluffy white cold stuff with another 4-9'' predicted overnight. So, I'm working on a number of ideas to make lemonade from lemons.

    Snow Concepts, Volume I, Part I, The Igloo Issue:

    • Build an observatory from snow.
      Pros: Cheap, readily available building material.
      Cons: Getting the dome to rotate, and snow melt.

    • Instead of a snowman, how about a snowroland?
      Pros: Couldn't hurt.
      Cons: Won't help.

    • Making ice balls and knocking out all outdoor lighting.
      Pros: Darker local conditions. Keeps the pitching arm in tune.
      Cons: I look awful in prison orange, and those jumpsuits can really ride up the butt.

      ("I've heard that in prison, it's not the jumpsuits that one has to worry about riding up one's butt.")

    • Natural cooling for my DSLR for long exposure astrophotography.
      Pros: Three hour guided shots with low/no noise.
      Cons: Hypothermia, and electronics and water don't mix well.

  65. Dear Troll,

    Thank you for your troll. Your troll has been evaluated by our panel of experts. Here are the results of our tests.

    • We found that your troll was ...

      [ ] Incomprehensible
      [ ] Offensive
      [ ] Just plain stupid
      [x] Without merit
      [ ] Grammatically incorrect
      [ ] Laced with spelling and punctuation errors
      [ ] Laden with circular reasoning
      [ ] Laced with misunderstandings of basic scientific principles
      [ ] Somewhat too revealing of your minimal mental abilities
      [x] Too similar to other trolls submitted in the past

    • You could improve your troll considerably by ...

      [ ] Including a few actual facts
      [ ] Taking remedial English lessons
      [ ] Mentioning that you are a professional
      [ ] Stating more falsehoods as facts than you already have
      [ ] Swearing more
      [ ] Including more colorful personal insults
      [ ] Using the phrases "you people" or "those people" more
      [ ] Modifying your insults to cover larger groups of people at once
      [ ] Ranting incoherently
      [ ] Using religious or racial slurs
      [ ] Using the words "junk", "crap", "garbage", "toy", "flimsy" and "Professional" more frequently
      [x] Using childish taunts
      [ ] Including fake laughter such as "ha ha ha" or "har de har de har"
      [ ] Focusing on just one outrageous topic will give your troll more punch
      [ ] Ignoring any facts, and using more absolutes in your troll
      [ ] Using all capital letters
      [ ] Focusing more on those areas in which "your" view is better than "their" view
      [ ] Exaggerate more, you need not be limited by facts

    • Please get a ...

      [ ] life
      [x] grip
      [ ] job
      [ ] clue
      [ ] book on basic history/astronomy
      [ ] note from your mom
      [ ] telescope

    • You should ...

      [ ] Have someone who can read review your postings
      [ ] Save your postings for later and think if you really want to send them
      [ ] Take your medication
      [ ] Not have "one for the road" next time
      [ ] Stay in school
      [x] Go and buy whatever eyepiece you want, we don't care
      [ ] Think about other people's feelings before you post
      [ ] Get your ego boost some other way
      [ ] Realize that by trolling a group you hurt everyone, not just the people you are mad at
      [ ] Go away so we can talk about astronomy
      [ ] Put up a web site with your name on it to show the world
      [ ] Take down your web site, it's not very good

    • Suggested other activities besides trolling ...

      [x] Posting something constructive
      [ ] Actually having a look through a telescope
      [ ] Helping someone else
      [ ] Spending some time with your family instead of your magazines
      [ ] Working off that big pot belly
      [ ] Get your ego boost instead by helping out at a local hospital
      [ ] Consider another hobby that does not require contact with other humans e.g. mortuary science

    • Thank you for your submission.

      You have ...

      [ ] passed
      [ ] passed with honors
      [x] failed, must try harder

  66. Konus is Junk!

    I was looking for a magnifying glass, and I end up buying a Konus. I really hate this company. From the first impression at their website at, it sounds like their manufacturing plants are in Italia, Spain, and USA.

    But when I received the product (bought from, cost me $18!), it just looks like a cheap plastic and a look at the glass reveal that it is not well focus. The glass itself did not align properly in position in the metal holder, tinted at an angle! The product cover indicated that it's a junk made in China!

    I went to Konus website again to read about the company over and over, and found that they just playing tricks with the wording and pictures, giving you an fake impression that it is a high quality manufacturer with plansts in Italia, USA and Spain.

    An advice to you all after my different living experiences in 9 countries: Italy products are cheats. If you find an Italy product at an average and above average price, it means the product is inferior. Good Italy product would have sold at unimaginable high price, like those designer cloths. Italians are just cheaters! Pay a visit to the country and you would know that -- high crimes, high unemployment -- many beats walking around the streets looking at your bags.

    [Although I am not sure if this was a genuine complaint or not (on sci.astro.amateur), the content is certainly amusing; even more so if the poster was serious. For $18.00, I have no idea what this guy was smoking but it must have been good. Damn good! ... webmaster ...]

  67. Murphy's Law for Astronomers

    • Law of Selective Gravitation:

      Small items (e.g. locking screws) will land in the place from which they are most difficult to retrieve; heavy items (e.g. counterweights) will land where they cause the most pain and/or damage. (Usually "and".)

    • Law of Selective Observation:

      The next supernova will occur in a galaxy that you observed on the previous clear night.

    • Law of Selective Declination:

      The most interesting astronomical event of the year will occur at a declination that is below the horizon of your observing site.

    • Law of Selective Vegetation:

      The neighbour's tree always migrates to precisely the right place to occult your target object.

    • Sod's Law (Astronomer's variant of):

      A dropped optic will always land surface-side down, unless it is either capped or dropped for the express purpose of proving this law.

    • Law of Inevitable Shrinkage:

      Anything cut to size (e.g. solar film) will be too small.

    • Law of Temporary Loss:

      A lost item (e.g. LPR filter) will stay lost until it is either replaced or no longer required.

    • Law of Averted Vision:

      The brightest meteor of the night will occur behind you, visible only to the people to whom you are talking at the time. (This is true for all observers, including those to whom you were talking.)

    • Lunar Radiation Principle:

      Deep Sky observers will find that the clearest nights are around Full Moon, when the lunar radiation is sufficient to drive off the clouds and haze.

    • Daylight Conundrum:

      With the unique exception of total solar eclipses, the year's ten most interesting astronomical events will occur when the Sun is above your horizon, unless it is raining.

  68. Good luck NASA!

    As a Martian-American, proud of my bi-planetary heritage, I resent the way that every time some human space agency screws up, Martians get blamed. Believe it or not, not everybody in the solar system cares about Earth's activities, and none of the Martians I know would cross the canal to press the off switch on one of your probes.

    So knock off the Martian bashing. Because I've got an Illudium PU-36 Disintegrator Ray Gun, and I know how to use it.

  69. Spammers Using Mars Rover as Relay
    By Brian Briggs

    Pasadena, CA - Spammers have taken control of communications on Mars rover Spirit, and have started using it as an interplanetary spam relay announced NASA representative Sylvia Monborn.

    NASA engineers first became aware the issue when the images of the Martian landscape from the pancam started to resemble hot young girls who like to spread them. For some of the engineers the new pictures were even more interesting than Martian rocks, but they eventually realized that something had gone wrong.

    Direct Marketing Alliance President Wilbur Simons said, “The US government passed a law against unsolicited e-mail, so as spammers we had to be more creative. As far as I know the Mars government has not banned spam on their planet.”

    NASA promised to track down the people responsible. “Please send to us any spam you receive originating from the ‘@spirit.mars’ address, so we can track down the offending spammers. Don’t forget to include the pictures too,” said primary investigator Elwyn Urchin.

    Anti-spam advocates were upset by the news, and called for severe penalties for the offenders. “I think this makes it clear that we need to launch a tactical nuclear strike on the Mars rover to stop these spammers in their tracks,” said Marla Bacon of the Stop Spam Now organization.

    Even some admitted spammers were upset. “It is guys like this that give legitimate direct e-mail marketers a bad name. Using the Mars rover as a tool to spread their pornography is not the proper use for such an advanced device. They should allow it to be used in the name of science, like sending messages about the advanced technology behind our weight loss products,” said Wally Paulsen.

    British scientists now believe that communications with the Beagle 2 Mars probe were compromised as well, and an overload of spam shut down the system.

  70. Scientist: Job Description
    By Daniel Joseph Min

    (Editor's Note: DJM is the unquestionable village idiot of s.a.a.)

    What does it take to be a scientist in the 21st century? First you must learn to obey the following set of rules:

    1. I renounce all faith in God. Anyone who believes in God is an idiot. The only smart people in the world are atheists. The only true scientists are atheists.
    2. Jesus Christ is a fairy tale concocted by religious fanatics to brainwash and control the masses. There isn't an ounce of truth in the entire bible. Anyone who believes in such fairy tales is mentally insane.
    3. Even though we know that the Catholics are nutcases, by sheer coincidence, we also dictate that civilizations date back no further than only seven thousand years or so. There never was a global flood like in the "Genesis" fairy tale, and the world's sealevels have always been about where they are today--for at least the last several million years or so. Asinine rumors of "sunken cities" are pure hogwash. There's not a shred of evidence to support such foolishness, and certified charlatans like "Edgar Cayce" or "Nostradamus" were nothing but liars and frauds. Anyone who believes that human civilizations date back for hundreds of thousands or even millions of years are delusional freaks who deserve to be lobotomized. It is mandatory that scientists reject all such lunacy, or you will be excommunicated from our fine coterie of scientific atheists. Hold the party line or else!
    4. Since "God" is nothing but a fairy tale for foolish nitwits, the universe and everything in it happened only by random chance. Humans are only animals like any other animal, they just happen to have superior intelligence over most other creatures--at least we atheists do. Of course, religious kooks haven't any real intelligence to speak of. They're all retarded.
    5. I renounce any and all forms of independent thought. The only thoughts worthy of consideration are those which the scientific community of atheists agree on. Any scientific research which contradicts the party line will be summarily ignored and debunked. If you fail to renounce any such unauthorized work, you're going to be blackballed, and the only job you'll be able to hold will be washing dishes at a truck stop.
    6. More than a third of a century ago, while Nixon was President, NASA sent astronauts around ONE THOUSAND times further into space than any manned spacecraft has ever been able to go before or since. Six times they made it all the way to the Moon and back--with no casualties, and not a sign of radiation sickness in any of the crew members. Don't you even dare say otherwise, since if you do, you'll be called a kook.
    7. The great pyramids at the al-Gizeh plateau were not built by intelligent people, but by ignorant slaves under the heavy-handed whips of the Pharoah's goons. Only crude primitive construction methods were used, and they were built more recently than cir. 3000 BC. Today we could build even better pyramids if we wanted to, but we don't want to and that's why haven't. Anyone who believes what kooks like Edgar Cayce and Ed Leedskalnin said about the pyramids, then you're also a'll never find work as a scientist.
    8. There's no such thing as "ETs" or alien "UFOs". Anyone who claims to have seen a UFO mistook Venus for a flying saucer. If you believe in ETs visiting our planet even once then you must be absoultely insane. Only kooks believe such fairy tales. Are you a kook?
    9. Only since the days of Copernicus has science known about the sidereal orbits of planets. Those who say that ancient astronomers could see the planets move against the starry background of Earth's caelestial firmament is a liar and a fraud. Everyone knows the planets were thought of only as "wanderers" because ancient astronomers couldn't really see the planets move over days, weeks, months and years against the night sky. Obviously these ancient astronomers such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, Mayans, et al, these reptilian-brained oafs couldn't think, count or reason. Just because ancient astronomers commonly knew the sidereal order of the planets from the Moon out to Pluto, this is nothing more than odd coincidence. They were superstitious morons who believed in gods and life after death, and other ridiculous nonsense. Anyone who says the ancients could think, count and track the motion of the planets belongs on deathrow.
    10. Finally, if you want to work in a scientific profession, then you'd better learn how to "play the game" by just playing along. It's okay if you want to support the party line. Do that and you'll fit in. But don't make waves or rock the boat. Atheists are not capable of defending our position. That's why we rely solely on "peer review" for moral support. Otherwise we'd be required to actually defend our ideals with facts instead of our routine baseless rhetoric; and if it came to that--naturally--we'd be defeated. So be forewarned, you would-be scientist. We're not able to scientifically defend our positions. That's why we've defined science as only what we say it is. There's no science beyond the approval of our venal whims. Money decides what is science and what isn't. Independent thought is prohibited. It's that simple.

    Follow-up reply by Uncle Al (a longterm s.a.a. member) ...

    • Daniel Min again failed his mail order diploma Moron Certification Associate Degree exam. Everybody say "awwwww."

      The exam: "Have somebody write your name and address in the provided spaces, add three $20s, and mail to

      Dean Jeb Snerk
      University of Archibald
      Rural Route #A66
      Above Billy Bob's Bait Shop
      Nutsack, Louisiana 70513"

      Hey Min, this is what, your eleventh try?

  71. C20 - The real scoop!

    "... New Monster Celestron Telescope Announced ... complete price is expected to be between $30,000 to $50,000 ..."

    Here's the real scoop ...

    The telescope itself will actually cost only $1000.

    The other $29,000-$49,000 will cover:

    1. the cost of the crane needed to hoist a 20" tube assembly on to a German mount! ... or
    2. temporary living expenses for the 3 friends you will need to put the tube on the mount ... or
    3. a portion of your medical bills should you attempt to assemble it yourself!!!

    P.S.: If you actually CAN assemble it yourself, you get to run for governor of California.

  72. Astronomer partnership

    Besides the usual reasons, my interest in amateur astronomy grew a lot out of being intrigued at how even amateurs can contribute to the field. I know it's somewhat rare for an amateur to discover a new comet, for instance, but I'm always hoping for the best.

    With this in mind I want to be prepared if I'm ever so fortunate. I'm looking for another amateur astronomer, specifically someone with the last name of "Ben". We would join in an astronomical partnership of sorts - "confirming" any new discoveries.

    My hope in the event I or my eventual partner discovers a comet, is that our partnership would submit the discovery to the International Astronomical Union and that the comet would come to be named "Ben-Dover".

    If you fit my requirements, or know someone who does, please email me.


    Steve Dover
  73. HELP!!! Need to Clean Primary and FAST!!!

    (Editor's Note: Real story or not, the responses are real gems!)

    • I am desperate. I have an 8'' Hardin Optical Newtonian. I haven't used it in a month or so, and tonight I have a bunch of friends coming over that are dieing to look through it. I took the cap off and looked in, and it appears that one of my children 'dripped' something on to the primary.

      Is there a way to remove the primary for cleaning? How do I clean it safely? Will this destroy my collimination?

      I am a newbie, and need your help!!!


    Follow-up reply by a reader ...

    • Get out your garden hose an spray that sucker down -- use a circular pattern so's you won't affect the "collimination". On a Linux, Mac OS X or Unix computer you can easily write and execute code that will give you the perfect hose swirling pattern. To get more of a dirt removing blast effect use water balloons.... Oh and don't do it in the house!

    Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

    • And remember:

      *   NEVER use anything coarser than 800-grit sandpaper or extra-fine steel wool on your mirror or corneas.
      *   Do not spit polish your eyepieces immediately after eating.
      *   Use only unscented scouring powder on optical surfaces (and spend the extra two bucks on Comet instead of getting the store brand--it's not telescope-grade it if it doesn't have an astronomical-sounding name.)
      *   Dobsonians and other Newtonians have a convenient storage compartment, but on a Schmidt Cassegrain you may have trouble opening the glass cover to get to it.

    Follow-up reply by original poster ...

    • It was way too cold to use the hose this weekend, so I instead sat the mirror in the toilet for a few hours. The constant flushing seems to have done the trick. Although the mirror does appear to have a slight tint to it now.

  74. 21" Sharpton SCT report

    I just received my 21" Sharpton SCT earlier this week and finally had a chance to try it out last night. The ultra light weight of this scope at 43 pounds for the ota makes set up easy. A new kind of mirror is used that equalibriates to the environment very quickly, within 45 minutes, and the thickness is greatly reduced over conventional mirrors. The mount I'm using is a standard Losmandy G-11.

    My first target was Saturn. Although normal seeing was poor, the "seeing compensation" switch was activated on the mirror control module. Without activation, the Cassini wasn't even visible. Once switched on, ALL of Saturn's ring divisions suddenly became crystal clear and I could even see the infamous Encke division- plainly! "Wow!" I said to myself.

    My next target was Jupiter. It was still fairly low, being only 25 degrees high, but the seeing compensation manual says that planets will appear as if seeing is "9/10 or better" with actual seeing of "2/10". I focused as best as I could and Jupiter was doing its usual poor seeing dance and waving in and out of focus like crazy. I could just make out the two bands, but not much else. I first adjusted the "atmospheric dispersion coefficient" setting on the seeing compensation control module. Almost immediately there was an improvement in sharpness. Then, time to activate the "seeing compensation" switch. I was immediately blown away by the numerous bands that suddenly appeared. I increased magnification and and details on the moons became prominently visible. I've NEVER seen Jupiter like this!

    Well, now it was time to try to pick out a DSO. M42 was the best placed, so I turned toward that. I was impressed by the greenish glow I was seeing, with two separations plainly visible. Time to activate the "photographic film compensator". I first adjusted the "time" control for the equivalent of 60 minutes exposure. I flipped the switch and almost fainted! Immediately, Orion's M42 took on an appearance just like in the photographs! All colors were visible and the nebula was bright! I don't know how they did it, but no noise was introduced - it was just like looking at a photograph. And no delay time! WOW!

    Clouds were rolling in quickly, so my last target would be the horsehead. Barely anything was visible initially until I activated the "photographic film compensator". Unbelieveable! I couldn't believe I was actually looking through a telescope! All colors were present and the horsehead was unmistakable. SPEECHLESS!

    Bottom line, I'll never buy another telescope or use any other optical instrument ever again! There's simply no need, this one does it all!

  75. Top 5 signs that you're out of control

    #5:   You own more telescopes than eyepieces.
    #4:   You have your telescope's mirrors stripped and recoated when you change the oil in your car ... every three thousand miles.
    #3:   You keep a calculator and a dictionary by your computer just so you can follow a Brian Tung post.
    #2:   You are struck on your "positioned at the eyepiece" head EVERY morning at 4:30 a.m. by the newspaper being hurled into the yard.

    And the number one sign that you're out of control is ....

    -   Bubba, the tow truck driver who always bails you out with a jump start, starts showing up at your dark site even before you even start packing up your gear in the morning.
    -   The wife and kids have moved with a note saying, my lawyer will call in the morning.
    -   You spend your daylight hours posting to SAA instead of sleeping.
    -   Your mood is dependent on the Clear Sky Clock.
    -   You've taken down your Farrah Fawcett poster and instead put up an Al Nagler poster.
    -   .... and your ex takes down the Al Nagler poster and puts Farrah back up, thinking she is her! By this time you're 1000 miles away with all your astro 'shit' in storage and wondering ... will I ever see M42 again.
    -   You make love with the lights off *only* to preserve your night vision.
    -   You've developed a dowager hump from leaning over the EP.
    -   You start to see asterisms on women wearing polka-dot dresses.
    -   You map the local power grid looking for a way to selectively take down the lights in your local area.
    -   You find yourself dumpster diving behind the A-P facility.
    -   You LoJack your scope, and coordinate your fashion attire to match it.
    -   You knit booties for all of your eyepieces and think it's perfectly normal.
    -   You make your intended sign a pre-nup only to insure you keep the astronomy stuff.
    -   You actually believe the IRS will allow you to take a deduction on your Takahashi purchase as a medical expense.
    -   You eschew Viagra in favor of Astromart.
    -   You'll vote for any candidate who even mentions the International Dark-Sky Association.
    -   You've developed an odd affection for Danny Min.
    -   You actually find yourself checking Brian Tung's math.
    -   You feel undressed without a copy of 'Sky & Telescope' in your hand
    -   Whilst the dentist is viewing your X-ray plates, you wonder whether they might look better if the low energy was colored red, medium colored green and high energy colored blue
    -   When buying a car, you ask the sales person whether the radio can tune to X-band
    -   Whenever you open your umbrella, you think of Galileo
    -   "Shucks, 60 watts, 100 watts, what does that all mean? I wish they would mark light bulbs in electron volts, eV, a much more meaningful scale."
    -   At the opticians, you remark that the two red circles look like the atomic symbol of a hydrogen molecule
    -   You visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and think to yourself, "hey, looks just like my garage."
    -   Owning 34 Space Shuttle models is perfectly normal
    -   "I'm not jealous of your new 20 inch telescope."
    -   You can't look at a radio receiver without wondering what it would take to turn it into a multi-channel spectrum analyzer for SETI
    -   You turn up for work in a space suit (and you're not an astronaut)
    -   You use a star map to plan a road trip, driving by large mountains to get a gravity assist
    -   "It is not a digital camera, it is a solid state photon imaging array system."
    -   You do redshift calculations whilst waiting in the supermarket checkout line, just because you can
    -   "Come on little Charlie, say mama" ..... "Mmm mm mmm mm mmm mmmeade"
    -   When someone is relating the time of an event, you ask whether the time is in Spacecraft Event Time (SCET) or Earth Received Time (ERT)
    -   You thought examining the Hubble Ultra Deep Field was better than sex (and that includes the kind of sex where other humans are involved)
    -   You propose to your bride-to-be at a NASA center and then have a honeymoon vacation in Maryland
    -   Your catchphrase is, "Magnesium Fluoride for everyone."

  76. Sky Publishing Makes Tracks with New Magazine
    New Magazine Makes Trains Fun and Easy!

    April 1, 2004 - Cambridge, MA - The marketplace of train information is about to be transformed by the debut of a magazine unlike any now available. Sky & Trains, which mails to charter subscribers on July 4th and hits newsstands nationwide on August 13th, is designed especially for entry-level train buffs - those who possess very little knowledge about gauges and locomotion but still want to enjoy and explore the rails, both model and full-size. Whether it's guidance for laying scale track or advice on where to enjoy the thunder of a steamer, Sky & Trains aims to be the perfect resource for novice engineers and "basement railroaders."

    Each colorful issue of the new bimonthly will provide readers with uncluttered, easy-to-use layouts and illustrations; a how-to section for model-train owners; jargon-free train history lessons; overviews of accessories, books, software, and other products; and a gallery of inspiring train photos.

    "We've lined up some noteworthy contributors," says Kelly Beatty, editor of Sky & Trains and himself an expert with 30 years' experience playing with HO-scale trains in his basement. David Levy, known worldwide for his comet-hunting achievements and as a big, steam-engine buff, explains how to get the most heat from your boiler. And Phil Plait - teacher, lecturer, N-gauge nut, and webmaster of the popular Bad Training Web site - has been tapped to pen a regular column called Straight Rails, which will debunk railroad misconceptions.

    Sky & Trains hails from Sky Publishing, whose award-winning monthly, Sky & Telescope, has been serving amateur astronomers since 1941. According to the company's president and publisher, Susan Lit, "2004 is our most ambitious year yet! First our flagship Sky & Telescope has been given a new look. Then we launched Night Sky, a new magazine for beginners. Now Sky & Trains takes us down new tracks. Sure, there are other train magazines out there, but Sky & Trains will have broader appeal by virtue of the fact that its content will be accessible to anyone."

    "Clearly, there is an interest out there for this kind of approach," observes Marcy Dill, Sky Publishing's vice president of marketing and business development. "Who doesn't like miniature trains? And big ones too? But if you're new to it all," she adds, "the magazines currently on the market can make it all seem daunting. We are confident that Sky & Trains' fun and approachable style will give everyone a chance to actively understand everything about trains." Sky & Trains will provide the information readers need to make smart purchasing decisions, and many advertisers are eager to come (all) aboard.

    Sky & Trains will be sold on newsstands for $3.99 per copy and by subscription for $17.99 for one year (six issues). Curtis Circulation Co. of New Milford, NJ, will handle newsstand distribution. For more information, see the magazine's Web site at


    Sky Publishing Corp. was founded in 1941 by Charles A. Federer Jr. and Helen Spence Federer, the original editors of Sky & Telescope magazine. The company's headquarters are in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Uncle Chuck's Hobby Center and Roundhouse. In addition to Sky & Telescope and, Night Sky and, and Sky & Train and, the company publishes two annual magazines, Beautiful Universe and SkyWatch, and an annual wall calendar called Celestial Wonders, as well as books, star atlases, posters, prints, globes, and other fine products.

    Follow-up reply by someone else ...

    Ah, if only it were so!!! Kalmbach's rag is in such dire need of a challenger that perhaps even a ficticious one might do!

  77. Spam is out of this world
    By Adam Turner
    April 1, 2004

    A torrent of interplanetary spam has been found responsible for crippling the onboard computer of NASA's Spirit rover in January.

    Spirit lay crippled on the Martian surface for two weeks after a glitch in its onboard spam filtering saw countless offers of pornography and cheap drugs choke its flash memory, according to NASA spokeswoman Shirley Knott.

    "It would appear Russian spammers obtained Spirit's email address from a leaked internal NASA mailing list," says Knott.

    "The rover's limited onboard artificial intelligence was foolish enough to apply for an shonky online marketing diploma. Soon after offers of cheap WD40 and antenna enlargements began clogging the link between Mars and NASA's Deep Space Network. Eventually, Spirit's file management software choked and sent a distress message to the central processor which kept rebooting."

    Technicians solved the problem by upgrading the artificial intelligence on both Spirit and its twin Opportunity. "The rovers now have enough sense not to respond to spam or open unknown email attachments, which makes them smarter than your average person," says Knott.

    The news comes too late for the British Mars probe Beagle 2, which is believed to have fallen prey to a Martian strain of the Nigerian money laundering scam.

    Controllers have been unable to remotely reset the probe and expect it to keep bombarding the earth with spam for eternity, introducing itself as the brother of former Martian president Joseph Estrada and appealing for help to transfer money back to earth.

  78. Coining a New Expletive for the Astro Set

    With all the recent (and not so recent) sturm und drang over a certain astro site and a certain astro dealer, I submit for your review and consideration, a new word for the amateur astronomy lexicon.

    Naturally, inventing a new word, or at least a new usage for an old word, is a difficult task, fraught with peril and with no guarantee of success. It's can be a Herculean task that will likely require the assistance of untold millions, but perhaps we can create the butterfly effect beginning right here on s.a.a.?

    I know you're dying to know the word, but first let me provide some selling points:

    - Usage of same will not bring Michael Powell & the FCC to your door.
    - You can use it safely and politely in mixed company.
    - No worries about youngsters hearing you use it.
    - As with many of the greatest expletives, it's just four letters.
    - It's equally benign when used in written or oral form.
    - It's a lot easier to spell than supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
    - Trump can't copyright it.

    Suggested uses and exemplar sentences:

    "Oh herb! I just drove 300 miles to a star party and forgot my herbing eyepieces!"

    Herb you!

    You herbhead!

    After dropping an 8 lb. counterpoise weight on your foot, you could shout, "Oh, herb, herb!!!!"

    "That guy is a herbing s.o.b.!"

    "Honey, the kids are asleep, wanna herb?"
    "Are your herbing crazy!?"

    "Dude, this herb I'm smoking is herbing awesome!"

    "People who misunderestimate me will be herbed royally!"

    "Yeah, I herbed her."

    "Why don't you go herb yourself!?"

    There is no herbing way I'm going to let your snot-nosed, sticky-fingered, grubby little kid anywhere near my herbing Takahashi!

    "Kiss me before you herb me, you herbing herb!"

    "John, what the herb have you been smoking?"

  79. Alarming statistic on viewing the Transit of Venus

    • I ran across the extremely alarming statistic related to the transit of Venus. Since I deal with statistics daily, and charts don't lie, I felt it was imperative that I share this scientific fact with you. You can then decide if you wish to risk viewing the Venus transit on June 8th. So here it is:

      100% of those who viewed the last transit of Venus are dead.

      Now, all the research is not in yet as to the attribute that caused this overwhelming statistic, and the attributes need to be more extensively studied for assignable cause, but I felt everyone should be forewarned.

      "Choose wisely".

    • Follow-up reply by a reader ...

      • That isn't a statistic. That's a fact!

  80. Telescope misplacement dilemma!

    • Ok, let me try to get this right, so please bear with me. I lent my telescope to a friend six weeks ago. After not hearing from the friend for a long time, I decided to call and ask when I was getting the scope back. Now this friend said he let someone borrow it. I called that person. That person said he also lent it to someone, but he doesn't know if that other person knows that he knows he has it. So, the bottom line is that I don't know if my friend knows whether or not his friend's friend knows that he knows whether or not he still has the telescope as I haven't been able to contact them. What to do?

    • Follow-up reply by a reader ...

      • Same thing you do when you lend a hammer, a book, a car, etc ... Tell first friend you need it back and have him do all the work. The first rule is not to "lend" things you aren't willing to lose.

      Follow-up reply by another reader ...

      • Call Oprah and tell her what you did, get paid enough to buy a new telescope.
      • Then, hopefully, you've learned a hard lesson and don't let your NEXT telescope to your friends.
      • Run for a political position and become the next president, you've got great potential.

      Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

      • Get some new friends.

      Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

      • Kiss it good by, most likely it's sitting in a 2nd hand store someplace where they sold it for dope.

      Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

      • As long as people like you keep breeding, we'll never run out of suckers.

      Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

      • Scoot, when you get that 31mm Nagler, I'd like to borrow it from you.

  81. Pot smokin

    • Yeah, I typically swing my arm around like a windmill for about a minute and a half, to get a vein to pop up. Then tie that sucker off and slam ~10cc of Mexican brown smack, to slow me down, snort two 3 inch lines (one for each nostril) of peanut butter crank to keep me from slurring astronomical terms/names, drops two hits of purple double-dum to enhance colors in diffuse nebula, do a toot of my cocaine tooter every 15 minutes to keep me awake and suck on some cross top bennies to keep my eyes wide open and fully dilated. This pretty much allows me to see everything up to mag 17 in the Virgo cluster under a full moon in the middle of September at 2 PM.

  82. Threads in saa

    • It seems to me that threads in saa develop only in a small number of ways. I dreamt up one example to one of the gerenic types --- one that does not develop into a flame war. I found it somewhat amusing and hope no one takes offense that I venture to post it.

      Original Poster: Someone told me about some holy script in which a guy called Jesus walked on some kind of liquid. Now I can't remember which scrip it was, nor what the liquid was. Idea, anyone?

      Reply #1: The scipt was the Bible, and the liquid water.

      Reply #2: No I don't think it was water -- you can't walk on water. Ever tried it? You have to swim in water, otherwise you sink and are suffocated to death. The density of water is about the same as that of a human body.

      Reply #3: The density of mercury (the substance, not the planet) is much higher than that of a human body. I think you can walk on mercury. I think that's what Jesus actually walked on.

      Reply #4: I would definitely advise against walking on murcury. It would be extermely hazardous. You will lose balance, fall over and never come up. You can't swim in murcury. Ever tried to swim in mayonnaise? Well, I have! It doesn't work -- and mercury is of similar consistency.

      Reply #5: You wrote

      >>You will lose balance, fall over and never come up.

      Would you come up if it was whisky?

      "If the ocean was whisky and I was a duck I'd dive to the bottom and never come up"

      Reply #6: I think it should be expressed in contrapositive. "A implies B" is logically equivalent to "not-B implies not-A":

      "If I never reach bottom or sometimes come up then the ocean isn't whisky or I'm not a duck"

      Reply #7: I can walk on water. We do that all the time in winter here in Sweden. The water is frozen, so it's hard. I mean -- it is *easy* beacuse it is hard. We can do that because of the "allemansraett" ("all-mens-right".)

      Reply #8: Oh, oh. THAT IS COMMUNISM. Here in the US. of A. all rivers and lakes are privately owned. It is called capitalism, and is what made this country so great. So you can't go canoeing, much less walk, anywhere in or on any water unless you first buy the lake or river. That is freedom --- we are the only country in the world where there is real freedom. God bless us Americans..)

      Reply #9: PLEASE don't answer the previous TROLL! Btw, I haven't eaten mayonnaise, or bearnaise for that matter, since the French veto.

      Reply #10: It's a good thing that Italy supported the war, otherise we would have had to give up pizza!! Thank's, Berlusconi!

      Reply #11: I don't think mercury is a liquid. It is a floating solid. And Berlusconi isn't the prime minister of Italy, it is another guy with the same name.

      Reply #12: Shouldn't we get back on topic? Is bearnaise really French? isn't it Swiss?

      Reply #13: Make that mayonnaise (not bearnaise).

      Reply #14: Vot you talking?? All very konfusingk. Berlusconi valk on mercury? Or bearnaise? I sink neiser!! Swiss make kuckoo-klocks.

      Original Poster: Hi there. Thank you all, guys. What a wealth of valuable information. I have saved all responses and will read them through in one context to really get the whole picture. Thanks again -- wonderful ng.

  83. Observations from a dark site

    • So much for my hobby of amateur observations from a very dark site. Margaret complained to me that my 15 day observing spree from her summer resort in Antiparos, was basically a sign of "obsession" and she felt "abandoned" and like an 80 year old, because she had nothing to do. We separated today.

      I am so fucking tired of all these stupid morons who are bored to death with their lives. It's like us, the Creators, have to always find ways to fucking entertain live's losers in sexual relationships, who don't have anything better to do than push all the responsibility for their amusement to people who have work to do.

      Some women are just too stupid to have a boyfriend. I wrote 5 huge observing reports, finished about 24 digital sketches of observed objects and now I am about to publish my second fucking paper in a respectable mathematics journal and this lady tells me that "observing the sky for 4 hours a day during our vacations in Antiparos was a very clear example of obsession". FUCK YOU, you stupid cunt. Go fuck somebody who will take you to discos and night clubs instead, and who can be your personal entertainer. Fucking idiot that you are, you don't fucking deserve to have somebody with an IQ of 153 on your side. And when you give birth to a stupid brick, don't blame your genes for it, blame the kid's dad and your choice.

      Fuck it. And all that, just as I am getting ready to order my new 10" Celestron Dobsonian. Jesus knows what am I gonna do with it from Athens. Perhaps I should use it for peeping purposes.

      Fucking miserable morons the Earth is filled with.

  84. Best BB gun for taking out a neighbors porch light?

    • Two of my neighbors have obnoxious security lights that blanket the entire neighborhood. One is approx 50 yards from me, the other is a good 200 yards. I'm thinking a Daisy "Red Rider" for the close neighbor and a pneumatic .177 cal for the guy at the end of the block. Any suggestions?

    Follow-up reply by a reader ...

    • I have 3 pellet guns that will do the job very well! The Beeman Dual magnum it's 22 cal with over 34ft-lbs of energy, shoots a 22 cal 18 grain pellet at 980fps.

      Or the Logun MK11 it's a PCP airgun with a modarator for very quite shooting, it also has 36ft -lbs of energy, and shoots one holers at 50 yrds!

      And the last is a Beeman SLR-98 22 cal gas ram, with 18ft-lbs of energy, comes with a 7 shot magazine.

      All of the above gun cost me well over a $1000 with scope each , and anyone of them will do the job very well...

    Follow-up reply by another reader ...

    • This is not the way to go about it, you could get into trouble! Pay a local child to do it, just say they're lying when they rat on you!

    Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

    • No .. always hire an adult, lest you be accused of child-related crimes (contributing to the delinquency, etc.). Plus a well-selected adult may have the necessary arsenal.

    Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

    • Never mind the guns. Get a large mirror and stand outside their house reflecting their light back at them, It's so damned easy to sit behind the light isn't it? See how they like being in front of it as well!

      If that fails try reflecting the sun at their house with a mirror in the daytime. Use something to prop it up so it shines contantly at their windows. This will quickly drive them mad. See how they like being in the glare! :-))

      If you should get into conversation with them point out that only lights coming in the dark alert people to thieves. Lights on permanently show the thief where to go first. When questioned convicted burglars said they always preferred houses with well lit gardens as targets. It no doubt saved them carrying a torch and falling over the trashcan and kids toys. The chances are, that those with permanently lit security lights, aren't at home.

    Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

    • Not enough oomph. Check out the 10 gauge semi autos on Also, plastique could be applied around the base of the lights and set off. To prevent the neighbors reporting any such activities, a generous coating of DMSO and ricin on their doorknobs should silence them. Or a nice meal of Amanita Vernosa.

    Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

    • I think the time for violence is NOW.

      Remember the old addage ... "Violence is the last resort of the incompetant" ... so DO NOT allow it to become the last resort, do it now!

    Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

    • Forget BB guns they are not accurate beyond 10-20 ft.

      You need a pellet rifle with a good Rifled barrel. And for the specialized needs of the urbanized skywatcher who frequently needs to deal with neighbors who turn on their outside lights just to annoy you, I recommend The Airforce Talon SS Air Rifle in .22 cal.

      As it is a " Sound Suppressed Gun " Which means it is Extremely quite given its power 25ft-lbs. "That's quieter than the pump-up type they sell at WalMart which only delivers 6 to 8 ft-lbs of energy. From 75ft away nobody notices a thing. Except the tinkling sounds of breaking glass. But it is a PCP gun. Which means you will need a SCUBA tank or a special compressor to fill the guns air tank ' it will shoot many times per fill". This is because the power of the PCP gun comes from operating at 3000psi !

  85. Best way to remove annoying Earth?

    • Hi,

      Help required in removing the Earth.
      I'd like to do some Southern Sky observations for a change.
      I'd value any helpful suggestions.

      Thanks in advance.

  86. Best way to remove annoying galaxy?

    • There appears to be a large galaxy that is obstructing my view of a significant portion of the sky. I know that it's nice for galaxies to be big and close so that those with cheap telescopes can see them but this one rather overdoes it -- I can't fit the whole thing in the field of view no matter what eyepiece I use!

      What is the best way to remove this obstruction? Please don't tell me to move my telescope; I moved it several hundred feet and saw no change.

  87. Suggested Starparty Policy: No Chinese made equipment allowed

    • These cheap junky Chinese "instruments" are rapidly filling the fields of star parties and replacing traditional quality equipment. Instead of an eclectic mix of homebuilt, vintage and high-end instruments, we now have rows upon rows of garbage from the big 3. There needs to be a policy in place to keep the riff raff from taking over these events, otherwise there will be no incentive for those of us with real instruments to continue attending.

      Now I admit this is a harsh view, but it must be stated. As we all know this hobby has been undergoing a transformation from one of a gentlemen's pursuit requiring skill and significant investment to yet another pedestrian form of entertainment. This is of course a result in technological improvements and outsourcing … GoTo has replaced manual star charting, CCD replaced film and third world slave labor has replaced skilled craftsmen. As a result any Joe Sixpack can become an "expert" astrophotographer in a matter of weeks with just an Orion catalog and credit card.

      I say it's time we take back the hobby and send these poseurs packing!

    Follow-up reply by a reader ...

    • I appreciate your heartfelt and well reasoned posting. Very thought provoking indeed.

      The only problem is you are an elitist snob, in two words YOU SUCK Dude, well OK that's three (3) words but I expect you get my point.

      I feel there are too many of just the opposite, too many overpriced absurd tiny refractors and SCT's. These snobs drive up in their sissy Lexus HUV's and un load some useless piece of shit that they spend the rest of the evening trying to sort out and get to work, or they bring out some silly little APO that is smaller than my old ladies dildo and brag not on what the silly little thing can see but on the quality of the things paint job, Jesus Christ!

      I'll take an honest hard working guy with a 10" chink Newt anyday!

  88. Future Astronomy magazine articles

    • I picked up a copy of Astronomy at a magazine rack and was greeted by a cover which featured the bold word, "IMPACT," with a supporting subheadline which continued something to the effect of what we can do and what we can't do about an inevitable devastating asteroid collision with Earth. Naturally, there was a picture of the killer hurling its way down to us. Also featured on the cover was a story dealing with the TRUTH about astrology. Has the National Enquirer obtained the magazine?

      I would suggest future issues may contain the following articles:

      #9. We Rate the Best 60mm, 675x Department Store Scopes
      #8. The Best Reasons For Not Observing When the Sky Is Overcast
      #7. Have Your Ashes Interned In Your Tele Vue
      #6. Convert Your 25" Obsession To a Casket
      #5. Why They Won't Let Bush Pronounce "Uranus"
      #4. Using your new telescope, part 1: Where To Put Your Eye
      #3. Rethinking GO TO After the Pole Shift
      #2. "GAL" ileo, "GAL" axy, "GAL" lon, & "GAL" lbladder. . .We Search For a Link

    Follow-up reply by a reader ...

    • #1. Amateur astronomer spots Elvis in new constellation of "Sasquatch". Finder chart inside!

    Follow-up reply by one of the most creative members of the newsgroup ...

    • I'm holding off until their swimsuit edition hits the shelves. I was little disappointed that their May issue had a "Keeep it up all night long" subhead. Turned out to be a story about fighting dew.

      It's still owned by Kalmbach Publishing Co. Publishers of these fine magazines:

      American Snowmobiler

      And others.

      At home we never know whether to renew BeadStyle or Bead&Button, so we subscribe to each one. Killer magazines both.

      1. Oprah buys Moon, Donahue still bitter.


      1. Brando buried in space, Mars orbit perturbed.

    Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

    • From their website:

      "Wartime astronomy : An amateur astronomer in Iraq masters a technique for observing the night sky amid blackouts and bombings."

      Just what I needed to know.

    Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

    • #1: Look threw the fat end of your telescope and see the universe as it will be in 9 Billion Years!

      #2: 7 way's to convince your mother-in-law it really is used to look at heavenly bodies.

    Follow-up reply by yet another reader ...

    • Lunar orbiter Clementine discovers body of Jimmy Hoffa under polar ice.

  89. New Reality TV Show


    Join our crack team of vengeful pilots, greedy lawyers and publicity-seeking politicians as we hunt down evil purveyors of green LASER light. You too can share the thrill of wrestling middle-aged astronomers to the ground in the middle of the night and ripping the death sabers from their quivering hands.

    THE LASER HUNTERS - making America safer by protecting pilots, bus drivers and NFL quarterbacks.

    WARNING - Red goggles should be worn by all viewers in case the camera is hammered with millions or even BILLIONS of potentially fatal green photons.

  90. Who the hell is Sam Wormley???

    Who is he? I don't really care but with so many post as to him being wrong I don't want to have him over for dinner.

    Sam is a fictitious character created by saa regulars. There is a rotation roster, listing who has to be Sam each week. Originally the "Sam duty" was for a one month period, but we found the onerous nature of the job required us to cutback on the expectations. No one manages to be Sam longer than two weeks. And, we find that by the end of the first week, they are wearing out and do not provide the same quality during the second week. Once we realized the exhausting nature of being a thorough Sam, we cut it back to one week rotations.

    If you carefully examine the headers, you can often trace it back and find out who has the Sam duty in any given week. However many people take the trouble to use a different email service for Sam posts so you can simply match it up with their usual. And most people forward their Sam posts to the same remailer so they will look the same. Of course, some people do not take the same pride in being Sam for the week. If we have a slacker this week, your post may not get any response. If it is someone diligent, they may post that they are definitely *the* Sam Wormley. Of course, now that you are in the know, you can ignore the Sam of the week.

    As to inviting him to dinner, it depends solely on who is being Sam that week.

    Hope this helps.

  91. Revolutionary Discovery :-)

    As a chemical research scientist, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to announce that after years of research, my chemical engineering team has successfully invented a new polymer material that will revolutionize telescope manufacturing for amateur and professional astronomers. A special chemical polymer has been developed by me and my staff here at the University of Northeastern Arizona allowing us to invent an amazingly new light-weight and inexpensive telescope. This revolutionary break-through allowed us to develop a Schmidt-Cassegrain; Dall Kirkham; Richey Chretien combination design that we affectionately call SCDKRC (Scudcrock). This newly developed polymer, called "astropolymer" allowed us to create optics at an incredible 1/64 wave and a fraction of the weight needed to build large telescopes which makes it an excellent instrument for Earth-based observatories imaging by using adaptive optics. Tests have revealed images ten times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. Many patents are pending on the chemical composition, adaptive optics and manufacturing process of this new "astropolymer." After years of secret field testing, our attorneys have released us to market this telescope to the public.

    Our Scudcrock design built with astropolymer is called the Cosmospherics 48. It is a 48-inch, f/5 design that weighs a mere 65 pounds. Since the entire telescope is made of this light-weight astropolymer, the OTA can be mounted any light-weight astronomical tripod with the judicious use of dovetail mounting hardware. The amazing part of our design is that it costs a fraction of traditional telescopes manufactured today. The Cosmopherics 48 retails for only $1,200 US plus shipping. Included in this price is a Celestron CGE mount made of the same astropolymer material, 10 x 80 mm right-angle erect image view finder mounted on rings, a new 2-inch astropolymer 100% reflectivity diagonal and a 2-inch 40 mm Koenig eyepiece. We now have several Cosmospherics 48 telescopes available on a first-come, first serve basis. Order yours today. Setting up the Cosmospheric 48 is a two-person process because of the size.

    Clear skies,
    Arizona Dollar Bill

  92. High-Tech Telescopes - Defining Terms Used in Marketing

    • ALL NEW - The power supply, connectors, and software are not compatible with previous versions. Even the screw threads are different.
    • ADVANCED DESIGN - Salespeople don't understand it.
    • BREAKTHROUGH - It nearly worked on the first try.

    • DESIGN SIMPLICITY - It was developed on a shoestring budget.
    • EXCLUSIVE - We're the only ones who have the directions telling how to use it.
    • FIELD TESTED - The manufacturer has no way to test it.

    • FOOLPROOF OPERATION - It's unrepairable, short of sending it back to the factory (which can't fix it either).
    • FUTURISTIC - It only runs with the help of a next-generation computer, which isn't available yet.
    • HIGH ACCURACY - The screw threads match the threads of the holes they're supposed to mate with.

    • IT'S HERE AT LAST - We've released a 26-week project in 48 weeks.
    • MAINTENANCE FREE - see Foolproof Operation.
    • MEETS OR EXCEEDS OPTICAL STANDARDS - We haven't the foggiest idea about the total wavefront accuracy.

    • NEW - It comes in a different color than the first version.
    • PERFORMANCE PROVEN - It worked through beta test.
    • QUALITY STANDARDS - It works most of the time.

    • REVOLUTIONARY - Everything that's supposed to go round and round actually goes round and round.
    • SATISFACTION GUARANTEED - We'll send you another manual if this one fails to work.
    • STOCK ITEM - We shipped it once before and we can do it again, probably.

    • UNMATCHED - No one else wants to copy our design.
    • UNPRECEDENTED PERFORMANCE - May mean two different things:
      1. Actually worked the first time right out of the box.
      2. Nothing before ever ran so erratically.
    • YEARS OF DEVELOPMENT - We finally got one to work.

  93. Astronomical Bumper Stickers

    • Gravity Sucks
    • Gravity Sucks, Blackholes Swallow
    • Turn off your lights, and turn on to astronomy
    • I'm proud to be a supernova remnant
    • Astronomers do it looking up
    • Astronomers do it in the dark
    • Astronomers do it all night long
    • Astronomers do it with heavenly bodies
    • Astronomers do it in red light districts
    • Astronomers do it with big mirrors
    • Astronomers do it in groups
    • Astronomers do it at parties
    • Astronomers Are Star-Struck
    • My other telescope is a 675x
    • Ask me about my 14 incher
    • Mine's a 14", 8" is for wimps
    • My other vehicle is rolling around on Mars
    • You know you're a real deep sky observer when you can talk while holding a red flashlight in your mouth
    • You know you're a real deep sky observer when you can UNDERSTAND somebody talking with a red light in his/her mouth
    • Objects In Eyepiece are Larger than they Appear
    • Objects In Eyepiece are Farther than they Appear
    • This end up (mandatory on all Tasco reflectors, judging from their ads)
    • I wanted a telescope, then my wife gave me twins (on (his) binocular case)
    • Protective footwear required (on 20mm Naglers)
    • Not protected in USA by Pat#xxxxx, as far as our lawyers can tell (suitable for many Meade products)

  94. You know you're a Deep Sky person when ...

    • ... you're not sure that anything in this solar system counts as astronomy any more
    • ... you consider Jupiter 'light pollution'
    • ... you're amazed that anyone needs artificial light to read charts
    • ... you could do a Messier Marathon from memory, if you still bothered with Messier objects
    • ... you are attending a major star party (guess which one), and you ask the organizers to turn down the Milky Way
    • ... you believe M13 ruined your dark adaptation
    • ... you observe M42 at the _end_ of the sessions because it DOES ruin dark adaptation!
    • ... your choice of a new vehicle is determined by the size of your scope
    • ... vacation time is planned around the Winter and Texas (or other) Star parties
    • ... Arp is not a funny sound but the name of one of your favorite galaxy catalogues
    • ... you challenge friends by saying "Lets do something stupid" as you hunt for deep sky objects on a hazy, full-moon nite because you are faint-photon starved
    • ... you find auroras a complete anoyance because they ruin sky contrast and dark adaptation
    • ... your ideal site would require oxygen
    • ... your ideal vacation would be in Namibia
    • ... you take deep-sky pictures during a total eclipse of the moon
    • ... you bitch about severe light pollution when the limiting magnitude is "only" 6.5
    • ... you prep your eyes by applying pupil dilating drops until they open to 10mm
    • ... when you have elective surgery to replace your eye's natural lenses with f/0.8, oil-spaced, apochromatic triplet objectives designed by Roland Christen
    • ... you wear red sunglasses all day in preparation for viewing that night
    • ... you wear an eyepatch during the viewing session
    • ... you've been thinking that a 14th century black monk's hood is a pretty cool idea
    • ... you have blackened the edges of your eyeglasses
    • ... the domelight of your car is painted red
    • ... you consider the HII regions of distant galaxies as individual observing targets
    • ... you're caught by the police climbing light poles at night trying to "unscrew" the bulbs
    • ... you complain you can't really see the faint stuff because the Gegenschein is too bright
    • ... you consider how to blow-up the SUN in order to reduce light pollution
    • ... hire a crop duster to spray the surrounding area because last night the fire flies kept ruining your dark adaptation
    • ... get a lecturer's laser pointer and, using a cheap photo tripod for support, set it up to illuminate the photocell on top of the streetlight. It thinks dawn has broken, and shuts off until the laser source is removed.
    • ... you park your car in the driveway because the garage isn't big enough to store both the car an your telescope
    • ... you think the best reason to stop smoking is that the glow of the cigarette hurts your dark adaptation
    • ... you look upon a total solar eclipse as an opportunity to break the current record for the most DSOs observed visually by a ground based amateur in the daytime

  95. New Product Announcement from Flurry Astro-Innovations....

    Why is it that nothing provides such fine views and rave reviews as a new eyepiece? It's because your eyepiece is perfectly clean. And you can be sure it will never be perfectly clean again, no matter how hard you try. Dirt and grime will degrade all your future views, reducing contrast and obscuring subtle detail. Fortunately, Flurry Astro-Innovations has come to your rescue! Introducing out new EverClean Ocular (ECO).

    Why is the EverClean Ocular so effective? Because you'll never use it again. That's right, Flurry Astro-Innovations has developed a disposable eyepiece. Use it once, toss it, and dig out a perfectly new, perfectly clean, Ever-Clean Ocular. Enjoy perfect, high contrast viewing every time you observe. The ECO is biodegradable, and is made entirely from recycled materials.

    EverClean Oculars are available by the dozen or a very economical gross (144 ECOs). And here's ever better news, because of our proprietary design, manufacturing processes, and high volume, you can order any focal length. That's right, you can get exactly the focal lengths you need! (Some restrictions apply.)
    Call now to take advantage of our special introductory prices. Be sure to inquire about our subscription plan for the avid observer.

    EverClean Oculars are already in use at major observatories around the world, and will soon be standard equipment for several well known telescopes.

    Get the views you deserve - Go green, Go EverClean! Your eyes will thank you, and you'll be the envy of your fellow astronomers.

    Clear skies,

  96. How to get $100 from stupid americans...

    The following gem appeared in the TEC Yahoo group and as posted by Yuri Petrunin (President of TEC Instruments) on Oct 14/2010 ... it is priceless.

    From: Oliver Teng
    To: tec
    Subject: Brand Name Notice

    Dear CEO,
    We are the department of registration service in China. we have something need to confirm with you. We formally received an application on Oct 11, 2010. One company which is called "Duzco Trading Co., Ltd" is applying to register "telescopengineering" as brand name and domain names as below :

    After our initial checking, we found the brand name and these domain names being applied are as same as your company's, so we need to confirm with your company. If the aforesaid company is your business partner or your subsidiary company, please DO NOT reply us, we will approve the application automatically. If you have no any relationship with this company, please contact us within 5 workdays. If out of the deadline, we will approve the application submitted by "Duzco Trading Co., Ltd" unconditionally.

    Best Regards,
    Oliver Teng
    Registration Director

    From: yuri
    To: oliver.teng
    Subject: Re: Brand Name Notice

    - are you kidding?

    From: Oliver Teng
    To: yuri
    Subject: Brand Name Notice

    Dear Sir,
    Thanks for your reply. If your company does not have any relationship with "Duzco Trading Co., Ltd", according to our work experience, either they just invest these domain names. Just like a company named Beijing national network information LLC registered & in 2005, and then they made lots of return from these two domain names. (Google Company failed to make a arbitration and paid 1 million USD dollars to redeem the two domain names.) Or they are just your trade, and confuse your clients to make profit. Because it seems that these domain names have no relationship with them, that's why we send e-mail to inform you. As a domain name registration service organization, we have no right to reject any individual or entity register available domain names through us, because domain name registration is open worldwide, the policy is " first register, first own". I think you also know this. But it's our duty and responsibility to avoid the registration in bad faith, so we inform you this issue in advance before the registration starts. Now, what you need to consider is that whether these domain names are important to your company? If important to you, we will apply the priority to register for your company; meanwhile, we will send you the dispute application form and cost list. Due to time is limited, if you have any other question, pls contact with us in time.
    Thanks for four cooperation!

    Best Regards,
    Oliver Teng
    Registration Director

    From: yuri
    To: oliver.teng
    Subject: Re: Brand Name Notice

    - wau (!!!), how much to pay to avoid troubles like Yahoo had?

    From: Oliver Teng
    To: yuri
    Subject: Brand Name Notice

    Dear yuri,
    Best Regards,
    Oliver Teng
    Registration Director

    From: yuri
    To: oliver.teng@...
    Subject: Re: Brand Name Notice $100 enclosed

    - o ..., so easy - no problemo!
    Please find attached $100 bill.
    You would need high quality paper and good laser color printer to print both sides on one piece.
    Please NOTE - you can print only one $100 bill.

    Best regards, Yuri


    Last year they were asking 100 times more...