Venus and Jupiter for March 2012

If the skies are clear this Wednesday be sure to look towards the west right after sunset.  You will see two bright stars about 20 degrees or so above the horizon.  Those are in fact not stars but Venus and Jupiter.  They should be closest together in our night sky on the evening of March 14 and March 15, 2012.  At that time you can block them out with two fingers held out at about arm's length.

These are relatively common events happening every thirteen months or so.  So, if you end up missing it due to cloud cover don't panic.  Given their bright apparent magnitude the two planets will be visible even from Boone's heavily light polluted skies.

The image below is a screen from a free open source program called Stellarium which is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.  It shows the western sky at 20:30 (8:30 PM) on March 14 from Boone.  If you find Venus and Jupiter (they'll be hard to miss) you should be able to easily find the Pleiades in Taurus and M42 in Orion.  Although they'll be harder to spot if you live downtown.  


(Click to enlarge)

March is a particularly good month for planet watching.  Mercury, Venus and Jupiter will visible slightly after sunset for most of the month with Mars and Saturn both turning up before midnight in the eastern sky.  

The Moon, Venus, and Jupiter from Boone, NC

Starting from the bottom we have the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter all lined up.   Taken with the P7000 piggy backed on the Orion ShortTube 80's tube ring.  I've had a few clear nights this week to try out the new scope.  For its small size and portability I'm very pleased with the views.  Defintely worth picking up for a good wide field refractor.  


The Sagan Series

Recently I discovered a series of videos on YouTube done in tribute to the late astronomer Carl Sagan by Reid Gower.  The production quality is quite good.  So far my favorite is the latest video The Gift of Apollo:


Each video is around five minutes in length, give or take.  Head over to The Sagan Series site for the complete playlist.  Right now I think we need nothing more than some solid advocacy for science and critical thinking.    

Steve Jobs

You can vilify him, you can deify him or you can just respect him.  Either way you cannot deny the impact Steve Jobs has had on the world.   

Never forget to spend your life doing what you love, never settle.

Apple Home Page

AppState Move In 2011

This year's move in weekend was my eighth since I started at App back in 2003.  Well, technically the seventh if you don't count '03 since I wasn't a student employee yet.  I used to hate it back then but now that I'm a certified desk jockey I actually enjoy roaming the dorms and setting up machines for folks.  A lot of parents had positive comments about the move in process and many nice things to say about the volunteers.  Other than a few elevator issues in the west campus dorms everything seemed to go smoothly.  The photos attached are the lines of volunteers, students and parents waiting for said elevators to return to the ground floor.  

Oh, I definitely managed to recruite a few new players for AppGaming's Minecraft server.  Looking forward to some epic builds on this year's map.  

Hopefully this year's freshmen aren't pinched too hard by the budget cuts.  

dorm move in

Just a few folks waiting in Gardner.

dorm move in

Dead elevator in Bowie Hall