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Posts Made By: dan hilts

July 4, 2008 09:12 AM Forum: After Dark

Double Flare

Posted By dan hilts

Last night about 11:30 I saw what appeared to be a double Iridium Flare. There were two satellites travelling slowly together about 1 degree apart, rising from the SW and moving towards the NE. I first noticed them in Serpens when they had brightened and were shining just as bright as Jupiter. I watched them for 30 seconds or so and then they faded away from naked eye view. I followed them with my scope for a minute or two but lost them when I looked up to see if I could spot them without optical aid.

From what I can determine on Heavens Above, one of the flares should have been Iridium 19. I cannot find a reference to a second.

I've seen lots of flares but I have never previously witnessed a pair travelling together that flared at the exact same time.

clear skies,

November 17, 2008 10:41 AM Forum: Star Parties

WSP 2009 confirmations?

Posted By dan hilts

Any one heard from the registrars of the WSP 2009? With barely 90 days to go, it sure would be nice to know if I need to book a airline ticket or not.


December 12, 2008 05:01 AM Forum: Off Topic Discussions

Paypal shines!

Posted By dan hilts

In October I made a short business trip to Saratoga Springs in New York. When I returned to Canada I promptly filed my expense reports as I usually do. I was surprised to find that when my charged items finally showed up on my credit card statements, the credit card company had used an exchange rate about 10 cents higher than the rate I had used on my expense reports. It seems the credit card companies have started to charge a hefty premium when doing money conversions. Fortunately it was a short trip so I was only out about $15.00 total.

Yesterday I made three transactions that required conversion from Canadian to US dollars. Paypal used an exchange rate of 1.22. My Canadian bank used a rate of 1.2587. Canada Post used a rate of 1.30. Even if you include the 3% Paypal charges on every transaction, they are still cheaper than the best finacial services I have access to for making payments to US destinations. When it comes to receiving US funds, Paypal provides a much better conversion rate and I am away ahead using their service.

I wonder how long it will take for the Paypal folks to catch on and change the way they do business.


January 26, 2009 09:22 AM Forum: Reflectors

Re: check r.c. of convex surface

Posted By dan hilts

Use a spherometer?


October 18, 2009 07:32 AM Forum: Telescope Making

mirror cell pivots

Posted By dan hilts

I'm going to make a 6 point mirror cell. If it works out, I'm planning an 18 point. What's the best way to pivot the centre of the support bars? Do you just put them together with a small spacer underneath and leave the screw loose? Any photos out there?


November 11, 2009 06:09 AM Forum: Prayer Line

Flanders Fiels

Posted By dan hilts

"In Flanders Fields" is one of the most famous poems written during World War I, created in the form of a French rondeau. It has been called "the most popular poem" produced during that period. Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (born in Guelph, Ontario) wrote it on May 3, 1915, after he witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, only 22 years old, the day before. The poem was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch.

The poppies referred to in the poem grew in profusion in Flanders in the spoiled earth of the battlefields and cemeteries where war casualties were buried and thus became a symbol of Remembrance Day. The poem is part of Remembrance Day solemnities in Allied countries which contributed troops to World War I, particularly in countries of the British Empire that did so.

By most accounts it was written in John McCrae’s notebook and later rejected by him. Ripped out of his notebook, it was rescued by a fellow officer, Francis Alexander Scrimger and later published in Punch magazine.

In 1915 US professor Moina Michael inspired by the poem published a poem of her own in response, called “We Shall Keep the Faith”. In tribute to the opening lines of McCrae's poem -- "In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses row on row," -- Michael vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in the war.

The poem has achieved near-mythic status in contemporary Canada and is one of the nation's most prominent symbols. Most Remembrance Day ceremonies will feature a reading of the poem in some form (it is also sung a cappella in some places), and many Canadian schoolchildren memorize the verse. The poem is now also a common part of Remembrance Day ceremonies in the United Kingdom, where it holds as one of the nation's best-loved.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
.If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

-John McCrae

December 14, 2009 05:38 AM Forum: AstroMart FAQ

Re: aligning guide scope

Posted By dan hilts

Hi Chris,

I know incredibly little about astrophotography so I really can't help you other than to suggest that the folks in the CCD Imaging forum seem to be really keen and helpful. There is also Neil Flemmings Astro Imaging Class. Try posting your questions there and I am sure you will get some enthusiastic responses.

good luck,

December 24, 2009 01:06 PM Forum: Prayer Line

Christmas Prayer

Posted By dan hilts

There was a period of time in my life when I attended a Christmas retreat every year on the last weekend before Christmas. It was a chance to escape the rat race and hectic schedule of the holiday season and get get back to the grassroots of family, friends and society. It was hosted at a local Jesuit monastary which is on the outskirts of Toronto. Although this is basically a Catholic institution and I am not Catholic, I was made very welcome and was invited to participate in ceremonies that are typically closed to non-Catholics. It was there that I first heard the Prayer of St. Francis and so I refer to it as my Christmas Prayer. Merry Christmas to all.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


January 4, 2010 05:34 AM Forum: Prayer Line

Help us find peace.

Posted By dan hilts

Last night 5 Canadian heros were returned to Canada from their mission overseas. Although it was a cold, blustery evening, many turned out to show their support for the families of the fallen.

Found on Youtube from the summer, honoring our Canadian fallen.

U.S. Media Tribute to Highway of Heroes

I have witnessed this too many times. God, help us to find a way to bring peace to those who struggle and end the conflict. Amen.

January 10, 2010 10:04 PM Forum: Off Topic Discussions

airline travel

Posted By dan hilts

This mornning I posted in the relflectors column that what was once an airline portable scope, may not be any longer. Since that post this morning I have taken a flight from Toronto to Philadelphia. I now doubt you could get a pair of binoculars in your carry on luggage onto a flight to the US from Canada.

Carry on allowance used to be limited to one personal bag 17"x13"X6" such as a purse, laptop, diaper bag etc, and one standard piece of luggage 21.5"x 15.5" x9". My dob is designed so the UTA stores in the mirror box once the focuser and secondary are removed. The whole thing then fits nicely into a standard carry-on suitcase with room for the focuser, secondary and a selection of eyepieces. Truss poles have to be checked with the base board.

Today's air travel rules allow for only one personal bag such as a purse or laptop. All other bags must be checked. Contents of the personal bag are severly restricted. I was told I could carry one book, magazine or newspaper but the writing pad in my laptop case had to be put into my checked bags or discarded.

I saw a lot of people carrying their laptops around the airport with no cases. The little wheeled laptop cases with room for a razor and a fresh shirt are no longer permitted as carry-on and had to be checked. These folks had checked the bags but kept their laptops. I was lucky and was told earlier by some colleaques that only shoulder strap laptop cases are allowed, no wheels.

I don't know how you could get a small telescope onto a plane bound for the US unless it is placed in checked bags or fits within the allowance of the personal bag which is rather small and has a 10kg limit. If there is anyway imaginable that something in a carry-on could be used as a weapon, it will not be allowed. Period.

In addition to the restricted carry-on allowances, all passengers are also subjected to a personal search at the entrance to each wing of the terminal. Males and females are separated. The search requires laptops to be powered up and a thorough search of any bags is completed. Potential weapons are confiscated. Passengers are required to empty their pockets and are subjected to a head to toe pat down. There is no longer any freedom of movement between terminals. If you have a favorite meeting place or restaurant, forget it unless it is in the vincinity of your gate.

There are two problems with checked bags. The first is the obvious risk of rough handling and damage to the contents. The second is the fact that all checked bags must be unlocked and loss of contents to thieves is always possible. Locked bags will not be put on a plane to anywhere. This is not new.

All flights to the US are subject to these rules so changing airlines won't help. You may think that these rules will never be implemented in the US but these rules are actually created by the US,(although they are implemented outside of the US).

It would be be interesting to see how many people headed to WPS in February have difficulty at their airport. I for one, won't even attempt to take an eyepiece with me this year, and after what I experienced today, next year doesn't look too promising either.

These policies are going to hurt the US in the end. Once the newest hassles of air travel become common knowledge, it will have a negative impact on travel to the US. I wouldn't want to go to Disneyland with smaller children under these travel conditions. Had I known how air travel was going to change, I wouldn't have bought a ticket to WPS. There are other warm places with decent seeing that I have yet to visit. Perhaps next year I'll treat myself to something new.