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Posts Made By: Timothy Iafolla

March 1, 2006 07:25 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Celestron 80ED: How to shorten focus distance?

Posted By Timothy Iafolla

Hi all,

I recently bought a Celestron 80ED "spotting scope", which is similar to the Orion ED80 (same optics), but with a smaller tube and a R&P instead of Crayford focuser (and an erecting 45 degree diagonal). All was well at first: I replaced the erecting diagonal with a 1.25" standard diagonal, no problem. Then I replaced the 1.25" with a 2" Williams Optics diagonal, and found that I don't have enough forward travel to bring it to focus. Also, a Stellarview binocular viewer will just barely make it, if I use the internal Barlow lens and the 1.25" diagonal.

So right now the scope doesn't work with my best 2" eyepieces or the binoviewer using anything over 10mm eyepieces (20mm plus the internal Barlow).

My question is, of course, is there any way to fix this? Unfortunately the mirror cell and focuser assembly are both threaded directly onto the optical tube, so I can't just shorten the tube without some way of re-threading the tube end. I've thought of cutting a section out of the middle of the tube and splicing the ends with a sleeve. But this would bring the rear baffle closer to the objective, which would (maybe) cause vignetting. Any suggestions?

Another qustion: am I having this problem because it's really a spotting scope? IOW, does the Orion ED80 have the same problem? If not, I can sell this one and buy an Orion scope.


Tim Iafolla

March 3, 2006 09:13 AM Forum: Politics

Conservatives bashing Bush

Posted By Timothy Iafolla

Bush has really reached a low point when George Will starts bashing him. He has joined the chorus of Republicans and conservatives who have had their fill of the doofus-in-chief. The next-to-last paragraph is an amazing indictment of daily life in Iraq. From today's Washington Post:
When late in the spring of 1940 people of southeastern England flocked across the Channel in their pleasure craft and fishing boats to evacuate soldiers trapped on Dunkirk beaches, euphoria swept Britain. So Prime Minister Winston Churchill sternly told the nation: "We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations."

Or by curfews, such as the one that cooled the furies that engulfed Iraq after the bombing last week of a Shiite shrine. Wars are not won simply by facing facts, but facing them is a necessary prerequisite.

Last week, in the latest iteration of a familiar speech (the enemy is "brutal," "we're on the offensive," "freedom is on the march") that should be retired, the president said, "This is a moment of choosing for the Iraqi people." Meaning what? Who is to choose, and by what mechanism? Most Iraqis already "chose" -- meaning prefer -- peace. But in 1917 there were only a few thousand Bolsheviks among 150 million Russians -- and the Bolsheviks succeeded in hijacking the country for seven decades.

After Iraqis voted in December for sectarian politics, an observer said Iraq had conducted not an election but a census. Now America's heroic ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, one of two indispensable men in Iraq, has warned the Iraqi political class that unless the defense and interior ministries are nonsectarian, meaning not run as instruments of the Shiites, the United States will have to reconsider its support for Iraq's military and police. But that threat is not credible: U.S. strategy in Iraq by now involves little more than making the Iraqi military and police competent. As the president said last week: "Our strategy in Iraq is that the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down."

Iraq's prime minister responded to Khalilzad's warning by accusing him of interfering in Iraq's "internal affairs." Think about that, and about the distinction drawn by the U.S. official in Iraq who, evidently looking on what he considers the bright side, told Eliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins, "This isn't a war. It's violent nation-building."

Almost three years after the invasion, it is still not certain whether, or in what sense, Iraq is a nation. And after two elections and a referendum on its constitution, Iraq barely has a government. A defining attribute of a government is that it has a monopoly on the legitimate exercise of violence. That attribute is incompatible with the existence of private militias of the sort that maraud in Iraq.

Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, writing in the Wall Street Journal, reports that Shiite militias "have broken up coed picnics, executed barbers [for the sin of shaving beards] and liquor store owners, instituted their own courts, and posted religious guards in front of girls' schools to ensure Iranian-style dress." Iraq's other indispensable man, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, says that unless the government can protect religious sites, "the believers will."

When violence surges, if U.S. forces take the lead in suppressing it they delay the day when Iraqi forces will be competent. If U.S. forces hold back, they are blamed by an Iraqi population that is being infantilized by displacing all responsibilities onto the American occupation.

In the New Republic, Lawrence Kaplan, writing with a Baghdad dateline, says that only U.S. forces, which "have become an essential part of the landscape here -- their own tribe, in effect," can be "an honest broker" between warring factions, "more peacekeeper than belligerent." But he also reports:

"With U.S reconstruction aid running out, Iraq's infrastructure, never fully restored to begin with, decays by the hour. . . . The level of corruption that pervades Iraq's ministerial orbit . . . would have made South Vietnam's kleptocrats blush. . . . [C]orruption has helped drive every public service measure -- electricity, potable water, heating oil -- down below its prewar norm."

Kaplan tells of a student who, seeing insurgents preparing a mortar attack, called a government emergency number. Fortunately for him, no one answered. Later, friends warned him that callers' numbers appear at the government's emergency office and that they are sold to insurgents. The student took Kaplan to see a wall adorned with a picture and death announcement of a man whose call was answered.

Today, with all three components of the "axis of evil" -- Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- more dangerous than they were when that phrase was coined in 2002, the country would welcome, and Iraq's political class needs to hear, as a glimpse into the abyss, presidential words as realistic as those Britain heard on June 4, 1940.

Tim Iafolla

March 5, 2006 11:57 AM Forum: Politics

Good quote by Tom Friedman

Posted By Timothy Iafolla

OK, as long as we're posting editorials for comment, here's one that struck a chord with me. It's from "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman (which I highly recommend). This paragraph comes at the end of a long chapter on the circumstances that make a coutry's citizens hopeful and positive vs hopeless and destructive:

"I believe that history will make very clear that President Bush shamelessly exploited the emotions around 9/11 for political purposes. He used those 9/11 emotions to take a far-right Republican domestic agenda on taxes, the environment, and social issues from 9/10--an agenda for which he had no popular mandate--and drive it into a 9/12 world. In doing so, Mr. Bush not only drove a wedge between Americans, and between Americans and the world, he drove a wedge between America and its own history and identity. His administration transformed the United States into 'The United States of Fighting Terrorism'. This is the real reason, in my view, that so many people in the world dislike President Bush so intensely. They feel he has taken away something very dear to them--an America that exports hope, not fear. We need our president to restore September 11 to its rightful place on the calendar--as the day after September 10 and before September 12. We must never let it become a day that defines us. Because ultimately September 11 is about them--the bad guys--not us."

I'll add one thought: he not only used his 9/11 mandate for his own purposes; he squandered a perfect opportunity to start a "Manhattan Project" for energy independence. This would have done more, in the long run, to stabilize the world than any military adventure.
Tim Iafolla

March 12, 2006 06:41 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Mars Orbiter camera specs

Posted By Timothy Iafolla

Hi all,

I just saw this on Discovery HD, and thought you might be interested: the Mars Observer has a 0.5 meter instrument in orbit (they didn't specify type, but from the pictures it was a flavor of Cassegrain). The detector is an array of CCD's totalling 1200 Mb (yup). Surface resolution is (ready for this) 1 foot per pixel 8O at the 300km perigee.

First, a "context camera" takes a wide-fild view at 6 meter resolution, then the big scope focuses in and counts the nose hairs. Should be some amazing images coming back. It also has surface-penetrating radar and a spectograph for geological exploration.

For those of you who have it, Discovery HD will have a weekly summary of the best MO images, starting in April.

Tim Iafolla

April 13, 2006 06:18 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Apo refractors comparison

Posted By Timothy Iafolla

Hi all,

I'm going back and forth on a refractor purchase and would like some advice. So far I've owned reflectors (currently a 12.5" home made truss Dob with a Zambuto mirror, and SCT's (C-8, 10" LX200).

I'd like to supplement my armamentarium (ie, buy more stuff) with a decent refractor. I'm looking at the 80mm WO Megrez IIED, a used Tak FS78, and an Orion 80ED. My question is this: the WO and Tak are roughly twice the cost of the Orion. I know the WO and Tak mechanicals and build quality are better, but are the eyepiece views significantly better to justify 2x the price?

I've never used a Tak but have heard the passion of Tak owners and seen lots of beautiful images, so I'm leaning that way (actually I was surprised to find that an FS78 OTA is now going for well ubder $1000). I just wanted to get a sanity check before I click "Pay". Thanks,

Tim Iafolla

April 17, 2006 06:27 AM Forum: Politics

A modest proposal?

Posted By Timothy Iafolla

Here's something that really makes sense as a way to reign in the Administration's warmongering tendencies and saber rattling toward Iran, without the in-your-face partisanship, futility, and inevitable political backlash of a censure. The link to the full article is below, but here's the gist:

The author (Peter Shane) states:

"It is time to stop threats of war based on overblown rhetoric, wishful thinking, and apocalyptic fantasy. Congress, if you want to discipline the Bush presidency, start here."

and proposes the following COngressional resolution in place of censure:

"Unless and until Congress provides specific and explicit authorization for the operational deployment of military force against Iran, no funds heretofore or hereafter appropriated shall be used for that purpose, except to repel or respond to an Iranian attack on the United States or its armed forces, or under circumstances where the President determines such an attack is imminent. In the latter case, the President, prior to or coincident with the deployment of military force, shall provide notification of the imminent attack to the Speaker of the House and to the president pro tempore of the Senate."

There it is, simple, effective, and undeniably constitutional.

Here's the article:

Tim Iafolla

April 20, 2006 04:24 PM Forum: Politics

"I'm the decider..."

Posted By Timothy Iafolla

Tuesday, April 18, 2006;

WASHINGTON (CNN) At a Rose Garden ceremony announcing his nominees for budget director and trade representative, Bush referred to the controversy in which six retired generals recently have called for Rumsfeld's resignation.

"I hear the voices, and I read the front page and I know the speculation," the president said. "But I'm the decider, and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."

These are the words of a petulant schoolyard bully (the audio is especially painful to listen to). But here's what he said a few years back:

"We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. "
-- Scranton, Pennsylvania, Sep. 6, 2000

It's easy to make decisions, if you aren't hindered by facts, or don't feel the need to admit mistakes. When oh when can we get rid of this arrogant child-man?

By the way, has ANYONE here ever heard the word "decider" used in conversation? Where did he learn English?

Tim Iafolla

May 5, 2006 09:55 AM Forum: Politics

Another modest proposal?

Posted By Timothy Iafolla

Just thinking about the problem of illegals again.

Seems to me that a lot of the incentive for illegals coming here and staying has to do with the fact that we naturalize any children born here, whether their parents are legal or not. What would it take to revoke that privelege for illegal immigrants?

Not only is it incentive for them to come here (and set up shop with their families, and cost the medical, school, and social support systems LOTS of money), but in some ways it ties our hands in dealing with possible solutions, because we have American citizens mixed in with many illegal families.

Wouldn't the rate of illegal immigration be reduced, and the costs for those that are here be lowered, if we took the simple step of not granting citizenship to children of illegals? We can't make it retroactive (revoking citizenship is a big deal), but at least it would be a modest, politically palatable start on the problem that wouldn't cause immediate humanitarian and economic effects. N'est pas?

Tim Iafolla

May 22, 2006 10:11 PM Forum: CCD Imaging and Processing/Solar System

Worst Seeing EVER!

Posted By Timothy Iafolla

Seeing has been mediocre lately but I thought I'd give it a try anyway and hauled out the 12.5" Dob. Not only were Jupiter's surface features boiling and moving, then whole planet's image was changing shape and position. It would flutter and jump a diameter at a time, all the while chnging from circular to oval and back again. It looked like I was viewing it through a campfire...there were no split seconds of clarity. I never saw even a hint of the major cloud bands. Then I looked at the jet stream map and saw the attached (my position is the red x).

Should have looked there first. Well, at least I'll get to bed on time tonight. Can't wait until we retire to Florida.

Tim Iafolla

August 17, 2006 11:46 AM Forum: Digital SLR AstroPhotography

Which Canon: Rebel XT or 20D?

Posted By Timothy Iafolla

Hi all,

I've been looking to add a DSLR to my equipment list, and have found that I can get either a Canon Rebel XT or a 20D for around the same price (within $100 or so). The 20D has better specs on paper, but the XT is newer. Which one would perform better as an astro-cam (less noise, etc.)? Thanks,

Tim Iafolla