Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Observing Site

No Trees!!

Since moving to Williamsburg I've been excited about my new solar observing location and curious to see how well it works. My new house has an unobstructed back yard facing south, and I arranged to have a convenient walkway leading to a nice level concrete observing pad. This spot is a bit more private than my previous front driveway location. Also, my telescope is now stationed on a slight rise in the midst of level land, not in a low depression like my previous site.
Land surrounding the telescope is relatively open. Newly constructed houses and ongoing construction are nearby, but none of these buildings significantly block my view of the Sun.
The small blue box attached to the rear of the telescope is a video camera. The cardboard box on top of the folding table contains a laptop computer which controls the telescope and camera. The maroon cloth on the box drapes over my head and blocks bright daylight so I can see the computer screen without glare and reflections. Equipment cases lie near the table.

Notice the lack of tall trees or obstacles in the pictures above. The next picture below shows a view toward the southwest. The trees are far away and don't interfere until a few degrees above the horizon.
I can now observe any time from early morning until late afternoon - no more severely limited observing windows like I had at my previous site where trees and buildings blocked much of the Sun's arc across the sky.

I do worry about loss of elevation at my new location. I've lost 742 ft (226 meters) of elevation coming down from the Virginia Piedmont to nearly sea level. Now there will be a thicker layer of air between my telescope and the Sun. I wonder if this will affect seeing. Only time will tell.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Greensprings Trail

New Running Route

Since moving to Williamsburg I've enjoyed exploring new running routes. One of the nicest routes is the Greensprings Trail winding through woods near my home. I enter the trail by walking only about 200 meters from my front door! The first picture below shows the spot where I start running. It's a sunny day in late winter and the trees are bare.
 After an initial straightaway the trail turns left.
Wooden platforms cross over frequent patches of soggy ground.
Several signs along the way tell about trail history, wildlife, and ecology. One of these signs can be seen on the right in the next picture.
The path passes through pleasant wooded sections. Green holly leaves are abundant.
A left turn brings the trail onto a wooden bridge spanning one of the larger wetland areas.
There's a nice view over open water at the middle of the bridge:
On this day a turtle enjoyed the afternoon Sun and two geese shared a log.
After leaving the bridge the trail goes on to join the Virginia Capital Trail at a wooden entrance ramp:
A short distance on the paved Virginia Capital Trail brings me to a left turn where the Greensprings Trail continues through lovely wooded areas.
This particularly beautiful flat section of hard-packed white sand runs beside a large open field (off to the right, not shown), one of the oldest continually cultivated fields in the USA. This field has been farmed since early colonial days in the 1600's.
Here's the final stretch returning to the starting point near our new home.
Don't these trail pictures beckon you to run or walk?

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

John Lennon