Thursday, February 24, 2011


On a recent trip out to the desert near Boron, a group of us went out collecting rocks.

The area we were at was know for its chalcedony (which is pronounced something like kal-sed-a-nee). This is actually the name of a large family of rocks and minerals including agates and jasper. But the form that is generally just called chalcedony is a bluish-grey quartzy rock.

The crystals in chalcedony are typically very small. The composition is mainly silica (silicon dioxide), while the colors come from other chemicals in the stone.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

How's the (Space) Weather?

 This post will also be found in Tehachapi's The Loop Newspaper.

After a long period where the Sun was fairly inactive, the number of sunspots is up to 63. With one, called 1158 of huge size. (Check out to keep up-to-date on what's going on out in space.) This one sunspot is about 62,000 miles across. And the earth is about 8,000 miles across at the Equator. So we could line up about 8 Earths across this sunspot.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cassiopeia & Cepheus

A couple other constellations are Cassiopeia and Cepheus. The Queen and the King.  I can find Cassiopeia since it looks like a "W" and is found on the other side of Polaris from the Big Dipper. Cepheus is then to the right of Cassiopeia.

Since these are fairly near Polaris, they are in the North and due to the light pollution at my house being worst in that direction, I can't always see these constellations.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Making Faces

This post will also be found in Tehachapi's The Loop newspaper.

I recall being told as a child that if I kept making that face, my face would freeze that way. Well, I've now seen it happen.

In the current Tehachapi Community Theatre (TCT) production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, there was a need to have bust made of one of the cast, Monica Nadon as Domina. After a little research on the Internet, what can't you learn there (of course it's sometimes wrong), I found a method to do lifecasting. Which is making a mold from a living subject to turn into a sculpture.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Canis Major

Canis Major (The Big Dog) is currently rising in the southeast in the early evening. It is following the constellation of Orion (The Hunter) and appears to be chasing Lepus (The Rabbit). So if you're able to find Orion, then the bright star down and to the left of Orion is Sirius, the dog star, the brightest star in Canis Major.

Sirius is actually the brightest star in the sky (other than the Sun). The planets are usually brighter. Sirius is only 8.6 light years away.