Mars Viewing

Just saw the red planet through my 4.5" telescope and 10mm eye piece. Unlike it was advertised on several web sites, no, it doesn't get as big as moon when looking through modest telescope. Infect there's barely any difference when I'd looked at it through same scope in last couple of years. So I just went in to some number crunching using fact sheet at Nasa's web site, and it seems that Mars should look (at best) 30% more brighter and around 40% bigger then I'd seen couple of years ago. Now the catch is that when looking through telescope with above spec (which is pretty beyond modest 70mm stuff), Mars would normally look like a bright tiny disk. So 40% increase would make that tiny disk little bigger - but still a tiny. To make it look as big as Moon you would need increment of 1000% or more and that's not going to achievable just by Mars coming closer - it's possible only though much much bigger scopes. So my conclusion is that news sites and emails that kept circulating were pretty misleading to public. Though the good part is that lots of people suddenly got interested in astronomy. Infect one of my friend was so hopeful that he has put a $100 bet with me on whether Mars would look as big as moon on 27th August with bare naked eyes! So I'm not entirely disappointed with this hoax, at least someone would get some money :).

Astronomy Events This Month

Mars is going to be the closest to Earth in recorded human history so far. You can go out at midnight and look in the South and the big blob of orangish yellow light (which you might mistake as air plane) is Mars. Even on the rainy nights you can see it lurking behind the cloud - it's that bright. Infect it's brighter then anything after Sun and Moon! Even in a modest telescope you can see it's big bright surface magnified as large as Moon. More info is in this newsletter. Next Perseid meteor shower peaks on Aug 13, 2003. I'd spotted couple of shooting stars last week in just about two hours of time span and thought I was lucky! Well, this was the scientific reason behind it, actually.

T3 On DLP and Matrix II On IMAX

When I saw Terminator for the first time few years back, it had struck me like a lightening. Though most people considered it just another action flick, it was one of very few movies which I guess could change lives and sets the directions. And so to the date, it's still my #1 favorite movie. I thought there won't be Terminator 3. When I heard about it, seen previews and learned that director is not James Cameron, my prediction for it was to be a soulless sure flop. Well, I was wrong and right. It is flop and it's sure not as influential as the original. But it's still totally worth watching. It's probably the best action film I've seen so far. The car chase sequences are anything that you would have seen on the big screen (The car chase in Matrix II now looks like kids play). So it has become one of few movies that I've went out to see it twice. If it's available in your area, choose the theater with Digital Projection (DLP) for fine DVD-like details on big screen. If you live in NJ, Loews Jersey Gardens Theaters is the place to go. Next, Matrix Reloaded is released on monster screens of IMAX. This is remastered edition rather then real IMAX movie but it's fun to watch those special effects on 8 story screen :).

Jersey Starquest and other star parties

Star parties are event with all night deep sky observations and chance to meet other fellow amateur astronomers. The first one of the year at East Coast is happening this weekend at Hope, NJ. There's usually crowd of 20-30 people with all level of skills. You can try all sorts of telescopes (some as large as 17") and instruments for deep sky CCD observations and so on. There are going to be day time events, talks and presentations and sun spot watching! If you missed this, there is 3 more popular star parties coming up this year. Check the event calander at S&T site. You can see some photographs I took of last year's star parties.

Bolly Flicks On TCM

Turner's classic movie channel will be showing three Bollywood movies in a row on every Thursday starting 8 PM. This is on experimental bases for the month of June. The bollywood movies have an average opinion of being stupid, mostly same, colorful, frequent with dance sequences with no reason and something that makes most females burst out of tears all the time. But the movies that TCM was showing since past few weeks were some of the very best, including my rare personal favorites, that's far away from this average opinion. So I guess it would be worth to check out their schedule.

Central Park Summerstage and 311

Central Park summer stage schedule is out. Mark your dates from their official home page. On 311, this is a new number you can dial in New York and ask any question or make any complaints - literally! This is due to effort of new mayor Bloomberg to combine several agency to one spot through one number! Want to know how to dispose refrigerator? or complain about that loud car alarm? Dial 311.

Jewel Moments


On one fine spring morning, a beautiful lady with the sweetest voice decided to walk in a gorgeous park and sing for whoever cared. It was Saturday morning, one of the least busy time of the week when rest of the world prefers to sleep after long Friday night. It was one of the most invisibly promoted concert - even a professional certified guide at Central Park just 200 feet away from the stage didn't knew about it! But still many of us did knew and hassled through early Saturday morning to be there. There were even fans who literally set up their front line spaces before sun came up. Then there was a "Jewel stalker" who tried a stunt to reach her with roses. Jewel being inherently very shy and sensitive, you don't expect lots of fun fair on the stage. It goes smoothly with occasional emotional bursts until she feels comfortable with the whole thing. And then she can tell jokes and attempt to be funny. She doesn't try to create exact replica of her album versions, instead almost always she would change tempo, tones and add twists. One often discussed disappointment was new hair style (change from the one with long beautiful hair). She is sure my #1 favorite female artists and I been envy of people who heard her live when she still a coffee house singer. Her open air concert in the world's greatest city and gorgeous park on that fine spring morning just looked like falling from the heaven. Catch her few glimpse in my photo albums section. Her new album 0304 is already in the stores and I guess she might have more upcoming events in case you are interested.