Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Astronomers Without Borders - Live Event - Append

Asteroid 152664 1998 FW4
Asteroid 152664 1998FW4

I can't believe I forgot to post the coolest picture from the Astronomers Without Borders - Live Event. I told you all about this event in a previous post.

Well, here it is. Click to embiggen it. That streak/smudge is asteroid 152664 1998 FW4. (not cool enough for a proper name, I guess) This is the first one I've "seen" through a telescope. Very cool. Dr. Masi did a 60 second exposure and it moved a lot during that time. Note the stars didn't appear to move at all. I don't know how fast it was going relative to us on Earth but it sure looks fast.

Minneapolis Skeptics October Meet-Up Homeopathy

CH47 Chinook

We had another great Meet-Up in September. Thanks all who attended and brought their favorite 9/11 conspiracy theories.

A number of people suggested that we discuss homeopathic remedies at our October Meet-Up.

Here are a couple references for you:

If this link doesn't work, try going to and search for the term "homeopathy."

NeuroLogica Blog:

Marketers often misuse the term homeopathic. Find out how...

Go ahead and google search for it and feel free to bring links to the most outrageous claims you find.

Come and bring your favorite Homeopathic topic and let us know what you've learned about it. This is another casual drinking skeptically meet-up for our group. Common Roots opens the Common Room for us at 5pm. Many people filter in and out at various times so don't feel like you have to be there exactly at 5pm.

Join Meet-Up and RSVP for this Meet-Up

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy Blasphemy Day

Blasphemy Day may not be exactly what you think it is. Thanks Lance for putting this together.

Like always, I can't do better than Penn on this so listen up:

Then go to Lance's Facebook Page to learn more about it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Astronomers Without Borders - One People, One Sky - Live Event

ring neb 60sec 2
Ring Nebula

I participated in the first live star party put on by Astronomers Without Boarders over the internet today. Dr. Gianluca Masi of the Bellatrix Observatory in Ceccano Italy hosted this live web event. About 100 people from all over the world logged in to hear Dr. Masi discuss astronomy and see, in real-time, what he was viewing. I've captured some shots of what we viewed over this two hour period. AWB will post a video and the original images shortly. I'll try to post links when they are available.

The first picture, above, is the Ring Nebula, otherwise known as M57 or NGC 6720. It's about 5000 light years away from us. That means it took 5000 years for the photons that comprise this image to travel across the universe, into Gianluca's telescope, into his ccd (camera), through the internet, into my house and eventually on my blog and into your eye. I'll let you follow the links for more details.

Click any of these images to embiggen.

The next object we saw was M13, the Hercules Globular Cluster:

m13 30 sec

Dr. Masi provided a variety of exposure times to show us lesser or greater detail. There are more pictures of this in my AWB Set on Flickr. M13 is about 25,100 light years from earth and about 145 light years in diameter.

Next we were swept close to home to view Jupiter:

jupiter red spot

This image is a number of pictures "stacked" together to show greater detail. If you click to embiggen and then zoom in, you can clearly see Jupiter's big storm called the "Great Red Spot." The Great Red Spot is a huge storm in Jupiter's atmosphere. This storm has been raging for at least 180 years or so and about 2 or 3 Earth sized planets could fit inside it.

Here is another shot of Jupiter with it's four main moons. This shot also shows the desktop that Dr. Masi was using and a map of which moons are which.

jupiter and sat map

I think I have the order of these pictures a little messed up. I actually think the second thing we was Comet Christensen here:

Comet Christensen

I tried to find a link to more details of this comet but apparently there are many comet's named Christensen. hmmm...a little help here...

Here is an interesting spiral galaxy called NGC 7331.

NGC 7331

This galaxy is sometimes known as the Milky Way's twin. This galaxy is about 40 million light years from Earth!

Throughout the whole event, Dr. Masi (and others) would answer questions we typed into the chat box. He was very friendly and answered every question professionally. There were some audio issues but overall the event went off every well. I'm sure the next event will be even better. Go to the Astronomers Without Borders website to sign up for their newsletter or visit the Virtual Telescope Project on Facebook.

For his grand finale, Dr. Masi took us to the Stephan's Quintet. This is a group of five galaxies, four of which comprise the first compact galaxy group discovered.

NGC 7317

I can see four in this shot. The fifth eludes me.

Overall, this was a great event. I highly recommend that you join AWB to get the latest information on their next event. It was really cool sitting in my own comfortable basement with no mosquitoes or unruly weather while visiting the cosmos.

Many more pictures of this event are available in my Astronomers Without Borders Flickr Set. I have some shot of the desktop that was used and some of the processing software we saw.

Monday, September 14, 2009

JREF Posting Videos from TAM7 on YouTube

The James Randi Educational Foundation is posting some videos from The Amazing Meeting 7 on their YouTube channel. Check it out.

So far they haven't posted Randi's initial remarks from the Thursday night meet and greet. I wonder if I'm the only one to have captured that.

Friday, September 11, 2009

How to NOT Pay for Health Care Until You REALLY Need It

According to HR3200 (the US House version of health care reform), here are the simple easy instructions on how NOT to pay for yours and everyone else's health care until you REALLY need it:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

See the International Space Station Sept 9

ISS and Endeavour (2)

If we have clear skies, the International Space Station will be visible from 8:36pm through 8:46pm CDT on Wednesday September 9, 2009. Look to the South West for the bright shiny dot moving quickly. It's going about 17,500 mph so it will take less than 10mins for it to pass. It will proceed almost straight up, through the constellations Lyra and Cygnus. Be sure to get out a little early to give time for you eyes to adjust.

Rain is predicted for my area in the afternoon but maybe you'll be able to see it.

The next visible pass is on Thursday the 10th between 9:01pm and 9:11pm. This time look for the station to pass through Arcturus and then the handle of the Big Dipper asterism. I'll probably miss this one because I'll be here.

Visit the JPL Human Space Flight site to figure out the timing and locations in your area.

The above pic is one I took of ISS and Endeavour back on July 18, 2009.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Critical Thinking Club of Saint Paul - Money As Debt - Sept 13

Here is the latest details on the next meeting of the Critical Thinking Club, St. Paul:

Location: Kelly Inn, Rice Street and I-94

Date: September 13, 2009

Time: 10:00 a.m. to Noon

Presenter: George Paulos

Topic: Money As Debt

Breakfast Buffet $10.00 Coffee only $3.00. We need to plan for the room setup and meal, so if you are going to attend, please RSVP to

We are all utterly dependent upon the monetary system. People expend their working years accumulating money as a form of wealth, but almost nobody understands the nature of the money that they work so hard to obtain. What is money? What is the US dollar? It is not what you think! Even the “profession” of economics is in denial about the truth of our modern monetary system. The recent convulsions in the banking and finance make these questions timely. Congress and the President are engaged in an historic rescue of an out-of-control financial crisis. Unfortunately, they seem to be clueless about the real nature of the system that they are responsible to maintain.

Economics “junkie” George Paulos will present an objective overview of our modern debt-based monetary system along with its characteristics and consequences. Should the current system be abolished? Should the Federal Reserve be replaced? We will discuss these issues and investigate the alternatives.

For meeting announcements for all Critical Thinking Club chapters, bookmark

Or Visit CTC Saint Paul on Facebook.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Google Opossum Footprints

Google Opossum Footprints
Click the Pic to Embiggen - Originally uploaded by Mully410

This is why I get views of my Opossum Footprints pic everyday. I'm #3 on the Google search.

Grassroots Skeptics Launches

Here is a press release on the new organization: Grassroots Skeptics. Head on over there and check out their new website.
Grassroots Skeptics Launches

Philadelphia, PA – 9/4/2009: Grassroots Skeptics today announced the official launch of its website, The website is the centerpiece of the group's planned outreach and advocacy in the skeptical community.

“There are a lot of passionate advocates and community groups working diligently to advance critical thinking,” said Grassroots Skeptics founder K.O. Myers. “We want to help increase their effectiveness, by making it easier for them to find new members, share resources, and identify methods for getting their message out.”

The group plans to use the site to gather and organize information about skeptical advocacy. At launch, the site will feature an index of local skeptics groups, information on many skeptical blogs and podcasts, discussion forums, and a calendar of skeptical events. The events calendar is a joint project, maintained in collaboration with the prominent skeptical website

“There is an amazing amount of information out there that could be helpful for people who want to start or join a skeptical organization,” Myers said. “We want to collect and organize it, to make it more useful for the dedicated individuals who volunteer their time to promote an evidence-based lifestyle.”

“Widespread misinformation about vaccines has lead to a resurgence in preventable illnesses; scam artists posing as 'psychics' prey on the grieving; 'alternative medicine' companies sell billions of dollars of dubious treatments, with almost no government regulation,” said Myers. “Critical thinking is more important than ever, and local skeptics groups are working hard to spread that message. With, we hope we can make their outreach more effective.”

Future plans for the site include a skeptical speakers' bureau, a searchable map of skeptics groups and skeptic-friendly attractions, and a development kit for skeptics who want to start new groups. “We're excited about this launch,” said Myers, “but we're already looking forward to making a richer, deeper resource for the organized skeptical community.”

Grassroots Skeptics is a volunteer organization that promotes critical thinking and a reason-centered worldview by helping local skeptics groups to share tools, information and strategies, and connect with skeptical individuals and activists both locally and globally.

K.O. Myers

Thursday, September 3, 2009

60,000 Views of my Flickr Photostream!

Originally uploaded by Mully410

My photos on Flickr had their 60,000th view today. Thanks everybody!

The hummingbird post on this blog pushed it over the top sometime this afternoon. A big help came from the popularity of the Crazy Cowboy video and the Bay-winged Hawk pic from the Minnesota State Fair. Crazy Cowboy is also the most viewed video and 12th most viewed item in my photostream.

This is still the most viewed photo:

Old Naked Statue (3)

This one is the most favorited and has the most interestingness on Flickr:

Sad Face (Moon Jupiter and Venus)

This is the second most favorited and most interesting and is my personal favorite:

More grass seed

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I See Hummingbirds - Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

Hummingblur (6)
Originally uploaded by Mully410

My parents maintain a hummingbird feeder at their house. This past weekend I spent some time with them helping with chores and eating their food. Throughout the day the hummingbirds were pretty much swarming the feeder.

2 Hummingbirds

For most of the day, one of the hummingbirds got "lost" or something in the garage. He/She spent all of about 6 hours constantly buzzing around the ceiling. We tried a number of strategies to get it out but it just wouldn't leave. Last time this happened, my mom and dad just waited around until the bird got tired. They found it all tuckered out and carefully picked it up and stuck it's beak in some sugar water. We decided that this strategy would be our best bet this time.

Once all the chores were done, we checked out the garage. Sure enough, Mr/Mrs/Miss hummingbird had tuckered out a bit. It was resting by the window. Dad carefully approached the bird and it started flying around. He gently cupped his hands and scooped up the tiny bird. Mom got the sugar water solution ready and dad stuck it's beak into the concoction.

Tired Hummingbird

The little bugger frantically drank up for a few seconds, managed to escape from my dad and flew off. Immediately, another bird joined him in a tree. I can only imagine how that conversation went: "Where have you been, dumbass?" "I don't know but it was weird. The guy that fills our feeder grabbed me and stuffed my beak into sugary water, so I flew off."

Tired Hummingbird (3)

We think this is the lost hummingbird mostly because it was the only one that sat for more than a few seconds on the feeder.

I'm almost certain these are all Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds. The females and juveniles do not have a ruby throat patch.

Go HERE for the full set of hummingbird photos I took.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Minneapolis Skeptics - Drinking Skeptically - Sept 10


Minneapolis Skeptics - Drinking Skeptically - Sept 10

September 10, 2009 5:00 PM

Common Roots Cafe
2558 Lyndale Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55405

We don't normally have a specific topic for our events, as many of you know. Since a certain anniversary is the day after this event, how about we talk a little bit about your favorite 9-11 conspiracy? Missiles hit the Pentagon? Towers were intentionally demolished? Building 7 was a controlled explosion? Israeli commandos were in on it? Bush planned it? Nostradamus predicted it?

Our drinking skeptically meet-ups are casual events. You don't have to be here at exactly 5pm. You don't have to imbibe in alcoholic beverages. Come as you are and converse with fellow skeptics and critical thinkers.

Learn more here:

Click Here for All Your Favorite Bookmarks and Shares!!

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