Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Astronomy Hacks

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the look-above-you dept.

118

Fraser Cain (Mark Mortimer) writes "Hacking sounds crass. It manifests images of short cuts, jobs poorly done and people most interested in just finishing, no matter what. In the computer industry, sometimes this perfectly portrays hackers. However, for an expert, a hack is the complete opposite. It's a beautiful, well thought resolution that uses minimal effort. Often only those in the know truly appreciate it. Robert and Barbara Thompson in their book, Astronomy Hacks compile tips and techniques for observing the night sky. Their methods seem simple, yet they include detail to show they are experts who are presenting hacks derived from years worth of knowledge." Read on for the rest of Mark's review.

This hack book can be taken two ways. One is as a reference to look up solutions to problems or seek a reference for a better method. Two is as a complete back grounder for the beginner and higher level amateur astronomer. Within it are 65 distinct hacks grouped into four chapters; Getting Started, Observing Hacks, Scope Hacks and Accessory Hacks. No embellishments obscure the text. There are only the hacks, each relating to astronomy the same way a Clymers manual refers to motorcycle repairs. No extenuating plots nor complex character development obstructs the wording. This book just lists lots of techniques, hints and recommendations.

The first chapter, Getting Started, has enough detail to guide the beginner or assist the intermediate practitioner. The standard encapsulation of binocular and telescope types ensues. To provide an example of the depth of detail, consider the binocular. The discussion includes; magnification, aperture, exit pupil, eye relief, field of view, interpupilary distance, prism type and lens coatings. A summary list recommends choices for various budget ranges ($75 to $5000) and gives recommendations on certain manufacturers and models.

The telescope selection hack is equally detailed, with descriptions of the three main types; reflector, refractors and catadioptric as well as criteria and recommendations. The authors are admitted fans of Dobsonian telescopes and tend to give more attention to this type both here and elsewhere in the book.

Safety, as the basis of its own hacks, or as a backdrop for many other hacks, appears throughout. Most is for personal safety, whether by staying in groups or not dropping large, heavy mirrors on toes. Perhaps the recommendations to bring a firearm for protection against four legged predators goes a bit far. The repeated references to courtesy for group viewing is just one of the many indicators of the wealth of the author's experience.

The chapter on observing hacks includes, among others, the principles of light, a comprehensive biological description of our eyes' receivers, and a method for running a Messier Marathon. This chapter revolves around the purpose or goals of amateur astronomers. Accepting that these aren't planning on detecting new stars or planets, the authors clearly convey the simple pleasures of viewing. Whether a person is taking copious notes, simple sketches or photographs, the rewards are many and admittedly differ with each person. Simple hacks to improve style or refine goals aid in refining the reward.

The scope hacks essentially look at scope maintenance, and they can get complex. There are step-by-step cleaning instructions for a 10-pound mirror, including swishing it under the faucet for minutes. The same goes for collimation, with its consideration of Strehl values and diffraction spikes. The reasoning and the simple instructions convince and empower the reader to take charge of his viewing capabilities.

The last chapter, Accessories Hacks, is chock full of the little tips to branching out in one's astronomy experience. Eyepieces and filters get a thorough treatment. Light-proofing your vehicle or using software to build custom star charts round out the suggestions.

In all, whether as a reference or as an introductory read, this book delivers. The background and justification for the hacks give sufficient information to believe in their value without overtaxing the brain. Neat hints, like keeping red pens away from night sites, help any observer from committing blunders. The table of contents and index simply and easily guide readers. While sketches, illustrations and photographs clarify many of the subtle points. There's even a note on the proper pronunciation of Greek letters.

With simple prose copiously sprinkled with personal, humorous anecdotes, the reading is a pleasure. Many references to manufacturers and equipment costs aid in selections today, though they probably won't stand the test of time. As well, there is very little on astro-photography. The authors simply say that this activity demands much practice and much equipment. Fair enough, but given the upsurge in computer literates, this area cries for more information.

Reading car repair manuals helps fix a car's problem or learn more about fixing cars in general. The same can be said for Astronomy Hacks. Each hack includes details, hints and tips to embellish a viewer's night time activities. Most of all it ably empowers you to take charge of your hobby and make the most of astronomical viewing.


You can purchase Astronomy Hacks from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

cancel ×

118 comments

Is it just me, (4, Insightful)

Radres (776901) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116463)

...or does it seem like the first paragraph of this review has nothing to do with the rest of it? Nice diatribe on the use of the word "hack", unfortunately it is useless in obtaining a quick overview of what the article is about.

yes (1)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116742)

I agree, the first paragraph is frivolous. It's a shame the mods don't know the difference between a legitimate, topical critique and a troll.

Re:Is it just me, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116909)

Does anyone remember when "hack" was a term for "taxi"?

Re:Is it just me, (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13117046)

A hacker sued for changing the orbit of Pluto, thus affecting thosands of astrologers over the world.

Re:Is it just me, (1)

metomynon (890924) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117418)

The first seven sentences of the review read as a labored attempt at excusing a poor title, for it sounds as though this book actually has nothing to do with "hacks". Perhaps it would have been more appropriately titled "Astronomy Tips" or "Getting Started in Astronomy"?

Now, if it had a chapter on how to boost the magnification of your telescope using only the innards of an electric toothbrush, that would be a hack.

Re:Is it just me, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13117630)

I bet you have to change your drawers when you find lint on your starched, white sheet.

Hack (2, Insightful)

bodester17 (892112) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116467)

If you discover a hack does that make you a hack?

Re:Hack (1)

Andy Gardner (850877) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116537)

No, it makes you a hacker.

Re:Hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13118277)

No, you become a hacker by inventing a hack. Merely 'discovering' one makes you...an investigator.

Re:Hack (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116580)

If you discover a hack does that make you a hack?

If I'm not mistaken, if you discover a hack, you have the opportunity to become a fare.

Re:Hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116658)

Well played...

Re:Hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116641)

well after reading this post I just discovered an ass... so by your logic... OHHH SHIT!!

Darn . . . (3, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116486)

I was hoping this would be about cosmic engineering and turning large stars into Twelve Burst Firestorm with Loud Report supernova fireworks.

Re:Darn . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116733)

It may be an open source businessmodel!
1: Do free software.
2: ?
3: Do a Astronomy Hack.
4: Profit!

Re:Darn . . . (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117060)

I would have purchased a book that would tell me how to hack uranus, and get it to spew gas into the solar system.

Re:Darn . . . (1)

nsasch (827844) | more than 8 years ago | (#13119972)

If you really want something about modifying the universe, read (turns around to look at book shelf) _Hacking Matter_

Astronomy Hack? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116489)


The skills used for 'astronomical observing' (astronomy?) take a long time to develop. I feel that a 'hack' involving this science/art-form helps keep people from learning about the wonders of being out in the night sky.

In my opinion, learning from the 'little things' is what it is all about.

How many people will appreciate the red pen reference until they have tried to read a red pen using nothing but red light?

Perhaps it is just me.

Re:Astronomy Hack? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116581)

Shamless plug for a site I love!
http://www.astronomydaily.com/ [astronomydaily.com]

Re:Astronomy Hack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116647)

Are trolls modding things as troll now to make them feel better?

Re:Astronomy Hack? (2, Funny)

Eric Giguere (42863) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116691)

Truth be told, it sounds more like an instruction manual for God-like beings:

"Tired of creating the same old night sky? Want to dazzle and confuse your sentient beings? Astronomy Hacks give you the tips and tricks you need to succeed."

Eric
William Shatner likes his All-Bran [ericgiguere.com]

Astronomy- The first web (4, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116494)

If you think about it, the night sky is a lot like the internet- You can look at it for hours and lose yourself in it....
As far as the book goes- a lot of these hacks come in handy- a lot of equipment that would have been out of reach for the hobbyist/am astronomer a few years ago are now somewhat affordable, so it may actually come in handy to know how to polish a 10 pound mirror.
And believe me, you want a highly polished mirror in the summer, when blinds are left open and the neighbour's daughter is out sunning.... Speaking of polishing, I'll be back in a few minutes....

Re:Astronomy- The first web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116542)

But unlike the Internet, they'll put you away for looking at naked women...

Re:Astronomy- The first web (2, Funny)

BillX (307153) | more than 8 years ago | (#13118643)

Sounds like mirrors aren't the only thing that will get polished today.

Re:Astronomy- The first web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13119129)

Yeah, sounds to me like his knob's in for a good polishing too! LOL!

Re:Astronomy- The first web (3, Funny)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 8 years ago | (#13118965)

It's fitting for /. that a masturbation joke be moderated insightful; lots of people with insight about that here...

ima hacker! (3, Interesting)

0110011001110101 (881374) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116500)

experts who are presenting hacks derived from years worth of knowledge

well slap my ass and call me a hacker.. I've been accumulating (and using) years worth of knowledge on band-aiding, skirting tight deadlines, and "just-get-it-done" attitudes.

If only I could find a company to work for who isn't interested in hacks... *sigh*

hack this, and hack that (3, Interesting)

Aminion (896851) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116501)

Am I the only one getting feed up about books with "hack" in the title. It's not like the English language has a shortage of words. Now we got Google hacks, brain hacks and astronomy hacks.

Re:hack this, and hack that (2, Insightful)

UCFFool (832674) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116612)

Language is very commonly used as a Fad [m-w.com] . This is also referred to in advertising as a 'catch-phrase'. If you are Paris Hilton, it is the new 'hot' phrase.
And finally, if you are microsoft, it is a 'feature'.

Re:hack this, and hack that (1)

oobob (715122) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116778)

On slashdot, the fad's the forced MS jokes.

Re:hack this, and hack that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13117248)

In South Korea, only old people complain about forced MS jokes.

Re:hack this, and hack that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116624)

Tell me about it. I ran across these kids the other day that were kicking around this bean bag with their feet. Only they kept insisting on calling it a hack bag or sack or something.

Re:hack this, and hack that (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116801)

Look on the bright side - being a geek has become so mainstream that others are pillaging the lingo in order to sound "cool".

Re:hack this, and hack that (1)

jerzee_devil (764836) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116967)

I think adding the word "hack" to the title of you book has become a book hack. If the books title was "Astronomy" it would gather dust in the clearance rack. Apply the "hack" and you get a Slashdot mention and Amazon sales. This must be in the newest edition of TweakUIforWriters. Damn this old version of mine. My new "Shower Hacks" book should do so much better than my previous "Taking a Bath for Dummies" did.

Re:hack this, and hack that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13117057)

How about hacking hackers?

I dunno (2, Insightful)

VolciMaster (821873) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116505)

the concept of 'hacking' astronomy seems weak. Wouldn't just tips and ideas for getting a better experience be a better way to title it?

Hacking implies the ability to alter something, which astronomy doesn't really lend it self to, much. I couldn't alter Tempel-1's path to avoid Deep Impact (just kidding), and I don't think I could 'hack' anything else in astronomy.

Astronomy hack - plumbing your yard for liquid N2 (2, Funny)

wsanders (114993) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116569)

I dunno, "astronomy hack" seems more like plumbing your yard for liquid nitrogen using existing sprinkler system pipe, or turning a Mattel Barbie Photo Designer into a functioning spectrograph.

Re:I dunno (3, Interesting)

Evil W1zard (832703) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116620)

Although I dislike the use of the word hacking in this context it technically isn't wrong to use it. One definition of hacking is "In a similar vein, a "hack" may refer to works outside of computer programming. For example, a math hack means a clever solution to a mathematical problem. The GNU General Public License has been described as a copyright hack because it cleverly uses the copyright laws for a purpose the lawmakers did not foresee."

Soon the terms hack and hacking will be able to fit into anything. Like I found a way to make Mac and Cheese using less ingredients so I should publish it in my Food hacks book...

Astronomy Hacks??? (1)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116507)

For a second there I thought the book was about the people mentioned here. [url:http://www.badastronomy.com/]

Re:Astronomy Hacks??? (1)

UCFFool (832674) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116649)

No, a hack doesn't know when he's using BBCode and when he is using HTML. Preview also helps.
HTML link guide [w3schools.com]
BBCode Guide [toxicslink.org]

Errrr....... (1)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116740)

No, a hack doesn't know when he's using BBCode and when he is using HTML. Preview also helps. HTML link guide BBCode Guide
Thanks. You just tried to correct about using a tag that isn't even html or remotly BBCode. If you bothered to read the instructions on the bottom you might know what it is.

I drive a taxi, does that make me a hack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116508)

Well does it?

Hack? (2, Insightful)

millennial (830897) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116520)

However, for an expert, a hack is the complete opposite. It's a beautiful, well thought resolution that uses minimal effort.
Or, it's someone who is the complete opposite of an expert...
For example: "Dr. Zell, why do those Thompson hacks insist on writing books about astronomy all the time? They should go find a new planet or something and stop wasting their time! Gosh!"

404 about 26 times and then 503 when logging in (1)

fuck technology (896306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116522)

is everybook with "hacks" in the title that o'reilly puts out going to make it to the front page of slashdot? geez

importan t (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116531)

Emad had been laying awake for about two hours. It was 10:00 AM and he had already missed two classes: Remedial Operating Systems - Linux and Diversity & Tolerance. Had Emad been totally awake he would have groaned. Today's Diversity & Tolerance class was teaching how to put condoms on erect penises, something right up Emad's alley. Well, at least the erect penis part; he knew nothing about condoms.

Slowly, Emad lumbered out of bed. His joints ached. His head throbbed. What had happened the night before? He could feel dried feces in his pants and was pretty sure his asshole was ripped wide Oh! He remembered a little too suddenly as he almost tripped over a pile of spent whippits, several beer bottles, and a giant black 48" oil-filled dildo mounted on a chainsaw engine. He had had Michael Sims and CmdrTaco over last night for a "few cold ones" but it seemed that, par for the course, they had all ended up sharing a "few hots ones," that being their euphemism for homosexual encounters.

Emad made his way to the bathroom, and moaned. It was in complete disarray. The sink was filled with congealed diarrhea, the floor was sticky with drying piss, and the bathtub looked like a long-neglected water trough on a pig farm. It would take Emad hours to clean this mess. He tried hard to ignore the stench as he sauntered toward the toilet. Didn't Taco and Sims respect anything? Emad gave so much to them and their cause.

Upon opening the lid on his broken toilet he saw the special gift Taco had left for him: An inhumanly giant turd. It had to be at least a foot and a half in length! Taco had been planning this one, as he saw unchewed peas, corn, and peanuts that all told the story of Rob Malda's special dinner the night before. The monster turd curled around the inside of his toilet. Not wanting to let Rob Malda's magical ass-gift go to waste, Emad reached inside the toilet and gently grasped the brown meat.

Moaning, Emad began devouring the slimy but firm stool. He tasted the honey on the peanuts; he felt the peas pop as he chewed through the delicious crap-worm. His cock immediately sprang to life as he chomped down bite after bite of the mutant ass-birth. Could life get any better? Down to the last bit of his meal, he gagged and coughed. Needing to wash it all down quickly, Emad yanked his tiny Iranian dick and aimed upward, pissing hard, catching the golden rain in his mouth.

After what seemed like a painful eternity, his bladder was empty and urine was running down his chin in rivulets. Emad, in the midst of his ecstacy, wondered. Could life get any better?

Hacks is the new "For Dummies" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116540)

When is O'Reilly going to release "Publishing Hacks", with a chapter on pairing "Hacks" with every imaginable topic?

Bartending Hacks
Dog Training Hacks
Wine Tasting Hacks
Lawn Hacks...

Re:Hacks is the new "For Dummies" (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116816)

The last time I pruned the flowers my wife said I had hacked them. Does that count?

Re:Hacks is the new "For Dummies" (1)

mikael (484) | more than 8 years ago | (#13118439)

Would that mean we would have:

Hacking for Dummies, or

Hacking Hacks?

dupe dupe dupe... hi timothy ;) (1)

fuckdot (900791) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116541)

Posted by timothy on Wednesday July 20, @03:50PM Fraser Cain (Mark Mortimer) writes "Hacking sounds crass. It manifests images of short cuts, jobs poorly done and people most interested in just finishing, no matter what. In the computer industry, sometimes this perfectly portrays hackers. However, for an expert, a hack is the complete opposite. It's a beautiful, well thought resolution that uses minimal effort. Often only those in the know truly appreciate it. Robert and Barbara Thompson in their book, Astronomy Hacks compile tips and techniques for observing the night sky. Their methods seem simple, yet they include detail to show they are experts who are presenting hacks derived from years worth of knowledge." Read on for the rest of Mark's review.

Hacking (4, Interesting)

MindNumbingOblivion (668443) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116554)

IIIIIIIIN SPAAAAAAAAAAAACE.

Cool. I might check it out. I've got a lot of friends who are interested in stargazing, but are a little impatient with my attempts to explain things regarding astronomy (one reason I don't wish to be a teacher). I've been casually looking for an easy to use amateur's guide to help me figure out how to make myself understandable.

Also, I like how it's a Hacks book on a physical science. Too many people, even in tech, think that hacking is only about computers. It's nice to reiterate that a hack is any type of bending or slick utilization of the rules to make a job easier. Whatever platform your hack is based on is your business.

Save Some Money (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116613)

Save some money by buying it here: Astronomy Hacks [amazon.com]

First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116614)

First Post!
GNAA

Danger! Never hack astronomy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116623)

Astronomy should never be hacked!

Didn't anyone see what happenned in Bruce Almighty after Jim Carrey hacked the moon?

Sample Hacks (3, Informative)

Embedded Geek (532893) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116636)

I've always liked that O'Reilly puts up some samples so you can decide before you buy. Here are some samples from the book's main page [oreilly.com] : Enjoy!

Re:Sample Hacks (1)

spiricom (117567) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117608)

I'm not too impressed with the examples. You can learn all of them and more from going to a single star party.
Using wideband and color filters for improved detail, installing weights for balancing a front-heavy scope, and printing charts don't qualify as "hacks". They're common knowledge for any observational astronomer with more than a year's worth of experience.
Here's a good one for people with Dobs. Coat the inside of your tube with sawdust and flat black paint. This roughens up the inside surface and reduces any miniscule amount of light reflecting back to the primary. Works better than baffles.

A firearm for protection from four-legged ones? (4, Insightful)

IcephishCR (7031) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116638)

Some of us think it wise to carry a firearm for proctection from two-legged predators as well, for those who think four-legged predators will not be a problem, perhaps you camp in your backyard more than the great outdoors!

Re:A firearm for protection from four-legged ones? (1)

Glaz (883674) | more than 8 years ago | (#13119622)

Perhaps the editors who think carrying a firearm for personal protection is a bit extreme when one is carrying around mirrors large enough to crush toes?

Of course, I doubt the editors have ever been in the middle of the woods and had several large dogs facing them and growling. Twas a good day to have a pistol.

Re:A firearm for protection from four-legged ones? (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13119753)

I hope you shot into the air first, unlike the guy from this movie [imdb.com] ...

Slicing - Synonym for "hacking" (2, Interesting)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116639)

In many Star Wars novels, the practice of what we call "hacking" was called "slicing".

I liked it; sounds more graceful, requiring more diligence than just bashing into a network.

Re:Slicing - Synonym for "hacking" (1)

iibagod (887140) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117560)

yes, the difference between the axe and the scalpel.

Although I'm sure the Empire used more sophisticated computer systems so it absolutely required finesse. I'd recommend we start using the alternate term, but I'm sure it would be spun in an even worse fashion, seeing as nobody would be familiar with the new word and would automatically link it to knives or other blades. (I would fall out of my chair the first time someone mistakenly called 911 because their grandmother said she got sliced up.)

Perhaps we could spin it the other way and get the term associated with pizza. or PIE! mmmmm....pie.....auuuughhhhhh......

Shoot, I thought it said 'Astrology Hacks' (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116651)

If only the hacks helped me understand the zodiac better, I might be more inclined to buy it.

Re:Shoot, I thought it said 'Astrology Hacks' (1)

luna69 (529007) | more than 8 years ago | (#13118444)

"The zodiac" doesn't necessarily imply "astrological".

The term refers to the constellations (usually considered to number twelve, but not always) along the ecliptic, the path in the sky along which the Sun appears to travel in one year.

There are plenty of ways the term is used in decisively non-astrological ways. For exmaple, the "zodiacal light" is a faint but discernable brightness in the sky along the ecliptic created by the diffuse dust in the plane of the solar system.

Hackery (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116653)

"Hacking" is doing something with a system that its designer(s) did not expect. Some would say that every observation of the sky not mentioned in the Bible is a "hack". Others, particularly scientists free from such mystical sentiment, would say the only "astronomy hacks" are departures from the telescope manual. Just because a "trick" isn't common knowledge doesn't make it a hack. That's why the term "hack" is charged with connotations, good or bad, depending on how sacred you believe the rules to be.

LOL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116670)

CMDRTACO IS TEH GAY LOLOLOLO101010101010110101010101010101010101

Bring a gun. (2, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116715)

From TFA: "Perhaps the recommendations to bring a firearm for protection against four legged predators goes a bit far."

Far from the city lights, I've had two run-ins with coyotes while stargazing. I don't live in bear country; but maybe having something that says "nothing to see here, move along" wouldn't be a bad idea.

Re:Bring a gun. (2, Insightful)

speleo (61031) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117331)

As Yoda would say "Break me a fucking give."

I just read the first chapter of this book on O'Reilly's Safari and the authors make it sound like they're observing from downtown Bagdad.

Between the warnings of not leaving women alone, bundling up for tick protection, and carrying a .44 revolver or 12-gauge shotgun, I have to wonder why they don't just setup a remote robotic telescope and observe from inside a locked bunker.

Those reading this from outside the US probably think we're full of lunatics running around in the wild raping and pillaging. Assuming, of course, the wild bears and coyotes don't get you first.

I've been from one side of the US to the other over the years, speeding many a night in remote places and have never need to use a weapon against any critter (beyond a little chemical warfare against mosquitoes).

One of my favorite statics on this sort of thing is deaths in Yellowstone National Park between 1839 - 1994. There were less deaths due to bears (4) than indian battles (7). The number one cause of death is drowning (101). Perhaps a flotation device would be a good idea for star gazing in remote areas. Can't be too safe, you know...

Re:Bring a gun. (2, Interesting)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 8 years ago | (#13118783)

I live in the boonies of BC, in bear country. There's a bear den about 300 feet up the mountain from my house. In my experience, people who don't live with bears have entirely the wrong ideas about them. Bears don't eat people, flat out. They eat berries, and fish, and the occasional rodent. Attacking a human is either defensive, or pathalogical.

You do not need a gun, what's needed is a bit of education about bear safety. I'm not even going to suggest what the guy who had the coyote "run-in" needs.

If you really do want to do something more proactive, take a dog. Even a Jack Russel can chase off any bear. (we have 2 Wolfhound X Bull Mastif crosses, who would probably be dragging bears home if they could)

Re:Bring a gun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13120162)

Having spent several years up in Alaska around Grizzlies your advice would surely get people killed. Reminds me of the nature photographer who said pretty much what you said. He was just killed last year by these very nice and passive bears.
Bears are unpredictable period. A 12ga. with Slugs (not buckshot) or a lever action 45-70 rifle with large heavy bullets is what you need.

Staying Alive

Home Observatories (Not Quite OT) (4, Informative)

Embedded Geek (532893) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116741)

The other day I stumbled across The Observatories of Sky & Telescope [skyandtelescope.com] , a collection of online articles where where the staff at S&T detail the construction of their own home observatories. Lots of photos and hints. They also provide an alternative [skyandtelescope.com] for those of us who won't be pouring concrete any time soon.

Quite neat.

Do they have this hack in the book? (-1, Troll)

B11 (894359) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116798)

How to plug a PC keyboard into Uranus?

Fuck you all (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116802)

Reading slashdot is much like watching Fox News. All the people who believe it and are interested are idiots, and the rest are doing it purely for entertainment value.


God I hate each and every one of you, I hope you all get cancer.

Gna4 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116817)

guys are usuaaly disappearing up its confirmed that *BSD you get distracted

hmm... (1)

Enjoi (857482) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116872)

Did this post just jump a bit, or have I dropped too much acid?

Stupid English (2, Insightful)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116873)

Hack

1. Originally, a quick job that produces what is needed, but not well.

2. An incredibly good, and perhaps very time-consuming, piece of work that produces exactly what is needed.

I swear, we need to just get rid of this word. I mean, that's bad, and not in a good way.

Re:Stupid English (1)

Geshiggity (897983) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117006)

They just recently added the word "cankles" to the dictionary, so don't count on them removing the word "hack".

Re:Stupid English (1)

mike5496 (901407) | more than 8 years ago | (#13118657)

Arg. One grocery store in my neighborhood now offers 'organic' salt. I don't want 'organics' in my salt any more than I want 'hacks' in my software. Call me a traditionalist, but those words already had perfectly good definitions.

For an expert what? (1)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116961)

Certainly not for an expert software engineer or developer. Hack == crap.

Re:For an expert what? (2, Interesting)

jonabbey (2498) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117068)

Feh. Ever studied biology? Talk about your hacks.. I'm with O'Reilly on renovating the term Hack. Think of it as 'informally applied cleverness', if it makes you feel any better.

Re:For an expert what? (1)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117158)

Sorry, it will always mean 'shorcut due to lazy coders' to me.

The term comes from the idea that instead of handling it properly, it just gets hacked up instead of done properly.

Re:For an expert what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13118602)

> Certainly not for an expert software engineer or
> developer.

Which clearly you aren't. The following:

> Hack == crap.

is en evaluation, not an assignment.

Besides, the term most definitely DOES mean 'an elegant solution' to any developer worth their salt who's been around long enough. Perhaps youngsters trained by the high level language monkeys in modern CS depts don't understand the term, but that's ignorance.

And for TOTAL newbies, try this: (3, Informative)

kriegsman (55737) | more than 8 years ago | (#13116963)

For total night-sky newbies, try Stikky Night Skies [stikky.com] . As they say, "Learn 6 constellations, 4 stars, a planet, a galaxy, and how to navigate at night-in one hour, guaranteed." Using a mix of programmed instruction [wikipedia.org] and engaging text, this short-but-sweet book acts as in "installer program" that installs some basic, fun astronomical information into your brain.

They have the first section online here [stikky.com] . If you can't already find Betelgeuse, you will be able to fifteen minutes after clicking on this link.

-Mark, simply an extremely satisfied customer, and budding night-sky observer

Re:And for TOTAL newbies, try this: (1)

roj3 (179124) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117277)

Holy Crap - for total newbies (like me, who is also about to go on a long backpacking trip) this is (Stikky) is awesome.

That's really cool! (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 8 years ago | (#13118585)

That's really cool! Why don't they have instructions like this for computer science, programming, or how to drive properly?

Re:That's really cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13119823)

Why don't they have instructions like this for computer science, programming, or how to drive properly?

Because I love Ayanami Rei.

Re:And for TOTAL newbies, try this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13118591)

Good luck finding Betelgeuse in 15 minutes this time of year!

back grounder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13116975)

I think backgrounder should be one word.

my favorite hack for those without a nice scope (1)

burris (122191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117093)

1) Go to the local public dark sky observing site on the saturday closest to the new moon.

2) set up the little crap scope that has been in your closet for years

3) spend the rest of the night looking through everyone else's 18" dob

4) ????

5) PROFIT!

Re:my favorite hack for those without a nice scope (1)

Gherald (682277) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117140)

> 2) set up the little crap scope that has been in your closet for years

And if your telescope is good enough, you can see the lunar surface! (ZOOM IN ALL THE WAY) [slashdot.org]

Re:my favorite hack for those without a nice scope (2, Informative)

Gherald (682277) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117167)

er sorry, forgot http: // [googel.com] ...

Re:my favorite hack for those without a nice scope (1)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 8 years ago | (#13119812)

Go to bed.

Google moon here. [google.com]

Re:my favorite hack for those without a nice scope (1)

burris (122191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117194)

Everyone knows the moon is not made of cheese! Ever since Bush announced his moon base strategy the secret has been out: the moon is made of OIL!

Re:my favorite hack for those without a nice scope (2, Informative)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117988)

When I go to a public frequented area to observe, I always bring along the spare generic 5 inch reflector and set it up on an obvious target like Saturn or the current newsworthy comet. The wife and I take turns keeping it on target and doing a little yadda-yadda for the folks. Any promising kid who seems to actually know what the difference between a star and a nebula is, we steer them towards somebody with a bigger rig and a little patience now and then, but we prescreen the types who are loud and obnoxious or can't keep their fingers off the knobs.
We have a 12 inch for real observing, plus lots of thanks from all the dog walkers and families with kids, and lots of offers to share viewing from the guys with the portable Liquid Nitrogen cooled CCD rigs, 18's and various other really good gear because we are keeping the most ignorant types off their butts.

Re:my favorite hack for those without a nice scope (1)

spiricom (117567) | more than 8 years ago | (#13119588)

As one who has spent many a star party cleaning my 35mm Panoptic Televue after letting kids with smudgy fingers view some deep-sky objects, I salute and thank you!
I should know better, but viewing the Veil/Network nebula through that eyepiece with an OIII filter is too damn good to keep to yourself...

If you.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13117643)

fuck your sister, are you from Arkansas??

How this for an astronomy hack? (1)

SloWave (52801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13117737)

1. Cheap USB digital camera with lense removed

2. Pinhole (think aluminum foil and a pin)

3. Observe Sun on your computer

You fill in details.

Re:How this for an astronomy hack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13118058)

That is worth trying. With a really cheap/spare camera anyway.

Jim

Telescope != astronomy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13117893)

I was hopping the book would be about "astonomy" but no it is about telescopes. It is kind of like a book about "writing the novel" that covers how to use a word processor.

Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13118932)

"Hacking sounds crass. It manifests images of short cuts, jobs poorly done and people most interested in just finishing, no matter what."

Lol!
Is it just me, or does that perfectly describe Linux?

One thing I want to do someday (1)

extrasolar (28341) | more than 8 years ago | (#13119185)

Maybe I'm weird, but this I think would be a cool astronomy hack. I want to buy a big-ass telescope, hook it up to a computer, and search for near earth asteroids and comets and submit it to the NEO (or similar) project. For some reason, I'm under the impression that amatuer astronomers are useful for tracking near earth objects, although I guess the huge telescopes at observatories are probably even more useful for this sort of thing. And that will give me more impetus to learn celestrial mechanics, how to determine the orbits of objects in space, something I thought would be cool to learn.

Am I totally off my rocker here?

Hacking cheese.... (1)

d474 (695126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13119815)

When I saw "astronomy hacks" I thought they meant Google Moon. [google.com] The "hack" part would be when you zoom all the way in on the surface of the moon.
Holy cow ;-)

YOU FAIL iT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13119831)

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...