with no plans whatsoever for new year's eve, i figured what better time than to spend the final few hours of 2001 underneath the celestial canopy looking at the stars? the sky was absolutely crystal clear and other than the bone numbing twentysomething degrees outdoor temperature (that's before the wind chill has been factored in), it wasn't such a bad night for stargazing. it's been a while since i've been out with the telescope, not since mid-july when i was in the backyard trying to see the LINEAR comet. but that was during the summer. amateur astronomy during the winter, especially here in new england, is an exercise in human suffering. how could i forget last month when hypothermia almost came a'knocking when i took laurie and her friend jess to go see the leonid meteor shower? before i went out at 10pm, i got dressed up in no less than four layers. it took half an hour to set everything up, from moving the telescope, to snaking the power cord out the window, to aligning the telescope for altazimuth observation using the 2 star alignment method (tonight's stars of choice: rigel in orion, pollux in gemini). once everything was set up, it was time to revisit some old favorites. with a bright waning gibbous moon high overhead, i couldn't really see anything other than the brightest objects in the sky. fortunately, both saturn and jupiter were dead south and i had a nice unobstructed view of those two giants. later, i tried my luck with M42 the great orion nebula. on a dark night i've seen the nebula with a green glow. tonight, with the moon washing out the sky, it looked just grey.



great orion nebula

i tried my luck taking some photos using my nikon 950 on this precariously balanced structure of levers and knobs attached to the eyepiece. i used a 26mm and a 6mm. 6mm was for the planets and the nebula. the 26mm i used for the moon. pretty good results tonight. photos of saturn you can plainly see the cassini division and some mild banding on the surface of the planet. for jupiter, besides the two main bands, you can also see a few faint bands. the nebula though, to be honest, i'm not sure what the hell i was shooting. that's often the case with nebulas, what you see with your eyes isn't what you see when you take a photo of it.

hercules atlas endymion messela geminus burckhardt cleomede

mare crisium
(350 miles across at its widest point)

langrenus vendelinus petavius wrottesley

i came back into the house close to 1am. i was aware of the time when it got close to midnight (i accidently saw the time when i had my ibook opened to a starchart, also people around the block were setting of fireworks), but i ignored it. no countdown into the next year for me, thank you very much. outside in the cold underneath the stars, new year's eve pales in significance.

well, thank god it's always cold on new year's eve. imagine living someplace like in australia where it's actually warm on december 31st. what a terrible place that'd be! people celebrating in the streets all night long, dancing, drinking, and when they get tired, they can just sleep on the curb. thank god we don't have that here. it's usually so cold out, people can only enjoy themselves so much before hypothermia sets in and they have to get home to warm up or face the possibility of freezing to death.

after briefly chatting with some of the returning ladies at work on aim (aim whore, that's what they call me), i got dressed (baby, it's cold outside!) and caught the bus to harvard square. i finally mailed off my mac os v10.1 upgrade form (had to be postmarked by today or else!) and bought some stamps from the philatelical vending machine. next on my list was a visit to cvs, where i got my pill subscription refilled. i had 30 minutes to kill before my drugs were ready, so i went to burk's to do some shoe shopping. i left with a pair of john fluevogs black & shiny gibson swirl (which unfortunately i'm going to have to get exchanged tomorrow, i think i got the wrong size). i went back to cvs but my prescription wasn't ready yet, so i waited around for another 15 more minutes, memorizing all the different pills in the pain reliever and vitamin aisles, before finally getting my refill, along with a new toothbrush (i had totally destroyed my last toothbrush with some all too vigorous brushing) and some toothpaste (i ran out at work, i've been squeezing this little tube of colgate for the past month).

when i got home i changed into my running gear and went out jogging for 30 minutes, no stopping this time, a non-asterisked run. i wasn't as out of breath as i was the past few runs, i just felt speedy today, primed for running. i passed some elementary school aged kids playing street hockey on the road. one of them broke into song when he saw me, "me chinese! chong chong chong!" i paused. they sort of backed up in a group but were still chanting. i had some murderous thoughts, but decided against it because 1) if i went berserk, it would just further add to their stereotype of asian people (the stereotype that we are a violent, illiterate race of savages not good at math but excellent in driving), and 2) i had to hand it to them, they guessed correctly, most times people think i'm japanese. of course there aren't as many songs about japanese people as there are about chinese people.

i also got a haircut this morning, my mother gave me a quick trim. i couldn't stand this incipient wave action that was happening on the back of my neck, and the local barbershop is closed on monday (i wouldn't have gone to the barber anyway, they're not the trim kind of guy, it's all or nothing with them).

my tangerine colored ioport 4 port usb minihub arrived via fedex this morning as well. it took a while to find, a lot of the online mac catalog places weren't selling them for some reason. i finally found it at club mac. all they had were tangerine, i really wanted grape, but i'll take tangerine in a pinch. so this minihub arrives and sure enough it's pretty mini. i got it because it was advertised as self-powered, because i didn't want to deal with finding outlet space for another big plug. but guess what? i don't know if this is false advertising or not because it's really confusing, but self-powered means it uses a plug, as opposed to bus-powered, which doesn't. a little disappointed, but my usb webcam needed more juice than a regular bus-powered hub can provide, so it worked out all right in the end. i've got the webcam, the compact flash memory reader, the handspring visor cradle, and the rio 500 mp3 download plug all attached to the minihub now.