Who’s Next / Life House Super Deluxe Edition

It’s now $299 on Amazon, but I got it at a discount — $257.

I bought it out of loyalty to one of my favorite bands of all time, but in all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much.

Wrong. It’s great. Lots of new stuff, played by one of the best bands of all time, fresh versions of old songs, demos with weak spots that are still played by great musicians.

If you aren’t already a fan, then it probably wouldn’t hit you the same way, but I am, and it did.

Thank you, Caltrans

Forgot to post this when it happened, a few months ago…

Tuesday, when the “bomb cyclone” hit the Bay Area. We agreed to pick up my sister-in-law Diane at SFO on her return from China.

Bad driving conditions. Worn windshield wipers, intermittent rain and gusty wind, glaring headlights, almost invisible lane markers. Like driving through a Matisse. Fortunately, traffic was light, and we were all cautious.

We were on the road by 11 pm, CF and I and the little dog Cooper. The plane was delayed due to weather, and Diane didn’t clear customs and immigration until midnight.

Coming back across the San Mateo Bridge, the road noise got louder. Was it the truck following on the left? No, it passed. The volume increased. CF and Diane were chatting away in Chinese. The tire pressure light on the dashboard was on, and I had a sudden realization. Oh shit oh shit. A flat tier on the San Mateo bridge after midnight in a storm.

We pulled into one of those emergency pullouts. I got out and looked, in the wind and the drizzle — the left rear tire was mangled and flopping over the rim. CF called AAA and got through to one of the most unhelpful people you could imagine. Someone more interested in chewing gum than helping motorists stranded on a dark and stormy night…

After apparently rummaging around the cheat sheets on her desk for many minutes, and putting us on hold while she went and checked with her supervisor, the completely unsympathetic young woman finally came back and told us that Triple-A couldn’t help us — we needed to call Caltrans instead.

We called Caltrans. There a brisk woman told us that we shouldn’t call them directly, we should call our insurance company and they would call Caltrans.

Called AAA once again, and this time got someone who knew what to do. Half an hour later a giant Caltrans tow truck pulled up behind us, and an incredibly efficient and friendly driver in a yellow slicker soon had us on our way.

Comet K2

Comet K2
Comet C/2017 K2 Panstarr next to Globular Cluster M10

M10 is left of center; K2 is a little lower and on the right side. This picture was taken 14 Jul 2022, just about the comet’s nearest approach to Earth.

I took the picture under desperate circumstances; high fog was crashing my party, and I only had about a half hour to collect these photons. Even worse, the telescope was having trouble pointing (something I will need to troubleshoot when I’m not under time pressure).

It’s a standard weather pattern for this time of year — beautifully clear during the day, with high fog / low clouds developing as the night cools down. It has been like this for a couple of weeks.

NGC4565, the Needle Galaxy


There are at least three other galaxies visible in this picture. IC3571 was a dim, dim smudge on the left side of NGC4565 that I tried hard to preserve as I processed the image. But alas, it did not survive the harsh contrast enhancement steps.

Here is an annotated full frame. Some of the other galaxies in the region are visible.

Annotated full-frame view
Annotated full frame

On another topic, yesterday I took possession of hearing aids for the first time. (As I type this, I hear keyboard clicks — I didn’t notice them before.)

It turns out that I have insurance coverage for hearing aids, so I got good ones — Bluetooth enabled, with extensive customization controlled via a smartphone app. They work quite well as music earbuds, at least for certain types of music. Solo guitar sounds fantastic. Noise-canceling features I haven’t explored yet. I can’t get over how loud everything is, especially the coffee grinder. Persimmon the Parrotlet is a terror now — I used to think she (it?) was a quiet bird, but now I know the volume was in the high frequencies.

Here’s Persimmon chewing on a chicken bone:

Persimmon eating a chicken leg
Persimmon gnawing on a chicken bone

We thought she would be interested in the watermelon scraps.



M102 is a difficult object for my setup and conditions. It is, apparently, known as the “Spindle Galaxy”.

A five or six times blowup of the above image does manage to show the “spindle”, barely:

This Hubble image gives a better idea of how it got the name.

Another M101


I am slowly accumulating more time on M101. This image is over 8 hours total exposure, under generally poor conditions — not quite double the previous version. It’s a good thing the telescope mostly runs unattended.

The blurred spot in the lower right corner is NGC 5474, a true physical companion of M101 that is classified as a “peculiar dwarf galaxy”.

The above image is without noise reduction processing.

Here’s a version with PixInsight’s “Multiscale Linear Transform” noise reduction:

M101 with PixInsight noise reduction

And here it is with Gimp’s noise reduction algorithm:

M101 with Gimp noise reduction

It is hard to tell the difference. A large-screen monitor is probably helpful.

[Edit: I tried looking at this post on my phone. The experience is just not the same as on my desktop monitor. Well, duh.]

Heroes of another kind

Posted on wall at Castle Wertheim
Posted on the walls of Castle Wertheim, high above the town of Wertheim

April Fools is a widespread tradition, so I am suspicious of this placard posted on the walls of Castle Wertheim.

Oh Dear, NGC3718 yet again

Well, I managed to collect a few more photons from NGC3718, and the result is marginally better. Marginally: the black of space is a bit smoother:

NGC 3718 with more light

I can skip over to Google and find a hundred images of this object with more color and detail, but the process of collecting light in the cold dark yourself makes it all real.