Sad Astrophotography Update

On Saturday I posted a picture of my first try at photographing the sky with a tracking mount that allows long exposures. It came out great! “I wonder if I had beginner’s luck with my celestial pole centering?” I mused.

Ahem. As I mentioned on Saturday, the tracker has to be aimed precisely at the north celestial pole, which is offset slightly from Polaris. I thought I knew the correct offset, but I didn’t realize that it changes with the hour. Nor did I realize that everything is upside-down and backward in the polarscope. In other words, I was basically throwing darts when I lined up the scope and I just got lucky. So last night I bravely left my front yard and went out to an area that’s mildly dark to try again under more realistic conditions. This time I used an app to tell me the proper offset, and everything seemed fine when I sighted Polaris. But here’s what I got:

I tried again and got the same results. You don’t really need a pixel crop to see how bad this is, but here’s one anyway:

What happened? Did I miss Polaris completely? Maybe I mistakenly had the scope centered on that star just above Polaris (Delta in the Little Dipper?). That’s quite possible. More practice needed!

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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