Somethings old and somethings new

It’s been some time since I have posted to this blog, but over the past few days I have seen it necessary to review these websites and bring them up to date.  I hope that has been completed for now.

2017 has seen the return of website support work. First it was to support my wife Grace’s campaign for Calgary City Council.  It meant reviewing and updating my knowledge of WordPress itself.  see the results at

To Add on and cement the lessons learned I repeated with the creation of my Astronomy Blog, (or Blog dedicated to Astronomy) at 

A number of sites that I had created over the years have “Moved On” and I am no longer supporting them, there are a new crop in the works and you can expect to see them soon.

There has been new work with a very old client from 20 years ago.


Comet PanSTARRS 2011

Grace and I are having a lot of fun with this comet.  It appeared in our sky’s over Calgary at the beginning of last week.  March 12th was the first eveing when a significant number of people were said to have sene it.  We did from Nose Hill Park in Calgary.  Both with our 20x80MM Binoculars and also with our Camera.  We had a chance to repeat this on March 18th from a spot near downtown Calgary.  Should prove an interesting oject to see for the next couple of weeks.

M1 – Crab Nebula; M35 in Gemini and NGC 2158

Went out again tonight, even though the Sky Clouded over still managed a few sky shots, this one is of M1 the Crab Nebula and M35.  for the M35 Image if you look closely to the lower right you will see NGC 2158 in the background, a more compact  and more distant open cluster that is behind M35.m35_ngc2158_MG_0429

Learned something pretty cool this week

Its not often that I end a week on a high note like this one. In this world where it seem like not much new happens, this week I learned something pretty cool. For some time I have been seeking an easy way to share data between MS Excel and a database. This week, even though its been there for some time, I found it. It means turning a few obscure plug-ins on, Installing a bit of software on my computer and of course learing yet another computer language. After a while most computer languages look the same and installing software and plugins and making them work is a lot of Trial and error and patience.

But this week it worked.

Better go home and update my resume!

The Little Sombrero NGC 7814 the last NGC Object

If you look at any list of NGC (New General Catalog) objects you will note that the last one on this list is 7814. Tonite this one was the galaxy that was the objective of my hunt. It sits just off to the right of the lower left star in the Square of Pegasus. This star is also known as Algenib or Gamma Peg. With my 4″ scope and a 30 second exposure, the Galaxy shows up as a faint whisp, I need to do a little work to perfect my technique.

Why I was looking for this one on this night, is early Feb is the last time this one will be visible. Soon it will be lost in the evening twilight unitl the fall when it will be observable in the morning hours. By the middle of March it will be out of reach.

After I snapped a few images of this, I went over to Orion and found more targets there, but I will save the stories about these to another night.

Observing the Herschel 400

One of my Sketches from 1994
One of my Sketches from 1994

Update March 18/2013: Closing in on calling it compelete. Captured 5 more on March 9th.  This leaves 5 more to do hopefully around the new moon in April.

Update Feb 19/2013: recently tracked down my original drawings, this has allowed me to verify that I am further along than the scanned versions suggested,  As of today, I have 10 more!


On the advice of a good friend (Fr. Lucian Kimble) some years ago, I took my Astronomy hobby up a level and started to record my Observations. This led to a project where I cataloged over 600 different observations. This work started in 1986 and continued into 1994. At which time I set the active pursuit of astronomy aside and focused on other things in my life.

Between 2005 and 2009 I again became active in the pursuit of Astronomy. At that time I scanned the drawings to computer media as they were all recorded with pencil and paper. And again I have taking up the hobby again. This time to mount the information online, some of it is already stored in my FaceBook profile for 4 years now, but I would like to do more.

One of the things I did so long ago was observing project. First it was to observe all the planets, the Messier List This is a list of deep sky objects that were first cataloged by a French Astronomer Charles Messier.

Then it was other more elusibe objects, comets as they came and went, and finally I started to work on Observation of the Herschel 400. Back in the early 1990’s I was able to observe and sketch (no I did not do a lot of photography with film cameras then) all but 28 of them. In the past few weeks I have been reviewing my work from back then. The original drawings are lost. I still have them but they are packed away. So I am looking at the scanned images. The reason why I did not get the last 30 done are that these ones are the ones that you typically view in the spring evenings, which at my northern lattitude dissapear quicky to the late sunsets.

I am eagerly waiting for the right sky conditions so I can set out on this. I have reactivated this old list, and this time I will be using modern digital photography to record the resutls, I will have a go-to computer to help me find the objects. and unfortunately only a 4″ refractor. Unless I go back to the C14, an instrument that I spent a lot of time working with back in the 1990’s.

Wish me luck and look forward to seeing a lot of images posted here and on my Flickr stream

Workin in a Coal Mine

Actually for a Coal Mine. Grande Cache Coal to be exact. I did some work in 2011 to develop an EDI system to help with the release of the Trains from the mine. This time it has been to help with the production reporting within the mine and for Logistics. The objective was to replace a number of ad-hoc reporting mechanisms with a reporting systems integrated with the Production monitoring and reporting systems in the mine and the ERP that reports and accounts for things. If you are in this business you will have an idea of what I am talking about. Otherwise this will be all greek.

Grande Cache has two operations going on at this time, one is underground, one is on the surface. Why some might question why mine the coal, it is bad for the environment and untimately damaging for the planet. Well it comes down to should this coal be mined? I think this is the important point. Decisions to produce this natural resource over others is a case by case situation. While I can not disclose details of the operation, as I am under contract with them at the moment, I have seen every evidence that this company is doing it in a respectful and considerate manner.

As for the coal, while some of it is used for thermal power generation, this is a byproduct of the operation. A majority of the coal is used for steel production.

My EDI adventure

I have been working for the past few weeks on creating an EDI interface between Grande Cache Coal Corp and CN Railways to speed up the process of getting trains released from the mine (in NW Alberta.) The project is coming along well. We are now waiting for the Translation software to arrive. Then we can get on with the implementation.

Its been a process of analyzing the business processes, collecting information and specifications, getting the coding and the mappings that will work in this case, selecting and purchasing a package to customize. We are now mid-way through and its fun to work with this again. It did not take long for me to pick up the knowledge, that was a few years ago something that I lived on a daily basis.

Now to add the experience to my resume.