Thursday, March 23, 2017

Polemaster--Better than advertised! Trump, the ACA, and AHCA

It's been a week of disruptions and minor mayhem here, with clear nights that have been out of sync with my ability to take advantage of them. Until last night, that is.

My new Polemaster polar alignment tool worked quickly to give me a good polar alignment (as yet unconfirmed photographically). This was my first time trying it and I doubt if it took more than ten minutes to go through the basic and precise alignments. Some comments:
  • You initially need Polaris in the field of view. All I did is level the mount, set the altitude for my latitude, and get it eye-aligned with north. No bending down or stooping to sight through the polar axis. This brought Polaris into the field, although near the bottom.  I adjusted altitude and azimuth further to roughly center Polaris before beginning the alignment process.
  • Don't be put off by the coma you see around stars that are away from the center of the field of view. This isn't an imaging device for making pretty pictures; think of it more as a star detector. The coma shouldn't enter into the centroid calculations in a way that matters to the result, anyway.
  • Under the glow of my inner red-zone sky the device had no trouble finding the needed stars; The field looked best with the gain set to maximum. 
  • Several times you are asked to use the software to rotate the field of view. The rotation steps are a little coarse, making it difficult to exactly center stars in the target display circles. I don't think this matters much at all; all you need to do is get it reasonably close to the center.
  • At one point you use your hand control to rotate the field of view and see that a star stays on a displayed circle. If it goes off the circle you have to start over, but with modest care when specifying stars (using double clicks) the star will stay right on the circle.
  • Unless the manual has been rewritten, ignore it for the actual process of aligning. Instead follow the on-screen guidance--it's clear and perfect.
  • The USB cable is kind of short, but not so short as to cause a problem. Next time I use it I'll try adding a short USB extension cable.
  • When I was done the precise alignment indicator (showing a tiny box and circle whose centers will coincide when alignment is perfect) suggested that I was within atmospheric limits of perfect. Simply touching my mount would lead to a shift away from perfect.  This makes me wonder if the process is best performed when the mount is already loaded for imaging.
In summary, the Polemaster alignment procedure was smoother and simpler than I expected. Although I don't yet have tracking data or an image to confirm the quality of the polar alignment, I'm confident it was at least as good as most of my manual efforts using PHD or visual drift. And it was much faster and easier!


As for politics, where does one even begin?

Every day it becomes more obvious that the Republicans have no idea of how to govern; They are a party badly divided between conservatives and radical ideologues. The former may understand the political process, but the latter seems bent on burning down our country so that it can be replaced by crude dog-eat-dog land in which the word compassion means nothing.

The laughingly titled American Health Care Act (AHCA) is neither American in nature or a real Health Care plan. It is an act, though, of both callousness and cowardice. It supposes to create more freedom by stripping away almost all of the sensible parts of the ACA. Should it pass, people will be free to drop their coverage because it's too expensive. Free to not get preventative care that might avert or detect illness before it becomes expensive to treat. Free to spend a huge portion of their income on health care, leaving them with little to spend on things like housing, transportation, food, and education.

This is what the radical Republicans want: A punished working class poor. And let's not forget the racial component of this: Many of the people who will suffer the most are members of minorities. We know how the radicals despise blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, and Native Americans, and all "those people" who come from any culture other than white European.

Oh, and what did Trump say about the ACA replacement while he was campaigning?

“I am going to take care of everybody … Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”
"No one will lose coverage"
"No one will be worse off financially"

All lies. He never intended to make good on any of that. But that shouldn't come as a suprise given the number of lies he made while campaigning, and worse, once elected. But so many of you voted for him, choosing to overlook his inability to be truthful. Happy now?

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