Virtual Mineral Collection

Today was the first rainy day of the season, so I thought I’d play with my recently acquired Celestron “digital microscope” and start a virtual mineral collection.  The microscope is actually a webcam with a macro lens and LED illuminators around the lens.  I found the camera holder awkward, so I cable-tied the camera to a USB flexible light.  Both the USB microscope and the flexible light are plugged into a small USB hub, and the hub is plugged into the computer.  Fortunately there is enough power from my laptop to run the hub, light, and microscope without an external power cable.  With the microscope attached to the neck of the flexible light, it’s somewhat more easily adjusted for the object being photographed.

Here are my first shots for the virtual collection.  The optics and camera aren’t the greatest, but it is certainly convenient to use.  I’ve tweaked the images for some of the shots in Adobe Lightroom.  Click on the images to see enlarged versions.

Rutilated quartz (Brazil). Rutile is titanium dioxide.

Rodochrosite (Argentina)

Olivine (Hawaii)


Desert sand (Namibia)

Pyrite (Hunan Province, China)

Drops of Mercury on Cinnabar (Spain)

Copper nuggets (Arizona)

Finally, Some Solar Activity!

Finally, after a couple of years of a virtually spotless sun, we seem to be seeing some significant activity.  This shot was taken in late September and closely approximates what could be seen through an eyepiece.  I used what has become my standard setup for photographing eclipses – a Nikon D700, 2x teleconverter, and Borg 4″ refractor.  43 frames out of 540 were combined to produce this shot.  A lot of images and processing are necessary to show what can easily be seen by the eye!  Click on the image for more details.

Cassini Flies Past Saturn

A movie stitched together from real images from Cassini as it flies through Saturn’s system of moons and rings:

Voyage to the End of the Universe (and back)

A nice visualization from earth to the distant reaches of the known universe:
(American Museum of Natural History video)

A nice touch is to see the orbits of satellites, the moon, and planets as we depart Earth.

Vanishing Technologies

The steam roller of progress rolls on…

Nevada Melt

Whatever it is, I keep wondering about the blueprints…

Money Problems?

The U.S. government is not the only one with money problems.  Let’s hope we don’t also repeat mistakes!

Pacific Barreleye Fish

Imagine finding this on your fishing line!

Click on the image to see deep-sea video footage of this bizarre fish shot by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

Sawdust Art

Art by Larry — Layers of sawdust in a dust catcher under the table saw.

More “Wheat”

In late December (2009), yet another fairly old “wheat” penny (1927 D) showed up in my change:

1927 D Penny

It’s not as valuable (from the collector’s viewpoint) as the 1931 S penny I found a few months back, but I’m wondering if someone is having to spend a coin collection in desperate times…