Out of Reach

ACME Mapper
Where in the world has this blogger gone?
I'm puzzled and amused when other bloggers feel the need to grovel before their readers for not posting often enough. C'mon, don't apologize for going on a business trip or on vacation — just go and have a good time! And if you must reduce your blogging time to do your real job or attend to family matters, I'll understand.

You won't see such pandering here. I'm going on vacation next week and I'm not sorry I won't have access to a computer to write things here. From what I understand, I won't even have a TV (which is fine with me — nearly all of my must-see shows are in repeats). Even if there is Internet access, I won't use it.

Nevertheless, I should have access to a dark sky. I'm considering toting a small telescope, but I'm more likely just to bring binoculars, along with a copy of the September/October issue of Night Sky. The cover story, "Binocular Bonanza!" by James Mullaney, should keep me busy if skies are clear and I'm able to stay up.

I also checked Heavens-Above.com and found that there will be a magnitude –8 Iridium flare during the week. To zero in on my location, I used my new favorite Internet mapping utility, ACME Mapper, which not only lets me easily find longitude and latitude, but also determine altitude by switching to a topographic map. ACME Mapper has many other interesting features. I wrote about these Google Maps offshoots in the July 2006 Sky & Telescope (page 96), in which I noted that I though the term "mashup" was lame. It sounds like a word a 2nd grader came up with. I thought of a better, techy-sounding word recently: synth, as in synthesis. So I'm going to start calling these cool tools "Google Maps synths." Anybody with me?

Also in that article, I mentioned a possible impact crater in northern Canada that reader Gerald Hanner had wondered about. I have not heard directly from an expert, but I did see a posting on the Minor Planet Mailing List that the feature is actually an example of a diapir. So perhaps that ends that mystery.

Have a good week.

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