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Reddit AMA Today & Comet Hunting

I have an Ask Me Anything (AMA) at Reddit today. The AMA post went up a half hour ago, and there’s already a question asking about why I changed my mind about Reddit. Which I pretty much expected, though I didn’t know it would be the very first question, or that it would pop up so quickly.

I talked about this back in September. I’m sure there will be more questions and conversation about it tonight at the AMA. I hope it won’t be the only thing people ask and talk about, but we’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, please feel free to stop by and ask whatever you’d like.


A few weeks back, The Mary Sue posted about Comet Lovejoy coming closest to Earth on January 7. Given Michigan weather, I figured the skies would probably be overcast, but lo and behold, yesterday was actually pretty clear.

It was also about 2 degrees Fahrenheit…before you factor in the windchill.

I bundled up and dragged out the telescope. This proved to be an hour of failure and futility. My spotting scope’s battery had died, and the scope’s lens was messed up, making it useless. There’s also enough light pollution in my neighborhood that there was no way for me to see the comet so I knew where to aim the thing. I had pulled the star charts and had an approximate idea where Lovejoy should be hiding, but I never managed to find it with the scope.

So after going inside to thaw out, I switched to Plan B. I brought out the digital camera, which has a much wider field than the telescope. I set up the tripod, aimed the camera at the patch of sky where I thought Lovejoy should be, and snapped a long-exposure shot.

It wasn’t spectacular, but there was a distinct green dot among the stars. I zoomed in, adjusted shutter speed and ISO, and eventually managed to get a decent photo. It’s nowhere near as spectacular as the professional comet pics, but it’s the first time I’ve ever managed to photograph one.

Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy is the green dot just above and to the right of the center. To be honest, I wasn’t even 100% sure it was the comet at first, but after talking to others on Twitter and Facebook last night and getting confirmation from at least one astronomer, as well as comparing my photo to better ones, I think it’s safe to say I have officially shot my first comet.

I may have also frostbitten my brain in the process, but ah well.

Sky and Telescope has some much cooler pictures, as well as information on how to spot the comet yourself, if you’re so inclined.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 8th, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)
Awesome! I was not able to see the comet - I'm guessing due to some light pollution in my neighborhood.
Jan. 8th, 2015 05:53 pm (UTC)
Definitely awesome -I was going to say 'cool', but remembered the windchill factor.
Jan. 8th, 2015 06:29 pm (UTC)
Very cool indeed. Sorry about the brain, but hey, you're a writer, you don't really need it.

PS--Just started the new book and I already love it!
Jan. 8th, 2015 06:42 pm (UTC)
Who needs brain? Isaac geeks out about books. Lena kicks some ass. Smudge sets stuff on fire. What more do I need to know?

And thank you :-)
Jan. 8th, 2015 06:35 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm impressed! What were your ISO and shutter settings?
Jan. 8th, 2015 06:41 pm (UTC)

15 second exposure
ISO 1600
Jan. 8th, 2015 07:32 pm (UTC)
It was after dark and still *above* zero? Hah! I sneer at your wimpy "Michigan weather"! We've had school cancelled for two days running because you can't make the six-year-olds go wait for the bus when it's seven below.

Of course, I can't imagine going outside for longer than it takes for the dog to attend to business-- going out there with a telescope is mad courage.
Jan. 8th, 2015 07:49 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah? Well, wait until I mention the WIND CHILL! And that I went out in shorts and a T-shirt. In fact, no, I was out on Lake Michigan! Swimming and comet-hunting, because that's how we roll around these parts. Top that, you silly Illinois person!
Jan. 8th, 2015 08:58 pm (UTC)
Heh. Around here we have four major levels of cold:

1. Zelda wants a coat.
2. Hildaur wants a coat.
3. Freezy-ass cold
4. Puppy-boots-- before the spaniel can have her Walk, her naked paws are subjected to the Boots of Infinite Torture, why-do-you-do-this-to-me, if-only-I-lift-my-paws-high-enough-I-can-step-out-of-them.

Yesterday it was puppy-boots all day.
Jan. 8th, 2015 07:58 pm (UTC)
Based purely on that one AMA question and the thread that follows, I'm convinced that community's mod has the patience of a saint.
Jan. 8th, 2015 08:00 pm (UTC)
That's Steve. I've been very impressed with him from day one. It's obvious he loves the Reddit Fantasy community, but he's also aware that there are some problems, and has been working to build and improve that community. He just strikes me as a dedicated and good guy overall, and he's one of the reasons I was willing to go back and try again.
Jan. 8th, 2015 07:58 pm (UTC)
Nice comet. I might go look for it in my spotting scope over the weekend.
Jan. 8th, 2015 08:01 pm (UTC)
Good luck! :-)

I'm hoping to get my finder cleaned up and working, and to see if I can get a better view. Assuming I'm willing to venture out in the cold a second time...
Jan. 12th, 2015 02:43 am (UTC)
I'm a couple days late to the party, but just wanted to comment on this:

I wrote transitions like, "And then Jim got bored, and we jumped to the next scene, because what the hell was I even thinking here?" I had characters argue with me from the page. I let myself play around, and it brought some fun back.

That's priceless. I love the idea of your characters backtalking the author. I may have to try this sort of thing. :D
Jan. 12th, 2015 01:02 pm (UTC)
It's helped me a lot, both because it lets me laugh about it when I get stuck or screw up, and I also find myself doing it instinctively now if a scene feels slow or boring. I know I'm going off the rails if I start writing dialogue in which the characters get snarky at me :-)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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