|Two thirds of our team arrived in Anchorage; Tricia, my wife and UMC teaching specialist, our daughter Tia, and me. After a 5 hour flight from Minneapolis it was 8:30 PM local time when we arrived, we rented a Mini Van and got to the Puffin Inn (http://www.puffininn.net/) which was very easy to get to. The staff at the puffin Inn are helpful and they were quick to tell us about the extreme daylight/night-time experiences here in Alaska. They said it won't get dark until 12:30.|
|Our plan of being in the USA and no problems with technology failed. My cell isn't working and our Garmin GPS maps are not showing the detail needed for travel. Most importantly there is no POI in the Garmin (Points of Interest) !! Yikes no starbucks in the system. Can't think about that for now... we are off to the Alaska Museum. It has art galleries one was Mt McKinley expedition to study cosmic rays in the 1930's, an excellent cultural center (Native American), an Imaginarium (our daughter loved this) and planetarium. One of the shows was Earth, Sun, Moon!! Well the staff at the Puffin Inn were right, it is an odd feeling have it light out until midnight. Even after that the twilight hangs on until sunrise!|
|We started the day out bad - I went to the Garmin site and tried to update my maps to find out they cost $60. Well after 1 hour of trying to download the purchased maps I figured out that the internet times-out after 30 minutes at the hotel. Hmmm, so I went to talk to the desk and after an interpreter conversation with the IT person, who was just around the corner, I finally said "can I please talk to him directly?" Then he walked out and I explained the problem and asked for a direct line. This for some reason was difficult, but finally got into a vacant room with a landline. So after 1.5 hours of downloading still no maps! Amazing, we got fed up with this and left for the mountains.|
|The drive to Chugach State Park to see Portage Glacier and the Wildlife Conservation Center is a great drive south.|
|At the conservation center we walked around the grounds of the Caribou, Bison, muskox, bears. Some animal areas had signs posted saying when their release date into the wild would occur. Pretty exciting for the animals.|
|Today we tried loading maps for the Garmin. This is more important than people realize, if the weather in anchorage is cloudy we need escape routes and hotels to get internet on an urgent time scale. We don't want to be driving around blind. All that was still on our minds, but we had to meet our gracious host at UAA, the director of the UAA planetarium, Andy Puckett.|
|We met at UAA and got a tour of the Conoco-Philips Integrated Science Building. They have an awesome new building with white boards on the walls and a planetarium in the center. Very cool. The rest of the day is not as fun, we are trying to get the GPS and my phone working. After driving around and talking to people it appears that you can't download the maps onto the Garmin. Where is that ever explained? So we had to find a GPS store and buy an SDcard and insert it into the GPS unit, no downloading allowed! Another $60, wow that altogether is more money spent than on the device itself. I also had to get a mini to micro USB to update my phone my phone. Finally that worked and I now can be in contact with people and press here in Anchorage. As we drove around it was always amazing to see the mountain backdrop event in the middle of the city.|
|Today we ventured out further than before. We headed to Seward for a look for Beluga whales and a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center (http://www.alaskasealife.org/). It was a 2.5 hour drive (with the Garmin now working) it was an easy drive. The Alaska Sealife Center -initially set up by Exxon - Valdez funds was very well kept and the animals were very active. These animals are in rehabilitation. The pool with puffins was the most exciting. The underwater viewing (on every tank) had great views of the Puffin and other sea birds diving into the water. They swam like fish; it was incredible to see such dexterity of birds underwater! A must see for anyone.|
|It was sprinking most of the day - but a good day to see moose - we saw 5 on the way back to anchorage.|
|Andy Puckett made progress today with securing a location to view the transit on the UAA campus. We are expecting a large crowd so he is preparing for the masses. Getting telescopes set up with filters and rooms secured for watching webcasts inside. Had to take another Anchorage skyline shot.|
|Tim was busy working with the H-Alpha filter apparatus, they image seems to be repeated by internal reflections and trying to eliminate that. Tim will try and get an image of that over the weekend. Tim was also working on the Garmin GPS video over and trying to get that to work, the last time we used that was in India for the 2004 Venus Transit (See past and future webcasts menu for more on that). In the picture the GPS (black ball) hooked up to a serial adapter (also used as programing port) to the overlay unit that takes in a video stream from the HD camera and and output to another video camera that records the video and the GPS tags.|
We took a break and went to the Alaska zoo and saw a Snow leopard among other animals.
Ron will be joining us on June 3, he has been working on server maintenance, chatroom updates/checks and video streaming updates.
|Night at the planetarium. Ron Diiulio gave a presentation on the venus transit. Tim gave a short talk on how to observe the venus transit. Viewing the transit should only be done using solar viewing glasses, welders 14 glass or through solar filters on telescopes, or image projection. Do not use anything else.|
|We will have several telescopes set up and will be webcasting from the parking lot of the CPIS building.|
|We went up to another glacier, Matanuska Glacier. A 3 mile glacier that you can view from above. People live right next to this glacier! We also learned there are animals living in the glacier. Glacier Worms! Really they are just like earth worms.|
Most of the day was spent trying to get the GPS overlay to work. Reading about the telescope
mounts. We went to local parks in town and enjoyed warm weather.
The forecast is not looking good for transit day, raining all day - 60% chance.
We are looking into alternate sites and possibly relocating to Fairbanks.
Cables needed were not found for the video feeds. Ron will hopefully bring some and he is arriving tomorrow.
We are still amazed at the light of day staying dusk until 12:45!
Finally, Ron celebrated his birthday today with his family... Nothing like a shameless plug :)
Tim spent morning looking at flights and possible routes out of anchorage.
Then worked on Video GPS overlay. Still having trouble with devices.
After that we had to take a trip to Mt. Denali (Mt McKinley). Long drive and a little cloudy.
Amazinly we ran into the team from North Texas! We talked about the transit and H alpha
filters and how we wished Mt Denali would come out from the clouds.
The UNT team is heading south 3 hours to HOMER, for clearer prospects! We are still watching weather closely.
Ron arrived! We are at different hotels and plan to meet tomorrow morning and Rain is in the forecast. This webcast and furthest Northern timing expedition is becoming touch and go.
We spent the day testing equipment. Everything looks good.
P.S. There is a partial lunar eclipse tonight! But, we can't webcast it as we are in Alaska and the Sun doesn't really set until VERY late (early morning?), so we probably will not be able to even see the moon. One the way back to the university we came across this, casually eating dinner. That is right, nothing out of the ordinary to see here, just move along.
|Since the sun comes up so early (around 4 AM), I found it hard to sleep. So, I got up around 7 and went for a walk around Anchorage. Here are two views from downtown.|