My First Stargazing Report

Well, actually I stargazed before, but I didn”t do that to really observe stars and constellations. This time was my first time stargazing as a beginner in Astronomy (learning Astronomy is part of my new year resolutions). It was Monday Night, January the 6th of 2014. I started to stargaze around EST 9.00 pm until 10.00 pm. It was cold in Syracuse since the temperature was -12 degree of Celsius, and the wind, that made the weather colder, blew with the speed of 50 kph.After days of studying the book that I just got (Nightwatch), hours of constellation and stars reading from simulation software called Stellarium and days of cloudy night, I got my chance to try my newly acquired skill because Syracuse”s sky was very clear that night.

The first object I recognized that night was the belt of the great hunter Orion which consist of three aligned stars. Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. Those three stars were named by Moslem”s astronomer, Alnitak and Mintaka means the belt while Alnilam means the arrangement or pearl. The name is pretty beautiful isn”t it? it is like a real belt which its arrangement (Alnilam) located in the middle of the belt (Alnitak and Mintaka). Alnitak and Alnilam are first magnitude stars (the lower the number, the brighter the star) while Mintak is a second magnitude star. After recognizing the belt it was easy to spot the other low-magnitude stars of Orion Constellation. They are Betelgeuse, Bellatrix, Rigel and Saiph. All have Arabic name except Bellatrix which was taken from Latin word that means the warrioress. Bellatrix is a first magnitude star so it was easy to see it. Next is Betelgeuse, the mighty one or the armpit in Arabic. This zero magnitude star is easy to recognize since its yellowish color is distinguishable from other member of Orion constellation. Coming next is Rigel the foot. It is a zero magnitude star which is 770 light-years distant from the earth but produces energy 50000 time than our sun which make it as the brightest star in Orion constellation. The last but not least is Saiph the sword. This star was dim since it was located near horizon which is polluted by houses light. Saiph is a second magnitude star like Mintaka.

Orion Constellation

Orion Constellation

After finding the great hunter Orion. It was quite easy to find other zero and first magnitude stars. Like Aldebaran (the follower) the brightest star in Taurus constellation. Since the other member of Taurus are third or fourth magnitude stars, I wasn”t able to see it clearly because of the light pollution from the neighborhood. Not far to the up right of Aldebaran, Pleiades (the seven sister) stars cluster looked quite dim but still visible. Sirius, the brightest of Canis Mayor and its companion Mirzam can also be spotted but the rest was unclear. The twins of Gemini constellation Pollux and Castor was very clear but at first I wasn”t sure because there was a bright and star-like object inside Castor-Pollux-Alhena triangle. After I confirmed it with Stellarium, I found out that it was Jupiter. It shone like a zero magnitude star with white and yellowish glitter color. I was able to spot the brightest in Canis Minor, Procyon  but wasn”t able to see Gomeisa, the other member of Canis Mayor since it is a third magnitude star.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The next thing I was curious about is the legendary star that will not move from its place although the earth is rotating. It is Polaris the north star. In order to find Polaris, it is easier for me to find the Big Dipper first. Big Dipper is a star formation part of Ursa Mayor constellation. It was quite hard tho find the Big Dipper because in winter around that time, Big Dipper is close to horizon which was obscured by trees and houses and I have to move places in order to locate it in the north sky, but once Big Dipper was spotted, I was able to locate Polaris the legendary north star.

Big Dipper and Polaris

Big Dipper and Polaris

By using Big Dipper and Polaris, enabled me to locate other constellation such as the Queen of the sky Cassiopeia. Capella the brightest start in Auriga can also be seen with the other member of pentagon-like Auriga constellation member. Unfortunately, the Queen Cassiopeia”s king, Cepheus was a little bit shy that night so I didn”t see maybe it was because the moon was too bright so it over-light Cepheus which mostly consist of  third magnitude stars. The only start I saw from Cepheus was the brightest Alderamin.

Well, That was my first time observing star and constellation. Although it was cold and windy but identifying star constellations like our ancestors did long time ago to help them navigating and farming was amazing.

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[Chord] Berjebraw – Forefathers

This song was written by Petra G Michael a.k.a Berjebraw. I got to listen to the song yesterday and decided to write the chord. The first time I heard this sing song. I felt like my soul was shaken. Here is the song and the chord

Tuning: Standard EADGBe
E   C#    A    B   F#   G#   Eb
Intro : E
E                             Eb             E
Look at what the forefathers left for us
Eb            E
Can you feel the spirit moving accordingly
One thing I realize about this day
C#               B
Oh, have we learned a thing or two
A            B
From what our forefathers left
E               C#
Have we learned, have we learned
F#                                    E
Have we learned, have we learned from our forefathers
E               C#
Have we changed, have we changed
F#              G#             A
Have we learned, have we learned from the past
E                                   F#
Yesterday was that you learned
Tomorrow is that for us to dream
And today is that for us to live our life
E                         F#
To change for the better, to change for the better
To change for the better, to change for the better
To change for the better
<p> E               C#
have we learned, have we learned
F#                                    E
have we learned, have we learned from our forefathers
E               C#
have we changed, have we changed
F#              G#                 A
have we learned, have we learned, have we Learned
F#      G#                     A
have we learneeeeeeeed, from our forefathers
a thing or two
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Pie a Professor

Today, I saw a strange event in my school. Staffs in iSchool Syracuse University were raising money to be donated for United Way. What they did was providing a booth were people can throw pie to iSchool’s professors face. The price is $5 for student and $10 for faculty, but if you only have $3, they”ll take it anyway. I was also offered to throw pie on professor face, but I refused it is not because I didn’t have money, but I think that is not appropriate. I believe that in Asian”s culture especially Indonesian, in order to success, student must respect their teacher. Although, even if we (student) are angry to our professor when they gave/asked to much on our assignment or research and gave us a hard exam; all of them are for our own good (I used to be a teacher and also my father is a teacher too). Therefore, we shouldn’t hold any hatred to them. Moreover, throwing a pie in their face to let the hatred out is just not right. In my opinion , that”s like organizing prostitution for charity. Do you think that”s right? Why I compare it with prostitution? because they are the same in term of selling their honor. That”s just what came up in my mind where I saw it. Here are some videos that I took. I would like to hear your opinion as well.

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Mountain Biking in Syracuse

Today I went for Mountain Biking trip which is organized by SUOC. I”ve done mountain biking when I was in Indonesia almost every weekend. At first I was wondering where can I have good trails for mountain biking in Syracuse. The area is located near Syracuse University south campus. To give you better sense of direction, look at the map below.

I don”t have a decent bike for mountain biking and never go for mountain biking with complete equipment but this time was different. We started our trip at 11.00 am. We met in SUOC E-room to get the bikes and other equipment such as helmet, spare inner tube, hand pump and etc.(see I don”t even need to have the things by myself. SUOC provides them all). Every SUOC trip have a leader and this time we had a training leader which we called it ghost leader. His name is Dave and the supervising leader was Vernon. There were also me and other girl whose name is Anna. She is a freshmen and that was her first experience in mountain biking.

The area was so beautiful and pretty different than I had in my hometown Gresik. The trail in Gresik was formed from limestone with brownish soil on top of it which will turn into mud after raining. The scenery is full of green plants, shrubs, grass, bamboo trees. On the other hand, in Syracuse, since it is fall, every leaf is turning into yellow. We have so many maple trees for the wood trails and for the open trails (outside the wood) the terrain was formed from gravel sometimes big rocks and grey soil. The trail was well made so that we have equal up and down trails.

Mountain Biking Terrain

Vernon (with helmet) and Dave in open trails

Since the trip was intended for beginner, the leader chose the suitable trail for Anna (I didn”t consider myself as beginner). At first, Anna was afraid. She came down and walked if there was steep down trail.  Understanding the trails is the key to success (didn”t fall). I didn”t know the trail and had accident. It happened after I went up the up trail which is followed by down trail with sudden right turn. I pushed my front brake and flipped. I almost fall over the cliff but fortunately I could grab the surrounding tree. Vernon also fell from his bike when he was jumping too high and could land perfectly. He got some bruises in his right hand and hip also he burst his front inner tube in the crash. Luckily we brought spare and changed it.

Vernon (look at his right hand) and Dave replacing the inner tube

After all, It was a great to be able to continue my hobby (Mountain Biking) in Syracuse. Moreover I don”t have to own the equipments myself (I know I am cheap. It is because I am a poor grad student). Also today I experienced jumping from the boardwalk although it is only one meter high. See you on my next trip.

The bike I used.

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Canyoneering in Bear Swamp Creek

I just got home from my first canyoneering trip in my life. Thanks for Syracuse University Outing Club (SUOC) leaders who took me to this trip, here is the story. At first, we set off from SUOC Equipment room (E-room) at 10 am. There were seven people on this trip. Two leaders (Nate and Maggie) and five members (Nick, Megan, John, Sean and me). We went to Bear Swamp Creek in Cayuga County, New York. This creek goes to Skaneateles Lake. Here is the map of our canyoneering route.

View Canyoneering in Bear Swamp Creek in a larger map

Carpenter”s Falls

Our entry point for this trip is Carpenter”s Fall. It is an overhanging limestone caprock which water flows on the middle of it. Its height is approximately 28 meters.

Carpenter”s Fall Courtesy of Matt Champlin

The first person to go down this falls was Nick. Unfortunately when he was in the middle of his way down, there was a knot in the middle of the rope and he wouldn”t be able continue before he release the knot. Nick was having a problem in releasing the knot but he didn”t carry ascender since the leader didn”t expect that it would happen. Nate went down and gave Nick the ascender to go up so they fixed the rope. After they fixed it, everything went normal. We went down with this following order, Maggie – Nick – Megan – John – Me – Sean – Nate. Something that amazed me was we didn”t have to go up and untie our safety rope. After Nate went down, we only need to pull the rope and everything fell of so that we can take it to the next falls. I know that Nate arranged it so it could be done like that.

Second Falls

I don”t know the name of the falls but it was the second falls. After we descend from Carpenter”s falls, we walk following the river to the next falls. It was quite far from Carpenter”s falls and it wasn”t a vertical falls like Carpenter”s but, we have to rapel down with water. The slope”s angle of this falls maybe 60 degree. Nothing went wrong in this falls yet the rain start falling down pretty hard.

Third Falls

The third falls is not far from the second falls. Unlike second falls which isn”t a vertical falls, Third falls is a combination of vertical falls and 75 degree slope. Although it is not high, it has a difficult entry point. At its edge there is an emerged rock that so after that rock you will be hanging on the rope and it is difficult to do. It went wrong when it came to my turn to rapel down. I was turned upside down since I couldn”t lower my body while my foot was still stepping on the emerged rock but I done this things before and I even ever rapel down with my head first facing downward so I kept calm and corrected my position. I was unharmed and it was a good experience to be told.

Angle Falls

This is the last falls we need to rapel down on this trip. It was a vertical falls which height is approximately 20 metes. Everything seems pretty fine until Nate found out that there is a bee hive on the edge of the cliff that we use as our entry point. So Nate had to move the entry point. The rain was pretty hard and I started shaking even though I wore double three-milimeters wetsuit. The new entry point was pretty scary because It”s also like the previous entry in the third fall but you wont realize until you go down on meter from the edge. There was a emerged rock that like a knife that try to cut the safety rope and this time we didn”t use the rope cover because we didn”t know that there was this rock. Anyway everything is fine and no accident but, everyone were hugging each other to fight against cold. It was me, Nick, Sean, John and Megan. The leader was a badass so they didn”t feel cold.

After the last falls we just walk toward the Skaneateles lake by following the river. It was quite far but exciting because we can play with the steam and pretend that we were a log that carried away by the stream. We took a short break after we reach the lake. It was quite and no one there even though there are houses there, maybe because of the rain. We continued to go back to our first entry point which is Carpenter”s falls through the woods. It was an amazing experience and I can”t wait to go on the next trip with SUOC.

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