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Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction of 2020

Jupiter, Saturn, their major satellites, and star HIP 99314 are seen together on December 21, 2020 (click for full size)

Jupiter and Saturn appeared closest to each other in nearly 400 years on the Winter Solstice of 2020. For this Great Conjunction, the two planets were only about 6 arc seconds apart, which meant that I was easily able to take a photo of both in a single frame as you can see here. Some had expected that they might appear as a single dot, but it turned out that Saturn was discernible as a fainter "bump" on the top right side of Jupiter to the naked eyes.

To show the planets and the satellites together, I used varied exposures and then combined the results into a single photo. Titan was the dimmest that I could photograph, and it appears very faintly to the right of Saturn. Interestingly, a star named HIP 99314 was also caught in action between Io and Europa, which means that this conjunction was actually a triple affair.

Nikon P1000 taking photos of the conjunction

By the way, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to see the phenomenon in person because it was pretty cloudy throughout the day. Luckily, most of them went away as the Sun set and I was able to take the photos for about an hour until the low-hanging clouds started to block the view. The next closest conjunction happens 60 years later and I'm not sure if I'd be around to see that, so I was glad that the weather decided to cooperate in the last minute.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - f/8
- Jupiter: 24 photos, ISO 200, 1/30s
- Saturn: 13 photos, ISO 400, 1/30s
- Satellites: 17 photos, ISO 800, 1/5s
Filters: None
Time: 2020-12-21 18:20-18:40 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
Photos processed with PIPP 2.5.9, RegiStax 6.1.0.8 and Pixelmator Pro 2.0

Server upgraded to macOS Big Sur

iMac stuck on Setting Up Account step of the macOS Big Sur upgrade

I skipped upgrading the iMac serverโ€™s OS to macOS 10.15 Catalina last year mainly due to the removal of 32-bit application support. After a year, the clean-up of obsolete apps was complete, paving the way for the upgrade.

During the preparation, there was a bit of a hiccup with the MySQL database, But putting the data to a new one largely solved the issue and the website ended up loading much quicker. Two minor errors occurred after moving to the new database, which were quickly resolved by editing the configuration file:

1. "Query failed: Out of sort memory, consider increasing server sort buffer size"

Solution: increase sort_buffer_size from the default of 262144
sort_buffer_size=2097152

2. "Query failed: Expression #1 of SELECT list is not in GROUP BY clause and contains nonaggregated column 'blog.multilingual_body.value' which is not functionally dependent on columns in GROUP BY clause; this is incompatible with sql_mode=only_full_group_by"

Solution: remove only_full_group_by in sql_mode
sql_mode=STRICT_TRANS_TABLES, NO_ZERO_IN_DATE, NO_ZERO_DATE, ERROR_FOR_DIVISION_BY_ZERO, NO_ENGINE_SUBSTITUTION

With all the pieces ready I went with the installation of macOS 11.0 Big Sur. It took about an hour and except for a prolonged setup time of the iCloud, things went smoothly.

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Illuminated ISS crossing waning Moon

Brightly lit ISS passes in front of the Moon on November 11, 2020 (click for full resolution)

The International Space Station is usually in the Earth's shadow when it makes a pass in front of the Moon. But when the conditions are just right, you can see both illuminated by the Sun just like the photo I took above. When seen with the naked eyes, it looked as if a bright meteor was darting across the sky towards the Moon and eventually pass right through it. To witness this, I drove about 40km northeast to the edge of Damyang in the early morning.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - ISO 400 - 1/500s - f/8
Filters: None
Time: 2020-11-11 05:36:43 KST
Location: Damyang, Korea
6 photos processed with RegiStax 6.1.0.8 and Pixelmator Pro 1.8
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Appearance on SBS "What on Earth" episode #1104


[Source page at SBS website]

The weekly SBS TV program "What on Earth" (์ˆœ๊ฐ„ํฌ์ฐฉ ์„ธ์ƒ์— ์ด๋Ÿฐ์ผ์ด) is one of the longest-running show on the network, going back to 1998. I made an appearance on episode #187 on Feburary 28, 2002 as the "computer man" that wore the "wearable computer" around the city. The show has recently been going back to the archives to highlight the notable old episodes and they wanted to show how I was doing these days. The newspaper article from 10 years ago made the cut, but not more recent stuff, probably due to time constraint. Still, it was a good opportunity to let people know I'm still out there, alive and well.

P.S. There are now a couple of news articles on my appearance online.

2020-10-16 Update: SBS Noriter and another news outlet have reported as well.

Close approach of Mars in 2020

Mars seen in 5-minute intervals at around midnight of October 9, 2020 during its close approach

With the red planet coming close again after two years, it gave me another good opportunity to take a detailed look of the surface using my equipment. The Nikon P1000 has been working well for me these days, so I pointed its lens to the sky around midnight to capture the photos. Although the total session lasted less than an hour, I got satisfactory results.

Last time the Mars was close, I photographed the eastern hemisphere. This time I got to see the western hemisphere, which has the famous features like Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris, one of the biggest examples of mountain and canyon in the solar system, respectively. Also, I got to see the polar ice caps on Planum Australe for the first time, a highlight of the otherwise reddish, 45-pixel wide (22.6" apparent) disc of the planet.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - ISO 100 - 1/500s - f/8
Filters: None
Time: 2020-10-09 00:18 - 00:54 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
44 photos processed with PIPP 2.5.9, RegiStax 6.1.0.8, and Pixelmator Pro 1.8
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