We had this beautiful view in the western sky last night.

Moon and Venus

The brilliant (magnitude -4) planet Venus was approximately 1 degree from the 3.5 day old crescent Moon. The photo doesn’t do justice to the entire view with the Moon in the constellation of Gemini, crowned by the two bright stars, Castor and Pollux.

The image above is a cropped portion of a picture taken with a Nikon D80 using a 70-300 zoom lens at 300mm focal length. Exposure was 1/125 second at f/5.6 and ISO 1600.

Next month, on June 18, there will be a similar configuration with the added feature of the planet Saturn also being near the moon. If you have a good place to observe the western sky and your weather cooperates, this should be a spectacular sight. Mark your calender and look shortly after sunset.

Podcast redux

Here is an up-to-date list of the podcasts I subscribe too. I enjoy them all and thought readers here might also find some of them interesting. Links are to the podcasts home pages but all can also be found (free) on iTunes.

StarStuff – Astronomy and space science. Weekly from Australia

Astronomy A Go-Go A weekly astronomy podcast for everyone. Emphasis on observing.

Astronomy Cast A weekly fact based journey through the cosmos. Can be a bit technical at times.

Cranky Geeks A weekly panel discussion of current technology news and developments. Host John C. Dvorak. Sometimes humorous, sometimes controversial.

Daily GizWiz Mad magazine writer, Dick DeBartolo, digs into his massive gadget collection. Daily Mon.-Fri.

FLOSS Weekly All about Free Libre Open Source Software. Supposedly weekly but erratic.

net@nite What’s happening on the ‘net right now? Host Amber MacArthur with Leo Laporte. Weekly.

Planetary Radio Weekly on space science and astronomy.

Security Now
Host Steve Gibson with Leo Laporte. Weekly discussion of computer security.

SolderSmoke Weekly discussion by amateur radio experimenters. Emphasis on DIY construction projects.

StarDate Daily, 2 minute, summary what to look for in the night sky.

The WordPress Podcast Weekly audio forum for news, tips and commentary on WordPress (the program that powers this blog.)

This Week In Tech Leo Laporte and others discuss the week’s tech news.

What’s New Now Weekly (in theory) discussion of technology news and events wit host Jim Louderback and guests .


We’ve had a cat door into our garage, going back to the time when Jan and I both worked. Our cat (Itty) was happier outside and she could come and go as she pleased. We never had a problem except once when another cat followed her into the garage.

After I retired, we stopped leaving her out all day and just let her out when she wanted. I never removed the old cat door, figuring she might go into the garage occasionally and catch any mice that got inside.

A few weeks ago I noticed that the cat door was broken. It’s quite old and I just thought the sun and weather had finally taken their toll on the plastic. We’d been having windy weather and I thought the door flopping in the wind was the reason for it breaking. I covered over the broken door with a piece of plastic, saying I’d replace it later.

The next day the plastic was ripped up and the door damaged more. Clearly some critter had been using it to get in and out of the garage. I removed the old door entirely and covered the opening with a couple of scraps of 1″x10″ lumber as a temporary fix. Then, just in case the critter was still in the garage I set out our Have-A-Heart trap baited with cat food.

The next morning inside the garage looked like a war zone. The trap had been tipped on its side and all the bait was gone. The Styrofoam insulation around the blocked opening had been ripped to shreds but the wood was still in place. What ever the critter was, it was large, strong, smart and still inside. I reset the trap, this time placing concrete blocks on top of it and along the side to prevent it from being moved easily.

The next morning I found we had caught a large, angry and very frustrated raccoon. Not wanting to kill it, we decided to go to a public access area by the river about 8 miles away to release it.

That was an adventure in itself. The one problem is our trap is somewhat hard to open. You are momentarily exposed to whatever is in the trap while you are releasing the catch. Fortunately the raccoon was terrified and stayed at the far end, away from where I was unlatching the trap. Once open, the critter took a couple seconds to realize it was free, then ran off.

I hope 8 miles is far enough that it won’t be back.

To make matters even more difficult, momma raccoon had (unbeknownst to us) left behind four youngsters which I discovered just a while ago. I managed to get them out of the garage but I have no idea how they will manage without the mother.
Left behind in the garage is a huge mess. They had shredded up a number of old cardboard boxes, sheets of Styrofoam and old rags. All tucked behind the place where I store lumber, plywood and paneling. It will take several days to clean up the mess and get rid of the smell.

Just some of the fun of living in the country….