Archive for July, 2013

Current R Car maximum less than usual

July 27, 2013

The past 10  (and a half) cycles of the Mira variable star R Car are shown below:


Visual estimates are shown along with observations in the V and B photometric bands. My visual observations are in purple on either side of the current cycle (clicking on the image to enlarge it helps with that). As others have commented (e.g. on the VSS mailing list), this year’s maximum stopped well short of its usual 4.5 (or brighter on some occasions). It will be interesting to watch subsequent cycles both in terms of magnitude and perhaps period.

Also of note, as with many other variables in the past few years, is the rise of photometric observations (e.g. via CCD, DSLR) where visual observations were only seen before. Given the change in R Car’s behaviour, more data can only be a Good Thing.

Shifting gears

July 13, 2013

I have two fond memories concerning my mother and shifting (car) gears.

As a teenager in the passenger seat of my family’s manual Toyota Corolla, if my Mum was driving she would often let me change gears, especially if we were driving down a long road. She would put her foot on the clutch pedal and I would change gears. At the time I thought it was just a bit of fun. Upon reflection as an adult, it has occurred to me that this required a certain amount of trust on her part. That says something important about her.

The second memory involved something we both found pretty funny at the time. I bought a Commodore 4016 (PET) computer in the early 80s. At that time I was about 18 and lived in Adelaide where I was training as a General Nurse going “home” to Mallala (a small farming town less than an hour north of Adelaide) most weekends to spend time with my parents and others in the town. Mum and Dad had moved there when I finished high school. Dad was a Uniting Church minister in Mallala and I usually went to church with them as well (I was still a Christian at the time). So anyway, I bought this Commodore PET in the city, took it to the train station, booked it into freight and sat with it in the freight carriage all the way to Mallala. As an aside, two things are interesting about that:

  1. They let me sit in the freight carriage with my boxed up Commodore PET! Imagine that being allowed today.
  2. The passenger+freight train from Adelaide to Mallala no longer runs and has not for many years. I loved that train. It was called the Bluebird.

At that time Mum had a small Mini as a second car and she met me at the Mallala train station in that car. The PET was built like a Sherman Tank and was in a large box that just fit through the passenger side front (and only) door. The only problem was that we couldn’t get it over onto the back seat so it had to occupy the space between us. The long gear shift stick was unable to be moved with the box in place, so we travelled home in first gear! Luckily it was only a few minutes drive.

That amusing ride home is associated in my mind with the fact that I learned so much from the PET and had fun writing extended-ASCII based games with lots of BASIC PEEK and POKE commands.