Oliver Lisa

A flare

So, today I took a short break after a meeting, and by good luck captured a picture of a C3.0 magnitude flare right at its peak.


It's the bright dot next to the right-hand dark sunspot. Same storm as Saturday, still going on and spewing flares. C class flares aren't really significant on Earth, but this storm has been putting out M class flares too, and has a chance of making an X class flare.
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Oliver Lisa

Wow, Sun

Thursday at the Audubon Center, while waiting for what turned out to be a really great talk on doves to start, I had my solar telescope with me (didn't want to leave it in the car) and saw the biggest prominence I've yet seen:



But today after getting home from the zoo, I saw a huge magnetic storm. I think it's grown from the same plage that was just inside the disc from the big prominence on Thursday, only it grew a lot. Though I haven't had a chance to check yet. It's been putting out solar flares today, and has a chance to put out X-class flares. It's also aimed at the Earth. So friends to the North may get some amazing auroras, and everyone might get lousy radio/cell/WiFi reception for the next few days. We'll see. But it's lovely to see in its own environs:



You can also see some more huge prominences on the edge of the disc, including one that wraps around the Sun's horizon and is visible against the face. Usually against the face they look black because the motion is mostly sideways to us, but this one must be flowing really fast to have Doppler shifted back into the filter's bandpass region. That's another thing I've seen for the first time.
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Oliver Lisa

Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun.

But Mama, that's where the fun is.

My solar telescope arrived today, and after a little bit of set-up I was able to get an amazing view. In operation it's similar but different from a night sky telescope. Focusing is not that big of a deal. It's the Sun, so it's 93,000,000 miles away, give or take. And it's about 900,000 miles across, so unlike other stars it's easy to see even way out of focus. Finding it and getting the edge sharp took a minute or so. Tuning the etalon filter to compensate for the Doppler shift of the Sun's rotation takes more finesse than the focus. But in a few minutes I could see a couple of prominences on the edge, a couple small sunspots, what I later realized was a truly massive prominence right on the face of the sun, and a lot of subtle texture. The longer I looked the more detail I could pick out. I briefly tried installing the second etalon but tuning them both together was wasting time and the sun was just about to set, so I took it back off and just did some more staring at it. I was able to get a few crappy photos just by putting my cell phone up to the eyepiece. Nothing really amazing, but far from atrocious considering it's the first solar photography I did, with an instrument I only had for half an hour, and taken with a phone and no camera mount.
This one shows some of the bigger prominences. The first one I saw was the little one at about 5 o'clock, but after a little more tuning I got the Doppler shift better and saw the amazing three-looped one a bit above 9 o'clock.
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This one shows more surface detail, and also why a cell phone is not ideal for this. The dark stripe that looks like a minute hand pointing to nine is the massive prominence extending about 300,000 miles across the surface.
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How big the sun really is was brought to a point as it began to sink behind the mountain. As its edge passed behind a tree, the shadows of the leaves were about the same size as the sunspots. I was seeing "tiny" details on something 93,000,000 miles away with a telescope that has little more magnification than a pair of sports binoculars. Nothing on it is tiny.

I need a better mount than the mini tripod I'm using now, and I need to get a good eyepiece camera.

Oh, and Happy Bastille Day.
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Oliver Lisa

Happy St. Cuthbert's Day

It's been close to a year since I posted here, or even really looked at LJ. And exactly a year since Luci died. I lost Ayame a month and a half after that. I'm not abandoning LJ, just didn't have any more reason to be here at the time.

Nothing much new at the zoo, the monkeys are amusing, the otters beautiful. I hope all my friends here are well.
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Oliver Lisa

Goodbye MeMe...

At 4:16am, Ayame left me. It was very sudden. I had woken up with a little insomnia, was watching her sleep in her carpet tower for a while, tail sticking out. She woke up and turned around, and stuck her head out. I reached in the hole to pet her, scritched her chin. She turned herself around again, then instantly she felt odd, floppy. I smelled that she wet herself, and her breathing got sharp. I carefully maneuvered her out of the hole, put some Ferretvite on her gums in case it was hypoglycemic (I didn't think it was, even then, her glucose was fine just last Sunday), and got some Gatorade and sugar. I called the emergency vet clinic to let them know I was bringing her in, but by the time I got her in her carrier she was in agonal breathing, and then it stopped. I hadn't really thought there was anything they could do anyway, though I would've taken the chance if I could. But at that point it was clear she was gone. I called them back to let them know we weren't coming.

I think she had a massive stroke. She had seemed fine just last Sunday, got her Lupron, glucose was fine, 104 mg/dL. We were planning surgery to remove a small tumor (I think benign basal cell) on her cheek, because it seemed she would live long enough that it could turn into a problem for her. It was to be minor surgery, about 5 minutes under. My only worry with the surgery was she might be hard to medicate after because it was close to he scruff. At least she didn't die in pain. The only indication anything was out of the ordinary was she seemed unusually fluffy last night. I had noticed that fluffiness with Aradia too her final night. It was noticeable to the point told her it was so odd to think of her as an old ferret, she was my baby ferret. But she was an old ferret. Not as old as Luci, but at least 6, maybe 7 now. I can't remember right now. Once she woke up she was fine and hungry, and I wasn't immediately worried. I didn't think she'd make it to the end of the year but I didn't think I'd lose her for months.

I was right with her, there was absolutely no pain, she was unconscious instantly. I think this is exactly what Aradia's final moments had to have been like. Sleeping comfortably, then no more. Ayame's last night she spent hunting for treats hidden around the room for her, sleeping all around the floor wherever she liked, and being snuggled on the floor and in my arms. Her last nickname in a long line of nicknames was Velvet.
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Oliver Lisa

Sad St. Cuthbert's Day

At about 4pm today, Luci breathed her last. Her liver was starting to fail, she couldn't use her back legs at all, and I made the decision to end her suffering before it got too bad. There was a chance she'd make it through the weekend with some fluids and an appetite stimulant (assuming I could get that into her in the first place, and assuming it worked) but she had lost over 10% of her already diminished body weight since her last visit less than a month ago. Like Koda, I don't find myself second-guessing this. It was the right decision with her. As much as I'll miss her, torturing her to avoid it just a few days more was the last thing I would have wanted. Last night as I was stroking her shoulders, she sat there kneading her paws like a kitten, which I've never seen a ferret do in 21 years with them. I think she knew too. I've never known a smarter ferret. The ferret species is lessened by her loss.
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Oliver Lisa

My Little Luci

Luci has rallied some. She's unable to get her hind end up on her back legs at all but she's showing more mobility than the other day. She didn't need a bath when I got home. Evidently she's able again to get herself onto her litter pad by herself while I'm at work. And no diarrhea. She's not eating great, but she is eating and getting water on her own. She's not well, obviously, but I don't think she's still in immediate danger of starting to suffer badly. She was rolling around in a pile of blankets while I was writing that, now she just burrowed under and went back to sleep. I think it's no longer down to a matter of just days now. Probably still just weeks, but I'm not looking at having to put her to sleep tomorrow when the vet's office opens, like I thought I might (my vet's office takes Wed/Thu as their weekend). I don't know how she manages to keep doing this. But I'm glad she does.
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Oliver Lisa

My Precious Beautiful :'(

I expect I'm going to wind up having to euthanize Luci soon. She won't give up, and I won't give up on her just yet. Luci may rebound a bit. She has before. But she can barely use her hindlegs now, and at least the last day not well enough to even get onto her litter pad. She doesn't mind baths at least. And it's not diarrhea and it's not giving her a painful rash. Most of her life is spent asleep now, but she's alert and purposeful when she wakes up. And occasionally energetic. She still likes to eat some things, and likes to play with plastic bags and burrow in towels. But the good times are getting fewer and shorter, and the bad times seem to be getting more bad. She barely tolerates her prednisolone any more. Her worst suffering right now seems to be that, and a few seconds a day of fighting to keep some bad-tasting liquid out of her mouth isn't so much I won't let her have a little more time. And when the yucky moment is over with, she snuggles up and licks her Ferretone. She used to love Benadryl, but now that's almost as bad to her. I'm taking her off that as of tonight; even if the lump on her foot is a mast cell tumor the odds it will kill her before something else does are tiny and kind of irrelevant. That will make it a little more pleasant for her. Things don't have to get a lot worse though before the bad will outweigh the good, and I won't torture her to spare myself a few days of missing her.

Ayame's the opposite with the Benadryl at least, neglecting to give Ayame her dose seems to hurt her feelings. I don't even have to scruff her, she tries to suck it out of the syringe. She doesn't like the pred either, but her solution is to lap it up fast and be done with it. Nobody likes prednisolone, it's very bitter. But with the flavored PediaPred it shouldn't be as bad as it seems to be for Luci now. It wasn't until recently.

She may rebound a bit; some of this is due to last week's diarrhea and lost appetite, and with the antibiotics she's having firm stools and she's eating again, enough if not heartily. She can maybe regain some strength again, but probably not much and probably not for long. When Koda reached this point she only had a couple of days left before her organs shut down. Luci isn't Koda, but there's only so long even the world's best ferret can survive. I think Ayame knows too. She goes over to sniff at Luci regularly, which is unusual for her, and then sits against my feet and won't get off.

Luci can't live forever, but as ferrets go she came closer than most. If it's not in the next few days it's still going to be some time soon. She's easily the oldest I've ever had, and the vet said Luci is now her standard pep talk to people with terrible diagnoses. With loving care, she surprised everyone time and time again. She had a life expectancy after diagnosis of less than half this long, maybe less than a quarter. Last June she had a life expectancy of a month. She's come very close to turning that month into a year. (Even Koda really went twice as long as expected considering how severe her insulinoma was when diagnosed. Luci more than doubled Koda's survival already, though she wasn't nearly as severe as Koda was at the time). I really didn't expect Luci to live to see 2011, much less 2012. Every day I've had her for the last year and a half has been a surprise and a delight, waking up or coming home to find her still there for me. I couldn't have asked for a better ferret.
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