I watched Mercury move across the face of the sun last week. Yes, it’s a big deal. It won’t happen for another decade.

I got up early that morning and it was cloudy. The event only lasts for a couple of hours. I got on the computer and found a weather site that’s tied into the Los Angeles weather radar. It was clouds for as far as the radar could see. I had the choice of driving up to Santa Barbara or down past Malibu. I could go farther east on the 10 freeway hoping to find clear skies.
The problem is the skies could still be filled with clouds, the weather radar can not see that far.

I got out my homemade solar telescope out. It’s made out of old and new parts.
It’s a mere three inch scope, but the sun is close so it does the job. It has a glass solar filter not one of the cheap plastic things.
The sun started to peek through a crack in the cloud cover. Now the fun began. Looking at the sun is a lot different that looking at the stars. One one thing it’s light out. Stray light from the ground, and any object around you interferes with looking into the eye piece. Also with the solar filter on it’s dark looking through the telescope. At night when looking through the telescope you can see stars or at least the moon. With a solar telescope, it has to be as bright as the sun or you don’t see anything.
Mercury is small, and you need a telescope to see it during the day.
I don’t have a solar filter handy for the finder scope, so I got out my solar finder. The solar finder sits on top of the telescope’s barrel and the pin hole in front of the finder shines a dot of light on the back of the finder. The cloud cover made the sun dim in the solar finder. It also diffused the light. The diffuse light made aiming the telescope hard.

You can’t look down the top of the telescope barrel and sight on the sun like you can for the moon. Looking at the sun is bad for your eyes.
After a lot of fiddling the sun slipped into a clear gap in the cloud cover and I got the scope on the sun. I had to switch to a better eye piece because of the water in the air. Even when it looked like the sun was in the clear I could see clouds moving across the face of the sun through the solar filter.
After much adjusting I got Mercury into focus.

What does this have to do with writing Steampunk? Well take the hero that come to save the day. What if he’s a steam engineer and he needs to get a steam car going. He knows the engines on ships and the big stationary engine used on farms. But those are high pressure boilers. He needs to repair a flash boiler of a car to escape and it’s so different from the big ship boilers.

You may be an expert in your field, but you will not know all the little details of that field.

And now for this weeks recipe

Turkey and Bacon


One stick of butter, half softened and half melted
1 ½ pounds of turkey thigh, skin-on
One package turkey bacon, you only need enough to cover thigh


Brine thigh if you want. Start the night before.
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
Rinse thigh.
Pat dry.
Place thigh in shallow pan.
Lift skin and place half of softened butter on thigh under skin.
Coat skin with soften or melted butter.
Place thigh in over for 30 minutes.
Remove thigh and cover with turkey bacon. Will keep skin from getting to done.
Return to oven.
Cook for another 30 minutes or until quick reading thermometer reads 155 degrees F.
Cool for 15 minutes.
Carve and serve.

Stray strong, write on and don’t eat to much at one time.
Professor Hyram Voltage