Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Tales of a Roving Astronomer

Greetings from the Great Rocky Mountain Star Stare I am sitting here at an elevation of 7650 ft above sea level reveling in the beautiful vistas of daylight and rich dark skies of night. The getting here was not without incident. I had brake failure as a wheel cylinder blew out reducing brake power to zero. This was definitely on the not good list. I never have been one to panic when ugliness occurs and so was able to get the truck stopped and then to a garage. All that happened as I was coming into town to upload this blog post. Nice … this is what I go through just to make sure you have something to read in the morning while you have your coffee. That’s enough of that stuff. Lets look at the Star Stare!

Well they were right about out in the sticks. We set between the Wet Mountains and the Sangres De Cristos Mountains. Dark is the word for it. The Staff was extremely helpful and knew what they were doing. That is always a plus when you are expecting 300 paying folks to show up. Pictured is Art DeBrito and Bob Littin.There seem to be enough Port a Johns scattered around the site. The only short fall was the event tent. The tent was not properly staked and as a result started to fail in the windy conditions. It was correctly staked and all is well. Site conditions are dusty and windy. The wind does die down to a light breeze after sundown and then right back up to blustery from 9:00 AM till dark. Keep your optics covered unless you happen to need a Corrector plate sand blasted. I do see a small light dome to the south it is really not a big deal as it does not rise above 15 degrees. Now to the northeast, Pueblo Colorado sports a sizable light dome. Due to the lack of humidity in the air, the dome did not plume to unacceptable conditions. I always come prepared when I go to a Star party so far out. I carry two chargers, two batteries and in this case a generator. Just for good measure I have two inverters. You just never know… On the first night I lent out my spare battery and had a request for a spot on my generator in the morning. As you might remember I really hate forgetting my equipment. I t was a great opportunity to meet and make friends Nothing like lending a battery out to break the ice.

Star parties are a great place to meet people and just chat about the sky and our adventures in this hobby. I happened to stroll by a dad and his daughter. They had a discovery Dob and there it was… a mount that brought back a flood of memories. The look was unmistakably Cave Astrola but the Scope was a Meade observatory grade 12 inch Newtonian. Now there is a mouth-watering combination. I was invited to search out the Veil Nebula on this beauty. I t did quite well with no filters to improve contrast. East and west spoke right up on this night. I was impressed. The Daughter impressed me as well. She has been in the Astronomy game for about 9 years. You could tell she loved it; every inch of it from her scope, to logging her observations. Wow at 16 years old she reminds me of me. I see great things for her in this hobby. There is nothing more satisfying than to watch the torch passed on to the next generation.

Tomorrow is my presentation on Exoplanets, which is cool, and I look forward to doing it. What I was not so ready for is a children’s presentation. When I received my schedule I looked for my name on it and low and behold there it was twice. TWICE??? I had sent an extra PowerPoint program for them to use if they were so inclined. It is a cute thing designed for kids to give them an introduction to things found in space. It was set to Star wars characters. Well I guess they liked it and wanted me to do it. I did not know this until I read it on the schedule. Hey I can roll with it. I have enlisted my son Cole to help with it. He will be playing Luke Skywalker. I am good about volunteering him for all kinds of duty. I am still waiting for my brakes to be fixed. One good thing we broke down right in front of a garage and it sits right next to a PizzaHut and the buffet was going on so I am not completely without luck…

Clear skies and great seeing too

Steve T

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