Sunday, January 30, 2011

that's it that's all (Blue Mountains)

6:49 PM. In the GBO for a second night in a row. In February! In Canada! Yes. It's incredible.

Had the ASUS netbook with me (but forgot the mouse). Took out the USB adapter to reactivate the integrated touchpad. Started the Dell laptop before the mount to avoid connection problems. Camera. Had the handwarmer with me. Working OK again.

Almost lit myself on fire earlier. Filled it more than the night before. When I was trying to light it, I held it sideways over the candle, like the previous evening. It burst into flames! I guess the extra fuel started pouring out of the thing. I threw it into the kitchen sink and threw a wet towel on it. After that, it took me a while to get it started again. Using the BBQ lighter (which I had in daylight filled with more butane) I lit the handwarmer in a vertical orientation.

Considered the frost/temperature issue for the eyepieces. Then I recalled an idea from a month or so back. Inspired by Phil, I had made a note to add a towel to my astronomy gear to keep eyepieces under during observing. This would allow one to keep them handy and not have to stuff them back into a case. I've seen Phil doing this during summer events and at "Dew Lake" in the fall but of course it would apply to winter sessions too. So this evening I had brought from the house a towel. This would let me keep the eyepieces near the telescope, for quick access, and at ambient nippy temperature.

Pulled the 120 volt hair dryer from the cupboard, as suggested by Dietmar. He said it would help disperse frost if there was excess moisture. That said, he did reinforce that the Kendrick heater, set to 1° above ambient, should be able to keep Jack Frost at bay.

Checked the local weather page. The images were still not updating despite me fully rebooting the weather server computer. The solution was alluding me.

I was almost ready to go.

Oh oh. The handwarmer had gone out! I had put it in my glove. Now the inside of the glove felt damp. Once again I think there was so much fuel on board that it poured out and flooded itself. Stinky. Yuk.

The roof control panel was still open from earlier re-con photography. I swung it closed. Headed to the observing floor. Brought in the small baseboard heater and turned off the dehumidifier.

6:56. Undid the roof four latches. Looked at the alignment of the right hand sensor: looked OK, close to the magnet. Energised the power bar at the pier. That meant the dew heater was only just beginning to heat the corrector... That was not good planning ahead. Opened the roof (it takes 92 seconds, by the way), with the battery light on, looking through the access port. No issues! One minor noise. Decided to close the roof about 1 foot to avoid any ruts or detentes.

7:00. Powered the mount. Looked to zenith. And I felt, on my face, snow. What, snow? Saw a bit of cloud. Not thick. I could see Jupiter. Looked similarly to last night. But if there are ice crystals in the air, developing into snow, it would end things pretty quickly. Still, I homed the mount then went to Jupiter.

7:05. Got a quick look at Jupiter. Four moons. The seeing seemed very good actually, better than the previous night, despite warm eyepieces and a warm OTA. But then the gas giant faded out. Clouds!

So much for that...

I closed the roof (took 84 seconds, from the slightly advanced position). No issues again!

Decided to go into a holding pattern. Parked the 'scope. Left the dew heating system on. Put the laptop into sleep mode. So to be ready to leap or restart observing quickly...

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