Monday, February 14, 2011

getting ready for the finish

Yesterday I had noted that the Clear Sky Chart for Monday night (into Tuesday morning) looked good. Very good. Dark blue cubes for the cloud cover and medium blue for the transparency. A rare February opportunity that I could actually partake of. Got an itch...

For a while now, I have been considering a little experiment. After the observing session, I did not want to do a full tear-down. Since I'm not regularly transporting my 'scope somewhere different (like I do in the summer) I could leave gear partly assembled, leaving bits near the porch, in a standby state. Not exactly like hauling it completely intact into my garage at the old place (although that was not without issues). Anyway, in an effort to help me possibly observe more, be happier, speed set-up and tear-down time in the future, I wanted to try things a bit differently.

A subtle piece to this was only bring the necessary items to the kitchen for staging. My observing session back on 17 Jan made for a very crowded kitchen. I didn't need the huge tripod bag. I didn't need the various cases, once empty. These I would keep in their normal storage location in the bedroom. The other part, of course, at the end of the session, was to keep stuff near the porch, but still out of the way. Ideally, around and on the end of the kitchen table would serve as the temporary bay.

The more I thought about the clear evening sky prediction, the more I activities I found to do.

I could test the recently completed Bahtinov focus-mark. I had cut the outer edge to fit inside the C8 OTA and added a little knob to extract it. It was ready to go. It would be good to see if it worked as well as predicted.

I also could shoot a photo of the set-up on the porch, something I had forgotten to do in January, the first official telescope run at the new place.

At the same time, I kept catching myself.

I considered a test broadcast on Night Skies Network with the MallinCam. But I got my wires crossed on this, somehow. I thought I couldn't proceed, without the recently ordered cable. When in fact I had everything needed to operate the camera and capture video. Oops. The cable is only for controlling the camera, adjusting settings, remotely. Alas, it would have complicated set-up. And I was already on the edge of not proceeding.

I also thought about shooting a video of a double star drift to use with Ed's BinStar software. Again I was confuddled. I rejected the MallinCam because of my cable dilemma. Flawed logic, yes, I know. So I considered the StellaCam in Denis's kit. But a real stumbling block there is extracting video from the camcorder. It requires FireWire. Too many unknowns that I did not have the energy to resolve.

Tonight would also allow full testing of the new deep red LED flashlight head lamp thing.

Finally, if I could stay up long enough, if I could get a decent angle through the web of dark branches, I could steal more views of Saturn.

Red lights on. Red film on monitors and netbook. Little red film piece on digital camera display. Red keyboard light installed.

Started hauling gear to the porch. Including the 8", to cool. Had my adjustable height chair, the Big DOC, this time.

Grabbed the digital voice recorder and checked the power level. 3 of 4 bars. Popped the AAA batteries into charger. And then suddenly thought twice about it. The neighbours will really talk if they hear me mumbling away in the middle of the winter on the porch at 3:00 AM. Readied the paper notepad and a pencil instead.

As the clouds moved out, I pondered that it was not a great night for a variety of targets. With a gibbous Moon, deep sky objects would be out-of-bounds. I considered some double star viewing. And another look at Saturn, of course. I built a list in SkyTools 3 Pro starting with the automatic generator tool. And as I did my slow staged progressive set-up after dinner, I manually added planets.

No comments: