Saturday, March 26, 2011

flew Phil's 'scope (Don Mills)

Phil and I decided to operate one telescope together. It would ease the load on each of us. If someone needed a break, the other could take the helm. One could manage the 'scope while the other did crowd control. We agreed to meet on the Teluscape in front of the Ontario Science Centre at 7:00 PM or so. He said he'd phone me when getting close. I agreed to meet him at the driveway to help unload.

I took the TTC to the OSC and got there on time. Chatted with François as he set up his gear including MallinCam and monitor. Said hello to Scott (and gave him some paperwork). As I headed to the foyer, I spotted Pat and Shawn setting up the RASC Toronto Centre booth. Picked up my name tag as well as a few others. After visiting the loo, I headed back outside and ran into Leslie and Tom.

When I returned to the Teluscape, I saw Phil's truck! Hey! He had already unloaded stuff. Said he had phoned me. Funny that my Telus phone didn't work. Ironic, on the Teluscape... Sheesh. No matter. I started to set up his gear as he parked.

I decided on the north edge of the central plaza in hopes of catching a glimpse of Saturn early. Was putting up the short steel tripod as Phil returned. Aimed to where I thought north was. Phil grabbed him compass (with the magnetic declination already dialled in) and fine-tuned.

Guy swung 'round and gave us our "target" signage. Hind's Crimson Star and M81/M82...

We prepared the Meade LX10 optical tube assembly and integrated fork mount together. First, Phil located the three mounting screws advising me that the top-centre one had to be pre-installed to hold the OTA and mount in the tray. Phil took the load and I guided. Then I installed the other two screws and tightened everything down.

We hooked up the control pad, small 12 volt battery tank, and 8x50 finder with 5° field of view. We decided to also add the Telrad with dew shield. Phil showed me how the tracking motor drive worked and how to engage and disengage the clutches.

It was around this time that Phil noticed something was wrong... The tines of the fork were pointed in the wrong direction! Oopsie. Noob mistake. I don't have much experience with forks. As soon as he mentioned it though, I remembered that you need to aim the fork to the north celestial pole. We spun the entire rig around.

Phil attached the 2-inch mirror diagonal into the William Optics Crayford focuser and dropped in a medium power eyepiece. I started to align the Telrad and finder scope to the 8" SCT. The only object visible at the time was Sirius.

All this attention caught the eyes of some of the kids. They bustled over to see what we were seeing. Apologised for the plain view of a star. Still, when Phil told me that Sirius was around 8 lightyears away, it occurred to me that would be about the age of the kids. That was a neat comparison.

It suddenly wondered if Mercury might be visible. Funny, all the iPhones suddenly popped out to augment reality! We concluded it should be just above the roof line of the OSC but despite some thorough scanning with the Horvatin binoculars, I could not locate it.

It was still not dark enough for our deep sky objects so I put the telescope on Mizar and Alcor, 80 light years away, and offered up views as the crowds started to thicken.

And the time just flew by...

I know someone brought me a hot chocolate at one point. I know someone handed me one of Lora's cookies. The hot chocolate froze before I could finish it. It took me 30 minutes to finish the cookie. Guess I was talkin' too much! I recall Tony asking me where Algieba was. I know I requested the low power eyepiece, the 35mm Tele Vue Panoptic, giving us approx. 58 power. I remember the little step stool and observing chair disappearing part-way through the evening. While being interviewed, I bull's-eyed the Winter Albireo (aka 145 Canes Majoris). Tony, Phil, Uve, and Guy took a look. Wonderful colours.

When the lights came back up in front of the OSC, we started packing up. The crowds had dissipated. Phil was cold.

I didn't clue in right away but there was a flurry of activity to the north. Some had found a vantage point so to see Saturn. A little late but the few remaining visitors got a look thanks to John and Tony.

I helped Phil pack up. I talked him into going to the pub! Lora phoned me to ask me not to put him on a train to Montréal without credit cards...


While unsuccessful lighting the butane handwarmer, I cracked the sodium ones. But they didn't last long in the cold. I heard the temperature was between -5 and -10°C. And it was breezy. Fortunately, my feet were toasty in the Baffin boots!


It was fun learning a new telescope tonight. I thanked Phil for letting me fly his pristine LX10.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"May I have a cookie" was added to Chatty Cathy's repertoire in 1963. Hmmmm, coincidence or what?????