Manuel phoned. I was just finishing packing for the jaunt to his place. "What are you doing tonight?" he asked. These types of questions throw me. Huh? Is this a trick question? Rhetorical? Did he forget our plans? Was he just verifying our plans? Am I unreliable? Was he excited? Did he want to change his plans? Did he need me to bring anything special? I wondered what was up.
There was something in his tone... He sounded different. I couldn't tell what it was. Was he speaking faster? Was there a tremor in his voice? Then he "dropped the bomb."
He explained that he had already been out on the porch, imaging. With his new apochromatic. On the Atlas mount. In an effort to collect some data on the Moon. For reasons that I'll let him explain. That had gone well, he reported. Then he began to reconfigure. He had the 8" SCT outside, on his little work table, to cool. But then, whilst navigating the narrow spaces on his porch, in the dark, wires everywhere, removing the camera from the apo, he stumbled and started to fall. To catch himself, he grabbed his little work table. The resultant shaking caused the SCT to roll off the end of the table. It hit the deck! He said it bounced!
Image: What can happen if you let your SCT roll off the table.
Oh dear. Immediately, I imagined the worst. The corrector cracked. The main mirror chipped. I asked if anything broke. He said it looked OK. The corrector was intact. No scratches. The primary mirror looked OK. Lucky.
But he was concerned about damage he couldn't see. He wanted me to look it over. Inspect and test it. And check the collimation. This would change the focus of our evening...
It could have been worse...