Sunday, May 20, 2012

slow progress with N11 (Blue Mountains)

The Observing Pad was getting crowded tonight. Ian had his big Dob at the far east end. Then, moving west, Manuel G has his big SCT on the CGEM DX. Millie was beside with her lightly bruised RC. Then me, with the blanketed NexStar 11 GPS (alt-az Go To). Manuel S's spanky new SCT.

As evening descended, I noticed there was no wind. Yeh. My eyes would get a break, hopefully.

8:29 PM, 19 May 2012. The Clear Sky Chart will looking amazing. It was going to be good! For tonight, tomorrow, and Monday! Good news for the eclipse... Great conditions for a long weekend.

9:28 PM. We started viewing Saturn. It was astonishing in Ian's hand-made 20" Newtonian. I was certain that I could see darkening at the outer edge of the A ring. It was quite dark. I asked if anyone knew about this. Ian suggested the "crepe ring."

[ed: I reviewed this later and found no such feature. But is it possible that I was seeing the effect of the Encke Division, a thin narrow gap at the outer edge?]

While Manuel S learned his new telescope, I reviewed the NexStar documentation for the 11" at the picnic table.

10:59 PM. I viewed Mars in the N11. I tried bumping up to the 10mm eyepiece.

11:15. Between helping Manuel G, I returned to the picnic table to do some more reading on the N11.

11:20. I checked the collimation of the N11 and thought it was pretty good. I certainly didn't feel like changing it.

11:46. I viewed M99 in the N11. aka St. Katherine's Wheel in SkyTools. I wanted to change the magnification slightly. Ian let me try his 20mm eyepiece. Nice.

11:53. Helped Manuel S with constellations, the Milky Way (low), a few key stars...

Weird air conditions. Got really warm at one point. Felt like I had stepped in an oven! Then the air was very cool suddenly. Fast. It was stark! And then the seeing tanked!

11:54 PM. Viewed Saturn in the C14. I was hoping to see Mimas. No joy. Too windy. Saw other moons, to be sure.

Both Manuels went to their vehicles on several occasions to fetch missing parts. I suggested he not lock his vehicle. I encouraged him to clearly warn us before future instances.

Heard the owl again. Kiron heard it too. Circling around us as we sat at the picnic table.

Tried changing the backlash adjustments in the N11. I might have gone too far...

Tried the "calibrate compass" feature.

3:11 AM, 20 May 2012. That was a frustrating evening. White light transgressions. Spent a lot of time helping others. Often without success. I got very little done. I wanted to make much more progress with the N11.

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