Thursday, August 28, 2014

ARO trip log day 1

The trip to the Algonquin Radio Telescope started today. Phil handled the logistics and had offered Steve, Katrina, and myself a ride. He wanted to get away Thursday night so to have lots of time to settle in on Friday. It's a long drive direct—partly because one should enter from the north-east. Katrina proposed diverting to the cabin near North Bay to break up the trip. We fine-tuned plans.

7:28 AM. Phil said he'd try to remember to put the Argo Navis control box and cables in the cabin of the truck so that I could play with it on the journey. Maybe run some simulations in SkyTools 3 Pro. Cool. I was looking forward to that. We wanted to chase down some faint fuzzies in super dark skies.

8:25. Phil messaged that his Obsession 'scope is f/4.2. In SkyTools, I had it as 4.5 for some reason. Then he said he almost always ran it with the Tele Vue Paracorr. That increased things by about 15%, changing it to a f/4.8. Of course that would change magnification and field of view in the simulated views in the software. Maybe that I had it at 4.5 was OK. In the middle.

11:05. Katrina sent an email.
Just got a tweet from the CSA re aurorae - might get lucky tonight - bring cameras.  Or not.  Aurorae are like comets - without the tail thingy.
12:42 PM. I was in the final packing stage. Decided to bring DSLR and huge tripod. Rendezvous time was set for 5:30 PM. I redid my route planning after realising it didn't make sense to go to Phil's work on the other side of the GTA. Shorter, faster, but still long.

The 53 southbound bus was a bit late but I made the 35 bus connection on time. The bus reached the subway ahead of schedule. And my timing continued to improve slowly. The TTC operator at Christie gave me a break. So did the northbound bus driver. Thanks!

Arrived at the Stockyard restaurant about 8 minutes ahead. Popular spot! I grabbed a row of seats near the back. No wifi unfortunately. Which would be the beginning of a long drought...

5:33. Katrina texted me: she and Phil were on their way along St Clair Ave. Didn't wait long. Had the fried chicken dinner with huge portions.

Phil said he forgot to pull out the Argo Navis. But he could do that at Steve's.

We picked up Steve and packed his gear plus telescope. A bit ahead of the 7:30 PM time. I helped transfer items from the hallway to the sidewalk. A few trips! The truck bed was jammed!

Received an extra Starfest programme from Phil. I'll give it to Mom.

Forgot the Argo Navis again. Oh well. I read the documentation from Skyhound and Wildcard Innovations. The Argo Navis document, downloaded a few days back, is huge! Well, not like the SkyTools tomb. Still...

It was slow near Canal Road. Why? Crazy tailgaters.

I learned that Sharmin wouldn't be joining us. And I was sad. In more ways than one.

7:41. On the Highway 400, through Steve's window, I spotted the Moon, a thin crescent, which I guessed was 2 or 3 days old. 3.2 days old according to SkyTools.

We swapped drivers after highway pit spot the new Canadian Tire service centre, the ONroute stop just south of Barrie. The old weird underground portion was gone... It was around 8:30 PM. I grabbed a medium coffee and the wheel. Traffic was light now.

Saw the Moon again just over the trees, setting. The skies were looking good. Katrina, riding shotgun, could see Cassiopeia and the Dipper. I kept seeing a star about 5 degrees above the horizon. Looked like we'd be able to get some observing in.

Photo by Phil Chow. Where was she leading us?

I drove to the cabin. A tug in Huntsville, many-a-time I have turned onto 60 for Mew Lake. Carried on. Past Burk's Falls. Exited Highway 11 for 124 and passed through Sundridge. Quiet. Looks like the major industry is selling pick-up trucks. Couldn't see Lake Bernard in the dark. Katrina guided me to hers and Fred's dark site.

Nice spot! It was very dark as we emerged from the vehicle. Stars down to the tree line. We moved gear into the cabin. Fred had left the tent out—I offered to sleep there. Katrina started up the wood stove.

Leg 1 of the ARO journey was done.

It was before 11. We had made good time. We started to set up cameras and 'scopes.

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