Saturday, October 08, 2016


Reflected on the evening and the various tests and experiments.

I had wanted to try out the Kendrick astronomy tent. It was a lot of fun.

The observing section is a good size. I was surprised by how spacious it felt. I had no trouble navigating around the big equatorial. There was plenty of room for the adjustable height chair. No trouble for two people near the 'scope. I knew I would even be able to fit a small table within. I'd try that tomorrow. My small folding wood table near the 'scope would allow a place to put things, like the corrector cover, or lens caps. "Luxury!"

table in a tent

The other section, normally the sleeping area, was excellent for the work station. It was great having the portable Hillary picnic table inside. It was good having seating for guests! I had not considered or planned for that per se but I think Rhonda enjoyed sitting and relaxing and chatting. Back to the work station. It really was amazing as a work space. Initially, I was irked that I could not find a data cable and was worried about the back and forth. In the end, I didn't feel inconvenienced. A non-issue. Maybe it's something about the Geoff Brown Observatory, the door, the distance, that is off-putting.

Hmm. What will I do if I actually want to use this for camping? Where would I sleep?!

The tent was fantastic as a light shade! Evelyn Crescent had always been a struggle with all the neighbours and their bad lighting. Not to mention feeling like I was in the bottom of a pit. Colbeck had been very good with the walk-out porch, once I figured out the fabric light barrier. Still, very limited view of the sky, especially in the summer. The Mississauga backyard was poor with the high pressure sodium 5 metres away. I suspect the Woodcrest yard would have been good but I never tried it. Let's not talk about Humbervale. This is the best! And the tent, as hoped, makes for a light shield, when at the 'scope, when at the table. Just need to figure out the driveway security light...

After a while, when you get so effectively dark-adapted, you can see everything. And the sky looks grey.

It seemed that the tent would work very well for sheltering items. The observing section roof panels, when closed, nicely sat above the 'scope in its sleeping position. I felt comfortable leaving all the things at the table. It was a lot like when I had observed at Colbeck from the deck: just being able to leave things there was a treat. Unlike the porch, having things covered, should there be light rain (or snow), was very attractive. At Colbeck, I used to tarp the 'scope.*

There were not a lot of bugs!

Tenting in the winter? Looking forward to that!

Hacked some things. Like the inner flaps.

Some lessons learned:

I discovered it is not a good idea to put roof flap outside for it will collect dew. And if it heavy, you'd be bringing that moisture inside the tent and possibly having water fall on the 'scope and mount. Made a note to keep it inside tomorrow. And to use more spring clamps.

It's also a good idea to have the fly installed before the end of the evening. That was a little awkward putting it on in the dark. There are a number of clever things designed into the astronomy tent but the fly seems almost an after thought. The way it's fastened down, in particular, leaves a lot to be desired.

Thought about the next time as to where to position the tent. I will try setting up a bit further south so to guarantee Polaris alignment and a bit further west to avoid the parking security light.

* Having a tarp for the 'scope might still be a good thing to do if heavy rains are expected, say if actually camping out in the middle of nowhere.

Of course, I had a chance to air out the tent. And remove all the stowaway earwigs!

I had wanted to test Nicole's mount again. After working the contacts, it seemed to work very well. That was rather satisfying.

I was somewhat astonished with the pointing performance given the lackadaisical polar alignment routine and the completely unconfirmed two-star alignment. Huh. Objects slewed were often in the low-power eyepiece.

The focuser needed testing. At first I thought there might be a focal length problem but it worked great. The rotation feature is awesome, better than expected. The focusing proper was satisfactory. While single speed, it was smooth and, of course, completely eliminated the mirror shift.

I was happy to have had a chance to show the night sky to my neighbour Rhonda. We had talked about it many times. She was happy to let me use some AC power. I think she was comfortable with me in the backyard.

And I was happy too. Backyard astronomy. Awesome. The set-up was somehow easier than I had anticipated (and should improve). While not quite as convenient as the walk-out on Colbeck during the evening, it was very nice. Power, shelter, wifi. Snacks not too far away. It was all good.

The sky did not seem great. It is light pollution? Is it Bradford's stupidly excessively bright LED street lights? Was it the moisture? Was it just the weather? Was it the distant churning hurricane? Am I comparing to the Blue Mountains? Expectations too high? Hard to say at this stage. Certainly better than Mississauga or Evelyn Crescent.

Bradford, on a Friday night, is noisy! I remember Colbeck being a highway. Maybe it was a mindset thing, expecting Bradford to be like the CAO, which of course is hushed.

As I readied for bed, I was a little anxious about the weather predictions. Looked like rain was on the way. Hopefully everything would be OK. Hopefully, the tent would keep everything dry. I had forgotten to tarp the 'scope.

This was overdue. After a long drought. I felt very satisfied. My observing session proper was not great, due to the very challenging attributes of the targets, but I still felt content.

There were many lucky breaks over the evening. I did not drop my C8. My C8 did not fall off the mount. I did not break other people's stuff. I was able to see Polaris.


Looks I have not used my C8 since April 2014! Wow.


If the magnitude values are correct in SkyTools, I saw 13.6 and 13.9 stars! One, that's incredible for the telescope; two, that's amazing for this old man; three, that's incredible for Bradford; four, that's way beyond any of my past urban limits.

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