Saturday, August 10, 2019

helped at DDO lecture night (Richmond Hill)

Went to the David Dunlap Observatory really early. I wanted some quiet time...

Hopped off the bus once again at Weldrick and Essex. This time, after starting up the DDO driveway, I cut through the woods so to shorten my walk. That worked out great following the obvious path. Gave me a chance to inspect the north side of the dome. I think I arrived around 3:45 PM.

There was a wedding party wrapping up as I walked up to the admin building. Introduced myself to the Richmond Hill afternoon staffer.

In the RASC office, I signed in, connected to the wifi, checked text messages, dropped off the name tags sheet, dropped off my (keyed) cable lock, pocketed a radio, left a note for Celia, grabbed a member's forgotten USB key, noted the left-behind BBQ tools and lawn chair, tidied up the SkyNews magazines, grabbed an extra clipboard, verified the A/C was on in the lecture hall, visited the "cloak room," filled up my water bottle, loaded up the "DDO bin" (along with cooling fan), and head to the dome.

Fielded a query from the Carr Astronomical Observatory. Helped a volunteer with a technical issue there.

Opened the windows on the observatory floor again. Elected to not activate the fan as the air was already cool. This time I explored the north window. That allowed cool air into the Warm Room.

Installed the LED red light bulb in the eyepiece cabinet.

Brought out the big whiteboard, my markers and brush (but never ended up using it).

Deployed some plugs and caps for our eyepieces and the mirror diagonal.

Briefly tried connecting to the hard line ethernet devices in the Warm Room. No joy.

Found my missing favourite eyepiece strap! It had been missing for a long time. I must have dropped it at a past DDO event. Ha. Weird.

Configured the MallinCam. This time for semi-permanent installation. So, I attached the camera (once again with the loaner 2-inch long extension tube), fired up the Warm Room old CRT monitor and video signal amp, along with the CRT TV on the observing floor. All good. Connected the remote control and reviewed settings. Left it connected for further adjustments as the sky darkened.

Centred the tangent arm.

Enjoyed a light dinner in the Warm Room. Kinda neat. Felt nostalgic.

Changed into "the uniform." RASC volunteer shirt, RASC name tag, RH volunteer tag, red LED name badge. Made sure I had my whistle, (finicky) green laser pointer, telescopic pointer, RASC business cards.

Set the sidereal time well in advance.

Fired up Stellarium on the west computer and viewed it on the monitor atop the console. It proved very convenient when looking up the RA and dec numbers.

After Celia arrived, I slewed to Arcturus. No issues with the Right Ascension clamp. Nothing in the finder scope and, of course, nothing in the big 'scope. Made me wonder if my numbers were screwed up, Had I done my math wrong? Swapped out Chris's reticule eyepiece for the 30mm Plössl. Ah ha! I was a little off. Slewed closer to centre. Reinserted the (higher power) Meade reticule and centred again. Found it in the visitor ocular. Adjusted the movable cross-hairs. Happily, I quickly reached focus on the MallinCam. Locked the focuser down. That was easy!

Erased the first marked position on the CRT monitor and put on the new one. Adding markings to the TV.

We found an AED and first aid kit in the Warm Room. We talked about home to inspect a fire bottle.

Phil arrived. We went to Jupiter, double-checking each other's steps. Got it on the MallinCam. Yes!

Frank arrived. We completed the dome preparations: log book, projector, construction movies, table talkers, downstairs lighting and backroom barriers.

The wind was gone. We enjoyed the view from the outer catwalk. I picked up Saturn, over the north dome of the admin building. The lads spotted it later with some hints from me.

Bumped into John B setting up his Dob on the lawn. Handed off the BBQ items to him.

Met everyone at the team meeting. Good to see all the helpers.

Walking back to the dome, we hammered out who would do what. Showed the lads my script.

Celia pinged us as the welcome meeting let out and a few minutes later we received our first tour. Phil did the downstairs preamble. Then I lead the group upstairs and we viewed Jupiter through the big 'scope. Good crowd, good questions, met some new RASCals.

It was neat seeing two moons flanked Jupiter in the big 'scope.

I did not have time to dig deep for Amalthea.

I was really happy to see my Saturn rubber stamp used for one of the groups!

At around 10:15 o'clock, during the second group tour, I noticed the spectrograph starting to touch the north pier. Ah ha! I knew it. As predicted. This was satisfying as I had correctly interpreted the old instrumentation Hour Angle chart.

I apologised to the visitors but quickly moved the OTA north. The team considered the next option and decided on the Moon. I relayed the RA and dec numbers to Phil. We missed a bit but when I put the 30mm in the finder scope, I could see our target. Slewed (slowly) the last bit and centred on a nice crater. The Moon looked pretty neat on the MallinCam display.

[ed: I think we landed on Sinus Iridum...]

We sent the second tour group on their way at 10:45. Everybody seemed pretty happy.

Invited members to the dome after the customers left. Adiv, our evening speaker, also wanted to visit. Fun. We aimed the big OTA to Saturn. Easy peasy to bull's eye with the MallinCam again. When Phil dialled in the RA and dec (after a little correction from me), I could see the planet on the TV screen. Once centred on the cross-hairs I had marked on the screen, Phil said the planet was in the visitor eyepiece. Nice.

Seeing was poor but Saturn was big and bright. We could see Titan on the monitor.

As our members had a look I began the dome shutdown procedures.

Quick debrief in the admin building with Alex and Celia. Sounded like everything went well. We talked about an interactive workstation for fun quizzies and perhaps a quick and easy survey. Alex wanted the new volunteer form—I promised to send.

A volunteer was kind enough to give me a lift to Yonge St. With the construction, the street was a mess. I did not see any nearby bus stops so walked all the way to Harding. Happily a bus arrived seconds later so by midnight I was on my way home. A chance to sit! I was tired.

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