Sunday, August 25, 2019


Too tired slash lazy to set up last night. Rolling the dice today. Hoping the Clear Outside prediction is pessimistic...

Set up the Kendrick Astro tent while thinking of all the peeps at Starfest, many taking their tents down.

Used the new red aluminium pegs. Nice!

Big yellow extension cord.

2:14 PM. Updated my tent instructions. The second longest pole goes on the "observing floor" side with the telescope; not the "cabin" or "office" side. This means the written instructions provided by Kendrick are wrong while the diagram is correct.

Readied the eyepieces case. Found the 26mm still in the ETX.

Prepared the Sony recorder.

Neighbour's dog came tearing around the side of the house, wrangler unable to keep up. I said "You can't have your dog here." He apologised.

Assembled the Vixen Super Polaris at top the old tripod. Wow. Seems like it's been a long time... Certainly for my mount... Did not raise the tripod to full height.

Brought out the dew heater gear. In the new bigger case. Ugh. I had just thrown everything without organising. A bit of a mess. Grabbed the 8-inch wrap. Grabbed my new custom rubber encased eyepiece wrap. Pulled out the cup warmer heater for the finder scope. Grabbed my custom None More Black controller! I've not field tested this yet! Readied the old computer Power Supply Unit for the evening.

Inside, looked up the exact latitude and longitude, transcribed the numbers. Fired up the GoToStar system. The year and month was right but the date and time off. Entered the coordinates in the mount.

Tried to do a run-up for the mount. After choosing the first alignment star, it went bananas. The declination motor would immediately spin up to full speed and then the paddle display would show a current overrun. Unloaded the motor. Same issue.

Built a black box. It worked! [ed: Made out of black card-stock, scraps from a file folder I had cut up. Held together with black electrician's tape. Fit tightly around the encoder end of the declination motor, covering the emitter and sensor, blocking external light.]

3:35. Finished testing alignment. No overruns. Used Arcturus and Alphard for the alignment stars. All good. Huh, as it was moving, I watched the point move from the positive side of the declination circle to the negative... Don't recall ever paying attention to any of that before. Cleared the polar alignment report. Slewed to the Moon. Good! Parked the 'scope and powered off the unit.

Neighbour's dogs got loose again, both of them. The humans behaving badly.

4:26. Finished installing the fly. I have more than enough pegs. I used 5 small carabiners for the observatory portion.

Measured the base of the tent, to aid in purchasing a drop sheet.

Astrospheric report as of 1638 EDT

4:39. Checked the weather and sky prediction sites. Clear Sky Chart looks awesome for tonight. Dark blues everywhere. The Clear Outside summary shows green from dinner time through sunrise. The detailed display shows zero clouds. Looks like dew may not be a factor (but I still have the gear ready to go). Astrospheric looks really good. Average to above average seeing and transparency through the night. Again, air temp and dew are far apart to about 2:00 AM. Checked fire-smoke resources. Clear, for a change. I tuned Good To Stargaze: winds 11 km/h or less, humidity below 85% to 5:00 AM, clouds less than 15% to 4:00 AM, seeing at 1.9 arcsec or better, no Moon until 2:00 AM. Looks like it'll be 5 good hours!

5:17. I think everything is ready. I'm sure I've forgotten something...

Dinner was cooked.

Brought the portable weather stations out.

Small dinner. We'll have dessert later...

Changed. Jeans, socks (astrocats!), fresh shirt, plus a long-sleeved shirt.

Dude upstairs was impressed. Said he'd turn out the lights. Thanks! I invited them to look at Jupiter or Saturn.

Attached the OTA to the mount. Found the balance is fair WITHOUT the eyepiece. Could I do alignment without?! That's a weird thought...

7:12. Brought more gear out. Configured computer. Connected the USB-serial (Prolific). Checked the assigned port (COM2).

From earlier, I transcribed my measurements. The footprint of the Kendrick tent is 14'3" x 8'3".

7:29. Played with balance of the mount. I was surprised to find with the dew shield on, it was front heavy! I thought it was extremely back heavy. So I slowly added bits. Curiously, with the focuser and 2" mirror and 2" eyepiece, it's not bad...


Tent was dusty, much of it from the old carpet.


When you slew to the moon with the GoToStar system, it automatically goes into "lun" tracking rate. I didn't know that! Clever people.

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