Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jiffy Pop time

It's that time of year.  The 11th Annual CalStar starparty will take place at Lake San Antonio, Oct 7,8,9.  I'm heading down early.  I don't make it to any other large multi-day starparties - for me, this is it, and my favorite.

I've done visual astronomy on and off for, well, a long time.  This will be the first year I am taking the camera.  But instead of ditching the eyepiece I've found that taking images has actually rekindled some of the old passion for observing.  I've stared at some objects for hours and hours as I processed the images - now I want to appreciate them over again using a different media.  This one more subtle, more ephemeral, more personal.

To that end, I'm actually pulling out my Obsession 18 which has been gathering dust in the garage for 3 years.(truss poles - check,  ratchet do-hickeys - check, actually packed the wheelie bars and ramps - check).  My fantasy will be to get the camera ripping pictures for an hour unattended while I calmly push the giant dob around.  More likely I'll be fussing over the camera gear, tripping over wires, then spending way too much time trying to find that first star to just start star hopping.

I'm also bringing along my AP900 mount.  The mount I bought some 10 years ago to do astrophotography - but still haven't taken a single picture with it.  How's that for making a silly purchase before I was ready planning for the future?  (counterweights - check, mounting plate bolts - check, hand paddle- check, blue tops -check).

Then there will be my trusty AstroTrac ... bing, bang it is all set up and ready to go.  Takes all the fun out of the hours of set up and fussing required for a "real" mount. (manfrotto head - check, um, huh, not much else to forget).

Three mounts, two scopes, one camera, 3 lenses.  Way too much.  And this year I'm moving a little slower.  But the way I'm thinking of it ... I'll have a lot of choices, 4 nights, and the best company one could ask for.

The *only* reason I still own a pickup truck.
The careful observer will notice that picture is a rather wide field.  Yes, first light for my newest toy.  More on that later!

Yes, time again for Calstar.  Can't wait for that 1am break time. A chance to warm the insides and enjoy the simple pleasure of Jiffy Pop shared with friends.

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