Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rare Astronomical Conjunction

Clear skies over Horseshoe Bend with an evening where I was not either preparing for class, or grading papers.  Viewing conditions were very clear and there was essentially no atmospheric turbulence, because turbulence usually starts as heat disparities, and thus requires something we no longer have here: heat.  Unfortunately, there was a bit of wind blowing, and Big Bertha 2.0 is still too heavy for the CI-700 equatorial mount on which it sits, so astrophotography was a waste of time. 

If I do not have any classes to teach next semester, that may be the task: the Big Bertha 3.0 rebuild using half Suerrier trusses to knock at least another 5-7 pounds off the telescope, and improve stiffness at the same time.

The optical path requires collimation, but even in its obviously uncollimated state, the level of detail visible on the Moon was astonishing.  I counted at least eight obvious bands on Jupiter, and I am sure that collimation would give me more.  Unfortunately, at these temperatures, it was difficult to talk myself into staying outside for visual observing. No amount of hot chocolate was going to solve this problem.

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