Wednesday, September 24, 2014

14 inch back home

The 14 inch scope, pictured above, is back home (notice the nifty counterweight addition!). The Walnut Ridge Observatory site will continue to be used, but with other scopes. While the dark sky site was amazing, it was simply too much of a drive (10 miles) to get there and back on a weeknight. I was missing too many clear nights, so I made the difficult decision to move the scope back home. It's currently on wheelie bars and it is easy to roll it out onto the driveway. I park the scope after every use and I use marks on the drive way to position it at approximately the same point for every use. It seems to work well--I don't need to polar align every time I use it; a simple GOTO a named object and a SYNCH is all I need to do.

Since the move, I've been able to take advantage of the clear evenings and I've used the scope more in the last week than in the last 6 months; convenience is the name of the game!

As I said, Walnut Ridge will continue to be used as it is a superb site and there is nowhere quite like it for star parties!

Another big development is on the horizon. I hope to acquire a 5 bay Skyshed POD and to set it up on a site only a couple of miles from my home! This new observatory, while not at a dark sky site, offers excellent views of the southern horizon and will enable me to reach the scope in less than 5 minutes. Moreover, it will also make it possible for me to do educational outreach and enrichment activities for local students, which is something I very much enjoy. Stay tuned for more information!