Firstly my sincere apologies. It has been a while since I have posted but life seems to be racing forwards. I have been very busy working with a government client helping them plan for an innovative collaboration centre. This included attracting funding, working with various government agencies to understand their needs and putting together a business case that will eventually end up at the Cabinet Office. All very exciting! This has, unfortunately, placed a toll on my astronomy. Commuting across the country somewhat limits my enthusiasm to go outside. I am ashamed to admit that I have stayed in even when the sky is clear! While I still have the base enthusiasm to explore the night sky, I’d rather just rest and relax inside with the family after a few days away from home.
Anyhoos, I have upgraded my Skywatcher 6″ Maksutov to a rather more substantial C11 – again bought second hand. I do so enjoy other people chopping and changing their set ups as their needs and interests wane. It means there are bargains on the second hand market that can’t be beat. An 11″ telescope is quite a step up from a 6″ in terms of sheer bulk and weight and, most excitingly, resolution. After a number of attempts to learn the process, I am starting to get pleasing results – for me anyway.
At the same time, I have had a torrid time with my ZEQ25 mount. I stupidly left it tracking after observing the sun in May. This resulted in a missed meridian flip. The mount then slowly ground the telescope tube into a tripod leg resulting in a burned out motor and gearbox that, despite the somewhat frustrating efforts of the vendor, could not be repaired. I will return to this story in due course.
Anyway, the C11 purchase included a rather substantial EQ6. Gosh it is quite a set up. I am already wondering if I could take the 14″ Newtonian off its dob base. Dreams, dreams!
In the meantime, I am looking forward to my 3rd trip to Florida’s Winter Star Party in February. I am hoping that it is more like 2014 which was lovely with warm skies and great observing. 2015, by contrast, was quite cold and wet and not much fun. The lesson is to pack for cold weather and hope to leave the warm clothing in the suitcase!
As for observing kit, I shall be taking my large 100mm APM binoculars and 1100D camera. The binoculars are fantastic for scanning the Milky Way and, of course, I will enjoy the sights we simply miss from the UK. Firstly there are the star fields of the southern winter milky way; then in the small hours there are the fascinating sights such as omega centauri and eta carina; finally in the pre-dawn sky the summer milky way with Sagittarius and Scorpius put on a fine show. The binos, with 19mm panoptics, provide a lovely field of view that simply glistens with stars. Oh and there are always plenty of large telescopes to have a look through. It is going to be fantastic!
With Florida on the horizon, Jupiter continuing to approach opposition and an observatory in the planning stages there will be plenty more posts here.