Back in April, our local astronomy club decided to use Zoom to hold our monthly meetings for members as a virtual meeting and they did it again in May. It is working well and a side-benefit is that in addition to being able to see it on Zoom, the video can be automatically streamed to YouTube (with about a 15s delay) and saved there when the meeting ends. Our group isn’t alone in this, lots of organizations are doing the same thing for virtual conferences.
However, one downside to the final saved video is that you get the entire raw footage from the time you press RECORD to the time you press STOP. This means for meetings and conferences that you often see hosts saying exciting things like, “Okay, we are now recording and streaming. You can begin.” And another host saying, “Okay, I’ll just share my screen…can you see that and hear me okay?” » Read the rest
A few people have asked, quite surprisingly to me, what kind of observatory I was “letting go” from my long-term goals. Most plebes think an observatory is simply a place to put your scope and observe the sky, and while they are not completely wrong, it is much more complicated than a simple “location-based” definition.
So, let’s start with what I have as a scope:
That set-up is made up of nine things:
A physical site:
A location to do the viewing, preferably with dark skies (this picture is taken at the inlaws’ cottage in front of a lake and big open skies to the west);
A flat platform for the equipment all to rest upon, along with vibration suppression pads under the tripod legs; and,
Some sort of limited area around the space;
An optical tube — the orange part, which is a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT) design;
A mount — the small black base with a computer in it and an arm that rises up from just below the tube to attach at the far side of the scope; and,
A tripod — the silver part, with the three legs fully extended;
An eyepiece (black with green banding at the top back of the scope);
A power source, which is a portable power tank (this model is very similar to a car battery); and,
A place to hold accessories, which is a flat area just below the black mount, very hard to see in the photo although there is also a table out of range of the camera;
I’ve posted the last couple of times about depression, letting go of a dream of having an observatory in my backyard, and bargaining with myself to replace it with other options. I can find better ways to let go, find alternative locations to view, and even consider a custom storage option for the backyard. However, in the meantime, I need to find a better way to transport my gear from the garage to the backyard and in a smaller number of trips.
I looked into some hand cart ideas, mostly dolly-like tools, and while they would transport a couple of the accessories boxes, they would do very little for my table, chair and actual tripod, let alone the scope itself. In addition, many of them have small wheels, some of them even just casters. None of them are particularly good at getting a large volume of gear to the back yard, down a rocky/gravel side path and potentially across a bumpy lawn. » Read the rest
Earlier this week, I mentioned that I need to let go of my dream of having a backyard observatory (https://polywogg.ca/letting-go-of-an-observatory-dream/). It was based on the crash between the dream and reality, with the reality that multiple variables don’t work in my backyard:
I don’t have space for a pre-fab observatory (normally 8’x8′ minimum);
There’s really only one place in the backyard that works, and to make it functional, I would have to raise it up to deck level, but once there, the only options are either too expensive, too big, too ugly, or all three.
The weird part is that I’ve known it was unlikely for quite some time, and I thought it was “gone” from my plans and options. Some of it remains because I have had nothing to replace it with, to be honest. One frustrating thing for me with my hobby is that I don’t have any places nearby that I can just pop over and start observing from, with most decent options being quite a drive. » Read the rest
I have this dream of a backyard observatory but I know it isn’t very realistic. Yet I let myself get excited earlier this week about a new possibility, and my COVID cabin fever let it go too far.
When some restrictions lift, we are hoping to get somebody in for a small backyard renovation project (landscaping, fence repair) and I was wondering if I could tack on an option to have a better set up for observing at home. I had a small epiphany that I thought gave me much more flexibility in how it could work and, as I said, I got excited temporarily. And then reality crashed in.
My current observing locations are limited
I’m in Nepean (a suburb of Ottawa) and it is not exactly a dark-sky option. My only spot for observing is the backyard which is close to houses, both front and back, which gives me a view to the South. » Read the rest