I wrote about one of my dreams recently, having an observatory in my backyard, and the decision + my reaction to the decision that I had to let the dream go. But I found myself bargaining my way back into trying to consider another option, even thinking I might just impose an option that was perfect for me if not awesome for Andrea and Jacob because it was important to me and I had hoped relatively minimal disruption on them. Until I did the formal measurements tonight and realized, sure, it works for me, but it is not “minimal” for them. The only option that works for them isn’t worth it for me. So I need to kill the idea completely, I just can’t make it work.
Going off on a tangent for a moment, I talk to a social worker every couple of weeks for some much-needed talk therapy/counselling, and this past week was almost entirely about my reaction to the first “realization” that it likely wouldn’t work just two weeks ago. » 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;
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’m a bit embarrassed to admit that while I’m a member of the board of the AstroPontiac Observatory, last Saturday was my first outing for the year to the site. Observing nights are frequently high-demand days for me, given my role as the local RASC centre’s Star Party Coordinator, and just other commitments. But Jacob wanted to go, and Andrea was willing to go too with a hope for a small picnic and time to hike the opening of the Luskville Falls trail, so we set off.
We stopped at the Subway near us to get some grub for the picnic and by the time we were at Luskville and finished our meal, it was already starting to darken a bit. Andrea and Jacob did a quick walk down the first part of the trail, but it wasn’t inviting at that time, and they came back.
Our leader, Stephan, showed up a bit later, and we drove out onto the field to get setup. » Read the rest
On Monday, August 26th, Jacob and I headed out to the Fred P. Lossing Observatory (FLO) in Almonte. The land is owned by the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area, but they let RASC Ottawa put an observatory there in slightly darker skies than we have in Ottawa. There is a gate with a lock, a warming room, and a couple of buildings with larger scopes in them. If you get trained on them and pay a small fee each year, you can use the scopes. Otherwise, as just RASC Ottawa members, you can use the grounds to set up your own scope.
While Jacob and I wanted to do some observing, my main reason for going was another member in the club. He and his son (J1 and J2) had bought a new scope, a Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ, and were struggling to see much through it other than the basics. They had not yet managed a polar alignment, nor figured out star-hopping, and were looking for an intro night from someone in the club. » Read the rest