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WCAS - "Star Party"

September 28, 2002

Hey, it didn't look like it was going to happen. The weather had been rotten, I was bound to duty and the situation looked bleak. Chances were good that there was no way I was going to be able to attend the Wayne County Astronomical Society's "Star Party". But you know what?

Don't count me out until the round is over.

Finishing up my responsibilities in record time, I decided there was no harm in extending Road Trip - 2002 to include a friend's organization, and I deeply appreciate Monty's patience with the "maybe I can be there, and maybe I can't." answer I gave him. So, with a handful of impeccable directions, a tankful of gas, and my ever-present cup of coffee I set out on a 90 mile northeastern jaunt... And the second "road trip" of the year begins in earnest.

In actuality, I found the trip very pleasant and relaxing. Ohio farmlands are quite beautiful, and the gentle rolling hills of the eastern portion of the state are majestic this time of year. Keeping the stereo just one decibel below auditory extinction level, I simply enjoyed my coffee and watched the scenery roll past. As each landmark passed by, and I turned off onto the marked road, I could feel the anticipation build. Looks to me like we're in the middle of NoWhere!

Following the signs, I eventually wound up in Memorial Park. The graveled drive leads into the woods, and clearing up ahead shows the twinkle of parked vehicles. Low and behold! Here be telescopes... Drawn together in a circle (sans covered wagons) and anxiously awaiting the arrival of dark.

Lucy? I'm home...

It didn't take me long to find Monty is a crowd of unfamiliar faces. And don't you know there was one better? For no sooner than I walked up, he told me "Your friend is here." Que? And there he was... My mentor. Dan! What a true pleasure. Come a long way over the last couple of years, haven't we?

Now, since l'm all smiles, let's go check out all of those great telescopes!

One that caught my eye in particular was a late 60's - early 70's model Celestron cassegrain. And don't cha' know? It delivered some very, very nice images of the M13 later that evening. A real old beauty...

And, I'm sure you notice the small dob, the Club's 6" refractor and all the great Meade LX series scopes that are along for the party too!

Another scope that captured my interest was the Orion 8" Skyview Deluxe... (if there were ever a scope that turned ~T's head twice, this would be it. to me, that would be like combining the best of both my worlds in one package. gonna' have me one of those someday... ;)

There was also a large dobsonian, many pairs of binoculars on a tripods, and for all you mak fans? Even a Intes MK67 shared the field...

But the real treat of the evening for me was being given free reign with this, eh?

And you know me...

Thanks to Monty's generousity, it was my pleasure to exhaust my knowledge of celestial objects achievable for sky conditions and aperature. Between Dan and I, I don't think we barely allowed Monty a look through his own scope! And I can't thank you enough, Monty... You know how much I enjoy hunting down the faint fuzzies!

So what did we look at? Name it. But there's a bit of a trick to this equation... Between sky and ground conditions, and a goodly sprinkling of light pollution, we were pretty much condemned to magnitude 9 and up for public viewing. But that's all right... For there are many, many delightful objects that fall within that category, and if you hand me a keypad? We're there, dude...

Once again, the Meade LX2000 10" proves to be a very worthy scope. It provides excellent resolution on globular clusters, and very decent structure on nebulae. Galaxies? Oh, I am sorry on this one. The sky itself took a very big bite out of faint studies. M81 and M82 were unachievable, and the M51 just a ghost of itself. And when you see that? You know better than to even try for the NGCs. But in this case, it was not the scope. It was the sky.

By the time we were ending the run on globular clusters and heading into the Cassiopeian opens, the words "I Dew" became a very big factor. When I noticed trouble focusing and how some stars were quite beginning to look like planetary nebulae, it was time to take a look at the scope itself. And there you have it... The only real drawback I see to the maksuktov/cassegrain design. Even shielded, that moisture finds its' way in there, and without corrective measures? End of session.

Monty, I thank you again for your invitation to the WCAS "Star Party" and the use of your scope... and I thank the WCAS itself for the terrific series of Hubble shots I was given! You are a fine bunch of gentlemen, and I appreciate the opportunity to share an evening's viewing with you. I wish you all the greatest success in the restoration of the Freelander Observatory and in preserving your dark sky site.

You guys deserve it.

"And may we all shine on... Like the Moon and the Stars and the Sun..."


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