So the dust has settled and I’m back from a very nice work-cation that wrapped up with the Pacific Astronomy and Telescope Show. Big news is Software Bisque showed off the new Paramount ME II. More capacity, performance, and yet a lower price. See a pic and get details at my Bisque Blog over here.
The Riverside Astronomical Society (with whom I’m a remote member) invited me out to their Goat Mountain (GMARS) dark sky site the weekend before PATS and I spent three nights in the desert, and the weather and seeing was superb! Located near Yucca Valley there is easy access to restaurants hotels… and… and… a Starbucks! Oh yeah, between the weather, the lack of flying bugs, the lack of dew, etc. It’s officially my favorite dark sky site on earth! I talked my boss into sending the Paramount MX and tripod we were going to display at the show a week early, and I took my Veloce RH-200 on the plane as carry-on. Officina Stellare sent me a great hand carrier and it fit easily in the overhead compartment on my flights.
I left the house at 3:30 a.m. in Florida, and made it to GMARS three minutes till sunset. I was all but panicked, but the setup was as smooth as could be and by the time it was dark enough to image I was ready to go with a decent enough alignment for guided shots (gotta love that Paramount work flow!) I really wanted to bring my QSI CCD, but opted on practicality sake for the Canon 5D Mark II that I had modified for astrophotography. For three nights I imaged all night long taking 5, 10, and 15 minute sub exposures. It’ll take me weeks to process all the data! The Riverside guys were terrific, there was a BBQ, and I did some informal support and TPoint tutorials. Sunday night they let me stay pretty much by myself (there was one other guy… somewhere…). I heard Coyotees, saw glow in the dark scorpions, and got some of the best images of my imaging career! A win all around.
I spent a few days with my daughter who lives in San Diego, and we got a personal tour of Palomar. Paul Gardener the chief engineer there used to live here in Florida and was a member of my astronomy club. How cool is that? He’s like… “Scotty” at Palomar! “Paul, I need more POWER”, “Any more and the 200 inch’ll shake apart…”. What a great job that must be!
Next on my agenda was RAW (Riverside Astroimaging Workshop), and I gave a beginners presentation Friday morning. Poor lunch time speakers… everybody just abandoned them when the 747 carrying the space shuttle flew over Pasadena! It was so cool I can’t tell you! I had a 100mm lens on my camera, and some of the guys there with longer lenses got some really amazing shots, but I didn’t do too bad for myself I don’t think.
Saturday and Sunday was PATS (Pacific Astronomy and Telescope Show). There was a lot of interest at our booth in the new Paramount ME 2. I played hooky a couple of times and went shopping, but didn’t really find anything I had to have. I was disappointed some of the vendors I wanted to see didn’t make it, but there’s always NEAF in the spring. It’s funny even among quasi competitors you make friends you look forward to seeing at shows. I also like shopping in the astronomy flea market like settings. Well, AIC is next that’ll be a great time too!