Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cloudy Night Number One.

And probably not the last.

Well gang, this is my innaugural post. For all you astronomy buffs, I've finally begun to get back into the obsession. The last couple of weeks have been taken up with a search for two or three different systems.

  1. (immediate) A nice airline-portable grab-and-go rig for our upcoming Maui vacation next week. Mainly for reasons of likely sand and child-induced wear, I ultimately settled on one of the William Optics Zenithstar 80 scopes. I considered some higher-end scopes but ultimately went portable and disposable, just in case.

  2. A not-so-portable high-end refractor on a stable and high-precision mount as a platform for medium to wide-field digital astrophotography. So Far I purchased a used Losmandy G11 mount and added the Gemini go-to system. Leading candidates for the initial scope are the new Takahashi TSA 102 APO, and the yet-to-be-seen William Optics TMB-designed Zenithstar 110 Triplet APO.

  3. NEW! LightBridge Truss Tube DobsoniansA big light-bucket Dobsonian for visual observing excitement. I recently saw one of the new Mead Lightbridge truss Dobs in a local retailer. Frankly, I was really impressed with the mechanical stability, smoothness of the bearings, focusser quality, and overall fit and finish. The jury is still out as far as the optics are concerned. They wanted about $1,200 for the 12" version. More investigation due here.

Software-wise, I've purchased both Starry Nights Pro and The Sky to see which one better integrates with the Gemini system. A little cable hacking will be necessary to couple my notebook's USB port through a USB-to-serial converter, and then through a custom DB9-to-RJ22 cable. I'll keep you posted how the interconnect effort goes.

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