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Topics - MattT

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Annual Star Parties / THANK YOU!
« on: October 03, 2016, 06:17:53 AM »
I had a wonderful time at Calstar 2016. The Whisper Canyon camp is great - hosts Larry and Jennifer are such nice people - the viewing conditions very fine, and the fellowship excellent. Thanks to everyone here who was involved in putting it together!

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TAC Astro Classifieds / 17.5" Truss Dob for sale
« on: September 24, 2016, 10:19:25 AM »
I'm selling my 17.5" Discovery truss dob. It's f/4.9 with a focal length of 86". I bought it used at RTMC in 2015 and have only used it a few times - only twice at a dark site. My knees have started giving me trouble and the scope is a little too big to be fun for me.

The scope is used but in nice condition. I've upgraded it a bit in the 1.5 years I've owned it: replaced the teflon pads, touched up the varnish, added some flocking and etc. The focuser is a JMI EV Crayford, originally an EV-3 that I upgraded to their top of the line EV-1 spec (a $369 value) using the JMI conversion kit, so it can lift heavy eyepieces and has fine gear reduction. I have only ever blown the dust off the mirror, never wet-cleaned it, and the coatings look to be in good shape.

Includes a shroud, foam sleeves for the truss tubes and case for truss tubes, a heavy duty water resistant nylon "coat" from Astrosystems that fits over the entire scope fully assembled. No GOTO, DSCs, or finder included - though there is a Telrad mount and a Synta-style finder shoe.

I'll be going live with an ad on one of the major sites probably tomorrow, but thought I'd give TACos first shot. I'll be asking $2800 on the big classified sites. Pass it on to anyone you know who'd be interested. The scope is located in Walnut Creek, or for Socal buyers I could deliver at Calstar.

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Observing Reports / Coe 6/30/16
« on: July 01, 2016, 12:25:15 PM »
It had been a long time since I'd observed from the overflow lot at Coe, and I was pleased to find that it's still a nice site. Access was no problem with a call ahead to the ranger. Though she didn't mention it, I did pay the Day Use fee via the Iron Ranger at the park entrance, about a 1/2 mile up the road past the overflow lot. Gotta support the parks!

I arrived around 8 and it was breezy. For an hour after dusk the wind was strong enough at times to buffet the scope; it settled down a bit as the evening progressed but there was still a light breeze at midnight. T shirt weather until I packed up at 12.30.

The lower western sky was all blown out by Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and the San Jose suburbs. Some city lights are directly visible to the W, so I was glad I set up at the eastern edge of the lot which screened most of the lights and minimized the wind. 3 cars drove by after dark, the last around 12.30.

To the E there was a little glow through the trees from lights at the park HQ, but no lights were directly visible and the sky in that direction did not look much affected. The eastern sky, from about N down to SSE, was quite dark almost to the horizon. Near the zenith, M13 was easy naked eye, which is one of my informal tests for whether a site is worth a little drive. Speaking of which...drive time down from Walnut Creek was 2.30, taking it easy in frequent heavy traffic, and the late night ride home was only 1.40.

Observing was mostly just gawking at eye candy in the 17.5". I did see the Bug Nebula (NGC6302 IIRC) in Scorpius, and the Box Nebula. And lots of globs. I spent some time comparing the Messier globs in Ophiuchus, with their variety of visual textures. M12 reminded me of a crab, with its right claw much larger than the left.

So, a fun night, and I achieved most of the testing that I'd hoped for. It was good to be back at Coe, where I have happy memories of Messier marathoning and Hale-Bopp.

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Observing Intents / Henry Coe
« on: June 30, 2016, 02:37:09 PM »
Called the ranger and was told the overflow lot will be left unlocked for me. Planning to arrive around 7:30, depending on traffic from Walnut Creek, and pack up at midnight or 1 the latest. Planning a half-night session to try out some tweaks I've made to my 17.5" Discovery, then if all goes well some viewing of Summer eye candy.

Matt T

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TAC Visual / Coe tonight? Thursday 6/30
« on: June 30, 2016, 09:44:22 AM »
I don't have to work tomorrow and conditions look pretty good. I haven't been to Coe in a long time, and just called the rangers and confirmed the overflow lot is available. I need to request by this afternoon that they leave the gate open. Anybody else interested?

Anybody going somewhere else tonight?

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Observing Intents / Fremont Peak, Saturday 7/2
« on: June 29, 2016, 01:12:38 PM »
The lovely wife and I, and the 17.5". SW lot, probably.

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TAC Visual / Memorial Weekend Observing?
« on: May 23, 2016, 07:59:11 AM »
The long range forecast suggests high pressure building in for the Bay Area, and (crosses fingers) good conditions for weekend. The Moon sets after midnight starting on Friday, and Mars is still close to opposition. So I'm thinking about a darkish site with good southern horizons and the best chance of good seeing, where I'd target DSOs before moonrise and Mars/Saturn after. The first that comes to mind is Fremont Peak.

I've only been to Fremont Peak a couple of times in the past several years. Would you expect it to be mobbed with campers on Memorial Day weekend? Would the SW lot still be the best spot there?
Anybody making other plans?


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TAC Visual / FPK Sunday, 8/16?
« on: August 15, 2015, 08:38:47 PM »
Anybody else tempted?
On today's satellite photos it looks like the fire smoke filling the Bay Area doesn't extend that far south.

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TAC Visual / Coe Saturday Night, 4/18?
« on: April 17, 2015, 08:40:38 AM »
I'll be at Chabot tonight (Friday), but if the weather holds might go someplace darker Saturday night. I think I read on the SJAA site that they reserve the overflow lot at Coe for general astronomical use. That means I can just head on up, and pay the iron ranger, right? Anybody else headed up there? I haven't been to Coe in many years.

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Observing Reports / 10/3/14 The Moon in Chabot's 8" Clark Refractor
« on: October 07, 2014, 11:58:44 AM »
Last Friday night the skies were dry and especially steady over Chabot Space and Science Center in the Oakland hills. As a volunteer operator of Leah, the 8" Clark refractor, I arrived early and started viewing the Moon right around sunset. The terminator was just west of Copernicus and with seeing about 4/5 the view was spectacular. Over the course of the evening we counted 277 members of the public viewing through the scope. Magnification was kept at 72x for most of the night, as people getting their first view through a scope seem to enjoy a low-power view of the entire Moon more than a high power view of particular features.

Once the public session concluded around 10:30pm, I bumped up the power to 200x. The Moon was lower now and seeing only about 2.5/5, but a few volunteers who hung around late still enjoyed a great view of the lunar domes west of Copernicus (Rukl chart #30). Crater pits were noted atop several of the soft looking, gently rounded domes.

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