I just got back from my latest trip to Golden. I live and work in Florida, and work for Bisque remotely. Occasionally though, it is useful to pay a visit to the "home base" and do some planning, and just have a few meals together with everyone. Lots of exciting stuff going down! For one, in Florida, we amateur astronomers have another name for Winter: Observing Season. My scopes sit in my shed most of the summer. Between the oppressive humidity, giant bugs, oppressive humidity, soaking dew, oppressive humidity, poor seeing, and did I mention oppressive humidity? Winter is another matter. Cool and sometimes even cold at night, the air is dry and stable. Sub arc second seeing is the planetary and lunar observers paradise. It's also great for astrophotography. I've taken a lot of pictures of the moon in the past. My favorite instrument for this was an 8" Meade Newtonian that they don't make anymore (StarFinder). I've tried taking pictures through my LX200 SCT, but I've had very poor results on the moon with it. Last Winter Star party, I made a tragic and costly mistake in the hobby. On the last day the vendors were trying to get rid of stuff and I picked up an 80mm F/12 "Guide Scope". My first "real" refractor (or so I thought at the time). Refractor lovers know where this is going.... I took it home and turned it on Saturn. Saturn was gorgeous compared to the view through my 8" SCT. The beginning of a slippery slope. I took some lunar images through it and was delighted. A couple of months later, I bought a used 6" Celestron refractor from a friend at NEAF. I was ecstatic, and took it to my first star party two weeks later. Hands down better than my LX200 I thought (view wise). Jupiter, Omega Centauri... spectacular. I had no further need of my 8" SCT, and gave it to my son. I took some lunar images through it... Hmm... pesky color aberration near the limb... but I could live with it, after all other than that it was still a superior view to what I was used to.
Then, recently I spoke at the Mid Atlantic Star Party, and there was a young man there trying to sell his fathers telescope equipment. He had recently passed away, and his son just wasn't into the hobby. He had a small refractor there. It was a Takahashi, FC-76. (This is the part where Darth Vader says, "And now your failure is complete..."). I bargained with him, offered half what it was worth, told him he could get twice what I was offering if he was patient, but it was all I could do, and I promised it would not be on e-bay or astromart the next week. I took it home.
You know those allergy commercials where there are children dancing in the field of flowers? All looks well until they peel this imaginary film away and you see "clearly". Well that's what it was like when I looked though my Takahashi the first time. All my other telescopes were instantly turned to garbage (incidentally, the same thing happened the first time I looked through a Naegler eye piece!). I have always been a big time lunar and planetary observer mostly, and the moon through my Takahashi... there is no substitute. I have named her Vera. She will be on ebay, after you've pried her from my cold dead fingers... um... where was I? Oh yes, well I've been taking pictures of the moon through Vera, and I must say I don't think I'll ever take pictures through anything else I have. I have actually done a comparison between all three scopes. It's like comparing my Canon DSLR to one of those disposable cameras you buy at 7-11 that's preloaded with film. Yeah, it's that good. Only my Naeglars are worthy of Vera, and my cheapo barlow will now have to go too.
What does all this have to do with what's going on at Bisque? Well, I'm getting pretty decent at lunar photography and now I'm actually going to try some deep sky stuff. Tom Bisque is of course the master of this, and on my trip he showed me how to use T-Point, and the ropes for polar aligning a Paramount. I don't have a Paramount of course, but I am getting one of the new smaller mounts, which will be ready soon. I got to tour the machine shop and see how they are being made, and they are coming along nicely. Prototype will be ready soon, and I'm going to be the "Poster Boy" for beginner deep sky astrophotographers. I have a DSLR, a decent scope, and soon a brand new mount from Bisque. And, I'm going to do everything on my MacBook pro, and only using software from Bisque (well, maybe Photoshop)... and no, not running Windows. While there, Tom was futzing trying to get a blue tooth adapter on Windows to work with a Paramount. I just used the BlueTooth adapter in my Mac (using the yet to be released TheSkyX Pro for the Mac), connected to the Paramount, and started slewing. First try. Yeah, I'm the Bisque Mac Fan Boy too ;-) Tom is getting there.
Well, observing season is here, I'll soon have one of the new mounts to try out, TheSkyX Pro is in late late development, and if it weren't cloudy right now... Vera and I would be spending some more "quality time" together...
11-28-2009 5:47 PM