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On The Job Training
Richard S. Wright Jr.'s Blog

Well, I still have one more Star Party to look forward too this “season”, and that’s the Winter Star Party. It’s a little later this year, coming the first week of March really. Good seeing in the Florida Keys usually, but this being my 7th consecutive WSP, I can tell you the light domes from Marathon and Key West have grown worse over the years. It’s still much better than my back yard, don’t get me wrong, and still so worth the trip. I fear ten years from now that may not be the case any longer. Better come now ;-)

If you do come this year, you will be in for a treat. The Paramount MX is getting pretty close (in fact, we are taking preorders now!), and the Winter Star Party will be it’s first public operational showing. Not like NEAF or PATS where it was just sitting in our booth. Either Steve or I will be imaging with it. I don’t think we are doing any special presentations; just look us on the Berm (that’s usually where I set up). I’ll probably bring the Paramount ME too, which I’m totally in love with now.

I was reflecting recently on how much I’ve learned working for Bisque (and how danged lucky I am). This April will be… I can’t believe it… 8 years! Wow. When I came to Bisque I was a pretty avid amateur astronomer (spent a short time at Starry Night in fact), but was mostly a visual observer, who dabbled in lunar imaging. Shooting the moon is pretty easy compared to deep space photography, and most of my deep space attempts are… let’s just say amusing. A good parallel would the crayon drawing of Daddy holding a… something pointy?... that you might have on your refrigerator. “Oh, he’s so cute, look he can take pictures through the telescope too…”.  A CCD Camera just wasn’t going to happen for me, but I was really interested in using my DSLR (I am an avid daytime photographer btw) with the scope. When I got my first “high end” scope, a few years back I took the lazy way and got a GOTO (enough star hopping already), but it was an Alt-Az. I really needed an equatorial, so I picked up a low end mount and started learning the ropes. I had tried using a Wedge… I nearly flung it into the bushes at a state park once… there is no substitue for a good equatorial mount I think. Then along comes the MX… I finally talked Steve into letting me use an ME so I could learn the ropes and possibly be more useful than just making 3D graphics for Bisque. Oh how my life has changed. I know it is a lousy craftsman that blames his tools… but boy does it make a difference when you have the right tools! Try driving a nail with a rubber mallet sometime. Now, I’m staying up entirely too late taking hundreds of images, stacking them, etc. All on my Mac btw…  I have the bug, and am now totally ruined. I was just starting to get decent results before the ME showed up, and I think that’s probably the best way to learn, frustrating as it is. If your first car is a Rolls Royce, you are never going to appreciate what a fine automobile it is. Anyway, I’d describe myself now as “Competent Beginner”. Not outstanding, but getting recognizable galaxies and nebula… who knows, I’ve made a name for myself in the OpenGL world, ten years for now maybe I’ll be one of those imaging guys with a couple of APODS, and a picture or two in Sky & Tel. Hey, a boy has to dream right? The image processing aspect fascinates me, and there is tremendous overlap with my other graphics programming experience. Who knows where this will lead. Someplace exciting I think.

I’m afraid I’m not terribly good about keeping the blog up to date, but I do tweet frequently about my OpenGL work (@OpenGL). I started a new twitter account, @AccidentalAstro (the Accidental Astronomer), where I’m going to tweet about observing, astronomy events, and what I’m working on at Bisque.  I seem to do pretty well with the smaller updates, so maybe I’ll be more on top of things there, and it makes more sense than telling my OpenGL followers about how the iPad star charting app is coming along...

Okay, enough blogging, back to writing code. I should have a couple new things to show of on the iPad for Bisque by the Winter Star Party too… but not if I don’t get back to work!


Posted 01-11-2011 10:28 AM by Richard Wright

Comments

trimil wrote re: On The Job Training
on 01-19-2011 10:41 PM

Richard,

Competent beginner -- I can relate to that! -- going on two years now in my case. Image processing removes the excuse that we can't practice this hobby on cloudy nights. If you haven't tried it yet, take a look at Deep Sky Stacker (I run it under VMware Fusion). You feed it a set of image files and it grinds away while you sleep. Aligns, scales, rotates, calibrates using darks, bias, flats, amazing software for $0.

deepskystacker.free.fr/.../index.html

Jim M.

Richard Wright wrote re: On The Job Training
on 01-21-2011 7:06 AM

Thanks Jim for the pointer there. I'm trying really hard to just use the Mac for my Workflow. I think I'm starting to see why the Mac is having such a hard time getting established for IP. If you have an arsenal of tools and hardware, and just one of them requires Windows... just having to reboot or use Parallels... it's just not worth the trouble sometimes.

I've been using Nebulosity for the time being for acquisition and stacking. Those days though are numbered. CCD Soft does all this too on Windows... now if we just had some of that working on the Mac. Alas, only so many hours in the day ;-)

   

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