Astronomy Day at Lowell Observatory – May 6, 2006

Saturday night, May 6th, was Astronomy Day. This synched up nicely with the CAS meeting at Lowell Observatory. I was scheduled to give a 10 minute presentation on Astro Imaging. I got a little ambitious with the presentation, and coupled with being last-guy-on-the-program, I had to really burn through it, auctioneer style. Afterward, I was revved up like Beavis on a Twinkie binge.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Eric Graff and Geoff Gaherty who were both coincidentally visiting Flagstaff on the same day. Eric is an unbelievably talented visual observer and sketcher whose work I’ve admired since I got started. (Check out his gallery of astro sketches, if you haven’t already.) Geoff is a Canadian observer who specializes in observing and recording variable star data with the AAVSO. He gave a motivating presentation on how to get started in variable star observing and how to submit observations.

Left to Right: Eric Graff, Bill Ferris, Geoff Gaherty, Yours Truly
After the CAS meeting, we set up telescopes in front of the rotunda for public viewing. Because it was Astronomy Day, and Lowell was raffling off some nice prizes, the place was packed. There were 7 or 8 of us with telescopes/large binoculars, including Eric who was a real champ and brought his 6″ Parks Astrolight cross-country. I decided to be a cheater and pulled up Saturn in my scope. You just can’t go wrong with Saturn–it’s an undeniable crowd pleaser. Listening to people exclaim over it and call their friends over is an infectious sort of excitement…particularly when they say the view through my scope looked even better than the 10″ scope that was trained on it up the hill 😀 (the atmosphere was pretty cantankerous and churned-up that evening, so my smaller aperture was a bonus).
Some photos are below. Click on any for a larger version. (In case you’re wondering, these are long exposures, so that’s why the people are blurry.)

A rare and beautiful occasion where the Rotunda was open after dark

Foreground to Background: Eric Graff’s scope, my scope, Bill Ferris’ travel scope, and Padraig Houlahan’s binocs to the right

The line to view through Eric’s scope for a closer look at Mizar and Alcor

6 Replies to “Astronomy Day at Lowell Observatory – May 6, 2006”

  1. Wow!That certainly looked like a lot of fun.I think I am the only person in my town that has a scope.So 99.999% of the time I am flying solo….or observing solo as the case may be.This kind of puts a damper on the excitement level,especially when I find an object I have never seen before (which is quite often!).Of course,I have the blog to share the images of what I have seen but,only after the thrill has passed.
    I like the long exposure shots of the different scopes.Your images have a real National Geographic look to them.Give yourself a pat on the back!.GOOD JOB!!!!.
    Do you have more shots?.

  2. Hey Andrew, thanks! That was definitely fun. I really admire the work you put into photographing all of the objects you discuss on your site–I know it ain’t easy. Although the thrill has passed by the time you share them, you still have a great record of your journeys. Maybe one of these days I’ll have a telescope mount that can handle more than 30 sec. exposures without tossing periodic error into everything. Oy. The wide, unmagnified shots are still fun though.

  3. Thanks Jeremy,I have a question that maybe you could answer.Do you know of any optics company,that produce neb filters that will connect directly to a “T”ring?.

  4. That’s a good question. My focuser won’t rack in far enough to allow me to take prime focus shots, so I’ve never given it a thought (I’m stuck with eyepiece/barlow projection shots). I just checked, and it looks like OptCorp has a 2″ to T-Threaded adapter for $20 that may work.

  5. Thanks Jeremy,I will give them a call tomorrow.
    To address your problem with prime focus.When I bought my big scope last fall.It came with a ring that screws directly to my camera “T”ring,which in turn screws directly to the 2″ focus tube (after I unscrew the 1.25″ eye piece holder).I also checked my 4.5″ Celestron scope with a 1.25” focus tube to see if the 1.25″eye piece holder can be removed.It does!.
    I would almost be willing to bet that their is a adaptor out there,that will allow you to do prime focus.
    What make is your scope and what size is the focus tube?.

  6. Andrew, thanks for the suggestion. I have an Orion SkyView Pro 6LT (6″ f/8 newtonian). I do have a T-ring and adapter that would allow for prime focus imaging but for the focal plane being too far in. I actually removed my focuser last year and found out that I could get prime focus if it would rack in about another inch. So I figure eventually I might invest in a nice low-profile Crayford focuser that would allow me to do that–and be a nice focuser anyway. I hope you have success being able to use filters with your imaging.

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