Most anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I'm an avid imager myself, of the particular (and sometimes maligned) denomination of "pretty picture people". My weapon of choice is primarily PixInisight, but alas I am weak, and do still resort to Photoshop towards the end of my image processing pilgrimages. Thus it was with great enthusiasm that I got to attend a recent PixInsight workshop in Tucson Arizona taught by the renowned Vicent Peris. Software Bisque was one of four sponsors of the event, and I did get to give a little "and now a word from our sponsor" talk of about ten minutes. In return we supplied coffee, and cookies... or something like that to help people stay awake. I also brought along my beloved Veloce and we had a Paramount MYT shipped out and I had a nice little "booth" of sorts, and one of the nights I even set up outside on the terrace and did some demos.
There were about forty very serious imagers in attendance here, many of them were already Paramount owners, and some even had more than one model. This was one of the best parts of the event aside from the learning part, was talking to a lot of very enthusiastic customers about our shared passions... the Paramount workflow, and just imaging in general of course. On the terrace Saturday night, I thought I'd be showing a lot of non-Paramount users how we did things in Bisque land, but I actually had mostly Paramount users gathered around and I showed them a lot of the new features we've added recently that they did not know about! All Sky Image Link! You mean that works? Yep. The new accurate polar alignment routine, no recalibration required. I did a 40 point TPoint run explained everything to the group, and then did the accurate alignment routine centering a star, and was ready to go while there was still red glow in the sky. Later on, we bumped the mount's tripod and even did it again to show some late comers at the insistence of the people who had seen me do it before. Centered a star, pressed commit and boom. Slewed to M13 and there it was dead center of the camera.
Starizona was there too as a sponsor, and they actually sponsored the terrace event, and graciously allowed me to join in. I actually went by their store for a visit, and tried to remain incognito... I was inside about 30 seconds before someone who attended our GMARS workshop walked in and ratted me out. I also did not get out alive it seems... I picked up a cooler fan for my Celestron Edge HD... I'm hoping it will cool the OTA quickly and if it does it'll add hours to my available imaging time (that thing takes forever to cool down enough to use if you leave it in the Florida sun!). I'm also now joining the ranks of hyperstar imagers soon... after having kicked and screamed about it for a few years first. It's intriguing, so I'm going to give it a try, and as far as imaging goes, there's not much that doesn't interest me or that I don't want to try. It's f/2 people... how can I not dip my toe in this water?
Extra curricular activities included a nice tour of the Mt. Lemon Sky Center on Sunday night by Adam Block (who was also in attendance), a tour of the Lunt solar scope factory, and on the day I flew in, I drove up to Kitt Peak and participated in their night time observing program. This was aimed at beginning observers (not the imaging program) and I had fun even though I already knew how to read a star chart and focus binoculars ;-) The program was actually quite well structured from viewing the planets in the daytime to watching sunset to finally viewing some deep sky objects on a 20" telescope mounted on a.... a.... are you ready.... a Paramount ME.
Big deal right? No, it IS a big deal. Check out this photo showing seven 20 pound counter weights, something really big at the end (40 pounds). This is the most overloaded Paramount ME I have ever seen, possibly that anyone has ever attempted (recall, this model is only rated at 150 pounds). I asked the operator how much the scope weighed, and he just replied "a couple hundred pounds". This was a beginners class, and I didn't press for more information because I didn't want to be "that guy" in the crowd. The sound of this ME brought back fond memories of me under the stars when I was learning to operate this same model myself. My son said affectionately, "it sounds like you're murdering a 300 baud modem"... LOL, but true a little. I did not realize how much quieter the newer Paramounts are until I heard this again that night under the dome.
(BTW... you should NOT put this much weight on an ME unless it is really really perfectly balanced).
I posted this photo on my Facebook page and it turns out many of my friends there knew all about this scope. Adam Block actually set it up himself and he said it was used for imaging and ran very well for a long while until... well, there was some little accident... but it still works great for visual outreach ;-)
This was my third trip to the Tucson area and I must say it's growing on me, and I can't wait for another excuse to go back out there. Meanwhile, I was home 24 hours from this excursion, and I'm packed up and off to the Cherry Springs star party were I sit right now writing this in my hotel because of the weather. That however... is another story, and blog entry.
06-13-2015 8:12 PM