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    Richard S. Wright Jr.
    Senior Moderator

    Well, I've certainly made up for lost travel time recently! After taking the summer off from traveling I've returned to the circuit a bit with two back-to-back trips last month that I've just returned from this weekend (so, sorry for all those unanswered emails and forum posts, I'm going to still be behind for a couple of few days I think). First was my first ever trip to AMOS (Advanced Maui Optical Space Surveillance Technologies) conference. As you can guess it was in Maui, which is six time zones and a quarter of the way around the world for me. Satellite and space junk tracking is big business, and we have been involved deeply in this industry since the very first AMOS conference. As some of my responsibilities are starting to overlap this part of our business, I managed to score my first trip out to Hawaii for this important event. I learned a great deal, and I didn't even sound too ignorant when talking to some very smart people in that business. Now that I know the “lay of the land”, I'm making some imaging plans for next year as AMOS falls during new moon!

    I was home in Florida just over 24 hours, and still jet lagged, I flew out to Denver to meet with the rest of the Bisque clan. Along with Steve, Sarah, Donald McFarland, and Sarah's new husband Scott, we had a grand caravan south to the Okie-Tex star party. We brought along FIVE Paramounts! Shown here you can see all three GEMS (MYT, MX+, and ME II) along with the brand spanking new Taurus 400 equatorial fork and it's big brother the Taurus 500 on the very end at the left. The even larger Taurus 600 was not on display (only so much we can carry along folks!). This naturally generated a lot of attention and nowhere has there ever been such a gathering of the various mount models all in one place. To see first hand the scale from the comparatively tiny MYT to the Taurus 500 with a 20″ scope was not only thrilling for us, but also for many of the attendees.

    It seems we missed the prime weather window when we arrived on Wednesday, but there were still some clear periods and I saw one of the most vivid Milky Way's I've ever seen anywhere. In fact, short of the Dry Tortugas off the coast of Florida I don't think I've seen a darker sky. Certainly if dark skies are what you prize most, this star party had the darkest of any star party I've ever attended. The photo at right was with a DSLR piggy backed on my Veloce on the Paramount MYT, and you can just make out Sarah Bisque's face at the bottom (the bottom portion was a shorter exposure than the top).

    Most of the star parties I attend are in the eastern US, and I was really pleased to find several of my Imaging friends also had made it out to Okie-Tex as well as some vendor friends I typically see at these events. We spoke with a great many people (around 500ish in attendance!), and as always did some on site technical support. A few offers to come and help scope side went out, but none came back to find me after dark, so I'm hoping that means they got up and going with just a few hints. This was a very nice star party with decent food, not too hot at night, and not too cold at night (great sleeping/camping weather). We will likely return, but it may not be an annual event as it will sometimes coincide with our other September event at AMOS.

    My next star party will be NightFall in Borrego Springs where I'll be giving a day long workshop on astrophotography gear, and then a little more time to recuperate and hopefully image at home over the holidays before the Winter Star Party in February. Hope to see some of you out and about!




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