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Grendl
2005-Mar-27, 08:06 AM
:cry: I'm so bummed. I thought I would finally be able to post in the astronomy section and say something about seeing Saturn and Jupiter, but noooooo....nature had to mess up yet another Saturday night. I thought it might clear up, so I headed out to George Observatory, took a different route than usual, got lost driving around hobunk Fort Bend County and missed the all of 15 minute window around 7:00 p.m. when they did see Saturn. A lot of people were bummed out; I guess when there's only one night a week for public viewing one gets somewhat psyched about it. And worse, last night was clear--only Saturday nights are for the public.

So, I ended up going home with just a planisphere and Barbara Wilson's (the director of the observatory, which is owned by The Houston Museum of Natural Science) saying Phil Plait is a "good guy." I suppose she has a list in her head of "bad guys," but as it was near closing, I couldn't delve into her list, though Richard Hoagland is one of the "bad guys." I got that much.

I was inspired despite the clouds. Barbara is a spirited, down to earth kind of woman and we both could easily go on and on about light pollution and our mutual disgust for it. Come to find out later on the net, she's actually an amateur astronomer, but I've already read every article of hers I could find and she doesn't sound so "amateur." She apparently was a housewife and then got into astronomy and helped found the GO. She has also fought hard with Fort Bend County to get them to install domed lights, so the GO won't be looking at a mauve sky.

Anyway, I was at the cash register ready to buy my planisphere and stuffed alligator (for my niece), talking to the very bored young guy (because cloudy nights are boring) and Barbara came over while I was saying that I needed the planisphere to bring to Florida. I said, "I'm really behind the astronomy curve...I'm trying to learn more...I look at Bad Astronomy dot..," and she cut me off and said, "Phil Plait, he's a good guy...I have his book." I said some things about the book and she mentioned that she tried/wants (?) to get the BA to talk at the Texas Star...she was so wired and I'm going deaf, it seems, that I didn't catch what she meant. I asked why the BA isn't invited to Houston or at JSC and she used some word for the people at NASA--I didn't quite get the gist of it, so I ought not to figure that one out. Do local astronomers have an issue with some NASA people?

I guess most astronomers (amateur or otherwise) know other astronomers. Anyway, I liked Barbara's enthusiasm and she made sure that I understood how to use the planisphere correctly in Vero Beach and wasn't the least bit condescending, as so many people can be to clueless wonders about the universe. She made sure to tell me about upcoming events: the solar eclipse on April 8th and Jupiter's bright coming out party (my words) on the 3rd. She teaches astronomy classes at GO and I can see that she probably does a good job. The people who operate the three (actually four) telescopes are all amateur astronomer volunteers. They were all friendly and really wanted to please us (as if they have any control!), so they did everything they could to make it interesting. Elevate the floor, lower it four times, move the telescope east, then west. Look at the mirrors in the telescope...

Oh well, I did learn about the different kinds of telescopes and Barbara gives a 1/2 hour slide/presentation before you look through the telescope. It sinks in better for me when I can actually see and touch things in real life, not on a 2-dimensional piece of paper or PC screen. It's been so many years since I've gone to an observatory. I have intimate knowledge of the park itself and the alligators, but for the longest time I didn't know the GO was open to the public; it always looked dead in the afternoon.

They tell me on clear nights in the summer about 300-500 people come and set their telescopes up on the expansive veranda. That sounds fun--lots of people to teach me. :lol: Apparently, they've found a bunch of asteroids there. You don't have to leave the park if you camp there, so I think it would be cool to hang out all night and not have to worry about driving on those scary head-on collision roads in the dark. The funny thing is, a volunteer told me people come out on even rainy nights--they seem to think telescopes have x-ray vision and can see through clouds, lol. There was a nice sunset, so I thought it would get clear. I'm not that dumb. Better luck next week!

Sorry for babbling here--just sort of wired and looking forward to next Saturday and I have no one to talk to who even cares about this stuff, especially at 1:45 in the a.m. :(

Phil, when I came home I found what she was talking about in regards to wanting you to speak in West Texas. I am sure this is it, because I know she said, "Texas Star..."
Texas Star Party 2005 (http://tinyurl.com/6sbkm)

If anyone is interested: George Observatory (http://www.hmns.org/see_do/george_observatory.asp)

Articles or information about Barbara Wilson:
Barbara Wilson's Home Page (http://home.ix.netcom.com/~bwilson2/barbarasweb/)
http://tinyurl.com/4uhaq
http://tinyurl.com/6xwuj
Houston Chronicle Q & A (http://tinyurl.com/4jj85)

Grendl
2005-Mar-27, 08:35 AM
Oh, I forgot in that novella above. Can anyone suggest a reasonably priced and/or type of telescope or good binoculars? Obviously, it would be silly to spend much--it's like buying a $3K bike when you've only ridden once.

I was thinking of buying a telescope for our house in FL, but then thought, nah, I'm not that nice. Something I could easily cart on the plane, but not one that's real cheap. I do need a new set of binoculars anyway, but I'm not sure what will do the trick.

Suggestions?

Grendl
2005-Mar-27, 05:04 PM
Ok, so nobody cares about my post. But can someone at least recommend a reasonably priced telescope or binoculars for a newbie star gazer? Something practical for carrying on a plane, but not something too cheap--I'm not dirt poor, but I'm not extravagant, either. I was looking for your experienced opinions. This is an astronomy board after all. :(

I don't want to just go to Walmart and pick up a telescope there. :roll: I'm hedging towards very good binoculars since I do need those for ground viewing anyway.



Grendel without enough coffee.
http://www.mythicarealms.com/features/bestiary_images/grendel.jpg



Edited for img link

Jim
2005-Mar-27, 06:01 PM
Sorry, just saw the thread.

You can become a member of HMNS and get invited to special Satrgazing Parties.

Here's a thread that might shed some light :wink: on what to buy.
http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=254502

Grendl
2005-Mar-27, 06:36 PM
Sorry, just saw the thread.

You can become a member of HMNS and get invited to special Satrgazing Parties.

Here's a thread that might shed some light :wink: on what to buy.
http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=254502
Thank you Jim, http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/emoticons/10.gif I won't feel sorry for myself now, though I do hope the BA sees my brevity-challenged post, since it's nice to know that people think highly of him. I don't think HMNS would want such a clueless member--I think I might start off hanging around the 300-500 people on clear nights at GO. Once I'm shown how to do something, I can usually pick it up rather quickly.

Are you a member? Do you go to the place in Columbus? If not, where do you star gaze, because Clear Lake isn't much clearer than Houston proper. UofH and Rice have baby observatories, but that just seems to be an oxymoron of sorts.

sts60
2005-Mar-28, 03:17 AM
Boy, Grendl, you really activated a lot of memory-neurons. I was an undergrad at Rice, then got a master's at UH (and ran the "baby observatory" there for a while. (It was a dome on top of the Science & Research I bldg., near downtown Houston - not exactly ideal conditions... But we had a hundred or so people for a close approach of Mars, and you could the Ring Nebula was still nice.)

I was in HAS and met Barb Wilson there. She is actually "quietly famous" in the amateur world, and deservedly so - she's a darn good amateur astronomer, enthusiastic, a hard worker in bringing it to the public. And nice too.

I'm glad to hear she's director of George now. I was one of the operators on the 36" telescope for a while. The HMNS got it from LSU for a song, and with a lot of hard work by a number of people (no, I was not one of them; I just enjoyed the fruits of their labor) built a first-class educational/public/working observatory in a really neat site.

For those of you who haven't been there, GO is in Brazos Bend State Park, on the Brazos River, and you can look for alligators, deer, racoons, and whatnot as you walk the path from the parking lot. The exhibit room/gift shop and Challenger Center are built into the little hill; the top is a T-shaped space with the 36" dome at the center of the T-cross, with domes for 14" or so scopes on either end of the crossbar. The rest of the space is a concrete pad with red lights and electrical outlets for people to bring and plug in their own scopes. If you're in Houston and have a Saturday afternoon and evening, be sure to go.

The Columbus Grendl mentioned is a dark-sky site about 60 mi. west of Houston, built and operated by HAS, with very nice facilities (roll-off roof observatory with three fixed scopes, observing pads with electrical power, a bunk room and bathroom with AC, etc. There are a lot of active amateurs in the Houston area with various affiliations (HAS, FBAC*, etc.).

HAS = Houston Astronomical Society
FBAC = Fort Bend Astro. Society

Tensor
2005-Mar-28, 03:49 AM
Oh, I forgot in that novella above. Can anyone suggest a reasonably priced and/or type of telescope or good binoculars? Obviously, it would be silly to spend much--it's like buying a $3K bike when you've only ridden once.

I was thinking of buying a telescope for our house in FL, but then thought, nah, I'm not that nice. Something I could easily cart on the plane, but not one that's real cheap. I do need a new set of binoculars anyway, but I'm not sure what will do the trick.

Suggestions?

If your going to spend some time with all those telescopes, I would suggest looking through some of them and talking with the owners. That way, you would be able to actually look through what you plan on getting and getting some tips from those owners. And they will teach. Most are very patient in answering questions and sharing their ideas.

Grendl
2005-Mar-29, 08:27 AM
sts60 wrote:

Boy, Grendl, you really activated a lot of memory-neurons. I was an undergrad at Rice, then got a master's at UH (and ran the "baby observatory" there for a while. (It was a dome on top of the Science & Research I bldg., near downtown Houston - not exactly ideal conditions... But we had a hundred or so people for a close approach of Mars, and you could the Ring Nebula was still nice.)

I knew from reading your posts that you had done something in Houston, though I wasn't sure what--I thought maybe you had worked at NASA. Are you a native Texan? What size is the telescope at UH's observatory? To be honest, even when I did the March of Dimes Walk there last year, I didn't notice it and I walked 4 miles around the campus. I know that it's not always "mauve" here...Friday night and Sunday night were clear and I could see some stars and I'm near the Galleria. Of course, it was clear the night after I go to GO. :-( I remember when I was nine years old, my mother took an astronomy course at Southern CT State Univ. in New Haven, and took my sister and me to the observatory there. It was small, but I recall looking at the Milky Way and thought it was so "neat." It was better than nothing, for sure. Rice has a "baby observatory" too.

I was in HAS and met Barb Wilson there. She is actually "quietly famous" in the amateur world, and deservedly so - she's a darn good amateur astronomer, enthusiastic, a hard worker in bringing it to the public. And nice too.

Quietly famous? You must have mistyped, because she doesn't seem quiet at all! :D

I'm glad to hear she's director of George now. I was one of the operators on the 36" telescope for a while. The HMNS got it from LSU for a song, and with a lot of hard work by a number of people (no, I was not one of them; I just enjoyed the fruits of their labor) built a first-class educational/public/working observatory in a really neat site.

Lucky you! In the half hour talk she gives before you go upstairs, she talked about the telescopes, how much they paid, how they operate, etc. The big dome has a 36" Richey-Chretien telescope w/ Cassegrain optics, right? The East Dome has an 18" Newtonian Reflector that they paid $20K for. She said that was expensive, but that doesn't seem expensive to me in the world of office equipment I work in. The West Dome has a 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain. Is that what was there when you were there? The guy operating the 14" Newtonian was very nice and when someone said that they thought they saw Jupiter, he quickly reacted, but the dome itself needs a gallon of WD-40. It's sad--where is the money for this? They added the Challenger Center and closed up the breezeway, but the domes need help. How much can this be? It seems that HMNS isn't funneling too much of their budget out that way. I'm so weird too, I asked them at the cash register if the $ from the items I was buying was going to HMNS, because at HMNS proper, some exhibits use Barnes & Noble to sell their books and such.

She mentioned C. Robert O'Dell at Rice. After talking about the telescopes, she focused on Titan and the Huygens probe. There were a bunch of little kids there--all sorts of people--but kids have no conception of 20,000 degrees or millions and billions of years. When my mother took us to a planetarium when I was four years old, I learned the sun would "blow up" and walked around for two weeks or so thinking we were going to be fried to a crisp any day. I felt really sad about this (so my mother says).

She also showed a short 3-D movie on the Orion Nebulae from Hubble images. I know it was made in San Diego--was it JPL? I can't recall now. The comments about Hubble from the AA's were analogous to the vet telling you that your family dog needs to be put down. "It got a repreive, but I don't know how much longer it will last," sort of comments. So, Barbara focused on Titan and Saturn and the Cassini images. I think it would be useful to those lay people there if they handed out a simple flyer with web site links and such. You know, "If you want to learn more, go here..." Just a simple piece of paper. People like to leave with something and some kid might then be inspired to go to the JPL pages and such (or BadAstronomy.com) and look at all the cool images our tax dollars help create.


For those of you who haven't been there, GO is in Brazos Bend State Park, on the Brazos River, and you can look for alligators, deer, racoons, and whatnot as you walk the path from the parking lot.

You know, for the zillions of times I've been there walking and biking, I have to admit walking that dark path from the parking lot to the observatory is kind of creepy knowing that the alligators sit in the muck right up to the paths. Half way down the path they use red path lights, so it's even darker. Perhaps people are unaware that the alligators move from the various ponds to the river and back, which means they frequently have to take a ground stroll. I saw a four foot alligator in the middle of the road by the big lot holding up traffic. Barbara said that before the breezeway was closed in, there was once a four foot alligator right up against the glass double-doors, which open outwards. So, she was stuck there. They hiss at you if you try to push them around, lol, but generally are pleasant. They aren't aggressive, but will eat your pup no problem if it lands in the water. The largest one I've seen I had named Big Daddy--he was about 12 feets and husky.

A word of advice to anyone: don't go there on holiday weekends. You won't see much wildlife, because every picnic table is occupied with screaming kids and pinatas. As much as I hate the noise, I do realize that the $3 per head helps. The trash, otoh, doesn't. When I go there biking, I go way in the back, off the beaten path, and don't see anyone.

They told me that if it's a clear night, and especially when there's a special event in the sky, to get there by 5:00 pm when tickets go on sale. Tickets sell out in less than an hour.

I saw a Mississippi Kite on the main road. There's lots of birds there:

http://home.ix.netcom.com/~bwilson2/barbarasweb/images/MISSKITECROP_small.jpg


The exhibit room/gift shop and Challenger Center are built into the little hill; the top is a T-shaped space with the 36" dome at the center of the T-cross, with domes for 14" or so scopes on either end of the crossbar. The rest of the space is a concrete pad with red lights and electrical outlets for people to bring and plug in their own scopes. If you're in Houston and have a Saturday afternoon and evening, be sure to go.

...but please don't drive like a maniac in a SUV. When I left Saturday night I saw so many glowing eyes in the woods--it was errie. There was a huge clan of dear that freaked out and broke up on both sides, then freaked out some more because does and fawns got separated. I so very lightly tapped my horn to get them to move. This one raccoon got up on his hind legs and looked at me like I had something to give. People are idiots there and probably feed the wildlife when they're not supposed to. I have no qualms about chastising people I see doing stupid things like that. I think the park employees are way too lenient.

You can reserve Friday nights for groups of 30 or more. The Boy Scouts do that often and there are specific Boy Scout camping areas that are pretty cool. Anyone can reserve, though I have no idea what the waiting list is like.

The Columbus Grendl mentioned is a dark-sky site about 60 mi. west of Houston, built and operated by HAS, with very nice facilities (roll-off roof observatory with three fixed scopes, observing pads with electrical power, a bunk room and bathroom with AC, etc. There are a lot of active amateurs in the Houston area with various affiliations (HAS, FBAC*, etc.).

I've looked at pictures of that. It's a rectangular, flat-topped building. So, people just go out there and nap as needed? Why do you/they refer to it as a "dark-sky" site? Does that just mean that there's minimal light pollution nearby as opposed to, say, UH? I guess I'm wondering how dark it needs to be to qualify as a dark-sky site.

At GO I remarked to the guy in the 36" dome how cool it would be to make an apartment out of it--it's pretty roomy. I have a book on homes made out of silos and water towers. If I was Bill Gates, I'd buy an observatory and make it very comfy--with the telescope of course. I almost tripped on the stairs, btw. Why do I imagine many injuries in observatories?

This guy built his own observatory near the HAS site. Do you know this guy too?
http://kentbiggs.com/observatory.htm
http://kentbiggs.com/images/Scan271a_small.jpg

I'd love to go to McDonald, but it's such a long drive. Then again, I drove alone from CT to Houston and that's 2,000 miles. Road trip! I still have never been to Big Bend State Park, I'm embarassed to say. It's just lack of compadres here and I don't think it's very safe for me to go alone.

Thanks, Sts60. I'll have some Blue Bell Mocha Almond Fudge for you, too, to keep those memory neurons working (bought some tonight :wink: ).

Grendl
2005-Mar-29, 08:38 AM
Oh, I forgot in that novella above. Can anyone suggest a reasonably priced and/or type of telescope or good binoculars? Obviously, it would be silly to spend much--it's like buying a $3K bike when you've only ridden once.

I was thinking of buying a telescope for our house in FL, but then thought, nah, I'm not that nice. Something I could easily cart on the plane, but not one that's real cheap. I do need a new set of binoculars anyway, but I'm not sure what will do the trick.

Suggestions?

If your going to spend some time with all those telescopes, I would suggest looking through some of them and talking with the owners. That way, you would be able to actually look through what you plan on getting and getting some tips from those owners. And they will teach. Most are very patient in answering questions and sharing their ideas.
It didn't occur to me to bug people and ask them, "Can I look through your telescope?" You're basically telling me to be a telescope slut. :lol:

I just hate to be that annoying kind of person who doesn't come prepared and always has to borrow other people's stuff. It's like, do you ever go camping or fishing and someone is always asking to borrow your knife or a lure? Most of the volunteers seem very nice; there was just one snotty guy, and younger than me, as well, who made some flippant comment in response to my comment about the weather. I may be blondish, but I'm not dumb...people like that I just want to smack upside the head. :x

Charlie in Dayton
2005-Mar-29, 09:53 AM
Binoculoculars...cheez'n'crackers, someone's gettin' me started again...

First off, let's see how much you need. Them WWII specials that can spot an enemy fly two time zones over are nice, but they're heavy. Something smaller is much nicer...7x35's are just a tad small in aperture, a little bigger is lot better. 7x50, 8x42, 9x63, 10x50, 11x70, 12x60...anything in that general size...those are about as big as you want to go without a support.

Where'n'how much? Orion Telescope has a nice selection (www.telescope.com).
So does bigbinoculars (www.bigbinoculars.com). And the selections at both are decent, in the $100 - $200 range (although if you're in the mood to go totally bananas, bigbinos has several models with 4" objectives, sturdy tripods, and price tags that are well north of $12,000).

You don't need to blow large amounts of cash. A decent set of binos, a good guidebook to the stars (might I recommend Philip Harrington's Touring the Universe Through Binoculars (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0471513377/qid=1112089612/sr=8-2/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/102-6040647-7464918?v=glance&s=books&n=507846)? I have a copy, and it's an excellent guidebook/reference work).

And for those days when your arms do get tired, you might want something to mount those binoculars on (http://www.helix-mfg.com/bino-acc.htm) for a steadier view. If your binoculars come with a mount, it'll screw right on here. Otherwise, a handy-dandy little bungee cord works. And yes, I have used one of these...works right nice.

A good book, a little support, a decent set of binoculars...now go take an observing season and learn the sky. I'm still using this procedure, and having a great time doing it...

...someday I'm gonna change my screen name to The Binocular Kid...

Grendl
2005-Mar-29, 11:39 AM
Binoculoculars...cheez'n'crackers, someone's gettin' me started again...

Charlie, thanks, that's exactly what I wanted--someone to provide me with some vetted links and information. I don't get the comment above--are you some sort of binocular aficionado or expert? I have 7x35's but they are so old and dirty now and not nearly the magnification I desire. I just took them outside to look at the three (I kid you not) stars I could see from my vantage point. The 7x35's served me well enough on most counts, but I have more money now and the years aren't getting any longer.

I recall over 20 years, my step-grandfather had one on the Island and it was about 10 inches long, I think. We were looking at the moon and I remember detail being very clear. It's been too long and I can't remember the aperture.

For an example from one of your links: http://tinyurl.com/5thnd

I can deal with 15 inches, 11 lbs, $275 , no problem. But do I need to? Am I just going overboard? I also need a new tripod for my camera, which I have an 80-320 lens for; I wonder if my camera could sit on it. Put it this way, it's not just the sky I want to look at--when I'm at the beach I'm constantly scanning the water for stuff--I see sharks, turtles and surfers. :wink: I just like looking at things for the sake of looking and well, spotting sharks is useful.

I'm clueless about binocular/telescope companies. I want something that will last for years and like the above example, one I can easily carry on the plane and put the tripod in my suitcase.

I am counting on NASA and Mother Nature to make my birthday memorable and stick to the May 15th target date for the shuttle launch. :D I haven't yet decided from what location I will watch, but it will be as close as possible. I'd like to have bin/tel by May 1st and I will bring it to FL.

So, given that information, do you have any specific suggestions? I appreciate your suggestions.


Holy beejeebies, those binoculars on the bottom are some big daddies!
http://www.bigbinoculars.com/images/bbhome7.jpg

Jim
2005-Mar-29, 02:17 PM
For those of you who haven't been there, GO is in Brazos Bend State Park, on the Brazos River, and you can look for alligators, deer, racoons, and whatnot as you walk the path from the parking lot.

Yeah, but you better hurry. The Developers want to run The Grand Parkway through the park; that will upset the widlife and add to the sky glow.

(For those who aren't aware, Houston is the 4th largest city in the US, and the largest with no zoning laws! All development is controlled by the Developers, who want the Parkway to make the land they speculated on worth developing.)

I do some sky watching from my yard. Clear Lake isn't ideal, but once you get high enough, you can make out some things fairly well... Saturn's rings, Jupiter's moons, various nebula and clusters.

Idle thought... There are a lot of BABBsters from the Houston area. Why don't we reserve the George some Friday night? (Just don't let Grendl pick the date. :wink: )

George
2005-Mar-29, 03:44 PM
If anyone is interested: George Observatory (http://www.hmns.org/see_do/george_observatory.asp)


8) . Nice. Much larger than I expected.

I see they will be active during the solar eclipse. If you go, be sure you tell them the Sun is, quite possibly, green based on another George Observatory. :)

JohnOwens
2005-Mar-30, 12:09 AM
...and you can look for alligators, deer, racoons, and whatnot as you walk the path from the parking lot.You know, for the zillions of times I've been there walking and biking, I have to admit walking that dark path from the parking lot to the observatory is kind of creepy knowing that the alligators sit in the muck right up to the paths.
Yeah, when I was first reading sts60's post, I was thinking, "not so much 'you can look for' as 'you'd better look out for'". :wink:


I saw a Mississippi Kite on the main road. There's lots of birds there:
http://home.ix.netcom.com/~bwilson2/barbarasweb/images/MISSKITECROP_small.jpg
I miss those; in my time in Wichita Falls, TX, the kites were my favourite birds there. Although I'm still not quite sure if they were Mississippi Kites or Swallow-tailed Kites; the coloration and location seem to indicate Mississippi, but I would swear their tails were more forked than the pictures of Mississippi Kites I've seen. Whichever it was, I especially like the way they use their tails at slow speeds. That's lovely.

Tensor
2005-Mar-30, 12:35 AM
It didn't occur to me to bug people and ask them, "Can I look through your telescope?" You're basically telling me to be a telescope slut. :lol:

Yep, just like I was.


I just hate to be that annoying kind of person who doesn't come prepared and always has to borrow other people's stuff.

You will not be annoying (well you may be naturally annoying, but that doesn't figure in here :D j/k). I have yet to meet someone who doesn't want to talk about their scope. If you mention you're looking to buy a scope, you will probably get more information than you want. Heck, in my experience, most people who have scopes spend more time looking through other peoples scopes than their own at star parties, unless there is a specific reason to be looking through their own.


It's like, do you ever go camping or fishing and someone is always asking to borrow your knife or a lure?

Now I didn't say go around for the next few years without your own equipment, but for several months, I don't think anyone would mind. For a variety of reasons, I spent almost six months going to our clubs dark sky site in addition to several star parties with no equipment other than binoculars. No, one, ever gave me a hard time, and in fact, several times I was allowed to have one member or another's scope to myself for a few hours while they were off looking though other peoples scopes.

Charlie in Dayton
2005-Mar-30, 03:19 AM
...are you some sort of binocular aficionado or expert?

I definitely am an aficionado, and have some expertise/experience. I've done some research into sources of books and optics, I've done a fair amount of educational observing (i.e. teaching myself the sky...still learning...), and I've done quite a bit of show'n'tell with the astronomy club with kids. I get the question 'how do I get started' often enough that I can spot the dollar signs flickering in Dad's eye as he envisions how much a telescope costs. It's a visible relief to them to learn that they can get away with quality starter material for extremely reasonable prices, and if Junior/Juniorette loses interest in a month or two, the equipment will still have some use (vacations, nosy neighbors, etc).

I have somewhat of a rep here as being the resident binocular astronomy geek. Someday, my dream is to be able to afford/have a place to store/use one of JMI's finest --

the RB-66 6-inch reverse binoculars, at ~$3,000 (http://www.jimsmobile.com/rb66_data.htm#Top),
the RB-10 10-inch reverse binoculars, at ~$5,000 (http://www.jimsmobile.com/rb10_data.htm), or
the RB-16 16-inch reverse binoculars, at ~$10,000 (http://www.jimsmobile.com/rb16_data.htm#Top).

...sigh...

Solid suggestions? Anything already linked to is good for a start. Also consider Apogee's various models (http://www.apogeeinc.com/binos.html). The Astro-Vue models are still on special, I note...they're the ones with the built-in nebula filters (I have a pair of the 12x60's, and they ain't too shabby at all...also note the price, which is exxxxxxxxtremely reasonable...). These models give double duty, perfect for daytime objects and nighttime astronomy.

As far as telescopes go, my experience is much more limited, to 3" - 5" reflectors. I really can't speak to refractors (except in general terms), although that's what binoculars are.

The bigger the refractor objective, the more light grasp you have, therefore the dimmer the object visible. Also, the heavier and more expensive. Apochromats give the best color reproduction, and the least false colors generated inside the lenses. Apo's are not cheap. Semi-apo's are less expensive, and you may put up with some color fringes on certain brighter objects. You gets what you pays for.

The starter refractor sizes are in the 50 - 60 mm aperture range (which really isn't big at all -- that's the same size as binoculars). The 80 - 100 mm aperture range has been very popular of late, as their size and weight lends to portability and convenience.

Remember the rule of thumb -- usable magnification is generally limited to 2x per mm / 50x per inch of objective aperture. A 100mm aperture refractor won't be usable beyond 200x. After that, things wash out to the point of unrecognizability. The lower quality of the optics, the lower power at which the image becomes unusable.

The optics (telescope AND binoculars) should be fully multi-coated -- that means ALL air/glass and glass/glass surfaces should be coated for maximum light transmission. You'd be surprised how many different pieces of glass are inside of a pair of binoculars, and every time the light makes the transmission-medium change, a bit of the light energy is lost. Coating on the glass surfaces minimizes this loss, and the more surfaces there are with the coating, the less light lost. Proper anti-reflection-coated lenses will look (as you look AT them, not THROUGH them) to be greenish or bluish. Stay away from this ruby-red pseudo-infra-red stuff. Also, glass type is important -- BaK4 is better than BK7 (http://www.binocularoutlet.com/glasstypes.html) due to being harder, more scratch-resistant, and delivering a better quality image.

Stay away from the zoom-style binos for astronomy -- too much stuff inside there to get out of whack and lose light energy to. If it don't get to your eyeballs, it don't contribute to your enjoyment.

The higher magnification the optics are, the more prone the image is to jiggle. Several manufacturers sell image stabiliizer binoculars, where the wiggles are counteracted by electrically-moved mirrors inside the binos. However, we're talking lots of bucks here. For much less money, consider the Bino-Platform (http://www.helix-mfg.com/bino-acc.htm) from Helix Manufacturing, any tripod with an appropriate mount screw (usually 1/4-20) for a bino mount (for capacity, think of the heaviest item you'll ever mount on the tripod, then buy one with a weight capacity 50% higher), one of the binocular parallelogram mounts (Orion's Paragon-Plus (http://www.telescope.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=7639&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainC at=6&iSubCat=24&iProductID=7639)), or a super heavy duty tripod and fork mount (Orion has one, but we're talking $600 here... (http://www.telescope.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=7762&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainC at=6&iSubCat=24&iProductID=7762)).

There is a very unique setup made by Trico Machine Products, the Sky Window (http://www.tricomachine.com/skywindow/index.html). It's a pair of binoculars that look down into a first surface mirror, and most of the changes of viewing angle are handled by changing the angle of the viewing mirror. It's a combination refractor/reflector. While this setup is strictly for astronomy, the binoculars are removable for other (daytime/more conventional) uses. Any binoculars with screw mount capability are usable here, or Trico will sell you a set. The Sky Window is worth looking at. I got to use one once at a star party, and it was an extremely unique view with no cricks in the neck from straining at odd angles.


Holy beejeebies, those binoculars on the bottom are some big daddies!
Yep -- they had that set down at the Apollo Rendezvous (http://www.mvas.org/ar2005/AR2005_1.htm) last year...they're the $12,000+ ones...how serious are ya, bucko?

...see what I meant about getting me started?...

Grendl
2005-Mar-30, 01:12 PM
Charlie, I'm going to print this thread out at work and keep it for future reference. :wink: Gee, I hope you do own some store at some point, just like the small bike shops around here (bicycles). They're so intimate and fun to visit compared to say, Sun & Ski or Oshmans. Especially if you don't try to get people to overspend.

What do you think about the one I linked to: http://tinyurl.com/5thnd It appears to fit my needs. Once again, I need something light, not too long and a tripod that will fold up and fit in my suitcase and decent capabilities for star gazing AND looking at wildlife. I like package deals, but I don't get why it's only a one-year warranty. ??

When I get stuck on a particular item I get a mental block. My price range for buying new equipment is usually in the $300 range. I bought my Raleigh bike on sale for a bit over $300 (then you have to pay for annoying little things like kickstands, bike racks, etc) and it's a nice-looking bike and has served me well (I'm not an extreme biker. The guy who adjusted my bike mocked me for taking it on the Memorial Park "extreme" paths, but my bike didn't break. I didn't appreciate that, so I hate talking to salespeople). :roll: The only thing that cost more was my camera, but I didn't pay for it. :D

Thanks for taking the time to post that info. Your advice is mucho appreciated!



Grendl wrote:
Holy beejeebies, those binoculars on the bottom are some big daddies!

Yep -- they had that set down at the Apollo Rendezvous last year...they're the $12,000+ ones...how serious are ya, bucko?

...see what I meant about getting me started?...
Uhh, nearly half the price of my car? I don't think so....Big "binoculars" like that cost only $3.00...at George Observatory. :wink:

lEdited for link correction

Grendl
2005-Mar-30, 01:26 PM
If anyone is interested: George Observatory (http://www.hmns.org/see_do/george_observatory.asp)


8) . Nice. Much larger than I expected.

I see they will be active during the solar eclipse. If you go, be sure you tell them the Sun is, quite possibly, green based on another George Observatory. :)
Am I dull-witted today? I'm not sure I get what you mean, unless you mean that you are the other "George Observatory." If that's the case, a car and 150 miles will get you there. :)

I'll be at work at 5:00 pm on solar eclipse day...they always say to not look directly at the sun, but I always do. Perhaps, this has affected my sensitivity to headlights at night? As a teenager, at the beach one day, I went temporarily blind--couldn't see anything, but yellow light. Someone carried me to a picnic table where I layed down with a wet towel over my face. How embarrassing! But that someone who carried me later became my first real boyfriend.

Grendl
2005-Mar-30, 01:39 PM
Jim said: I do some sky watching from my yard. Clear Lake isn't ideal, but once you get high enough, you can make out some things fairly well... Saturn's rings, Jupiter's moons, various nebula and clusters.

Idle thought... There are a lot of BABBsters from the Houston area. Why don't we reserve the George some Friday night? (Just don't let Grendl pick the date. )
Don't even get me started on development and developers. Between here and Florida it's enough to raise my blood pressure. The Grand Pkwy in regards to Brazos Bend State Park just makes my blood boil.

Clear Lake has gotten really developed since I came here 12 years ago. The Quintana Beach area is Ok, because it's not too affected by Dow Chemical's city-like lights.

As far as a Friday night reservation--that's a neat idea. I was thinking of asking a customer if she has ever taken her Girl Scout Troop out there. I haven't quite figured out how many Texans are posting here. I believe there are 3 of you in the Clear Lake area, no one in Houston proper where I am, but a bunch elsewhere--San Antonio, Dallas. Not everyone posts their location in their profile, though I like it when people do since it helps to clarify where they're coming from, figuratively and literally speaking.

The idea is neat, because there were a lot of young, and I mean the crying type young, there on Saturday. I love kids, but that doesn't mean I like the crying ones everywhere--like there and in movie theaters. Kids are A LOT of fun for science-related outings when they hit 4 or 5 years old.

sts60
2005-Mar-30, 04:07 PM
I knew from reading your posts that you had done something in Houston, though I wasn't sure what--I thought maybe you had worked at NASA. Are you a native Texan? What size is the telescope at UH's observatory?There was a C8 parked on a fairly substantial pedestal inside the dome atop S&RI, Another, somewhat larger Cassegrain of unknown origin was there but not in service while I was there - the mount needed work.

No, not a native Texan but the better part of two decades in and around Houston for school and work. I worked for a small private space company, and spent a lot of time at JSC, but we didn't contract directly to NASA.

The big dome has a 36" Richey-Chretien telescope w/ Cassegrain optics, right? The East Dome has an 18" Newtonian Reflector that they paid $20K for. She said that was expensive, but that doesn't seem expensive to me in the world of office equipment I work in. The West Dome has a 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain. Is that what was there when you were there?...

She mentioned C. Robert O'Dell at Rice.
Bob O'Dell was chief scientist for the Hubble for a time. He's also an aerobatic pilot with books published on the subject. I had him for one of my space physics classes at Rice.

The 36" Cassegrain has a dual secondary mirror, which can be rotated to give either f/5.6 or f/11 (something like that - it's been 10 years now...). When I was around, they had various 11 to 14" type scopes in the E and W domes; the 18" must be new(-er, anyway).

There were a bunch of little kids there--all sorts of people--but kids have no conception of 20,000 degrees or millions and billions of years. When my mother took us to a planetarium when I was four years old, I learned the sun would "blow up" and walked around for two weeks or so thinking we were going to be fried to a crisp any day. I felt really sad about this (so my mother says).
:D It's funny how we can take stuff like that so seriously when we were kids, isn't it? I used to be a little hypochondriac for a while.

You know, for the zillions of times I've been there walking and biking, I have to admit walking that dark path from the parking lot to the observatory is kind of creepy knowing that the alligators sit in the muck right up to the paths. Half way down the path they use red path lights, so it's even darker... The largest one I've seen I had named Big Daddy--he was about 12 feets and husky.
We saw one little guy who was about 18 inches, staring up at us from the edge of the water with a toothy Sgt. Snorkel grin and a wistful "just one finger, please, pretty please" expression. :P

They told me that if it's a clear night, and especially when there's a special event in the sky, to get there by 5:00 pm when tickets go on sale. Tickets sell out in less than an hour.
They do, but IIRC you want to be there ahead of 5 PM to get in line on such days.

People are idiots there and probably feed the wildlife when they're not supposed to. I have no qualms about chastising people I see doing stupid things like that. I think the park employees are way too lenient.
One of the park rangers told us he came upon a man and his young son standing on either side of a 6' alligator, whapping it with sticks, to "see if it would do something". If that alligator had done his Darwinian duty, he would have been destroyed, but I would have given him a medal.

I've looked at pictures of that. It's a rectangular, flat-topped building. So, people just go out there and nap as needed? Why do you/they refer to it as a "dark-sky" site? Does that just mean that there's minimal light pollution nearby as opposed to, say, UH? I guess I'm wondering how dark it needs to be to qualify as a dark-sky site.
Well, it's no Cerro Tololo, but it's about as dark as you're gonna get until you get out into West Texas. The flat-topped building is half air-conditioned office/break room and half roll-off observatory with three fixed 14-inch-ish telescopes. The bunk room/bathroom facilities are a separate building.

This guy built his own observatory near the HAS site. Do you know this guy too?
http://kentbiggs.com/observatory.htm
I don't recall meeting him. But that's a nice job he did, no?

I'd love to go to McDonald, but it's such a long drive. Then again, I drove alone from CT to Houston and that's 2,000 miles. Road trip! I still have never been to Big Bend State Park, I'm embarassed to say. It's just lack of compadres here and I don't think it's very safe for me to go alone.
Maybe some of your fellow area BABBers want to put together a trip out there? I've driven across Texas, but I'm afraid starting from Maryland is a bit much right now.

Thanks, Sts60. I'll have some Blue Bell Mocha Almond Fudge for you, too, to keep those memory neurons working (bought some tonight :wink: ).
Be advised, I'd like some Cookies 'n' Cream Blue Bell next time. :wink:

BTW, about binoculars - Astronomy has a survey about low-priced binoculars in their latest issue. But Charlie in Dayton has already demonstrated great guru-osity on the subject...

Charlie in Dayton
2005-Mar-31, 02:51 AM
So, it appears that you've made your mind up to go 'scope instead of binos. So be it, you know your wants and situation better than anyone else. That being said, short tube 80's are extremely popular no matter who makes 'em (Takahashis are popular with people whose mythical uncles have just left 'em those East Texas oil wells). The Orion comes with everything needed in a package deal...

I went looking for the Paragon tripod specs, specifically how much weight it'd handle (there's nothing worse than a flimsy tripod when you're trying to get a steady image). Didn't say...but you might want to consider just buying the tube assembly, and going for the XHD (eXtra Heavy Duty) tripod. I wouldn't consider it overkill, and if you ever upgrade the scope to something a tad bigger, you're covered.

According to here, (http://astro.umsystem.edu/apml/ARCHIVES/OCT03/msg00324.html) ..."By the way, the Celestron 80WF, the Orion ST80, Skywatcher and a lot of other telescopes are the same. All made by Synta (China)...". If this is to be believed, then reviews about the other brands mentioned are directly applicable to your situlation.

Here's a thread (http://astro.umsystem.edu/apml/ARCHIVES/OCT03/msg00317.html) on another astronomy board about ST 80's.

A user's review. (http://www.alcor.com.au/gabrield/astronomy/orion.asp)

A review from Cloudy Nights (http://www.cloudynights.com/reviews/st80.htm)

Another user review. (http://www.omahaastro.com/revnov00.htm)

Astromart's review of the Celestron 102 (http://www.astromart.com/articles/article.asp?article_id=195), the next step up. An interesting read.

If you've already got an appropriate tripod/rings/finder, Orion sells some nice larger refractors in the tube-only mode.

So, if I recall right, this is to take down Florida way and watch the Shuttle launch, right? If so, you've got the time to practice a bit turning that 80 into a telephoto lens...we want pitchers!!!

Grendl
2005-Mar-31, 02:02 PM
So, it appears that you've made your mind up to go 'scope instead of binos. So be it, you know your wants and situation better than anyone else.
Is there anything wrong with that? :o As I said, I need a tripod anyway. My 80-310 camera lens should take pictures when stationary--I have a tendency to waver too much, though I can't figure out if the tripod of that Orion is usable for my camera.

I tend to be impulsive at times, so I read the Q & A on that site. I will try again this Saturday to see if the weather cooperates and look at other people's telescopes; although I can understand this, I have to SEE for myself.

Type Refractor
Diameter (Mirror or Lens) 80mm
Light Grasp 7.8 sq. in.
Focal Length/ F Ratio 400mm, f/5.0
Magnification
(w/ included eyepieces) 16x, 40x
Highest theoretical magnification 189x

I went looking for the Paragon tripod specs, specifically how much weight it'd handle (there's nothing worse than a flimsy tripod when you're trying to get a steady image). Didn't say...but you might want to consider just buying the tube assembly, and going for the XHD (eXtra Heavy Duty) tripod. I wouldn't consider it overkill, and if you ever upgrade the scope to something a tad bigger, you're covered.
For the Orion 80mm it says the tripod is 11 lbs. That seems adequate, no?


According to here, (http://astro.umsystem.edu/apml/ARCHIVES/OCT03/msg00324.html) ..."By the way, the Celestron 80WF, the Orion ST80, Skywatcher and a lot of other telescopes are the same. All made by Synta (China)...". If this is to be believed, then reviews about the other brands mentioned are directly applicable to your situlation.

Here's a thread (http://astro.umsystem.edu/apml/ARCHIVES/OCT03/msg00317.html) on another astronomy board about ST 80's.

A user's review. (http://www.alcor.com.au/gabrield/astronomy/orion.asp)

A review from Cloudy Nights (http://www.cloudynights.com/reviews/st80.htm)

Another user review. (http://www.omahaastro.com/revnov00.htm)

Astromart's review of the Celestron 102 (http://www.astromart.com/articles/article.asp?article_id=195), the next step up. An interesting read.
I shall read up on all this info you're providing. Thanks!

If you've already got an appropriate tripod/rings/finder, Orion sells some nice larger refractors in the tube-only mode.
I have nothing. Must start from scratch.


So, if I recall right, this is to take down Florida way and watch the Shuttle launch, right? If so, you've got the time to practice a bit turning that 80 into a telephoto lens...we want pitchers!!!
Say how? I'm wondering just how close I need/want to be to the shuttle launch. A local told me that I can get excellent views from the Cape Canaveral port entrance, but I'd like to be closer. My camera lens is 310mm, so...I'd like to watch from the gantry, but lol, that ain't gonna happen. This picture was taken with a 50-80mm lens from the gantry at 80mm. Perhaps I could go the day before and hide in the bush, camp out all night...and get arrested (or attacked by the wild boars).
http://pub22.bravenet.com/photocenter/remote/1805537384/E6723F5F98.jpg
Anyway, with the bad luck I'm having with Saturday nights, I'm not getting my hopes up too high about NASA being on schedule. I wouldn't mind it being delayed a day or two, because there'd be less traffic on a Monday or Tuesday, though everybody just pulls over to the side of the road and watches wherever they are...on I95, etc.

I have no computer at the house in FL, btw, and need to find a reliable phone number. When I was there during a satellite launch (which I missed by one day out of laziness), the local news was inefficient in announcing this and the delays. Must find out if there's some "shuttle hotline," lol. I would suspect, however, that since this is a MUCH bigger deal, there will be more info.

If the launch doesn't go off I can at least visit NASA again and this time I will take my 310mm lens to the Gantry.

Edit lens size

George
2005-Mar-31, 02:36 PM
I'm not sure I get what you mean, unless you mean that you are the other "George Observatory." If that's the case, a car and 150 miles will get you there. :)
It had just come up..... here (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=20648&) :)


The exerpiment was done at the Windmill Observatory (just learned there already is a George Observatory (drat )


I'll be at work at 5:00 pm on solar eclipse day...they always say to not look directly at the sun, but I always do. Perhaps, this has affected my sensitivity to headlights at night? As a teenager, at the beach one day, I went temporarily blind--couldn't see anything, but yellow light. Someone carried me to a picnic table where I layed down with a wet towel over my face. How embarrassing! But that someone who carried me later became my first real boyfriend.
Wow. That was ugly, but it sounds like the sun had a silver lining that day. :)

I am curious if you do remember the Sun actually looking yellow. Was it a yellow impression with your eyes closed? The BA, IIRC, mentioned this circumstance, and others, in his book to attempt to explain why yellow is the impression people have of the white sun.

sts60
2005-Mar-31, 03:37 PM
Grendl,

information on getting passes to Shuttle launches, and hotlines, radio freqs, etc., can be found here (http://www.hq.nasa.gov/osf/miscinfo.html) and here (http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/launches/index.asp). Nobody gets much closer than a few miles (even the rescue crew is IIRC about 2 miles away); I've seen launches from various places at KSC and CCAFS, such as in front of the LCC (about 3 miles away), and it was spectacular even though the Shuttle stack looked like a toy to the nake eye. So you'll get a good view from a lot of places. Bring that long lens, but don't forget to just look at it too!

Charlie in Dayton
2005-Apr-01, 04:22 AM
So, it appears that you've made your mind up to go 'scope instead of binos. So be it, you know your wants and situation better than anyone else.
Is there anything wrong with that? :o
Not a bit. I was wondering as I wrote that if it would come out right. Oughtta listen to them there little voices a bit more...



As I said, I need a tripod anyway. My 80-310 camera lens should take pictures when stationary--I have a tendency to waver too much, though I can't figure out if the tripod of that Orion is usable for my camera.
It's sold as a camera tripod, which means it should be equipped with the industry standard 1/4-20 threaded camera mounting stud.


I went looking for the Paragon tripod specs, specifically how much weight it'd handle (there's nothing worse than a flimsy tripod when you're trying to get a steady image). Didn't say...but you might want to consider just buying the tube assembly, and going for the XHD (eXtra Heavy Duty) tripod. I wouldn't consider it overkill, and if you ever upgrade the scope to something a tad bigger, you're covered.

For the Orion 80mm it says the tripod is 11 lbs. That seems adequate, no?
Well, for the 80mm scope and just about any camera, that ought to work. Between you/me/the wall, I'd be tempted to get the heavier-duty tripod if you ever decide to upgrade the O(ptical)T(ube)A(ssembly). Heavier OTA's would overload that little tripod. Hauling around a somewhat heavier tripod isn't that much of a hassle, it's more of a stability guarantee, and besides, when you buy that once-in-a-lifetime-on-eBay 1000mm telephoto lens, you'll need something that'll hold it.

Made it down to KSC once, and really enjoyed the tour. Hope you have as much of a good time there as I did.

Grendl
2005-Apr-01, 01:08 PM
George said:
Wow. That was ugly, but it sounds like the sun had a silver lining that day.
Yes, but they were actually laughing at me, because I suddenly started staggering from the sudden loss and confusion of not being able to see where I was going. We were not being sweet, little innocents on the beach prior to that. Whatever we were doing contributed to the fact that I got overheated without realizing it and didn't dip in the cold L.I. Sound water to bring my body temperature down. I have had a tendency to look directly at the sun since I was a kid, as well. It is not true that you can't look directly at the sun. I'm surprised I'm not blind, nor need glasses. I also figured that Tom thought I was...uh, pliable, since I was apparently incapable of handling whatever we were doing. :oops: I have an equally weird thing happen to me in Quebec just prior to that: my legs wouldn't stop shaking in bed, to the point it was annoying my best friend who was sharing the hotel room bed with me. They were REALLY shaking. It was freaky, but the shaking eventually stopped and I was fine.

I am curious if you do remember the Sun actually looking yellow. Was it a yellow impression with your eyes closed? The BA, IIRC, mentioned this circumstance, and others, in his book to attempt to explain why yellow is the impression people have of the white sun.
LOL, I thought about that after I posted it, because I have the BA's book and read that section, though again, I do look directly at the sun, so I'm not sure about that. I always say I "yellowed-out" that day, but it isn't really yellow in the sense we know of the primary color yellow. It was more like staring into a lightbulb. My eyes were never shut until I layed down with a towel over my face. I think we have the memory of yellow--we think the sun is yellow and so remember it that way and refer to it in speech that way. Hence, I "yellowed-out" like the sun, because "whited-out" would sound like snow. Back then I did not have the fortune of having the BA's book and was unaware the sun was actually white and why we think it's yellow. We didn't even study stuff like that in school. But in fact, everything just went BRIGHT in my vision--a bright absence of color. In retrospect it's funny, but at the time, I thought I had lost my vision forever. I was only 14 years old.

Grendl
2005-Apr-01, 01:32 PM
Grendl,

information on getting passes to Shuttle launches, and hotlines, radio freqs, etc., can be found here (http://www.hq.nasa.gov/osf/miscinfo.html) and here (http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/launches/index.asp). Nobody gets much closer than a few miles (even the rescue crew is IIRC about 2 miles away); I've seen launches from various places at KSC and CCAFS, such as in front of the LCC (about 3 miles away), and it was spectacular even though the Shuttle stack looked like a toy to the nake eye. So you'll get a good view from a lot of places. Bring that long lens, but don't forget to just look at it too!
Thanks Sts60, I signed up for the launch newsletter, though that won't help me while I'm in FL since I have no computer. The thing I need is a phone number, or I guess I can just call someone who can get on the computer, and for that I have a resourceful person in mind.

I have been to KSC...last June 2004. On the bus tour out to the Gantry, they show where the media and family members are allowed to watch and that it's roughly 3 miles away from the pad. I still like the idea of my sneaking into the bush, though. :wink:

But sadly, I have no hope of seeing the shuttle launch. I read this article in the Chronicle yesterday:


Timing getting tight for May-June shuttle launch
Oversight panel puts off a meeting after NASA delays 2 review sessions
By MARK CARREAU
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

NASA's drive to resume space shuttle flights in mid-May encountered a setback Wednesday, with a key oversight panel saying the agency is not prepared to move forward.

snip

The 26-member oversight panel said it could meet the deadline in time for NASA to launch in the May-June window. But the pacing is really up to the space agency itself, said task group spokesman Dave Drachlis.

For NASA, the work required to avoid delaying the mission until July appears substantial.

"We are not as far along as we anticipated we would be," said NASA's Allard Beutel, a spaceflight operations spokesman. "At the moment, there is no impact (from the task force's postponement) to our launch planning window.

"If we have to adjust, we absolutely will," he added. "If we are not ready, we are not going to cut any corners."

snip

Though shuttle engineers think their design changes have substantially reduced the foam hazard, shuttle launches will be conducted with unprecedented scrutiny from ground-based and airborne cameras as well as on-board impact sensors.

To obtain the best images, shuttle managers plan to launch the first two post-Columbia missions in daylight.

The launch restrictions allow Discovery and its seven-member crew to reach their destination, the international space station, by lifting off between May 15 and June 3. The next period of the desired daylight conditions is July 12-31.

After lengthy restorations, Discovery was moved from its hangar at the Kennedy Space Center to the much larger Vehicle Assembly Building this week. The spacecraft is being fitted to the first safety-enhanced fuel tank and two solid rocket boosters. Officials hope to move Discovery to the launch pad early next week.
Full article: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/3110517

It costs $100 to change my airplane ticket; I can't afford to play a guessing game with the launch date. I wish they would wait until they have an almost definite day, instead of announcing the wide launch window. I usually take my vacation in late June or July 4th, like I did last year, so I'll be ](*,) if it goes off then.

However, when I was there last June and the satellite was waiting for a non-lightning day to go off, there seemed to be a buzz or energy about the place. I don't know what they do when the crawler is moving the shuttle to the pad: do they continue to let the buses go by the crawler road? Even that would be neat to see. There are two tours you can take--the standard one to the Gantry, where I took that above picture from or you can pay more to get a bit closer. However, employees told me it's not that much closer and the times are limited. There's so much to see at NASA; I never got to the Titusville side of things--the astronaut memorial and such. I was interested in the launch pads and viewing Merritt Island and of course, the Saturn V building was loads of fun. I bought the $40 package, I believe.

Oh well, it's better that they be absolutely safe than sorry. Another catastrophe would not only be tragic for the astronauts and their families, but it would further give those people who don't support spending $ on manned flights even more reason to complain about the 1% of the federal budget that goes to NASA. :roll:

Grendl
2005-Apr-01, 01:58 PM
[quote=Charlie in Dayton]So, it appears that you've made your mind up to go 'scope instead of binos. So be it, you know your wants and situation better than anyone else.
Is there anything wrong with that? :o
Not a bit. I was wondering as I wrote that if it would come out right. Oughtta listen to them there little voices a bit more...
No, don't worry, I didn't take any offense. It takes a lot for me to be offended and I know how tone is not always easy to convey in forums. The only thing that bothers me is when someone is condescending or patronizing or thinks I'm dumb. I sound "dizzy" at times, but I'm not a dumb blonde. My response sounds equally "wrong," as well. I simply meant, "Do you think my decision is OK?" Do you think that particular scope will afford me decent views of the sky and land?




As I said, I need a tripod anyway. My 80-310 camera lens should take pictures when stationary--I have a tendency to waver too much, though I can't figure out if the tripod of that Orion is usable for my camera.
It's sold as a camera tripod, which means it should be equipped with the industry standard 1/4-20 threaded camera mounting stud.
Hmm, that's a good thing.



I went looking for the Paragon tripod specs, specifically how much weight it'd handle (there's nothing worse than a flimsy tripod when you're trying to get a steady image). Didn't say...but you might want to consider just buying the tube assembly, and going for the XHD (eXtra Heavy Duty) tripod. I wouldn't consider it overkill, and if you ever upgrade the scope to something a tad bigger, you're covered.

For the Orion 80mm it says the tripod is 11 lbs. That seems adequate, no?
Well, for the 80mm scope and just about any camera, that ought to work. Between you/me/the wall, I'd be tempted to get the heavier-duty tripod if you ever decide to upgrade the O(ptical)T(ube)A(ssembly). Heavier OTA's would overload that little tripod. Hauling around a somewhat heavier tripod isn't that much of a hassle, it's more of a stability guarantee, and besides, when you buy that once-in-a-lifetime-on-eBay 1000mm telephoto lens, you'll need something that'll hold it.
Baby steps...baby steps (reference to "What About Bob?" movie). Tripods aren't expensive; I can always get another one later if I ever buy a 1000mm lens, lol. Baby steps, Charlie, don't go vicariously buying things for me now. :lol:


Made it down to KSC once, and really enjoyed the tour. Hope you have as much of a good time there as I did.
Yes, I know, I remember when I attempted to post the picture below from the Saturn V building, you came back with one of you touching the moon rock. I hadn't thought of doing that there, but when I went to JSC in August, I stole your idea and had a Japanese tourist take a picture of me touching the JSC moon rock. However, I look yucky in those pictures and won't post them. I had a great time at KSC last year--lots of foreigners there, especially the Irish and English, who enjoyed the "cheap petrol."

I like this picture from KSC. At JSC they have this structure that simulates what the thrusters' exhaust would feel like, though the air is cool. On a hot day it feels good:
http://pub22.bravenet.com/photocenter/remote/1805537384/55B9186D66.jpg

BTW, I needed a "Rent An Aerospace Engineer" for this day. I like the little phrase at the bottom: "Build a little/Test a little/Fix a little and then back to Build a little. I have a non-glare picture, but it's not as clear.

Hangar 9:
http://pub22.bravenet.com/photocenter/remote/1805537384/CF2121F823.jpg

Grendl
2005-Apr-01, 02:24 PM
I'd like to note while on the side-topic, that I learned nothing in the Hangar 9 building, nor was I even given the time to watch the TV film about Yeager. As you can see, I am brevity-challenged, so I wrote a lengthy and harsh critique on the JSC comment form. It probably was thrown away since it was insulting employees there. The thing is, most of their tour guides are clueless. I complimented only two people: one girl who worked at the "thruster simulator building" and the old man in the original Mission Control Room. He encouraged questions and didn't even crack an ironic smile when two 20-something guys from Utah asked if any other countries had landed on the moon. :o

There was some guy in a shuttle-mock up that appeared to be holding an audience's attention, but I didn't stop for that. Basically, the tram tour is a teach-yourself sort of thing. :evil: No wonder, so many people are clueless about NASA.

sts60
2005-Apr-01, 03:50 PM
I have to say the presentations and displays are much slicker, but I like the old not-so-fancy arrangement. You may want to repost your comments, or call the public relations folks directly, to make your case (as a space advocate) that they need to do better getting the message to the people.

Which satellite did you launch at CCAFS? And (belatedly) congratulations on it! =D>

BTW, they built the Saturn V structure at KSC after the last time I'd been out there. The pictures folks have posted (both here and at apollohoax (http://www.apollohoax.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1812) are very cool. I have a few pictures (http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/sts060/my_photos) I took during my time out at CCAFS/KSC; must scan and add some more. But I'm not really much of a photographer. :oops:

Grendl
2005-Apr-02, 08:23 AM
I have to say the presentations and displays are much slicker, but I like the old not-so-fancy arrangement. You may want to repost your comments, or call the public relations folks directly, to make your case (as a space advocate) that they need to do better getting the message to the people.
I looked back at my posts in August to get a link and saw that we basically had a similar exchange then about this very thing. I was still complaining and you said you liked the older, "stodgy" facilities. I'll have to go out there again to see if they've improved anything. However, a problem is their staff who hasn't a clue about answering questions; it's not as if there's all these space-buff kids working there.


Which satellite did you launch at CCAFS? And (belatedly) congratulations on it! =D>
Launched? Oh, sure, I launched it, just like my 'ol Estes rockets, lol. It was this one:
http://www.spaceflightnow.com/delta/d305/ And it was from 17. This is a nice map of those pads:
http://www.robsv.com/cape/map.html

I was at KSC on Tuesday. From the Saturday night I arrived in FL, there were awful early-evening storms. In fact, on the Monday night I went to see the worst movie I saw all year, "The Day After Tomorrow," the only reason I watched the whole thing was because I could hear how hard the rain was coming down on the roof. During the tour on Tuesday, I had taken a picture of pads 41 and 40, which the tour guide said was where the satellite was being launched (he was a bit clueless too, though enthusiastic).* Anyway, I could have driven back the next day, but felt sure it would once again rain early evening. Wouldn't you know I blew it. Worse, I lost track of the time and didn't even get to the beach! I did hear the sonic boom. This is a dumb question that I can probably look up, but....about where was the rocket when I heard the sonic boom? I mean in precise terms. And how far of a distance can it be heard?


BTW, they built the Saturn V structure at KSC after the last time I'd been out there. The pictures folks have posted (both here and at apollohoax (http://www.apollohoax.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1812) are very cool. I have a few pictures (http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/sts060/my_photos) I took during my time out at CCAFS/KSC; must scan and add some more. But I'm not really much of a photographer. :oops:
I scanned through the other folks' pictures...a few good close-ups of the thrusters. I have more saved, but, 1) I didn't bring enough film and thus paid their exhorbitant price, 2) I didn't bring my 80mm-310mm lens with me, 3) I didn't take too many pictures, because I saw several films, including an IMAX one, and then, of course, it started to storm and I was afraid of being hit by lightning.

I like these two photos of yours (plus the wild pigs there):
http://us.f2.yahoofs.com/users/4140ca8czf2c7db0a/5435/__sr_/35b0.jpg?phLVlTCBH6aMCYMhttp://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/sts060/detail?.dir=5435&.dnm=c485.jpg&.src=ph

I tried to save them, but it wouldn't let me save them as Jpgs. I wanted to put them in my Photo Center (with credit, of course :wink: )
Obviously you were well connected there...

Well, it looks like the weather will be good for another go at Saturn and Jupiter. Today was gorgeous, but windy, so I think I'll say hi to some alligators before tickets go on sale. I'm psyched.

*They also couldn't answer my question about lightning striking the rockets in the Rocket Garden. Now, the swath across FL encompassing Orlando gets the most lightning strikes than any US place and they are certainly vicious. I wasn't going to hang around under these clouds to find out. They just look like big lightning rods. :o
http://pub22.bravenet.com/photocenter/remote/1805537384/F5FDD9201E.jpg

Charlie in Dayton
2005-Apr-02, 09:30 AM
Do you think that particular scope will afford me decent views of the sky and land?

I can give you a definite maybe on that... #-o

I have an old spotting scope (20x - 60x zoom) of that approximate aperture, and it served me well as a daylight instrument for several purposes -- it still does, as a matter of fact. It needs a solider mount for astronomy work (haven't found the right set of rings yet), but what little I used it for in the beginnings were adequate, although it was not designed as a nighttime instrument. Yours is, and should give you good images daylight or dark. Hint -- you may want to consider Orion's Explorer II 7-21mm zoom eyepiece for this -- it's on sale, and will give you magnifications from 20x to 56x. Just for 'casual observing', especially in the daylight, this may be the way to go -- that zoom eyepiece and Orion's 'Shorty' 2x barlow, and you're ready to rock from 20x to 115x (which is still within the usable magnification range of this scope).

I'm good at spending other people's money, ain't I??? 8-[

Grendl
2005-Apr-02, 02:30 PM
Charlie, how about I give you my credit card and let you go to town? :)

How about this scope for me: http://tinyurl.com/5xlh4

Well, it will be gorgeous tonight--it's beautiful right now. Perhaps, Mother Nature was just saving the Saturday night weather for something bigger and better for me.

I always bring my blank book with me to the park in case I get a sudden moment of inspiration to write something, so I will takes notes again and let you know what personal telescopes I looked through(since I have to be a "scope slut" for the time being). Right now I'm just looking forward to viewing the sky through the 36". I think reading astronomy books on a blanket sounds nice, pre-darkness. I have this favorite place close to the observatory and high above alligators.

Grendl
2005-Apr-04, 12:41 PM
Saturday night was a blast--I was in a dreamy state all day Sunday. Does that sound weird? It's one thing to look at pictures online at JPL, et al, but I was like a kid in a sky candy store--that's how long it's been since I've looked through a telescope. It was even that dark at GO, so imagine if I was in west Texas? I'd really be giddy.

Charlie, I think we're back to the idea of binoculars. There were two kinds of amateur astronomers there: the semi-clueless and the honest "clueful". One very nice guy, who was operating the 18" last week in the clouds, helped convince me that binoculars was the way to go. He was operating the 36" and recognized my voice and spent some time telling me the pros and cons of both. Not only would that Orion show me inverted images and then I'd have to get that correcting eyepiece, he said that a real good pair of reasonably prices binoculars will last me forever and I can take it on the kayak for my critter spying, etc, etc. In fact, I once sailed with someone who had a real nice pair encased in rubber; then one could attach a buoy to it to keep it safe and sound.

There was one guy who did have mounted binoculars, but he was ignoring them and showing off his scope. By 10:00 I was tired of taking notes and for the life of me, I can't remember what magnification they were--I didn't look through them. "Very nice guy" suggested at least 50mm, Jack suggested 60mm. In my sloppy notes written in the dark, I have written down 10x63, 63mm lens, so I think that was it.

You do have to wait in line. I got in line at 4:15 and I was behind someone buying tickets for 20 Girl Scouts. I got a viewing at 9:00 pm, but because Very Nice Guy running the 36" wanted to say more to me about the binoculars, I got a second viewing for free (not that $5 is going to break me). That was cool since they moved it from Saturn to M3. I could look at Saturn all night, but I wanted to see more and the 14" was pointing at Jupiter and the 17" the old man changed for me to the Orion Nebula, especially as I barked at people for him who 1) wouldn't stop flashing their white lights, and 2) some yahoo talking on a cell phone while he was explaining Orion Nebula. He was very hoarse.

Those green laser pointers, though recently in trouble in the news for affecting pilots, are great for pointing out constellations! Old Man was good. There are some amateurs who are a bit questionable in their knowlege: one animated guy I spent some time with goes there every clear Saturday night, has his laptop set up and all. He takes good images, explained his 10" refractor at length, but when I asked him to point out Saturn with his finger, he said, "I'm not sure." :o He did, however, have the best view of Saturn out of all the telescopes I looked through; I could easily see the Cassini Division on his. He also showed me Bode's Galaxy M81 (http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m081.html) and the Cigar Galaxy M82 (http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m082.html).

But get this, I know I didn't hear him wrong, because I wrote as he spoke and then listened to him say it over and over again to others, but he mixed the Messier catalogue numbers and said the Cigar Galaxy was M81 and vice versa. :o Good thing I checked it all out at home! He was more into photography than astronomy. He also used that Go To function.

That wasn't unusual, come to find out. When I asked this couple with a water heater sized scope a question about Saturn's distance, they were clueless. A nice guy with a pretty 8" Celestron Smith-Cassegrain had nice views of Saturn going. A man with a Newtonian Dobsonian pointing to Orion Nebula was jerkish, even if the view was decent. A young guy with his kids had a 90mm refractor Meade DS pointing at Pleiades (http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m082.html), which is a personal favorite, because when young I could easily see it in the winter and called it the "Shopping Cart" constellation. People chuckled at that, but to the naked eye it looks like that. I was young, what can I say? Nobody in my family were astronomers. Anyway, his scope changed my naked eye view from a shopping cart to one full of groceries. :lol: Very cool.

I looked through a bunch others, but by then I was tired of making notes and just wanted to look. Animated Clueless Guy got rid of me and sent me over to Binocular Guy and his scope. Jack was the best of them all; he didn't fudge information, admitted if he didn't know, and let me touch his scope and moved it around. It was after 10:00 pm by then. I learned so much from him in an hour. We looked at, among other things,:
http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m040.html#winnecke1869
http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m031.html

and Jupiter's moon that was previously hidden earlier. That was very cool. He explained binary stars (cool), distance of planets and all sorts of stuff I later checked out for accuracy. It seems that these people are competitive with their scopes. Jack said of Animated Guy that those Go To computerized thingamajigs "are for wimps". :D He didn't use one nor need to.

Sts60, as you know, the 36" didn't show as good views of Jupiter and Saturn as all the smaller scopes. Very Nice Guy explained to the tourists who want to see what they know, that it's for deep space. It was much more effective on a galaxy. Wouldn't it be fun to look at asteroids, since they've found so many there? This is my plan: next time I will sign up for the last viewing, and if those two guys are there I'll hang back and have them move the scope to something deeper. :wink: Better yet, why don't I just try to find some single guy who works at McDonald, lol. It's not open to the public for viewing, so a "Scope Slut" I shall be (people liked that term).

Oh, and Hubble passed over 300 miles above. It moves fast across the sky. They announced it over the intercom. I didn't realize it would appear so big and bright! Very cool.

On the animal front, I saw Big Daddy alligator in Horshoe Lake. I could just spot his snout and eyes level with the water, but with my binoculars I could see part of his body under the water. He's HUGE. 12 feets at the minimum. Maybe he eats little deer who go for a sip of water.
A 4-foot alligator was right up to the dock, so I took pictures (her body to snout was 4-feet, not including his tail). She was just doing a dead float and giving me and my 310 lens the Evil Eye. I assume it was her young 'un on the other side of the dock near the water's edge.

More babble about animals later...gotta go to work.

Did not proofread for errors

Charlie in Dayton
2005-Apr-06, 03:26 AM
Ah, the SpaceProbe 130 -- I actually have one of those. Yes, the image will be inverted, but that isn't much of a problem. You simply have to remember which way is which, especially when doing planetary work. It's a 5.1", which is getting toward the bottom edge of 'serious aperture'. I'm still learning mine (the mysteries of the equatorial mount require that the instructions be tattooed on the back of one hand), which was bought on sale from Orion away back. And I deliberately bought it with the view that it may sit for awhile as I work my way up to it. No prob -- I saved some cash, and it's not like it'll rot while it sits properly covered in the corner...


Oh, and Hubble passed over 300 miles above. It moves fast across the sky. They announced it over the intercom. I didn't realize it would appear so big and bright! Very cool.

On the animal front, I saw Big Daddy alligator in Horshoe Lake. I could just spot his snout and eyes level with the water, but with my binoculars I could see part of his body under the water. He's HUGE. 12 feets at the minimum. Maybe he eats little deer who go for a sip of water.

There are two marvelous reasons for starting out with binoculars. It's easy to track the ISS/Hubble/Santa's sleigh across the sky with binos; I've done it myself more than once, and it's a stirring sight.

Could you have even seen that 'gator with a telescope?

Further than this, deponent saith not...

And by the way, if there's a way you can snag a copy of the April Astronomy magazine, there's a marveous comparison of a dozen different sets of binos for under $100 msrp. A page or two after that article, I ran across an ad from a shop that referenced at least three sets from the article -- Celestron's 15x70s for $88????

Go for it...the skies await!

Grendl
2005-Apr-06, 04:28 PM
Grendl wrote:
Oh, and Hubble passed over 300 miles above. It moves fast across the sky. They announced it over the intercom. I didn't realize it would appear so big and bright! Very cool. On the animal front, I saw Big Daddy alligator in Horshoe Lake. I could just spot his snout and eyes level with the water, but with my binoculars I could see part of his body under the water. He's HUGE. 12 feets at the minimum. Maybe he eats little deer who go for a sip of water.

Charlie:
There are two marvelous reasons for starting out with binoculars. It's easy to track the ISS/Hubble/Santa's sleigh across the sky with binos; I've done it myself more than once, and it's a stirring sight.

Could you have even seen that 'gator with a telescope?

Further than this, deponent saith not...
Charlie, I did buy binoculars last night. In fact, I'm tired of reading about binoculars and just want to look through them! I was reading the BA's astrology article and read everything at Sky & Telescope, as well as the Help FAQs at the sites you gave me. It gelled with what you had said, as well as Very Nice Guy at GO.

I decided on 12X63mm. The 15x63mm were only $20 more, but I felt I was pushing the FOV and shaking factor, as it was. I could have gotten more power and aperture at Bigbinoculars.com for half the price of those at Orion. In fact, Orion had some 2nd Clearance 15X70s even cheaper than what I bought, but again, I was pushing the FOV. I don't know the quality of their house-brand at BigBinoculars.com, but I can always get bigger ones cheaper there.

BUT, Orion had what I wanted (http://tinyurl.com/3tjaz )and the specifications you recommended, a 5-year warranty and I went Googling for customer complaints/kudos like this one: http://tinyurl.com/55gyk

I may have gone too large, but I do have my trusty old 7X35's. Also, I can return them if I don't like them. I think I can deal with the shakiness (perhaps not on a kayak, but those well-worn and abused 7x35s I bought for $12 at a tag sale in 1983 will do for that) and they're not even 3 lbs. Get this, the fact that they're made in Japan was a factor for me too, believe it or not. I've had good luck with Japanese optics: my Konica that died after 18 years wasn't due to lens and I had abused it terrible; dented lens, sand in cracks, etc, and it still gave me great pictures.

Anyway, I'm not unhappy with my decision even though it was suggested for beginners to go the 10X60 route. You might not be happy with the tripod I chose, but remember, I have to take it on the plane and use it for my camera. Boy tripods get expensive! I got one that should work fine with 2 lb 8 0z. binoculars AND my 310mm camera lens. Still it all adds up.


And by the way, if there's a way you can snag a copy of the April Astronomy magazine, there's a marveous comparison of a dozen different sets of binos for under $100 msrp. A page or two after that article, I ran across an ad from a shop that referenced at least three sets from the article -- Celestron's 15x70s for $88????

Go for it...the skies await!
Thanks I'll have to buy the magazine. I found Sky & Telescope/Nightwatch magazines online to be VERY helpful and subscribed to the fledgling Night Watch. It's written for people like me! Of course, I couldn't keep my hand of the mouse in "recommended book" sections, so let's just say that I hope we get a bonus. :wink:

50/50 on the shuttle launch, but if I get to see it, I will have a 6 mile view over the water, no treeline. How cool is that? I'll take a picture with my 310 lens. I need to double check on the bag issue--you can't bring knapsacks or such, but certainly cameras are allowed. When I went there last yearl, they made me take my 35mm camera out of its bag and turn the camera on and off. I can't image bags holding tripods please them--looks like a rifle or something. Another factor in having a light tripod.

Thanks again Charlie for your advice! =D>

Charlie in Dayton
2005-Apr-07, 01:07 AM
Mah pleasure!

Am waiting here for a cheap load of old binos off eBay to arrive...that way I can leave an old pair of 7x35's in the car without worrying if they get squashed, and that pair of WWII 7x50's will take the variable polarizers (also WWII vintage) so's I can observe the moon without having the light shine clear thru to the back of my skull...and then there's the new off-brand pairs of 12x50's and 16x50's coming for door prizes for club meetings...

The sky's starting to clear in the evenings...things should be looking up!... #-o

Anyway, good luck, clear skies, and all that rot...enjoy!

Grendl
2005-Apr-13, 12:51 PM
Charlie, I got my binoculars yesterday! Tested them out last night on the handful of stars and crescent moon. They seem to be looking good. You are right, there is a tricky wobble factor and I had to rest my elbows on my car (perfect height for that) to get a steady look at Jupiter's moons--but I did see them, as well as my Mexican neighbors who all took a look at the moon and Jupiter. I haven't set up the tripod yet, but I LOVE the sky charts! Charts and maps get my motor running, so to speak (I got the laminated ones in case I spill my coffee in the dark).

The only problem I'm having is the straps! Lol, I can't get the darn straps on right. #-o

Anyway, I definitely need that tripod or my eyes will hurt; my eyes were a bit sore afterwards, sort of like a getting-new-glasses effect. I could see craters on the moon no problem (try communicating in Spanish about why we can't see the US flag on the moon, lol, and Jupiter's moons).

Must run to work, but I'm psyched to go somewhere where there are more stars....Thanks for all your help! :D

Grendl
2005-Apr-20, 01:06 AM
Here, Sts60, this is where you volunteered. Yeah, volunteers are the BEST. I know it's a stock photo, but per your instructions I was waiting on the bench. :wink: Brings back memories?
http://pub22.bravenet.com/photocenter/remote/1805537384/40DB8E249A.jpg

...and is this your ex-girlfriend? She's very lovely doing her dead float, especially with a stick on her head. :D
http://pub22.bravenet.com/photocenter/remote/1805537384/B014710BE8.jpg

Apparently, the stick is some kind of fashion statement. It was hard to negotiate through the slats of the dock without thinking she might snap at my lens. Baby was near by.
http://pub22.bravenet.com/photocenter/remote/1805537384/86A036824F.jpg

Jim
2005-Apr-20, 12:22 PM
"Apparently, the stick is some kind of fashion statement."

Camoflague.

(The HMNS has a Members Only night at the George set for May 20.)

Grendl
2005-Apr-20, 01:46 PM
"Apparently, the stick is some kind of fashion statement."

Camoflague.

(The HMNS has a Members Only night at the George set for May 20.)

#-o I'll be in Florida May 14-21, but thanks for telling me! Tell me again, I'm lazy about looking into those things. But you know, I called yesterday for a camp site for this Saturday, and they are BOOKED solid--had to book for the following Saturday. Not even for a tent. See, I figure, I can't stand driving in the headlights of other cars, and they let us stick around until after 10:00 pm last time, so if I stay there I don't have to worry about driving on the FM roads with all the drunks (the head-on collisions there are nasty) and I can mosey around longer. Also, after May, as you know, it's all over for tent-camping, since it gets so deathly hot here. I can handle a lot of humidity, but sleeping in it is no fun.

You should come out there on the 30th (April)...I'm nice, I won't bite anyone like my alligator friends will. :lol:

And regards to the camoflauge--nice try, eh?

sts60
2005-Apr-20, 02:59 PM
Here, Sts60, this is where you volunteered. Yeah, volunteers are the BEST. I know it's a stock photo, but per your instructions I was waiting on the bench. Brings back memories? [Curly]Soitanly![/iCurly] For those who haven't been there, this view is looking up from the "right" of the facility as you reach the end of the path from the parking lot. The 36" dome is featured prominently, and one of the two side domes is visible to the left. The little shed in front of the 36" dome houses (or used to, anyway) an assortment of small telescopes - Dobs and the like - for general use, and the center bar of the 'T' shaped deck runs from the center of the picture to the left. That's where people set up their scopes. Underneath this structure is the classroom/exhibit/gift shop space, and next to that is the Challenger Center.
...and is this your ex-girlfriend? She's very lovely doing her dead float, especially with a stick on her head. Funny, I don't remember her being so... reptilian.
Apparently, the stick is some kind of fashion statement. It was hard to negotiate through the slats of the dock without thinking she might snap at my lens. Baby was near by. Yes, getting near baby with momma 'gator nearby would not be a smart career move (unless you were contemplating a move to the exciting field of "lunch"). I will say, though, that the stick adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the outfit.

Grendl
2005-Apr-20, 04:20 PM
Here, Sts60, this is where you volunteered. Yeah, volunteers are the BEST. I know it's a stock photo, but per your instructions I was waiting on the bench. Brings back memories? [Curly]Soitanly![/iCurly] For those who haven't been there, this view is looking up from the "right" of the facility as you reach the end of the path from the parking lot. The 36" dome is featured prominently, and one of the two side domes is visible to the left. The little shed in front of the 36" dome houses (or used to, anyway) an assortment of small telescopes - Dobs and the like - for general use, and the center bar of the 'T' shaped deck runs from the center of the picture to the left. That's where people set up their scopes. Underneath this structure is the classroom/exhibit/gift shop space, and next to that is the Challenger Center.
Lol, I almost expect you to cue in Vincent Price on Alice Cooper's "Black Widow," .....and now, my prize, the black widow, isn't she lovely and so deadly? They say her bite is 16 times as bad as that of the rattlesnake....(of course, this won't be amusing to anybody who doesn't know what the heck I'm talking about, which probably happens often).



...and is this your ex-girlfriend? She's very lovely doing her dead float, especially with a stick on her head. Funny, I don't remember her being so... reptilian.
You mean you didn't notice she felt a bit...leathery? Hmm...



Apparently, the stick is some kind of fashion statement. It was hard to negotiate through the slats of the dock without thinking she might snap at my lens. Baby was near by. Yes, getting near baby with momma 'gator nearby would not be a smart career move (unless you were contemplating a move to the exciting field of "lunch"). I will say, though, that the stick adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the outfit.LOL! :lol: