[Chaos-l] 2012 WSP Summary
rfitzgerald1 at nc.rr.com
rfitzgerald1 at nc.rr.com
Mon Feb 27 21:17:00 EST 2012
Well folks the 28th Annual Winter Star Party is in the books - and I'd say it was one of the better ones I've attended in recent years. Attendance was down though 568 tickets were sold only about 448 were rumored to have showed and the plentiful hot water for the showers seemed to support these rumors! By accident (really - we had other plans) I ended up No. 6 in line on the Overseas Highway! This was Debra's first (and last) time helping me with the drive down and 'sleeping' in the car prior to the 'Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889'! She is convinced we're all a bit touched to subject ourselves to this!
Daytime temps began in the upper 60's and peaked on Friday around 85F @ 84% RH! One could wear shorts all night long with a light jacket to keep the dew off. The dew was staggering mind you! No rain and few clouds except mainly Monday night from 10 pm to 2 am - and semi-repeat on Tuesday night but otherwise Wed-Friday nights were mostly clear. Pierre' cranked up his magic 24" Starmaster Dob on Mars and we swear we saw a couple of rovers!! :-)
There was an interesting fellow next to me whom I initially complained was a bit annoying the first couple of nights (you had to be there). He's a retired Psychiatrist and eventually wore me down until I actually enjoyed talking to him! We shared views through his 13.1" restored Coulter mirror in a Rob Teeter Dob. Al Nagler hung around with us Thursday night as well as Terry Platt (Starlight Express owner) enjoying 'unique' conversations, hunting for insanely obscure and dim galaxies skimming the southern horizon and Willie constantly talking to his Prius!! Have to tell you guys, please spend some time sifting through Willie's web site - pretty darn funny and creative car! As he drove out of the WSP and passed the Monroe County Sheriff's car he hit the Phaser, Photon Canon and the Tune to Star Trek blared away! Dozens of people were clapping, cheering and laughing as we listened to his Shuttle (car) sound off as he headed back to NY! He is living proof you're never too old to enjoy childhood - again! And yes, he did don his Star Trek outfit while observing Friday night!! Debra is still laughing every time one of us says 'Willie'!
Of interest to me this year was the 32" f/3.46 (think that's right) that Mike Lockwood spent a year trying to refigure the mirror. The view I experienced through this Dob was very similar to raw subs we imagers take! I felt kind of bad for the owner though - there were waiting lines every night at the eyepiece - Rule One - don't take a monster Dob out to a star party and expect to enjoy it all by yourself!!!
Also, I got to sit down with the guys from Officina Stellare. Gino actually let me image with the CRC-320 on a Paramount MX Friday night. This astrograph is a work of art folks! The ultra-corrected Richey-Chretien carbon fiber whizz-banger of an OTA is just sexy to look at but how did it perform?? AWESOME!!!! At f/5.4 we pulled a single 10 min test sub on M45 using an SBIG with the 8300 chip and I nearly passed out! Nebulosity out the whaazoo!! Gotta sell a kidney to get this thing folks! John Novak won the imaging contest with his Gum Nebula collected on his 10" f/4 OTA and he sat with me while we both learned about these OTAs from Officina Stellare in the darkness. John got very anxious to see what the 16" could do so he talked Gino into spinning the Paramount ME carrying that OTA around to The Gum. He took one 10 min sub and when it popped up John actually whipped out his credit card and bought that OTA!! The guys from Italy were incredibly intelligent and highly technical guys and were exceptionally proud of their products (which is also reflected in their costs)!! These OTAs are made near Venice in case anyone is going to Italy this year and wants to see glass other than Murano glass! Gotta go buy me a lottery ticket tomorrow!!!
Most folks packed up and left Friday after the raffle (I won again this year - this time a DVD with "The Sky - 1936-1941 The Complete Collection". Watch for it on AstroMart!! Friday night was just spectacular and maybe only 150 or less folks stayed. It was great b/c it was 2 for 1 on the brownies and folks played guitars, sung, etc. Very magical night!!
So my overall take-away this year was complete satisfaction. No nights were completely squashed due to clouds and we only had to endure part of Monday and Tuesday night doing sucker-hole astronomy. Winds were under 12 knots on the berm most nights and back where I always image we often had zero wind all night. Mosquitoes were a problem most nights though - unusual for the WSP. Traffic leaving (back though Daytona) was not terrible - only on Islamorada Keys did the annual Flea Market Event tie up traffic from 9-5 pm for the departing attendees both Saturday and Sunday. Next year the WSP is early February so that won't be a problem next year!
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