[Chaos-l] 2012 WSP Summary
rfitzgerald1 at nc.rr.com
rfitzgerald1 at nc.rr.com
Wed Feb 29 00:39:21 EST 2012
Drive was ~15.5 hrs WSP to my house in Apex stopping every 200 miles or so. I've done it in 14.5 hours before. It's easy to drive straight through going down - just make sure you can lay your seat down in your vehicle so that when you arrive and get in line you can sleep for a few hours before setting up your site. Mondays are tough after driving all day Sunday, setting up in the sun and heat and before you know it it's nightfall! Most folks hit the hay by midnight on Monday night even if it is clear!
I have experimented with various OTC stimulants as my heart is sensitive to high doses of caffine. For me, turns out the 5 Hour Energy drink works pretty well. I usually consume one bottle somewhere around Jacksonville or Daytona. This usually keeps me alert until I reach Homestead then the slower pace, non-stop traffic and frequent distractions in the Keys keep you awake! There are 24-hour convenience stores right up through Marathon where you can stop and fill your cooler, fuel tank and take a bio break. I usually stop at the Shell Station or RaceTrack just before you leave Homestead and get my ice, fuel, snacks, etc. You normally cannot get in line until 4-6 am Monday morning but this year I got in line around 1 am purely by accident. Apparently, the specific Monroe County Sheriff determines how early one can line up so you just never know!
I plan to purchase an AstroGizmo dome this coming Fall for Star Party use. You can camp in it alongside your scope. Setting one up takes an hour but the real benefit is weather protection from wind, light, stumbling strangers in the dark, rain, hot sun during the day, etc. At $2,100 it's pricey yes but I should have bought one years ago. I thought about converting my 6x10 Pace Trailer into either a mobile observatory/bunk house but the fuel burned hauling a trailer with today's small vehicles would be expensive as well. The trip is ~2,000 miles so I burned about 85 gallons of fuel (~$310). When I tow the loaded trailer I get about 50% reduction in fuel economy; thus, another $150 (plus the cost of the trailer, tires, title, tax, etc.). Since I already own and use the trailer for other purposes I can't figure that cost in of course! It would roughly take about 10 years to break even (subtracting a tent cost every ten years) for the dome but if you do two or more star parties annually then the payback time drastically decreases. Debra figured up if I had bought the dome five years ago I'd break even this year!
The 32" was a year-long mirror project. Mike Lockwood was hired to re-figure the mirror and perfect the collimation routine. Not sure what tools were used to collimate.
My advice is to make darn sure you have dew prevention on both primary and secondary (an ounce of prevention . . . ), a weatherproof scope/setup cover and a ground cover under the scope. Also, the entire Key is basically a coral head so about 2" below the soil is coral - like driving into concrete! Those little aluminum tent stakes are largely useless - get some big tent spikes or large landscaping nails and take both a sledge hammer and a regular claw hammer. The two will be needed to extract your stakes from the coral during tear down!
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