After spending three days and nights in the vast plains that were once the epicenter of the dust bowl, I can certainly say I have come to appreciate the beauty of desolation. The beautiful rock formations, antelope, and hawks keep my eyes busy during the day while the crystal clear skies from horizon to horizon-dark in every direction-consume me by night.
The 27” has proven to be quite the workhorse. The 16” has sat a bit isolated and lonely, but she still shows well, should someone want to stop by and take a peek through her. As a consummate star-hopper, I didn’t know how I was going to handle the transition to Argo-Navis and ServoCat. After a few days of constant use, I can honestly say that everyone who loves big dobs should consider the two systems as seriously as they consider their loyalties to star hopping. I was able to see more in the first night, including obscure Caldwells, IC’s, and Palomars that I may never have found in such a quick period of time. Argo is dead accurate, following the initial two star alignment, and ServoCat slews more rapidly than smaller 8” Cassegrains (and that’s carrying a 300 pound payload). Not to mention the extra half magnitude or so you get since you are now tracking. I cannot recommend these two systems enough.
Back to the star party and the going ons down here. The nights are in the low 50’s with a steady breeze that typically keeps the dew at bay. The days are typical Oklahoma- hot, beautiful, and almost cloud free. The people are just how I remember so fondly in the southern Midwest. They’re gracious, kind, warm, and eager to listen to me blab about my passion for building these big dobs. I have met a few other very notable telescope makers, and was fortunate to get to briefly hang out with NMT’s vendor of finely crafted spiders and secondary holders, Randy Cunningham from Astrosytems. Of course, I dropped a few dollars with the great folks from TeleGizmos and picked up some computer screen red plexiglass and dustproof keyboard accessories, both of which come in handy around such an astute group of observers.
A few feet to my south I am surrounded by some master observers that are calling out their faint fuzzy findings to each other in rapid succession. I believe both are using dobs in the 17.5-18” range, and with their keen eyes, they are able to identify more than may be expected for mere mortals using scopes of similar apertures. To my south are large groups of folks with a mix of cass’s and dobs set up to do imaging and showpiece eye candy observing (some of my faves). To my southeast sits a 25” F5 dob that spends time observing faint galaxies and the occasional planetary nebula. And there are still the hundreds more scopes and owners set up in the jammed field down to the North. Although my location is a bit secluded from the main gathering of amateurs, I am very satisfied with the interest in NMT and particularly our collapsible truss system, especially since we aren’t set up as a vendor.
The club members I have met are from all over the place. I met a few of the organizers from the OKC club, several of the Denver group, a few from Minnesota, and many from the Amarillo area. My consensus of them is that they are all passionate about our respective passions, and they are all warm and kind to a Okie Tex first timer like me.
The last thing I will mention is the food. It is catered in and you can opt for a B-F-L 3-meal a day payment, or can be modified down to any number you may think you want. I am doing lunch and dinner, and both have been exceptional with a highly professional catering staff and even better food (and quite a range of variety might I add).
Upon my closing of the blog post, her is what I will say about the pristine conditions tonight. I have over 100 NGC’s I’m going after: 891, 7662,6781,7009, 7293, 772, 1907, 1931, 1501, 2403, 2655, 185, 281, 457, 663, 7789, 5139, 49, 6939, 6946…just to name over 25% of them. Can’t wait! Will update soon!