The Starry Night, 36

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12/20/2010. The used Linksys WET54G bridge arrvived and I expected to pass a painless few minutes inserting it into the network to demonstrate that it could indeed put a signal on a wire that I could run up through the woods to the cul de sac. Of course, I plugged it in and hoped for a detect-and-auto-configure-everything setup. Not quite. So I logged into it using a hardwired connection to my router (it's admin admin, btw) and reset it to listen for channel 11, network "Linksys." e-Crickets. This went on through visits to several support sites, a catalog of online anecdotes from the similarly puzzled, and growing frustration. For about 90 minutes. You UNIX types will guess the stupid problem first: my wifi network is named "linksys" not "Linksys". And all was right with the world. I put a higher gain antenna on the bridge (because I happened to have one) and carried it out to the telescope in the backyard. The telescope is set up rather farther from the house than usual for tonight's lunar eclipse. Solid signal, even without the repeater. So I put the repeater back online, tucked it under Maybelle's galleria loveseat, and put the bridge back in its box awaiting the delivery of cable, plugs, and crimp tool. None of that has arrived yet, mostly because I haven't ordered any of it. As far as possible, I want to use a known good network setup for tonight's effort. Clouds may doom it, but the network won't.

At sunset, the sky still looks good. I've got the telescope upside down under the pier, aimed at unseen Hamal, some 3.5 hours ahead of the point in the sky where the eclipse occurs. This is part of an effort to make sure I have set the telescope up in a place where the entire event is clear of overhead pines and may end in horizon pines (rather than in a rooftop, if the weather lets me get that far).

I'm using the Canon 50D in tethered mode -- images in SRAW1 will be stored on the netbook. I'd keep them on the CF card as well except a) if I get the full show, the last few won't fit and b) I somehow managed to bend some pins in the CF bay yesterday. I've already found a repairman -- Steve Swearingen of the Camera Clinic in Sparks, Nevada -- and chatted with him about servicing the camera. I'll ship it to Nevada tomorrow. More about that when it comes home.

Fight to relocate and realign the telescope omitted. I was too far off the pole. I thought if I relied on the guide telescope to keep my camera aimed at the center of the Earth's shadow and clouds caused it to lose and regain lock, I'd introduce some jerky bits into the series. So Amy and I horsed the telescope to nearer its more usual spot where I could line up on Polaris. Which I did. And now I'll simply let the good stuff in the A-P mount hold aim. The guide scope can be a monitor; I'll watch the event through it on my desktop and adjust whatever I need to on the Canon using the EOS utilities. (Yes, I know I can use the Goto features of the A-P software to align on an unseen pole; tried that, but tried to make it up as I went. Missed the mark by too far. Must read manual, work out why it works, and practice that. Someday.)

And now, ten minutes until the first sequence is scheduled to begin... clouds. Lots. Then more. Then blank sky. Intellicast IR images still looks like there is some hope. Later... now on the radar, the possibility of rain. I waited until 2:15, then covered the telesecope and brought everything that seemed expensive, exposed and vulnerable indoors. Reset... next try, April 2014. And failing that, September 2015.


12/22/2010. A brief clear spell let me verify that I can use the telecompressor on the ST80 guide scope for a wider field. Remove the extension, set the focuser to about 4.1, and you get a FL of 194mm. The DSI field is about 1.75° from corner to corner. It'll be good for monitoring events and for guiding short focus optics. Clouds again before I could find focus with a Shorty barlow to try for longer FL's.


12/23/2010. One more clear night before promised snow. The ST80 with Orion Shorty Barlow on the DSI comes to a focal length of 1,027mm. I used that arrangement all night tonight on the Bubble Nebula, the Crab Nebula and the Great Orion Nebula. I tried to extend the 5-inch A-P with a 2-inch TeleVue Barlow to get better scale on the Crab (which was my only reason for increasing the guide focal length) but I failed to find a focal point for the ST2000XM. In fact, I failed to find a star to focus on. Odd. I'll try it with the diagonal in place to add even more path length. Also, I believe the repeater is interfering with the use of the Netbook when close to the house. Remote PC kept losing its connection and XP was stubborn about letting me re-establish communications with Ivy. I turned off the repeater and all was well. While closing up shop for the night, I checked mail one more time and found a note from Steven Sweringen of the Camera Clinic in Sparks, NV. My 50D is already fixed and cleaned and ready to ship back. How's that?


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                   © 2010, David Cortner