by William Blakeslee
I once again had a great time at Shingletown Star Party.
This year's event was obviously better organized and also very well attended. Kudos to Jim and Mark, and all the locals who made it happen. Also, thanks for the almost never ending supply of raffle prizes from all the vendors.
Personally, I had some equipment problems that caused minor irritations. Mostly they were due to packing in a hurry and forgetting things like one of my encoders for my Dob. As usual, I had demands related to work that kept me from leaving on time, and we arrived late Thursday night. The sky was Awesome, but I was bushed, and couldn't muster enough energy to set up equipment. I did stay up for a couple of excellent views from Tom Osypowski's excellent 24" all aluminum tracking Dob. He had the binoviewer on M51 and M5. It was all I could do to keep from lashing myself to his ladder so I couldn't be pulled away from that view. I felt like I was looking through a window and the cluster was right there in front of me, the three dimensional effect was so real. Looks like Denkmeier has another sale pending.
Actual set-up was done on Friday. The biggest problem was the primary on my 25" was filthy. I don't know what had gotten on it, but it looked BAD! With the help (and insistence) of Tony Hallas, the scope's former owner, we made the baby all beautiful again. A little dish soap in a gallon of water and a clear water rinse worked wonders. Field cleaning your primary is a little worrisome, but worked out just fine . Collimation was also an issue as the trailer had actually bounced over a rock on the way in with no lights. Even that big mirror was moved by the kind of force we're talking here. But, all ended well when we got it done.
Once again the Milky Way was the star of the show. Shingletown skies are very good and our galaxy is a standout crowdpleaser.
Honorable mention must go to the swimming hole down off Hwy. 44 where the 100 degree plus heat was quickly dissipated in the nearly icy water. Just what the doctor ordered, it will bring out the kid in you.
Hundreds of 'scopes were available to the public on Saturday night. Most people were thrilled with the views. The lines were long and everybody had a good time.
I'll definitely attend next year. See you there.