Dark skies, wide angle lenses,
and a week of relaxing
images and text Copyright Mike Lockwood, 2011
this year, I will let the images do most of the talking. It
beginning to be a habit for me not to drag a telescope to various star
parties because I don't generally end up using it much, and I'm always
observing through other telescopes. This year I brought my
instead. I probably used it more than I would have used my
John Pratte, owner of JPAstrocraft,
LLC, and I
trip with his 25" f/4 scope. I also extensively used 22"
f/3.3 and 32" f/3.6 telescopes owned by clients.
making it to the middle of Kansas on day one, we headed out on day two
on the long diagonal, southwest through central Kansas, trying to stay
on the diagonal road while the GPS sought to "improve" our route.
At one point I fell victim to the GPS and we ended
heading straight west instead of southwest.
Ever feel like things happen for a reason? I often do.
realizing we were not on our ideal route, I cursed the GPS woman and
looked for the next turn south. As we left a small town, I
noticed a historical marker, and the words "Discoverer of Pluto" were
readable as we rolled past. I told John and we turned around
headed back for a photo of John and the marker.
Of all the places for a wrong turn to lead, we ended up in Burdett,
Kansas, and it was where Clyde Tombaugh grew up!
on the look of the place, I'd say not too much has changed there since
he viewed the sky from there with his homemade telescopes.
drove on through the flatland, searching for a spot for lunch on a
Sunday. Sublette, KS appeared to be a decent sized town on
route, so we turned off into the main street and found downtown.
A bunch of cars in front of a restaurant is usually good, and
this place was drawing a crowd. After a short wait we were
and had a good meal. I had fish, because I knew I'd be eating
beef for the forseeable future at the star party. John had
chicken fried steak.
More on that later....
arrived at the star party mid-afternoon, and set up. I
my gear into the bunkhouse with some of the star party organizers.
John set up on the east side of the field near some friends.
luck would have it, dinner was - you guessed it - chicken friend steak!
The next morning, John said that he strongly recommended
eating that twice in one day.
followed over the next several nights were some intermittent clouds on
nights mixed with clear skies. Many complained about the
passing through and even forming or disappearing over the star party
site, but after going to quite a few Winter Star Parties, a few clouds
don't bug me.
I observed, got out for one bike ride on a windy
day, finished working on my two talks, which I gave on Thursday
afternoon, and experimented with mounting my camera on various
telescopes. The resulting images follow.
Above: The 32" scope produced fine views, and my camera was
clamped to it occasionally for some photo ops.
While trying to get a shot of the winter Milky Way rising, I
got M31, the Double Cluster, and a faint display of northern lights!
This was purely accidental, and I didn't even notice them
downloaded the photo. John Pratte sits at the eyepiece.
camera was mounted on the mirror box with the scope tracking.
Above: I stare at some patch of sky near the Milky Way.
Above: Finally, a little bit of an artistic shot in a tribute to
rolled out on Friday morning, and made it back to Illinois on Saturday
afternoon with plenty of time to meet with Bob Holmes and inspect the
50" cast cellular blank that will soon be turned into a mirror for his
nearly-finished massive instrument.
I hope to see you and your telescope at a future Okie-Tex Star Party.
Clear, dark skies, warm weather, good friends, some good beverages, and
Lockwood, Lockwood Custom Optics