Stellar Skies trip report – February 22, 2019

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After 10 month absence, a visit to Stellar Skies was long overdue.

My flight there was an omen of things to come. Austin was covered with heavy clouds. Also a first for me, and a first for our pilot, who was on the job for forty years, we had to abort landing twice. There were two military planes landing ahead of us. It turns out military planes can decelerate faster than a commercial plane. We got too close for comfort so we had to abort… twice. Not a good feeling, I do not recommend it.

I met my son in Austin and then we drove to Llano for some Cooper’s. (one of those days I will try Miller’s)

We also visited the Red Top Jail

We arrived at a very windy Stellar Skies so I was only able to do a quick drone fly-by. You can see the changes since my last visit below.

April 2018
February 2019

The observatory work was very frustrating. My main objective as to repair the roof and the rotator. Both of them not responding remotely.

It took a few hours to figure out that the roof motor was plugged in to my dead UPS. In the meantime I re-installed drivers, fixed my scopes parking position, re-wired the cat-eye, never once thinking that the reason might me simpler…

The rotator failure was due to a worn out cable on the power supply. To fix that I had to remove the heavier than I remembered scope. I was in the process of removing the versa plate, so I can thread the new power supply through the mount, when the versa plate screws broke off.

And with that, the trip was over. Although Terry (actually Terry’s wife) was kind end enough to get us a screw extractor I had no replacement screws. For all you Paramount owners versa plate screws are expensive 😦

So the original plan was abandoned. Terry performed an amazing field repair by splicing the old and the new cables of the power supply. At least the observatory is up and running for now.

On a bright note. Jarret appeared as he always does. So we spend the rest of the night on his observatory looking at the sky.

Until we meet again….

Stellar Skies trip report – April 11, 2018

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After a long absence I finally made it back to Stellar Skies. This time I brought along my friends, David and Matt. While David and I drove from Austin, Matt flew he and his dog Jet.

First, a much needed refueling stop at Cooper’s. IMG_0321

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Then a quick stop to LLano airport- waiting for Matt and Jet to land20180410-SS_GST2850

Landing20180410-SS_GST2859

…and parked20180410-SS_GST2883

And then we all continue on to Stellar Skies on a beautiful 80F sunny day.

I am happy to report, the observatory was in a good shape. In fact, after a short vacuuming session, there was not much to do but wait for night fall.

In meantime, we’ll drone. DJI_0096

Hello Stellar Skies… looking goodDJI_0071

Airing out the observatory 🙂DJI_0106

Here’s a video compilation of all the fly-overs (press HD and full screen for a better experience)

 

Later in the evening we dropped by Charlie’s who let us visit his legendary scope.20180410-SS_GST2910

And then we waited more for the night to come….20180410-SS_GST2925

Well, guess who showed up? Jarret!!! See his truck?20180410-SS_GST2936

Jarret and Charlie took my friends for a tour.20180410-SS_GST2915

Then Jarret graciously offered a viewing session. So we got to work.

The sunset was spectacularDJI_0117

Jarret’s scoped was ready to reveal the skies.20180410-SS_GST3050

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David reveling in awe.20180410-SS_GST3061I’m happy to say, David is now a convert and hopefully will be joining Stellar Skies as a new member soon!

Jarret and his scope20180410-SS_GST3064

As for my observatory. I polar aligned the scope and ran a new 600 point model.

I was ready for some action.20180410-SS_GST2938

A few frames later, and M101 was ready to be shown in all its glory.M101aClear skies everyone. 🙂