James Paulson's roll off roof observatory at the Sunridge Observatory site, taken in the summer of 1986, housing a 10 inch f/5 Cave Astrola Newtonian reflector telescope
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Moonbow Astronomy Program
Once a month I help out with a public star party at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in SE Kentucky. This event is always well attended and offers a chance for many folks to have their first experience with astronomy. I have been working at this event for some 7 months now. Cumberland Falls is the "Niagra of the South" and is the only natural waterfall left in the world that still offers a "moonbow", visible during a full moon weekend. Our public events are held on the Saturday evening of the new moon every month, and if you are in the area, please come and visit us.
Some time back, the park obtained an LX90 ACF just like the one pictured. It is a beautiful telescope and is loaded with all kinds of electronics including a GPS. For several months we have been frustrated with getting it to work properly, but this past Sunday, after consulting with some others, we did a firmware flash to replace a bug-ridden version that it came pre-installed with. Hopefully this will fix some alignment and tracking issues and fully allow us to realize the potential of this great scope.
This past month, we did a 3 hour cooldown on this scope and the views we obtained of Jupiter through fleeting clouds was nothing short of amazing. It would give me great pleasure to finally be able to attain some of the many DSO's that are loaded in this hand controller and be able to provide some real treats to the people who attend our events.
The great irony of this is that this is the telescope that got me back interested in doing astronomy once again, when it wouldn't work properly and I kind of assumed making it work for us. This is just another fine example of what experience can do for you, and how the old ways can bail you out when the new technologies don't quite live up to everything they are supposed to. It still pays to learn things the way we did it as kids.