I did get to do a little sight-seeing - with all of the image editing I was doing (I just couldn't wait!) and log entries I was trying to keep up with, I didn't make it off the ranch the entire week until I went on the McDonald Observatory tour on Saturday. We saw the same two telescopes as last year - the J Harlan Smith 107" Cassegrain reflector and the 300" Hobby-Eberly Telescope - but it was still cool to see them again, especially with Miqaela. Also, this time, I got to operate the Smith telescope!
Saturday night, Miqaela won a set of Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn maps (woo hoo), and then we set out our chairs with the folks around us and enjoyed some drinks in the warm air under fairly cloudy skies. Despite the cloudiness, we managed to do a fair bit of astronomy - we saw Venus, Jupiter, the Big Dipper, a satellite, and several other stars as they peaked through the clouds. I had a great conversation ranging from the Borderlands video game series to Dungeons and Dragons with two younger guys near where we were set up, and later one of the Aussies came over and regaled us with the tales of their US tour thus far. I packed it in at 1 AM because Miqaela and I still had a long drive! Fortunately, we had done most of our packing between dinner and the Great Texas Giveaway, although that meant I had missed part of that evening's talk.
This year's Texas Star Party was a blast, and I fulfilled one of my other imaging goals as well, besides the Rho Ophiuchi region: more timelapse video!
My week in numbers:
- 3,000 miles behind the wheel
- 192.8 GB of data (83.8 GB of astro data, 109 GB of timelapse)
- 6 nights of imaging
- 3 telescopes
- 2 guide scopes
- 6 cameras
- 3 mounts
- 4 tripods
- 6 counterweights
- 3 laptops
- 6h45m average sleep per night (including travel nights)
- 20 Stinking Planetaries observed
- 1 excellent star party!
And yes, we managed to fit all this, plus Miqaela's two cameras, two telescopes, guide scope, counterweights, mount, and two tripods, plus all of our data cables, power cables, two folding tables, a step stool, boxes of accessories, adapters, tools, nuts, bolts, and batteries, and warm clothes, cool clothes, sleeping bags, pillows, folding chairs, blankets, and snacks into my 2017 Ford Escape. Because I am a Tetris champ! And I definitely inherited my skills from my mother, passed down from my grandfather :D Hanging out with my fellow club members and their friends and family was a real treat, and my minion Miqaela also got some fantastic images, including this one of the Snake Nebula!
Date: May 10, 2018
Location: Prude Ranch in Texas
Camera: Nikon D5300
OTA: Orion ST-80
Mount: Celestron Advanced VX
Guide Scope: Orion 50mm Guide Scope
Guide Camera: ZWO ASI 120MM
Subframes: 22x300s, ISO 1600
The dark skies call, and I must go. ✨