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Topics - Ed McDonough

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If you didn't get that telescope you wanted for Christmas, be sure to buy before early January. Either locally at the Bishop Gift Shop or on line at your favorite retailer,

In stock at our local telescope store, The Bishop Museum Gift Shop:

Get 'em now before the next round of inflationary price increases hit next month.

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is now an authorized telescope dealer. They are one of just two in the entire state of Florida. They carry a very nice selection of telescopes under $500 and binoculars as well. Wolf will be happy to hear that they just received a shipment of SkyWatcher 6" Dobs. If you buy there they will also teach you how to use it. They sell at the regular street prices too, no price gouging. Check it the local business.

I thought that was a great event last night at Myakka State Park. Perhaps the best skies ever for an LGDSO event. The combination of the venue and the skies made this a memorable night indeed.

I would say that the Fundamentals of Astrophotography Think and Drink last night at the Bishop Planetarium was a rip roaring success. It was totally sold out and folks were actually turned away. Jim Mack did a masterful presentation supported by the usual suspects - Sean, Dave, Andy H, George and Wolf. The Bishop Planetarium folks were overwhelmed and very pleased at the turnout and the presentation.

It was interesting that in the crowd of 115, only 5 or 6 had telescopes. So it became evident that just the topic piqued enough interest to draw that big of a crowd. Folks came away with a very clear idea of what's needed to get started in this very intricate phase of our beloved hobby. The folks from Johnson Camera in Bradenton were in attendance and Jim gave them a shout out as they are starting to carry some of the needed equipment.

It was a wonderful evening!!!

I just received word that Johnson PhotoImaging on SR 70 near I 75 Bradenton will shortly be offering the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer Trackers for sale. It's taken a fair amount of effort to persuade them to try this product. As a SkyWatcher dealer they will also be able to special order any SkyWatcher or Celestron product.

Please support your local retailer!!!

Attached is the handout that all Telescopes 101 attendees received.

Wow, a huge crowd Saturday night. Probably close to 20 telescopes with long lines at all of them for 90 minutes or so. Nice clear skies too, what seemed like the first one in months. Looking forward to next month at Robinson preserve.

Now for some off season controversy...what telescope should one recommend to a new buyer? For club members, all of us have been asked this many times. So here's my take, the cliff notes version:

Aperture - Bigger is better.
Portability - Bigger is worse.
Electronic or Manual - More and more folks are leaning towards electronic. The computer assist makes it MUCH easier to locate objects.
Budget - Always the final determination.

It's been my experience that for many folks, a 6" or 8" SCT does the best job of accommodating these 4 factors.

A final comment. The mount can be either a simple alt-az version (side to side, up and down) or an EQ version (moves only on one axis to mimic celestial motion). If there's serious astrophotography interest go the EQ mount route but beware. These are bulkier, heavier and somewhat more difficult to master.

So, let the debate begin!!!

Here's a couple more short videos that you might find interesting and helpful:

The first describes the benefits of various types of visual filters:

The second talks about the purpose of a Barlow Lens:

Clear Skies!!!

In my many years of working with those new to telescopes, 2 things come up time and time again.

1. How powerful is it (aka magnification)? Often, in fact most times, "less is more".

2. The finderscope. It can be your best friend if aligned or your worst enemy if not aligned.

I found a couple of short but very helpful videos for those of you out there who have struggled with this:

Magnification -

Finderscope -

Hope this helps!!!

I find it ironic (but certainly not surprising) that the only weekend with no LGDSO events planned turns out to be perhaps the 2 best nights of observing conditions in many months. Let's hope this weather holds for the upcoming Crowley weekend, the Crowley fund raiser, and the public event at GT Bray on March 24th, but it probably won't.

We shall see. Gosh this can be one frustrating hobby!!!

I've been employed in the industry for over 20 years. I remember the Hale Bopp excitement in 1997 topped considerably by the Mars Opposition of 2003. Nothing, and I mean nothing, has come close to what the industry is experiencing for this eclipse. Well, maybe Halley's Comet in 1986 but I'm not sure. I wasn't in the industry then.

Retailers can't keep up with shipments of solar shades. The company I work for went from what we thought was "way too much" to "not nearly enough" inventory in just 2 weeks. One school district alone purchased over 150,000 solar shades. It's been absolutely insane.

I have to wonder if some of the smaller towns in the path of totality will have sufficient infrastructure to handle the pending onslaught of humanity about to come their way. We shall see, it has certainly been exciting!!!

Has anyone ever done any H Alpha solar oberserving? I started doing this a few years ago and it's absolutely addicting. The sun looks different every day and you don't have to worry about those late afternoon clouds rolling and and ruining a planned stargazing session.

A picture of my setup is attached. If anyone wants to take a look contact me and we'll get something arranged.

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