By Jeff Bernardis, Director
Looking back on the 2013 public observing season at the Simpson Observatory, one cannot help but notice that we had remarkably good luck with respect to the weather this year. The numbers of the public attending these sessions were higher than I have ever witnessed. The success that we had this year would not be possible without the efforts of our keyholders. I want to publicly thank all the keyholders for all that they did – let’s do it again next year. I would also urge members who are not keyholders to volunteer and receive the training; it’s a good way to give back to the club. We can never have too many keyholders.
At the last meeting, I asked for people to send me suggestions for what to do with the recently received donation. This request was repeated in a membership-wide email for those who weren’t at the meeting.
I received several suggestions, and although I’m sure there will be additional discussion at the next meeting, there was a common theme among the suggestions so I think I see the direction this is headed. The major points are as follows:
1. Everybody suggested either selling or even giving away the dome and all of its parts.
Obviously we’d like to get some value for it, so perhaps a posting on Astromart would be in order here, or does somebody else have an alternate marketplace where we could list. As I mentioned at the last meeting, the dome would have to be sold “as is”. We cannot represent that we have everything needed to reassemble it. This may diminish the value.
2. Everyone also suggested that we chose the better of the two C14s and mount it on our existing Paramount.
We intend to have the new scope bench tested and can make this decision based on that result.
3. All were in favor of having a camera at the observatory for use by members interested in astro-imaging. Most suggested using the SBIG camera from the donation. Rex suggested selling that camera and getting something more in tune with the C14 Fastar optics.
We would have to evaluate the economics here. The donated camera might not be ideal, but it may suffice for what our members will want to do.
4. There were several options for the new Paramount.
a. Michael Wright suggested we keep it in reserve as a backup
b. Bill Murray suggested to simply mount the refractor on it in place of either the current Losmandy GM11 or the Gemini mount we have tried (unsuccessfully) to install.
c. Of course there is the idea brought up by Rex at the last meeting about mounting both the C14 and the refractor on the new mount. He has given us references to products that allow this to be done. However, he also refined his suggestion. Instead of tandeming the C14 with the refractor, he suggested selling whatever C14 we don’t use and buy something that is better paired with the refractor, and then mounting both on the new Paramount.
One thing to consider with two Paramounts in operation is that it might not be optimal to operate two scopes from the same PC. I don’t think The Sky supports this, so we would have to run two copies simultaneously. This might not even be possible. The bottom line is that there may be additional computing needs.
5. All other equipment should be sold.
All of these are good suggestions and we ought to be able to come to a resolution on some of them at the next meeting. If anybody has any other suggestions, please let me know.