This session was a change from our usual monthly get-togethers at Flandrau Planetarium. Bob set this up as a pot luck supper session, with late day solar observing in white light, followed by the pot luck at sunset, and then some night lunar and constellation work under the virtually full moon. We were fortunate to be granted access to the Tucson Radio Control Club site for our adventure, and it was perfect for the task.
Bob had set up several of his scopes with white light filters, and I set up a Lunt 60mm THa solar scope. I used the big Atlas EQ-G mount so that for night work I would only have to swap the optical tube to the 10" SCT.
We started late in the day. I arrived at TRCC about 4:10 PM, and immediately lost about 10 minutes as I paid more attention to the radio controlled aircraft flying about. I am as much an airplane geek as astro nerd, but I had to get the solar set up before we lost the sun(!), so the scramble was on. With the sun getting so low, it was a challenge to balance all of the camera settings and monitor settings. Camera was easy, it was the monitor we had to fiddle a lot with but it paid off at the end with awesome solar viewing. Not a tremendous amount of prominence action, but the surface was alive with faculae, sunspots, and filaments galore in a variety of configurations. By now the first family had arrived, and were busy accomplishing their assignment of sunspot sketching. I remembered to take some pictures with a small Canon Powershot A495 (the monitor is easier to work with than the laptop, so I didn't have the screen grab capability) that came out well; I'll add a couple of good ones later in the thread.
The sun quickly set, I again scrambled to get the next OTA ready. This time I remembered to add the balance weights for the big OTA, but found that the night before I had not fully installed the Telrad so I had it way off in alignment. Luckily I was able to find some traffic lights a half mile away and got it close, then finished on Venus.
After our snack session, I went over to Venus while waiting for the moon to rise since half of their scavenger hunt was lunar phenomena. Once again, the Mallincam Junior and monitor settings, plus the multiple focal reduction and lunar filter additions, made a wonderful lunar image and the kids and parents pursued their goals with enthusiasm. Being able to bounce between Tycho and Apollo 17's landing site and the Seas of Serentity, Tranquility (Apollo 11) and Crisis (Lunar Poodle and it's pom-pom tail) were big hits. Then I took out the camera and hopped over to Albireo and The Owl cluster for some eyeball viewing, and by now the kids were about asleep on their feet. Bob was guiding them around the rest of their hunt, and I needed to improve the scope alignment. The moon pretty much washed out the sky for naked eye viewing, but after the families left, on a whim I re-installed the Junior and went over to Vega to focus, and jumped to M57 and nailed it in the camera. I had remembered to turn off the ALC and set the SENSE UP to integrate to the maximum 4 seconds, and there it was, even though I had forgotten to adjust the monitor from the lunar settings so Brightness was at almost zero, no filter on the camera, still, The Ring was beautiful in the view.
GREAT night once again. Tonight, Univ of Arizona astro students.