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2019 Stellafane Convention

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#51 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 12:19 PM

It was not the very best of Vermont nights but it was certainly good enough.  Thanks to the members of the Kopernik Astronomical Society I viewed enough celestial objects last night to get the Stellafane Telescope Observing Olympics pin.  I also saw a number of other DSOs through a variety of telescopes and viewed nearly 50 DSOs with my 15x70s.  I spent some time observing and chatting with Sue French and saw more objects through the 13" f/10 Schupmann medial refractor at the McGregor Observatory than I have ever done in the past.  


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#52 Augustus

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 01:20 PM

I’ll be on the hill by McGregor in an hour!

#53 reddog1972

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 02:44 PM

Hey -- glad that there's no 'conflict' this year. Alas, there are only so many warm dark weekends each summer.

 

I wonder if David Levy still runs his 'Adirondack Astronomy Camp' the week before Stellafane? Many of the attendees - including David - would leave the 'camp' and go directly to Stellafane!

 

I see that this year he is giving a presentation at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake a few days before Stellafane -- and will be visiting the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory. I believe Al Nagler will be there too.

 

David was doing the Stellafane "Shadowgram" talk for a few years - and did an excellent job - but I guess following his stroke the rugged hills of Stellafane became too much for him, and he stopped coming. Somewhere I have a picture of David, Caroline Shoemaker, and John Dobson sitting together in front of the Pink Clubhouse on a sunny Saturday afternoon . Even after he gave up Stellafane he still ran his 'camp' - because the area was flat, had cabins -- and was even darker. However, I've not heard anything about it in a few years.

Yes, David Levy still participates in the Adirondack Astronomy Camp, but this was the first year it was run by long-time participants instead of David and Wendee themselves.  I was there for the first session (7/28-7/31) and the second session (8/1-8/4) is going on as we speak.  I know of several people who intended on piggy backing the first AAR session into Stellafane.


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#54 Shane LaPierre

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 03:33 PM

We setup yesterday on a (crowded) McGregor Hill.  Large convention attendance... very small viewing locations.  But we were rewarded with a good night.  Maybe 6-7 out of 10.

 

My son took this photo - our 24" is setup in the center of the image.

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#55 Jimmy462

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 09:18 AM

We setup yesterday on a (crowded) McGregor Hill.  Large convention attendance... very small viewing locations.  But we were rewarded with a good night.  Maybe 6-7 out of 10.

 

My son took this photo - our 24" is setup in the center of the image.

A happy bit of happenstance getting to meet your silhouette on a crowded dark hillside in Vermont! Ha! Thanks for that absolutely splendid view of Saturn through your 24"...despite the thermal shimmerings from all those bodies it was an amazingly detailed view. And it was great running into you and Dylan the next day...thanks for that, um, visual tutorial (and reality check) of what-it-takes to transport a scope of that size! ;)


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#56 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 10:46 AM

Friday night was less than optimal due to the Canadian wild fire smoke that wafted across New England.  Nevertheless, I was able to sweep up the three remaining objects that I needed to qualify for the Stellafane BOO pin plus two more.  They were M10, M12, M62, and the Garden Trowel and Hockey Stick asterisms.  Later on, I spent some time observing with Alan French and his classic 90mm f/5 Astro-Physics Stowaway refractor and with Phil Harrington, who had given his talk on binocular observing earlier that day.  I also had views through some of the largest telescopes on the field, including Shane's 24" ATM Dob, a 25" Obsession Dob, and a 28" StarStucture Dob.

I made it to the tail end of the swap meet on Saturday and picked up some DVDs from Astronomy Magazine for myself and a 2" eyepiece and 2" color filter for ASH. 

 

Next I went to Breezy Hill to have a look at the telescopes entered in the competition.  I was really impressed with the binocular telescopes and sighting device that one fellow had constructed and Carl Lancaster's Star Trek TOS control panel for his unique Dob.  I saw the Sun in white light through the 12" f/17 Porter Turret telescope and in H-alpha through the Hale spectrohelioscope that was installed at Stellafane last year.  There was a fascinating display of a portable aluminizing device to one side of the Pink Clubhouse.  

 

One thing that made this year's Stellafane unique was listening and singing along to (or what passes for me singing) Normand Fullum and his homemade guitar outside of the Pink Clubhouse.  Two of his friends also played a few tunes.

 

The evening Shadowgram talk on the meaning of Stellafane was quite interesting and Alan Stern's keynote talk on the New Horizon mission to Pluto and Ultima Thule was fantastic. 

Saturday night began with excellent transparency.  The Scutum, Sagittarius, and Ophiuchus region was filled with dark nebulosity, as seen through my 15x70s.  After viewing a number of DSOs through telescopes belonging to KAS members, I decided to make the long trek to Breezy Hill.  Unfortunately, almost all of the competition telescopes were gone by then.  I had views through one of them plus an 12.5" ATM Dob from a previous year, the 12.5" Porter Turret telescope, and Normand Fullum's beautifully ornate 8" Dob.   

After returning to Stellafane East, I saw M27 and NGC 6802 (by request) through the 13" Schupmann refractor and a few more objects, including Uranus and the mighty globular M72 (I'm being facetious here) through KAS Dobs.  My final view of the 2019 Stellafane ATM convention was of M31 et al through one of the 20" Obsessions.

 


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#57 mkothe

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 02:36 PM

I had a great weekend. Arrived on Friday afternoon just in time to catch Phil Harrington’s Binocular astronomy talk and to wander around before meeting up with a friend of mine who had not attended in many years. Got some nice views through the Shupman, Porter turret, and several personal scopes on both observing fields. Managed to complete the binocular observing olympics (16/20), with another couple targets seen the following night. The only ones I did not see in my 15x50is and 7x42 binoculars were Barnard’s star and he California nebula. Also my first time using a night vision device under the stars thanks to Al Nagler. It was impressive, but I’m not completely sold yet. Not as engaging as I’d like due to the screen glow and scintillation. I will have to explore this more before maybe taking the plunge.

Then a couple of interesting talks on Saturday, a very nice evening program, and more observing. Nice chance encounters with a couple of friends, and made a few new connections. Saturday seemed to be the better of he two nights, but a surprising number of people were packing up just after midnight. I got to observe and chat with Sue French for a bit, and spent a significant amount of time trying to identify the blue snowball in a 17” dob (with Bill and Steve? - sorry, I’m terrible with names!). Bill found it in his 8”, but we never managed in the large scope for some reason.

On the way back I made a detour to Mass MoCA in North Adams MA for the James Turrell exhibit. Very fitting, as he deals with light and perception, with some exhibits requiring dark adaptation. It occurs to me that this could be something of interest to other Stellafane attendees. Some really amazing installations! Apparently the exhibit will be there in some shape for the next 20 years or so, so there is plenty of time to see it :-)

Oh, and I had breakfast at the Country Girl Diner in Chester both days. They have the most amazing local maple syrup, and I bought a half gallon!

Hope everyone else had as much fun as I did!
Michael
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#58 mkothe

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 02:44 PM

Oh, and as further evidence that my observing setup has matured, I was not really tempted by any of the raffle prizes (but got some tickets anyway).

#59 Slartibartfast

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 07:05 PM

One thing that made this year's Stellafane unique was listening and singing along to (or what passes for me singing) Normand Fullum and his homemade guitar.  Two of his friends also played a few tunes.

I was there for that!  And, I sang along a little bit too!

 

 

On the bus ride back, we talked about making that a Stellafane tradition.  Live Saturday concert at the club house!  smile.gif   Seriously, though, my wife and I enjoyed the guitar playing and singing.  waytogo.gif


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#60 Slartibartfast

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 07:30 PM

We traveled up to Vermont on Wednesday night with a reservation at the Holiday Inn Express in Springfield.  We were just about 20 minutes until exit 7 on I91 when heard a loud, audible "thump", like something hit the rear end of our van.  The van was just starting to get quite uncontrollable when we happened upon exit 4 for Putney and limped up the exit ramp.  I steered toward the first lighted parking lot I saw and came to a stop.  I got out to survey the damage and saw that my rear passenger side tire was completely shredded.  It was an amazing stroke of luck that I discovered that we were in the parking lot of the Putney Inn and the "Open" light was shining at the office.  I walked over and rang for the Inn keeper.  He came over (I think I woke him out of bed, it was just about midnight) and I asked if he had a room.  He did!  We got our van towed to Rod's Towing and Repair shop a mere 0.3 miles away and he fitted me with 2 new tires Thursday morning.  I can't help but think about how fortune was smiling upon us that we didn't end up on the side of I91 waiting for a tow.  By noon, we were on our way again and checked in to Holiday Inn Express (for my wife and younger daughter, who are not happy campers), then on to Stellafane for the 3pm early arrival.  It was a crazy beginning to quite a wonderful vacation!


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#61 Shane LaPierre

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 07:45 PM

A happy bit of happenstance getting to meet your silhouette on a crowded dark hillside in Vermont! Ha! Thanks for that absolutely splendid view of Saturn through your 24"...despite the thermal shimmerings from all those bodies it was an amazingly detailed view. And it was great running into you and Dylan the next day...thanks for that, um, visual tutorial (and reality check) of what-it-takes to transport a scope of that size! wink.gif

Hey Jimmy - great meeting you.  Sorry we had were in a rush on Saturday morning, but we had a wedding to get to back in CT :)   Hope to see you again in coming years.  Take care! -Shane


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#62 roscoe

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 08:52 PM

We traveled up to Vermont on Wednesday night with a reservation at the Holiday Inn Express in Springfield.  We were just about 20 minutes until exit 7 on I91 when heard a loud, audible "thump", like something hit the rear end of our van.  The van was just starting to get quite uncontrollable when we happened upon exit 4 for Putney and limped up the exit ramp.  I steered toward the first lighted parking lot I saw and came to a stop.  I got out to survey the damage and saw that my rear passenger side tire was completely shredded.  It was an amazing stroke of luck that I discovered that we were in the parking lot of the Putney Inn and the "Open" light was shining at the office.  I walked over and rang for the Inn keeper.  He came over (I think I woke him out of bed, it was just about midnight) and I asked if he had a room.  He did!  We got our van towed to Rod's Towing and Repair shop a mere 0.3 miles away and he fitted me with 2 new tires Thursday morning.  I can't help but think about how fortune was smiling upon us that we didn't end up on the side of I91 waiting for a tow.  By noon, we were on our way again and checked in to Holiday Inn Express (for my wife and younger daughter, who are not happy campers), then on to Stellafane for the 3pm early arrival.  It was a crazy beginning to quite a wonderful vacation!

 

That's a real good ending to what could well have been a really bad moment!! 

 

And, welcome to Vermont, where folks will get out of bed to help out when needed! 

 

And... I'm going to keep poking at the idea of CN t-shirts or something.... there were a whole bunch of us there and no way to figure out who was on the team.....glad to hear you enjoyed the gathering.


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#63 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 11:09 PM

I was there for that!  And, I sang along a little bit too!

 

 

On the bus ride back, we talked about making that a Stellafane tradition.  Live Saturday concert at the club house!  smile.gif   Seriously, though, my wife and I enjoyed the guitar playing and singing.  waytogo.gif

Normand was also playing atop Breezy Hill on Saturday night, while I was showing some of the bystanders M11, NGC 457, M103, and M31, M32, and M110 with his scope.  Before I began the trip down from Breezy Hill, he and a woman sang a beautiful French song together.

 

https://www.optiques...normand-fullum/


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#64 Starsareus

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 09:02 AM

A Reflection from 1975:

Volunteers squeezing all the people/campers & trailers into an area made for a small group of amateurs is amazing!

Roads remain tough/Signage improving/NO place for pets, goats, unless assisting disabled. Cell connections spotty.

DO NOT attend right after/during a Heavy rain/Storm! "Who is Where?  Should "reserved" areas for groups be marked off ?

IF you have moderate mobility issues, stay home! Sadly, this will be my last year there-too physically challenging.

Made it to swap area about 10:30- Wow deadsville-only sellers (few present) were buying from each other. A resource gone.

 

Lastly, Should have Two Raffles! One for Al's stuff and another for the small/kids stuff!  And 7pm for drawing too late!  Had only spent $6.00 on two small items but did not use all the rest of my Astro funds on Raffle tickets.  

 

When you turn 70, you are less likely to "tolerate stuff", complain more (haha), but you still appreciate all those people that made this happen,  never-the-less.  Thank you.  WE are Fortunate there are still people like them.



#65 roscoe

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 11:00 AM

yeah, used to be I always walked from East up to the hill and back, but.....I was willing to wait for the bus this year.... 

 

There's another thread going down in Classics about the event, with more pix and posts....  including one of mine I thought I had posted up here....



#66 Astronorm

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 11:39 AM

Normand was also playing atop Breezy Hill on Saturday night, while I was showing some of the bystanders M11, NGC 457, M103, and M31, M32, and M110 with his scope.  Before I began the trip down from Breezy Hill, he and a woman sang a beautiful French song together.

 

https://www.optiques...normand-fullum/

Thank you :-)

Music and Astronomy goes so well together :-)

 

Normand Fullum


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#67 Tom Dugan

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 06:45 PM

It struck me on all three clear nights, that the observing field reminded me very much of a quiet restaurant, or a cocktail party. There was a constant murmur from perhaps a hundred simultaneous conversations. And as you wind your way through the party, guided by red light and glow tape, you catch snippets of all sorts of conversations. I was welcomed into every one of those conversations that I lingered for, and made dozens of new friends that I never actually saw.

 

I think that's the image of Stellafane that will stick with me longest.


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#68 Slartibartfast

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 10:43 AM

That's a real good ending to what could well have been a really bad moment!! 

 

And, welcome to Vermont, where folks will get out of bed to help out when needed! 

 

And... I'm going to keep poking at the idea of CN t-shirts or something.... there were a whole bunch of us there and no way to figure out who was on the team.....glad to hear you enjoyed the gathering.

Yeah, just about all the locals I ran into were friendly and helpful!  Makes me want to move there! smile.gif


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#69 Slartibartfast

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 10:44 AM

My family and I arrived on Thursday right at 3pm for the early entry.  We got camp setup and this year I setup my

LB16 up on the observing hill.  Thursday night was excellent (compared to my NJ skies).  I was tucked just

Southeast of the Observatory Dome.  To my right (facing south) was a person with a Lightbridge 12, and someone with

a Sky Watcher 8. To my left was a person with a Newt on a GEM mount.  We traded some views and chit chat all night

(funny how people are anonymous in the dark).  Unfortunately, all I did was look at familiar favorites all Thursday

night until like 2am thinking that I would start the Observing Olympics Friday night (forecast looked great all

weekend).  Friday night came around and the observing field was packed.  Unfortunately I was hemmed in and couldn't

swing the dob around and so was off to a poor start to the Observing Olympics.  Someone who had a small dob next to

me decided to pick up and move, so I slid over into thier space and finally gained room to swing around.  I heard

Augustus' voice in the dark just uphill from me commenting how half of Sagittarius was blotted out by clouds and

Jupiter was disappearing, so, that part of the sky was out.  So, I started with the OO objects to the north or high

up and logged: NGC 5350, 5353, and 5354 in CVn (couldn't see 5355), NGC 5981 in Draco, NGC 6207 in Hercules (galaxy

near M13), Mu Draconis, and Alpha Hercules (double stars) and also the "other" double-double in Lyra.  It was just

past 2am when I decided to pack it in.  This night I had decided to run my fan with my deep cycle battery that

weighs like 15 lbs (9 kg) so I lugged that down the hill to camp and had myself a little peaceful solitude.  I

climbed back up to the observing hill for my eyepiece cases, and it was a ghost town around 2:30am with just one or

two voices left.  I observed a couple more familiar objects then called it a night.  That night, I learned just how

crowded it can get up on that hill.  But, being there with the 100 or so kindred observers and feeling and drawing

upon the group enthusiasm was energizing and heartwarming.  Most of my observing is done alone, but a dose of

social contact every now and then is just what is needed. smile.gif


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#70 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 08:07 PM

My only regrets regarding this year’s Stellafane were that I missed an opportunity to look through Uncle Al’s 11mm Apollo 11 eyepiece and almost all of the competition scopes.


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#71 George N

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 11:59 PM

......and the mighty globular M72 (I'm being facetious here) through KAS Dobs.  ....

 

Hey Dave.... I also had the wondrous 4 stars of M-73 in the Obsession 20 too - right after M-72! I remember twisting your arm to look at it!  wink.gif

I think you also saw that barely-there NGC glob that my NexusDSC said was magnitude 15.1 - it was dim, but the Obsession 20 pulled it out of the sky and into the eyepiece.

 

All in all, 2019 was a good year! ...as mentioned earlier in this tread, my 25th in a row!

 

The only bad news.... the new and pretty good food vendor announced that this was his last year (and third). He is retiring - so the STMs will again have to find a new food vendor.

Here is a link to my way-too-many (115) photos in a Flickr Album; feel free to add a comment on any of them, particularly to identify yourself or your telescope: https://www.flickr.c...157710125151322


Edited by George N, 07 August 2019 - 12:12 AM.

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#72 George N

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 12:09 AM

........  Thanks to the members of the Kopernik Astronomical Society I viewed enough celestial objects last night to get the Stellafane Telescope Observing Olympics pin. ........ and saw more objects through the 13" f/10 Schupmann medial refractor at the McGregor Observatory than I have ever done in the past.  

The KAS "Stellafane HQ" is pictured in this Flickr photo: https://www.flickr.c...57710125151322/

 

The scope shown on the left of the banner is our "other" 20-inch - an Optical Guidance Systems RC Cass with FLI imaging train. We don't take it to Stellafane.

 

I looked thru the 13" Schup the very first year it was open - 1995, and have never looked thru it again, until this year. It was providing very good views.


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#73 roscoe

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 06:38 AM

George,

Thanks for all the photos!!  A real nice recap of the event.  

 

Something I noticed this year was that there seemed to be many more ladies and young folks on the hill than back in the day.

It was nice to get away from the 'boys club' aspect of the old days, and makes it an event that we can more successfully suggest to our wives and kids that attending might just be fun.


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#74 roscoe

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 06:44 AM

It struck me on all three clear nights, that the observing field reminded me very much of a quiet restaurant, or a cocktail party. There was a constant murmur from perhaps a hundred simultaneous conversations. And as you wind your way through the party, guided by red light and glow tape, you catch snippets of all sorts of conversations. I was welcomed into every one of those conversations that I lingered for, and made dozens of new friends that I never actually saw.

 

I think that's the image of Stellafane that will stick with me longest.

 

Great description of the evenings, Tom.

 

Y'know.... if they just put up some ...maybe streetlights or something.... so we could see each other at night......

 

I'll duck now, because I can already hear all y'all grabbing bricks and rocks to throw at me.


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#75 George N

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 10:37 AM

George,

Thanks for all the photos!!  A real nice recap of the event.  

 

Something I noticed this year was that there seemed to be many more ladies and young folks on the hill than back in the day.

It was nice to get away from the 'boys club' aspect of the old days, and makes it an event that we can more successfully suggest to our wives and kids that attending might just be fun.

Altho I didn't notice it this year, a common theme in the past at Stellafane has been 'grandparents with their grand-kids' in tow.

Stellafane has always been at the right time of the year for younger families to come out (no school), and the event can be a good way to start a vacation. I spent some time talking to a young couple from Canada - dad still in grad school - with kids 5 or 6 age group. She said "He makes the scopes - I look thru them!" They were planning on going to a local motel on Sunday night to "clean up" before heading out on the long drive home. 

 

BTW - I also ran into a number of young couples and groups of college students - both male and female  at the Cherry Springs Star Party in June - (they still have the rust-bucket cars we had, plus ratty tents - but their scopes were first-class). Several of the college kids were quite knowledgeable - but perhaps just a tad idealistic with their observing plans!  wink.gif


Edited by George N, 07 August 2019 - 10:41 AM.



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