And, for me at least, not a moment too soon. Tomorrow night (Saturday, February 22, 2020) will be my astronomy club's (OFLI) first official New Moon session of 2020. The last couple of weeks have been delightfully clear and of moderate temperature (overnight lows are in the mid-40s). Yesterday was a bit overcast but today we're back to blue skies with only a few high thin clouds that should vanish as temperatures fall.
So far we have two takers (everyone else seems to have forgotten important things like "New Moon Weekends are for Club Observing"). We'll be approaching things from opposite ends of the spectrum. I'll be "easing my way in", using parallelogram mounted 18x70 Nikon binoculars, a zero-G chair and a fairly basic atlas (S&T's Jumbo Pocket Atlas). I'll be taking it easy, enjoying sweeping vistas with just enough "oomph" from the eyepieces to see shape, structure, granulation, etc. Daniel, the other *dedicated* amateur astronomer in the club, will be field testing different wavy-armed spider designs (he has a full metal shop in his garage and has been fabricating all manner of prototypes using various materials, amplitudes and thicknesses. His scope is an 18" Teeter.
Sure when I get tired of luxuriating in the zero-g chair I will meander over to lend my $0.02 on his A:B:C testing (think noise cancellation technology in automotive contexts - system detects or knows the amplitude and frequency of road noise and issues an exact opposite sound wave to mask the road noise). In the spider arm context, as best as I can tell from a layman's perspective, most academic/credentialed experts don't think wavy spider arms make sense. However hands-on users with fabrication skills like Daniel and another gentleman in Australia offer convincing (to me) explanations of why and how these work to minimize any visible diffraction spikes, and the Aussie has field testing results that back up his theory. Very exciting. Me? I'll stick with my old school straight arms (on both of my truss Dobs) because I have no UTA/secondary deflection issues through the scopes range of motion and I've been using Newts for so long and expecting/ignoring spikes, I think I'd miss them reflexively.
Longer term Daniel is working on a very large bino-Dob design and therefore going for ocular comfort, maximum (two-eye) acuity/performance and a greater degree of visual image perfection than unhandy guys like me who buy our Dobs retail demand. I hope it works and I can actually *see* that it works at the eyepiece.
Anyone else see buds and the first blossoms on fruit trees, billowing clouds of yellow allergy-inducing pollen and other signs of lfe following winter?