(IAAC) First Light for "Frankendob" in South Florida

Lew Gramer mameteors at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 19 16:55:03 EDT 2005

I finally got to a local Florida astronomy club meeting, at the Southern Cross
(http://www.scas.org) last Friday night. And man was I glad I did: I met a
long-time member there, Mike Smith, who turned out to be a big-dob ATM and
observing enthusiast. I immediately asked if he'd care to help revive a 20" f/5
dob! Sure enough, Mike was kind enough to drive down to Homestead and spend his
Sunday helping me unpack and clean up parts, set up, collimate, and then
actually OBSERVE WITH my dear old "Frankendob"...

Some friends up north may remember Frankendob: he started life before I knew
him as a "prototype" Tectron. However, he's "enjoyed" many modifications over
the years. Since I have owned him (1997-2005), he has been in a van wreck (bent
trusses), van transmission fire (van totalled but FD only "melted a little
bit"), van theft (he sat in a parking lot being used as a trash can for three
days!), a collapsed garage roof (tar and grit on my mirror!), plus five or six
cross-country trips - and most recently the move from Boston to Florida when he
sweltered in a broken-down truck in Savannah for two July days.

Also recently, my wayward infatuation with Godzilla the 36" had been causing my
old friend Frankendob to endure some benign neglect...

However, thanks to Mike's help, "It's Alive" once again! And just in time, too,
as I was desperate for photons: storms, stresses, sickness, and skeeters have
kept me from doing any real observing these past four months I've been living
back in South Florida! So despite the light pollution of Homestead, and bright
moonlight most of the session, and the small patch of sky visible from my
little backyard, we observed deep-sky for almost two hours: M5 in Ser, M12 in
Oph, M28, M22, M21 and M8 in Sgr, and M11 in Sct! Ahhh... :)

Now folks who know me may be pretending astonishment at this point: "Wow, Lew
observing bright Messiers - and in the moonlight no less??" But what happened
next was even less "in character": for last of all, we observed the near-full
Moon itself! Thanks to Mike's knowledge of selenography, I got to see (and
memorize) the craters Tycho, Copernicus, Kepler, Aristarchus and Herodotus,
plus the Schroeter valley and the Appenine mountains - what a trip!

Still, don't be too agog: now I've got the 20 up and running again, I hope to
spend many an "Autumn" and "Winter" (aka late wet-season and dry-season) night
under DARK sub-tropical skies with Frankendob and my observing friends. And if
any friends from New England visit, I sure hope we can manage some eyepiece
time together. And I promise: nothing brighter than 13th magnitude!

Meanwhile, here's hoping the Sky Gods are kind, and I don't have to add any
*HURRICANES* to the indignities Frankendob has already suffered...

Clear and high-speed-projectile free skies to all! :-(

Lew Gramer in South Florida

Lew Gramer <dedalus at alum.mit.edu>

Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005 

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