Notes from GSSP 2023

Quick summary before I forget the details.

Wednesday looked iffy on the charts and yet it turned out to be good at night.

Arrived at 4:38, missed the gate people.

Set up near the standard crew.  Made sure that there was enough room between myself and others.

Had problems during the nights:

Digital wide field had massive cable snags that caused a variety of issues.  Mostly due to cables preventing mount movement and the QHY10 being unplugged.  It was so dark that I did not see the snag until very late.  Wires were re-routed on the following day on Thursday.

Thursday night the wide field stopped communicating properly for performing focus.  Stopped trying late in the evening and on the following day Friday I found that the ethernet cables were wired backwards.  Also, I found that the QHY10 was partially unplugged.

Friday night was great and the wide field worked well, same with Saturday night.  Need to schedule focus runs more often somehow.  Either that or profile the focuser so that it can change during a run.

The 900mm also had an issue with the Dec not slewing properly on Wednesday.  It could have been due to a cable snag as well.  Dec was remeshed on the following day on Thursday.

On Thursday night, the 900 was able to guide well for the first 2 hour exposure but would not slew properly to the second target.  The RA complained of being too tight.  It would not slew back to CWD.  During the next day, the RA was remeshed and the end play increased by 1/8 a turn.  Also, the goto and slew speeds were dropped to 350.

On Friday night, the 900 performed well.  PHD2 guiding analysis complained about polar alignment being off.  Polemaster was good when checking earlier.  PHD logs showed that it was 22 arcminutes off from ideal.  There will likely be trailing or field rotation.

On Saturday night, the 900 was not used as the Kendrick box failed to switch on.  I think that the relay on this one died.  It's possible that the relay needs to be replaced.  Given the issues with it, I wonder if a different one should be put in its place.  Will try powering it up again at home with the 13.8 V.  This may reset it.  The voltage at the time was likely 12.8 V, hardly enough to fail the relay (15V).

The monorail on the newly rebuilt G11 worked well on each night.  

Shot E100 on each setup.  Only the Monorail got TMax 400 for the Friday night.  First was NGC 7000 for 3 hours.  Then B 142/143 for 2 hours.  Possibly the second shot is ruined because my neighbor Moshen was doing flats at 4 am and may have spilled light.

Weather was cool - daytime temps did finally climb to near 80.  I should have brought a pair of shorts.  Wore the same jeans during the daytime and and the same lined jeans at night.  Night time temps ranged from low 40s to low 50s. Wednesday had poor transparency and seeing, Thursday was the best of the whole weekend, Friday had smoke from Canada which was interesting, and Saturday looked so bad on Astropheric that most of the field left during the daytime.  The afternoon and early evening featured strong winds.  That night the sky did not fully clear until after midnight.

Shots attempted:

E100 on 400mm at F6 on IC1396 (2:30 hours), NGC 7000 (2 hours x 2), Barnard 142/143 (2 hours), Cocoon nebula (2 hours), Swan Nebula (2 hours).

E100 on 900mm NGC 7000 (2 & 3 hours). Others were attempted, but need to confirm.

Tmax 400 on 400mm at F6 on NGC 7000 for 3 hours and then Barnard 142/143 for 2 hours.

Digital wide field only was NGC 7000 and Barnard 142/143 on the two nights.

Will need to confirm with guide logs.

No vacuum used.

Only the old E100 was used, nothing new.  No minus green filter used.

Activities during the days:

After arrival, I brought Iz her old film from 2019.  I set up the giants camp chair in ryan's living room.  I also gave Ryan first dibs on the film tumblers.  She passed them on to Brian who was very enthusiastic about them.  Gave Iz the etone loupe since it isn't my cup of tea - doesn't mag enough.  Gave away the partial brick of e200 to Iz and Ryan.  I offered the reflector and boom to Ryan and she said that she did not need them as she already has them.  At the end of Friday we used them to take pictures and they stayed in the collection.

I donated the star atlas and the focuser to rich ozer for the door prizes.  This helped the event.  I think that I will do more of the same in the future.  In thinking about the past, with the donations of money, the artwork, and then these items, I've given a lot to the event.

The rings did not go.  Nor the dovetail plates.  These will all get recycled.

I picked up an easy guider - flashing reticle eyepiece. That way I can someday try manual guiding if I decide to be crazy.

New people met:

Met Scott Posey - a solar guy of great knowledge.  Very interesting fellow, reminds me of Dave.

Met Adam - an interesting dude that was a little quiet but finally became a good talker.

Met Moshen Chan - my next door neighbor that was working with harmonic drives and CMOS cameras.  We talked a lot about what he's doing. 

On Thursday, I drove Moshen, Brian, and Ryan to Burney Falls where we had a nice trek down and back.  Snapped a bunch of pictures.  Shot on Portra and on E100.  I also used the 75mm Nikkor.  That lens has decent movements as far as I can see.  It's possible that I may have left it unsecured at the top edge for a few shots, leading to an unintended front tilt.  May have been hidden due to front drop.

I shot the dry plates on Friday at the end of the day.  Used the old lens.  Shutter was messed up again, though, it would not close at 1/5.  So, most of the shots will be blurry and over exposed.  When I develop there will be a need to watch and pull the plates out fast.

With the experience of shooting, then loading the plates, then shooting, it was slow.  The people had a good time.  The effort to corral everyone was left to Ryan and Iz.  They also helped with the lighting and posing.  It was a great collaboration and all I did was focus and frame.  There was one moment where I did not flip the dark slide, leading me to wonder which side was exposed.  Hopefully I did not double expose it!

In the future, I would like to use another lens - or make sure that the old kodak shutter is accurate.  

Also, I need to get a good estimate of metering blue light.  Maybe a blue filtered meter would be good to try.  

Juggling exposed plates with unexposed plates in the bag was a pain, too.  Will think about how to manage these in the future.  

Lastly, I would like to have two holders so that more shots could be done at one time.

Will need to get more supplies prior to Calstar.  Possibly 20 plates.

There was talk about trying tin types in the future.

Tintypes would be interesting, but require a setup for developing.  

Closing thoughts:

During my final teardown, the tent ripped in the strong wind.  I salvaged the poles and tossed the rest.

I slept in the car that final night.  It was not bad to do this.  I felt that being unable to turn onto my side was not as much of an issue as expected.  On the other hand, getting up to check on the scopes in the middle of the night was easy to do.  What was not fun was the feeling of isolation with the windows rolled up.  I am not sure if I would want to sleep in the car as a regular choice.  

I do want to slim down the stuff that I bring.

Just sleeping in the car would remove several things from the required packing list.  I would be able to eliminate the tent, cot, stakes, and tarps.  Easy up with shade cloth would still be required and would likely be something to erect.  I would not need an additional blanket and probably not the sleeping bag.  I would have some issues with reloading film, but that can be managed by standing or using the tables.  I would also have some issues with not having the space to sort clothes, food, and water.  May actually be a moot issue.

Rolling over may be solved by putting a layer of padding on the chair which would allow a flatter sleeping surface on the passenger side.

These are things that can be tried at Calstar.  If I can make it through 4 nights sleeping like this then it will really open up other possibilities.