Monday, August 14, 2017

Start of a New Adventure!

Well today marks the beginning of a 2-week adventure! Not only am I on a road trip to observe the upcoming solar eclipse crossing the country, but I'm doing it with an astronomy group from Krasnoyarsk, Russia! Last time we saw Sergey, he was escorting 11 Russian "children", as he calls them (ages 9-16), as I was in charge of their itinerary while we did astronomy stuff in Southern Arizona for 9 days! As I write this, I'm in Blythe, CA, getting part of the trip behind me so I can pick them up at LAX early tomorrow afternoon!

This time there will only be 6 kids, I believe, as well as Sergey, and since my van only sits 7, I've managed to talk a friend of mine, Margie Williams, along as a secondary driver with her pickup and jump seat. That way she'll be able to haul some gear for me and also load a passenger or to. The trip is rounded out by our friend Donna who mostly wants to see the eclipse, but also wants to experience the trip with us as well, and having a 3rd adult can't help either!

But besides playing tourists on a road trip, there is an eclipse to observe! Since we are driving, we're not limited by airline weight or size limitations, and I've got a bunch of gear totally suitable for an eclipse! Shown at left is a view of the 3 main scopes, all mounted on a single beefy AP 1200 mounting. The main scope is a 5.5" diameter refractor which will give an excellent image on the full-frame Canon 6D sensor with its 1,000mm focal length. Next to it is a much-wider field of a 300mm lens on an APS sensor. The "tilted" scope at left is actually a spectrograph with a beefy prism in front that will take a spectrum of the sun's chromosphere at 2nd and 3rd contact - something fun to do! At right is a view from the other (top) direction!

And along the way, we'll be making some first-ever visits to some states for me (Wyoming, Utah), and we'll tarry long enough to see some of the sights as well, though plans call for us to be back in Tucson a few days after the eclipse to visit some of the "old standards" that amateur astronomers would come halfway around the world to see. It all starts tomorrow, or started today - depends on how you count! Stay tuned!

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