Tag Archives: Celestron

Bob Piekiel Interview On thenewshouse.com – “Barefoot Astronomer Shares Passion With Stargazers”

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

Close to the recent total lunar eclipse this past September 27th, I was approached by Andy Belt of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications on the S.U. campus for an article he was writing about local amateur astronomer extraordinaire Bob Piekiel. I searched for several days after, waiting to see it hit the internets, then forgot to keep searching, and have just recently stumbled upon the article at thenewshouse.com. A nice write-up about someone many know by voice from his many sessions at Baltimore Woods and Green Lakes (to name a few), even if they don’t know him by sight (given when the observing sessions usually start!).

And, for the record, I’ll say that, if you make it down to my quote, the “the founder” should be “a founder.” Otherwise, I can’t complain. An excerpt is included below for the official record (and click here for a PDF of the full article for website posterity), then I direct your attention to the full article at: www.thenewshouse.com/story/barefoot-astronomer-shares-passion-stargazers

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Article and photo by Andy Belt
September 15, 2015

Amateur astronomer known as “Barefoot Bob” educates locals
during monthly astronomy events across Central New York.

At the end of Wilson Drive, a quiet street in the sleepy village of Marcellus, New York, is a house on a small hill that stands out from all the others. The home would look like any of the other low-key ranches on the block if not for the 12 solar panels installed to the roof, or the eight-foot-tall wind turbine perched on top. A vibrant greenhouse takes up half of this already modest dwelling.

But the crown jewel of the house is in the backyard in the form of large twin telescopes that date back more than forty years. After all, this is the home of Robert Piekiel, one of Central New York’s most respected amateur astronomers. In his mind, no true stargazer’s home would be complete without the proper equipment.

Piekiel has learned nearly everything there is to know about this particular hardware. Since 2006, he’s authored 11 books on telescopes and still has more in the pipeline. A walking encyclopedia, Piekiel’s most extensive work (a history of Celestron, his favorite telescope company), took up over 1,800 pages. A CD-ROM copy of the book is available for “lighter” reading.

Born in 1961, Piekiel’s fascination with space began at an early age. “The first time I saw the rings of Saturn through a telescope as a ten-year-old, it was like a religious experience,” Piekiel said, leaning on his impressive Celestron 22 telescope, his model of choice at the moment. “I think it is for everyone who has the chance to see it.”

CNYO Observing Log: Beaver Lake Nature Center, 18 September 2014

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

After a double wash-out for our scheduled August 8/15 event, CNYO made a triumphant return to Beaver Lake Nature Center for one last end-of-Summer public viewing session. While the local meteorologists and the Clear Sky Clock predicting clear, dark skies for the entire evening, the observing itself was still a bit touch-and-go until about 9:00 p.m., when the whole sky finally opened up.

Despite a small snafu with the Beaver Lake events calendar (or, specifically, our lack of presence on it for this rescheduled event), we still managed 10 attendees (and passed the word along to several people there for an event earlier in the evening – I’m also happy to report that Patricia’s attendance justified our meetup group event scheduling!). With four CNYO’ers (Bob Piekiel, Larry Slosberg, Christopher Schuck, and myself) and three scopes present (including Bob Piekiel’s Celestron NexStar 11, Larry Slosberg’s 12” New Moon Telescope Dob, and my 12.5” NMT Dob) this was a great chance for several of the new observers to ask all kinds of questions, learn all the mechanics of observing through someone else’s scope, and, of course, take in some great sights at their own pace.

The 7:00 p.m. setup started promising, with otherwise overcast conditions gradually giving way to clearings to the Northwest. That all changed for the worse around 8:00 p.m. (when everyone showed up), when those same NW skies closed right up again, gradually devouring Arcturus, Vega, and any other brighter stars one might align with. The next hour was goodness-challenged, giving us plenty of time to host a Q+A, show the scope workings, remark on the amount of reflected light from Syracuse, and swing right around to objects within the few sucker holes that opened. And when all looked lost (or unobservable), the 9:00 p.m. sky finally cleared right up to a near-perfect late Summer sky, complete with a noticeable Milky Way band, bright Summer Triangle, and a host of satellites, random meteors, and bright Summer Messiers.

As has been the case for nearly every public viewing session this year, all the new eyes were treated to some of the best the Summer and Fall have to offer. These include:

M13 – The bright globular (“globe” not “glob”) cluster in Hercules
M31/32 – The Andromeda Galaxy (and its brighter, more separated satellite M32)
M57 – The Ring Nebula in Lyra
Herschel’s Garnet Star – To show very clearly that many stars have identifiable colors when magnified
Albireo – To reinforce the color argument above and to show one of the prominent doubles in the Night Sky, right at the tip of Cygnus.
Alcor/Mizar – Did you know that Alcor/Mizar is actually a sextuple star system? Alcor is its own double, each in Mizar is a double, and recent data reveals that the Alcor pair is gravitationally bound to the Mizar quartet.

To the observing list was added a discussion of how to begin learning the constellations. As we’ve discussed at several sessions, the best place to start is due North, committing the circumpolar constellations to memory FIRST. For those unfamiliar, these are the six constellations that never set below the horizon from our latitude (Ursa Minor (Little Dipper), most or Ursa Major (Big Dipper), Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Draco, and Camelopardalis (and if you can find Camelopardalis, you’re ready for anything). We’ve even consolidated all of this material into one of our introductory brochures for your downloading and printing pleasure:

CNYO Guide For New Observers

To my own observing list was added a treat thanks to Bob’s perfect position on the rise of the Beaver Lake parking circle, as he managed to catch Uranus low on the Eastern horizon just before we packed up for the evening. Even with Syracuse’s glow dimming the view, Uranus is a clear sight either in a scope (as a slightly blue-green disc) or through a low-power finder scope.

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Closing at Beaver Lake (including one low-flyer).

We offer special thanks to the Beaver Lake staff, who were fine with us staying as late as we liked (although we still finished up around 10) and who found *all* the light switches for the parking lot. I suspect our next Beaver Lake event won’t happen until the Spring, meaning we hope to see you at one of Bob Piekiel’s Baltimore Woods sessions during the winter – unless we all get inspired to throw extra layers on and organize another winter observing session somewhere, in which case we hope to see you there as well!

Celestron NexStar GOTO Mount For Sale In CNY

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

From the CNYO Classifieds Department – Local imaging instructor and astrophotographer extraordinaire Stephen Shaner (website) has available a like-new Celestron NexStar GOTO Mount. Details provided below. Interested parties should contact him at stephen@stephenshaner.com.

nexstar-8se-mountI have a Celestron NexStar goto mount I bought last summer and only used a handful of times before I bought a GEM for photography a few weeks later. The mount is basically new and I’d like to see it go to someone who will be able to use it.

This mount is suitable for an 8″ SCT or small refractor and fits any standard Vixen rail. There’s a database of 40,000 objects and the fantastic NexStar controller. It would be great for outreach work since it can run several hours off AA batteries or 12v (and I’m including the optional Celestron AC adapter), is very portable and only takes a few minutes to set up and align. It tracks very well. The mount, tripod and accessories are like new and in the original boxes. $275 if you pick it up at my place.