Tag Archives: Cloudynights.com

Bob Piekiel Updates – New eBook Formats And A Meade 16″ LX-200 Classic Available

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

Two updates from CNY’s (and Baltimore Woods’) best observing host, Bob Piekiel.

1. His Book Collection Now In eBook Format

Bob has published a number of excellent books for the committed scope owner over the years and has now brought them into the tablet age with eBook versions of all of his texts. Screen readers and international purchasers worried about shipping fees rejoice!

To see the collection and purchase books/ebooks, please see www.cnyo.org/books-by-robert-piekiel/ or send an email to piekielrl_at_netzero.net

2. Now For Sale – Meade 16″ LX-200 Classic w/Custom Optics, Tripod, Trailer And Wedge

A behemoth that has dazzled the vision of many a CNY public viewing member!

The mentioned Meade 16″ LX-200 Classic (right) from an autumn Baltimore Woods session.

Bob is selling a rare and classic Meade telescope in the CNY area. He also has an ad for the scope on the cloudynights.com website.

I am reluctantly offering for sale my Meade 16″ LX200 custom classic. Due to back problems, I can no longer easily set it up (Even with the requisite helper – it’s a two-man job). I purchased this from Meade enthusiast and spokesperson Bobby Lindsey. According to him, it was one of the first few they produced, and the opticians worked extra long and hard on the optics to make it perform much better than “normal” so it could be used to promote the scope (Jack Newton supposedly got one of the others in this batch). I have no way to prove this, but star-tests are excellent, showing almost no SA and very smooth optical surfaces.

It comes with the standard super-giant tripod, a CUSTOM wedge that I had a foundry make, plus a trailer, as seen in the photos. It comes with an 80mm finder (NOT the 50mm mounted on the scope), and also a custom R&P screw-on focuser (It does have some image-shift, the only problem I can find with it. No eyepieces or diagonal.

You must pick it up, or hire / send someone to get it, as I cannot ship it. No exceptions!

$8000. Paypal only, please.

https://www.cloudynights.com/classifieds/item/162572-meade-16-lx-200-classic-wcustom-optics-tripod-trailer-and-wedge/

Distro Astro 3.0 Is Out – Just In Time For CNY’s Hibernating Observers

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

Wintertime CNY amateur astronomy is not for the faint of heart, and certainly no good for those with bad circulation. While many of the very best objects grace the nighttime skies from roughly November to March (I’m talking the primo sights for the Northern hemisphere, including the Andromeda Galaxy, the Pleiades, and the Orion Nebula), bouts of precipitation mix with often bone-chilling temperatures to keep even the most dedicated observes indoors. I’ve found myself pondering on more than one occasion the price of an atomically-flat all-diamond window that would let me scan the heavens from the comfort of my own living room. An important take-home from Bob Piekiel’s wintertime Baltimore Woods sessions is that, after sunset, the thing heating Marcellus is YOU – if you’re not dressed for an ascent of Mt. Everest, chances are good you’re going to leave early with the knowledge that standing still at night requires a few additional layers of insulation. And even the pros forget – Ryan and I can recall at least one especially frosty session at Baltimore Woods that had us both moving slowly for 3 days after.

That said, you don’t have to spend the Winter months just cleaning your eyepiece case, replacing all your batteries, arguing in a cloudynights.com thread with someone named “Myopic from Minnesota,” and googling for interesting astronomical events in the upcoming year. Instead, you could be learning a bit about computer operating systems, updating your GOTO scope’s database with the absolute latest in near-Earth objects and exoplanets, greatly advancing your astrophotography skills, and making your own darned star charts.

2014nov17_astrodistrowelcomeDistro Astro (www.distroastro.org) is a Linux distribution specifically designed for astronomers of all abilities – and I do mean all abilities. Astronomy is one of those fields where someone needs a program to do A, they write a program for A, and they often make it freely available for anyone else to do A or test B. These developers might be hobbyists wanting to turn Newton’s equations of motion into a learning tool, or might be serious programmers and professional astronomers wanting to process the latest Keck and Hubble data for analysis. The Distro Astro Team has collected some of the best free software across all areas of amateur astronomy and wrapped it up into a Linux distribution that you can install on your “outdoors” computer, giving you a suite of tools that will keep your astro-gears spinning all winter until you step outside for the next Messier Marathon.

Version 3.0 of Distro Astro just came out (November 9th, to be exact) and is available for free download from the distroastro.org website. Instead of re-listing all of the features here, I refer you to the official item list on the distroastro.org website, then a few good intro reviews describing the operating system and suite of programs. If we’ve enough local interest in a walkthrough of Distro Astro, a full *indoors* demonstration might make for a chance to introduce some of the CNY amateur astronomy community to some of the Linux gurus in the Syracuse Innovators Guild (full disclosure – I’m a member of SIG as well and suspect the facilities would be perfect for such a lecture).

And speaking of Distro Astro presentations, CNYO’s own Christopher Schuck just happened to take over one of Stellafane’s lecture spots this past August in order to introduce Distro Astro to just the kind of audience it was developed for. For a quick tour of some of the pick-hits in Distro Astro, I invite you to check out the youtube video of his presentation above.

For another discussion of Astro Distro, check out this video from a Linux group in Perth, Western Australia: www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvC5vj74lGE.

If you’ve any questions about getting it all up-and-running, I direct you to either the Distro Astro Facebook Page or to CNYO’s own Facebook Page (the collective know-how on our Facebook Page is probably enough to get new users over any initial humps).

“Stu’s Last Lesson” – Sky & Telescope’s Focal Point For December, 2014

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

2014oct23_stuDr. Stuart Forster (a.k.a. STU – full caps) was one of the THE fixtures in the CNY amateur astronomy scene and his name still comes up regularly, often as part of some pearl of wisdom being imparted to new observers and seasoned members alike (I’ll leave you to read the top of the Stuventory page for more info about STU and to check out links to some of his images on the Syracuse Astronomical Society website). The trials and tribulations of Ryan Goodson and myself to handle the massive equipment collection we’ve come to refer to as the “Stuventory” is olde hat to local observers who’ve kept track of the process from a far. The sorting, documenting, and distribution of the Stuventory has taught us both about how very unique the hobby of amateur astronomy can be when you step beyond the 1×7 mm binoculars in your head and effort the collection of more and more photons.

To that end, and to prod others to recognize the complexities of sorting through the mound of gear inhabiting their basements, garages, and domes by those who follow when the unexpected happens, I am honored to have an article on the topic, “Stu’s Last Lesson,” included as the December 2014 Focal Point in Sky & Telescope magazine.

2014oct23_stuslastlesson

The article can be distilled to a single, all-encompassing message – Imagine you not being around to help your family unload your astro gear, then take steps to simplify their lives. Think about all the boxes, hex wrenches, leftover focusers and brackets from your modifications to other scopes, eyepieces (eyepieces!), cables, controllers, everything, and organize it all, either in a notebook or with a bunch of pics and notes on your smartphone.

If you read the article and have other ideas on how to help organize your equipment, by all means let others know (post a comment here, write a letter to the editor with your ideas, start a cloudynights.com thread, etc.). In the meantime, I hope the article gives you the impetus to block out a Saturday afternoon listening to astronomy.fm as you commit your astronomical obsession to pen and paper (or keyboard and monitor). Better still, I’m pleased that readers of Sky & Telescope (of which he had the full collection back to 1964) will learn a little bit about one of CNY’s great amateur astronomers.