Tag Archives: John Knittel

CNYO Observing Log: The Almost-Complete Washout At North Sportsman’s Club, 24 May 2014

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

Despite the best efforts of local meteorologists and the Clear Sky Clock, a potentially usable first public session at the North Sportsman’s Club turned into an almost completely observing-free session.


Setup at dusk. Click for a larger view.

The session itself was great for organization. With over 40 people attending (and many holding out for two or more hours in hopes of clearing conditions), parking wasn’t an issue for anyone, no one complained about not being able to find the place (at least among those who showed up!), the switch-over of bulbs to the red light variety was straightforward with attending ladders, the non-DEET bug spray did an admirable job of keeping the mosquitoes away, and we even had power to the scopes for those running plug-in GOTO’s and (in the case of local astrophotographer extraordinary, John Giroux) attempting imaging.


Vega (and most of Lyra) and not much else. Click for a larger view.

The event started with mostly-cloud skies, but pockets were large enough for everyone there to catch brief views of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. Constellations and bright stars came-and-went rapidly, and I’m not sure that anyone caught a Deep Sky object before cloud cover completely ruined the views (with even a hint of drizzle).

And despite the wasted observing session, the event was a success of organization, as we had a good group of attendees that had as much fun talking about scopes and astronomy as they did any other topics that may have come up during the long and, ultimately, fruitless wait. Extra kudos go to John Knittel and Joe Chovan for making the NSC observer-friendly, the NSC for continuing to give us a great spot to observe (from below 10,000 ft. anyway), and Ryan Goodson for still having his massive 27″ New Moon Telescope Dobsonian at the ready “in the event” of observing.


Re-converting the building after teardown. Click for a larger view.

The few of us who stuck it out all evening eventually packed up around 11:30 p.m., returning the North Sportsman’s Club to its original, non-red light condition. Fortunately (sort of), the skies were still cloudy when we finished, so we didn’t have to kick ourselves as we pulled out of the main gate.

We are planning our next session for June 21/22, but we will keep you posted when the official date is locked down. Stay tuned!

CNYO Observers Log: New Moon Telescopes’ 27″ Dobsonian Observing Event At The North Sportsman’s Club, 3 November 2013

Greetings fellow astrophiles!


The front gate of the North Sportsman’s Club in West Monroe, NY.

The first CNY public outing of New Moon Telescope’s (NMT’s) massive 27″ Dobsonian took place this past Sunday, November 3rd at the North Sportsman’s Club in West Monroe, NY. After two overcast evenings (despite Friday the 1st looking quite reasonable all afternoon) and a cloudy Sunday morning that ruined local views of the hybrid solar eclipse (see our post of the event HERE), the weather settled Sunday afternoon for what became a very cold-but-clear evening of observing at what turned out to be a quite dark location (despite its close proximity to Syracuse and its well-lit surroundings).

1. 27″ Dobsonian?!

All research indicates that NMT’s flagship 27″ Dobsonian is the largest portable telescope in New York, and it is fair to say that it is in the far end of the Gaussian size distribution of all amateur scopes in the U.S. Those who have been to any CNYO event have been treated to at least one of Ryan Goodson’s fine Dobsonian creations, as Ryan, Larry, Dan, and myself all own (at least) one. The 27″ Dob features a few notable additions to NMT’s add-on packages, including full GOTO functionality by way of Servocat and Argo Navis.

As reported by Ryan during his expedition to Okie-Tex earlier this year and made very apparent to anyone looking through the scope, the views approach unreal. Aperture is everything in telescope astronomy, with bigger mirrors making bright objects more detailed and the otherwise invisible visible. Ryan reports having been able to see three of the four corners of the Einstein Cross in Pegasus through the 27″ (that’s sitting at almost 17th magnitude!), a feat that is difficult enough to capture through astro-imaging (and those familiar with the difference between observing and imaging will understand the significance of Ryan’s capture). You can see Ryan’s walk-through of the scope in the youtube video below:

We are pleased to report that this is definitely not a one-view deal! When NMT or CNYO schedule an event that will feature the 27″ Dob, we will be sure to make note of it (the timing and the temperature were less than ideal for many of the people who responded to our announcement on the TACNY listserve, so we hope to bring that many more people out to future sessions).

And if you want to keep up-to-date on all things NMT, I urge you to like their Facebook Page and subscribe to their twitter feed.

2. North Sportsman’s Club in West Monroe, NY


The CNYO sign at the NSC front gate (81 to 49 to 37. An easy find!).

We were fortunate to make the acquaintance of North Sportsman’s Club’s (NSC’s) John Knittel at both CNYO’s Beaver Lake Observing Session on May 2nd and NMT’s Perseid Meteor Shower Session this past August. NMT jumped at the chance to have the First CNY Light for the 27″ Dob at the NSC and CNYO members were delighted to help promote and support the event. The NSC is an ideal location for public observing, combining a large, clear range with all the amenities of home (in this case, restrooms for both genders, a heated meeting room, and coffee and cocoa on tap thanks to a few NSC members who braved the outdoors indoors and kept the conversations going). All that aside, the view from the Northeast to the Southeast is as clear as it gets right down to the low tree-lined horizon (a pleasant change of pace considering the zenith-centric views from several other locations we’ve observed from), giving observers a chance to catch first light of rising objects and many hours to track those same objects as they rise towards the zenith and fall to the still reasonable western sky.


The NSC range and the view to the East (with the 27″ and 12.5″ Dobs). Click for a larger view.


The same view to the East, featuring two planes, the Milky Way, and one radio tower. Click for a larger view.

3. Attendees

Despite the “school night” timing and the very-to-bitterly cold weather, approximately 30 people made it out to take in the views through the 27″ Dob, my 12.5″ NMT Dob Ruby, and Steve Capp’s 16″ NMT Dob. To the usual suspects – Larry Slosberg, Ryan and Heather Goodson, Dan Williams, and myself – local amateur astronomers Joe Chovan and David Wormuth also braved the cold to enjoy the sights. The long-distance awards go to our good friends in the Kopernik Astronomical Society – Fibber and Sally Magee, as well as Art Tilts, who arrived early and hung out late.

4. “Dressed for Stargazing Success”

The timing of the proper observing attire article in December 2013’s Sky & Telescope did not go unnoticed on our Facebook Group Discussion of the event. You don’t really appreciate how cold the outdoors can be – and how quickly the heat can leave you – until you’re standing still for long periods of time peering through an eyepiece. The physics is simple – when the temperature outdoors drops below the temperature of your skin, YOU become the heat source for the outdoors.

I suspect Ryan and I both learned (the frozen-solid way) from last February’s Baltimore Woods Session.

The solution to freezing is simple – just do what the article says and and be “Dressed for Stargazing Success.” In anticipation of the first real cold night of observing since last March, I made the pilgrimage to DeJulio’s on Burnet Avenue, walking out with dual-layer long johns, wind-proof (and pocketed) pants, a stretch face/head cover, a brim-less hat (funny thing about the brims – they keep your eye from the eyepiece), and a few extra pairs of wool socks. Was it cold out? Yes. Did I care? Not a bit.

5. Closing Up


Ryan, Larry, Art, and Joe packing up the 27″, with Steve Capp still observing through his 16″ in the back. Click for a larger view.

Ryan and I were set up by 4:00 p.m. and observed with attitude until about 9:00 p.m. when the rest of the crowd had made the short trip back to Interstate 81 (having a location this good only 20 minutes from downtown was a real treat for those of us used to debating the unloading of the car that night).


The North Sportsman’s Club at night, complete with the other half of the Milky Way. Click for a larger view.

CNYO gratefully acknowledges John Knittel and the members of the North Sportsman’s Club who not only made the event possible, but kept the festivities going inside to boot. We hope to do it again!