Tag Archives: New Moon Telescopes

An Astronomical Trifecta For Ryan Goodson And New Moon Telescopes

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

Having a master scope builder in our own backyard has made the lives of several CNYO members very easy. Not only is Ryan Goodson a great observing partner, but he has either brought or built many of the best scopes that make their way to our library lectures, later-night school outings, county parks, North Sportsman’s Club, or his own observing base at New Moon Telescopes HQ. To that end, I’m happy to help Ryan and NMT celebrate a unique astronomical milestone this summer, having pulled off recognition in three prominent astronomy magazines.

1. Feature Article In Astronomy Technology Today

2014july14_ATTTo begin, Ryan contributed a combination technical analysis/product review based on a hot topic he’s been pondering from the builder perspective for over a year now. The article, “Calculating The Perfect Telescope Size Post Paracorr Type-2,” is one of the feature articles in the May-June 2014 issue of Astronomy Technology Today, one of the great amateur astronomy magazines that features contributions from the broader amateur astronomy community.

For those who missed their chance to pick up a copy at Barnes & Noble this year (the only place around here that we now carries it), ATT and their editor Gary Parkerson have allowed CNYO to reproduce the article in PDF format for your reading pleasure.

Download The ATT Article HERE

Several of us in CNYO are subscribers to ATT (I ripped this PDF from my subscription) and we encourage you to geek-out bimonthly to product reviews and expert opinions from real users in our community. From the article:

Calculating the Perfect Telescope Size Post Paracorr Type-2

And the perfect telescope size is…?

The perfect telescope size is… It’s a line that invites critique and insight from every corner of the astronomical community. Having built a number of telescopes for clients all over the U.S., I have called three of my New Moon Telescopes my own: a 12.5-inch f/4.9, a 16-inch f/4.5, and a 27-inch f/3.9. Outside of those three Dobsonian-style telescopes, I have also owned various refractors and binoculars and a large arsenal of eyepieces. But since I build Dobsonians-style telescopes (okay, “Dobs”) for a living, however, I will limit my opinion to that particular style. My opinion of the perfect Dob size has changed over the years as my observing habits have also evolved.

2. A NEAF Shout-Out In Sky & Telescope Magazine

2014july14_SkyTelNMT had a great showing at the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) this past year (and several of us stopped by the booth looking for free samples). In their own coverage of event highlights, the venerable Sky & Telescope Magazine (also worth your considered subscription – their list and coverage of important astronomical events is certainly one of the best ways to know what the month holds for amateur astronomers the world over) focused in on NMT’s new aluminum bearing design. Kudos to John Giroux for spotting the bearings first.

A snippet from the August 2014 issue is shown at right. Their brief write-up of the bearing design is reproduced below:

24. www.newmoontelescopes.com New Moon Telescopes had a great display of its custom mid- and large-aperture Dobso- nians. Of special note were the company’s new lightweight-aluminum altitude bearings with a textured powder coating that produced just the right amount of “stiction” for a Dob mount.

3. Star Product Designation From Astronomy Magazine!

2014july14_starproduct_indexTo soon be announced in the September issue of Astronomy Magazine, NMT’s 12.5 f/5 Dobsonian telescope has been selected as a Best-Of by the other venerable oracle of events and celestial highlights. An excellent notch in Ryan’s belt that several of us already knew all about. As a shameless plug, I’m the proud owner of the first NMT production model, a 12.5″ f/5ish Dob known affectionately as Ruby (for the red MoonLite focuser). Now over 3 years and many, many observing sessions in, I’ve yet to want for another telescope. Not even interested.

Stay tuned for more press when the official publication comes out. In the meantime, a hearty congrats to Ryan (and Heather and Lily!) and NMT on the astronomical trifecta!

CNYO Observing Log: Cherry Springs Star Party, 26 – 29 June 2014

This past June 26 – 29, the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg PA hosted their annual Cherry Springs Star Party (CSSP) at, appropriately, Cherry Springs State Park – the second location to be designated an International Dark Sky Park (wikipedia entry). The park’s about 3.5 hours from Syracuse and, by most metrics, in the middle of nowhere (if you find petrol as you approach the park, get it).

2014july10_cssp_4

Some light and relevant U-Haul reading on the way to CSSP.

There’s quite literally no basic cellular service anywhere after the 3 hour mark (certainly the case for AT&T customers), leaving the park wifi and, of course, AstroGizmos to provide all the connectivity one should otherwise be trying to get away from for a weekend of observing (but definitely couldn’t get away from, so both wifi’s were much appreciated!). And for those wondering “does anyone make those?” – AstroGizmos had available 12 V hair dryers (with varied powering options) for those looking to evaporate eyepiece condensate on dewy nights (I now have mine).

2014july10_cssp_1_small

Cherry Springs State Park – first sign in the park.

Besides the great dark skies, the CSSP also provides CNY clubs a chance to hang out and do nothing for a few days. I set up shop with fellow Kopernik members at the usual Kopernik location (the first left after the “Nova” signpost). My vehicle was extra full this year with a special delivery of New Moon Telescope Dob #17 to Pedro Gomes, known previously on the CNYO Facebook Page as the hardest working observer in Watertown (now at points south).

2014july10_cssp_2_small

A panorama from the Kopernik site. Click for a larger view.

For those roughing it on the site for the entire party, a not-untypical Saturday schedule might involve (1) staying up as late as the caffeine will allow, listening to angered attendees when someone accidentally turns on their car lights (which is less funny when you’ve waited a half-hour for your eyes to fully adjust to the dark, moonless sky), (2) sleeping in until the Sun cooks you in your tent or vehicle, (3) listen to someone (Pedro) tell you about the black bear that passed by his scope and tent the night before (the presence of a few black bears also explained the gunshot fired by camp rangers the night before), (4) going to the vendor tent, (5) making a trip to catering (well, trucks and tent) to wait in line to eat, (6) going back to the vendor tent, (7) attending one or more of the scheduled lectures and checking out the raffle donations (to pass the time until nightfall), (8) vendor tent, (9) raffle!, (10) caffeinate and apply bug spray (although it wasn’t too bad this year), and (11) See 1.

Observing Tip: If you want to make the most of a Star Party, consider taking a break from your usual caffeine intake a few weeks in advance. That first cup of coffee will feel like rocket fuel.

I’m pleased to report that the raffle was a complete success for your’s truly. Not only did I score free admission to the upcoming Kopernik AstroFest in October, but I also managed to walk away with the 8 mm Delos graciously donated to CSSP directly by TeleVue Optics. The company rep, John, and I even had a good exchange Sunday morning (he having done some imaging of the Veil Nebula that night, I having passed around my trusty OIII-filtered 26 mm Nagler to others wanting to observe the same in the Kopernik camp). Admittedly, my bias towards TeleVue eyepieces is strong (and in the official record at Astronomy Technology Today), so the Delos was a very welcome addition (one should not observe Saturn without it!). And it will be present at CNYO events for those wanting to compare and contrast. Many thanks to TeleVue, Kopernik, and all of the CSSP donors (amateur astronomers take their raffle prizes very seriously)!

2014july10_cssp_5_small

Patrick Manley (left) and Pedro Gomes listen as collimation guru Howie Glatter (right) talks shop. Click for a larger view.

I was told that Thursday night was great but very wet. Friday night (my first night there) was a patchwork of clouds and less-than-thrilling seeing conditions. Saturday night was out-and-out fantastic. Going from about 9:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., my list included Saturn and Mars, 35 Messiers, 20 NGCs (including my personal favorite, NGC 4565), and a lot of just staring into “nowhere particular” just to enjoy the visual peace and quiet.

Blazar-3c424.3-pic-SDSS-credit-580x485The one object I did want to take a stab at seeing was Blazar 3C 454.3 in Pegasus, having seen the announcement cross the CNYO Twitter Feed in the form of a link to universetoday.com (image at right from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey). Blazars are so bright that astronomers didn’t know until the 1970’s that they weren’t actual stars in our own Milky Way. Blazars are the cores of galaxies where matter is being sucked into a supermassive black hole, releasing in the process jets of energy perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy and right in our direction (so these host galaxies would appear to us like the Whirlpool Galaxy, where we’re seeing the whole galaxy face-on as we stare down its rotation axis).

The blazar in Pegasus recently peaked at around 13th magnitude and has been dimming since. That’s dim. That’s far dimmer than binoculars and small scopes will reveal, but is just fine for a 12” Dobsonian (where 15th magnitude is possible under ideal conditions – which Cherry Springs almost certainly is). While not particularly impressive in any kind of scope, this blazar is noteworthy for being 7 billion light years away. When the photons beaming through that new 8 mm Delos left their home galaxy, the Sun and Earth were still more than 2 billion YEARS away from being ANYTHING. That, to my mind, compensates for the dim.

2014july10_cssp_6_small

The view to the East at Sunset on Saturday night. Click for a larger view.

By 2:45 a.m., the Kopernik crowd had thinned to just Keith Werkman and I. I packed up the scope and pulled out the camera for a few long-exposure shots just in time to see a few randomly-oriented bright meteors (not affiliated with the Boötids Meteor Shower, which peaked the night before) and a Milky Way band bright enough to read by.

2014july10_cssp_7_small

Another view of the Kopernik site at the CSSP. Click for a larger view.

Groggy and sore from our respective sleeping arrangements, the gang began to split just after breakfast and a final clean-up of the grounds. Having now survived my second CSSP with quite a bit of excellent viewing (and viewing tools) to show for it, I and others await next year’s CSSP and next month’s Black Forest Star Party at the same location.

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.

2014june12_setup_small

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.

2014june12_vega_small

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.

2014june12_nscbuilding_small

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 Observing Log: TACNY Jr. Cafe And Solar Session @ The MOST, 17 May 2014

The May 17th TACNY Jr. Cafe Scientifique featured New Moon Telescope’s and CNYO’s own Ryan Goodson. His lecture, “Monster Telescopes And How They Are Built,” took attending students and adults on a 70-minute tour of the history of large-aperture telescopes. The lecture focused specifically on the Dobsonian philosophy that Ryan and NMT have developed upon to produce a novel design in scope assembly that many in the amateur astronomy community have taken notice of (when not commenting on the quality of the woodwork!).

The history and recent developments of the kind of telescope made famous by Isaac Newton – the Newtonian Reflector. We will begin the discussion from the perspective of the great Newton in the 1600s with his humble 1 1/2″ reflector, then journey through time to the present day, when amateur astronomers can often be seen in fields with telescopes large enough to rival or often surpass the size and quality of many professional observatories. We will focus on how the telescope is built, from the choice of wood to the installation of advanced electronics, finishing the discussion with what they are ultimately able to show us.

From Newton’s own telescope (perhaps he called it a “Me”ian scope), to the use of the PLOP program for optimizing mirror cells, to the new trend of GOTO-ing Dobsonian designs for tracking and imaging applications, Ryan gave the audience a broad sampling of topics important to scoped builders and users, all in a manner that didn’t bury non-scope owners in the jargon of the field.

2014june12_jrcafe_ryanloading_1

Ryan loading the rocker box of a 16″ Dob.

As is always the case at Jr. Cafe lectures, the kids were full of interest and great questions (as I’ve said before, nothing makes me feel more hopeful about the future of U.S. science than having a student ask a question I have to think hard about before answering).

But Wait! There’s More!

To take full advantage of the number of attendees and attending scopes, CNYO also hosted a solar session at the very beginning of the Creekwalk (next to the MOST) immediately after Ryan’s lecture. Over a two-hour period, approximately 45 lecture attendees and passers-by stopped to take in the sights of out nearest star. On a day that featured a few thick pockets of high-altitude clouds and otherwise perfect blue skies, the Coronado PST in attendance allowed us to follow a few significant prominences that changed shape considerably over the course of only 15 minutes (which was made more impressive to some of the new observers when we mentioned that these prominences were more easily measured in Earth diameters than in miles or kilometers).

sunspots_1024_20140517

The Sun on May 17th, 2014. From NASA/SOHO

CNYO would like to specifically thank the NASA Night Sky Network for providing a (timely) Solar Kit that has already seen quite a bit of use these past few months at the capable hands of Larry Slosberg. I also want to thank Stephen Ramsden of the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project for handing me several pairs of solar shades (at NEAF 2014) that also saw considerable use to those not lined up behind the scopes.

[envira-gallery id=”2828″]

209P/LINEAR Meteor Shower, Bob Piekiel At Baltimore Woods, And CNYO’s Public Viewing Session At North Sportsman’s Club – All This Weekend (May 23rd and 24th)!

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

This coming weekend will be a busy one for CNYO, amateur astronomers, and meteor shower hopefuls alike.

Possible Meteor Super-Storm, Late Night 23rd To Early Morning 24th

Some have already seen the articles over the past several weeks. On the night of Friday the 23rd and into the early morning of Saturday the 24th, the Earth will be passing through the debris field of Comet 209P/LINEAR, a relatively newly discovered comet (2004). All of the predictions reported so far indicate that the meteor shower produced as we go through this debris field (the remnants from the comet’s tail as it goes around the Sun) may be very dense, with some people predicting hundreds or thousands of meteors per hour within in fairly narrow window (perhaps only a few hours). Better still, the meteor shower peaks during a very old Waning Crescent Moon that won’t rise until nearly 4:00 a.m., giving us a good clear night to observe.

Not only might this be a dense meteor shower, but we may be witnessing the arrival of a brand new annual meteor shower to our yearly calendar of showers. If all goes well, you can say you were outside and observing for the first May Camelopardalids!

From the ScienceAtNASA youtube Channel.

Southern Canada and the U.S. are perfectly placed for the densest part of the predicted meteor shower based on the calculation of the comet’s path and our timing as we go through it. Scientists are predicting activity like the 2002 Leonids, which spoiled any observer that year for any other meteor shower in recent history.

Additional info about the 209P/LINEAR Meteor Shower can be found below:
* earthsky.org/space/comet-209p-linear-meteor-shower-storm-may-2014
* www.universetoday.com/111474/may-meteor-storm-alert-all-eyes-on-the-sky/
* www.space.com/25768-new-meteor-shower-comet-linear.html

At present, you’ve two Public Viewing Sessions to catch some of this meteor shower and all of the other objects in the Night Sky this weekend.

Friday, May 23rd (weather-alternate is the 24th)

Bob Piekiel hosts his monthly session at Baltimore Woods. The description for this event is below. For additional information, including RSVP’ing with Baltimore Woods for the event, Click HERE.

Join Bob Piekiel for a possible Meteor Storm! In the early morning hours of Saturday, May 24, the Earth will pass through the debris field left behind by a small comet known as P/209 LINEAR. Astronomers are predicting that this interaction may result in a brief but intense burst of meteor activity that could range from dozens to hundreds of meteors per hour. Nothing is certain, but many mathematical models are predicting that this could be the most intense meteor shower in more than a decade. Saturn will also be at its biggest for its best viewing of the whole year, plus good views of Jupiter and Mars are to be had. Come and say “hello” to the Spring Skies!

Saturday, May 24th – CNYO Hosts A Session At North Sportsman’s Club

CNYO is pleased to announce our first official Public Viewing Session at NSC for 2014. Our practice session this past April 19th was excellent, featuring New Moon Telescope’s 27″ Dobsonian and several other attending scopes.

the NSC in google maps. Click to generate directions.

In addition to possible stragglers from the 209P/LINEAR shower, attendees will be treated to views of Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn, all of which are out during “reasonable hours.” Additionally, the massive group of galaxies in the vicinity of the constellation Virgo are at their highest right now (and my personal favorite edge-on galaxy, NGC 4565, is right next-door in Coma Berenices). If you had any interest to looking back several tens of millions of years, this session will be a golden opportunity.

A view of the NSC facility from the observing grounds. Click for a larger view.

We hope you can join us!