AstroPhoto Insight

A little while back I commented on ‘Best Practices‘ and Richard Bennion’s Ewell Observatory page. I had seen a reference on the web but I couldn’t quite remember where, though I had visited the site a couple of times. Al DeGutis of AstroPhoto Insight pointed out the mention his site had of the Best Practices talk, and indeed that must be the place I first saw it. AstroPhoto Insight is another of the worthwhile sites that are developing as astro-imaging expands to a broader audience.

New Year’s Eve

Well, here it is, New Year’s Eve, and my scope is indoors where it’s cozy and warm. My SkyShed was built a little tight for tolerances where the roof meets the walls, and so I occasionally had a little trouble getting the roof open. It’s been well over a year since the shed was put up, but Wayne of SkyShed and Jay of Jay’s Gazebo’s came by to see if they could help me out. And help me out they did! They opened the shed, checked the roof, and moved the rails by about a half-inch or so. The observatory is back to it’s smooth rolling original condition, and I know how to handle this kind of problem in the future. Great guys and great support!

Except I took the scope down to make it easier to move around while they checked things out, and now I have to put everything back and realign the mount. And it’s cold outside! I’ll wait a little while before putting the OTA back in place. My fingers thank me.

Not that they will care…

…but I have to tell publishers that I won’t buy “trade” paperbacks. These are the paperback editions which are the size of regular books but which have soft covers. I don’t know if it’s cheaper to produce after a regular hard-cover run – perhaps they can use the same press setup and just bind in soft covers – but I hate them with a passion. I have two or three problems with them.

  • First thing – they don’t fit on my book shelves. I don’t discard books, and I have books dating back to my early buying days when I was a teenager in 1965 or even a little earlier – probably 6,000 to 8,000 books in all. Not all of those are readily available – some live in boxes and see the light of day only once every couple of years – but a large number sit on bookshelves in my basement (which is, luckily, cool and dry). All my shelves are set up to deal with “mass market” paperback sizes, except for a few professional books which occupy no more than forty feet of shelving in my home office. Trade paperbacks have nowhere to go.
  • Second thing, some titles come out in trade but not in mass market, so I miss books I would otherwise read and appreciate. That’s annoying, at the very least, but…
  • finally – they’re expensive. A trade paperback usually weighs in a C$20 or more – double the price of a mass market book. That means I can buy only about 4 in a week without blowing my budget, while I can buy seven or eight mass market books and still buy lunch (and I eat a lot of lunch!). Trade paperbacks, then, are out of my price range.
  • So please, publishers, kick the “trade” habit, and publish more “mass market!”

    There. They’ve been told.

    All I want for Christmas…

    …is a cloudless night. Right now the mini-version of the Clear Sky Clock for my location shows white right across, so it looks as though I’ll be disappointed for at least the next couple of days. Oh well, with the number of family members coming in the same time frame, I guess I should be grateful — otherwise I’d be entertaining them while pining for the fjords – erm, the observatory.

    “Best Practices”

    Yesterday I stumbled across Richard Bennion’s Ewell Observatory site, and in particular, his Image Acquisition Best Practices page. I highly recommend his presentation. If you do any astro-imaging at all and want to improve your results, play the presentation and think about how to put his suggestions into practice. I had heard most of his points before, but his presentation makes the reasons behind many of the ideas crystal clear, and provides good motivation for improving your scope’s setup.