Observatory Report by: Stephen Greene
Over the past few weeks the activities surrounding the club's equipment has been fast and furious. Between scopes being repaired and scopes being borrowed, there has been plenty of member interaction.
First, let me tell you about the repairs. The 22" dob, now seven years old, was showing some wear and disrepair. Having traveled all around the state of Michigan and having been used at dozens of starparties, the inevitable little nicks and dings were rearing their ugly heads. Bob Watt took to the task of repainting the rocker box and mirror box. The telescope now sports a new coat of flat black on the insides (to reduce reflected light) and gloss black on the outside to give a protective, nice looking finish. The split blocks that hold the truss tubes in place on the mirror box, were..., well..., Split! Some of the split blocks were actually broken into two pieces. The hard maple wood blocks had been overtightened on several occasions, stressing the hinge point of the block, causing it to break. The telescope making group was trying to figure out what to do about the blocks when I remembered that I had eight split blocks from a telescope project that was never completed. The blocks are a composite material that should be much more durable than the wood blocks they are replacing. All that was needed was to 'tune-in' the blocks to the truss pole angles of the telescope.
Over the course of two Tuesday evenings, the team of Dennis Schmalzel, Larry Kalinowski, Joe VanPoucker, Don Lemons, Scott Ferguson and Steve Greene replaced the blocks. The 22" telescope should be ready for another 3 years or 36,000 miles before need of any other repairs.
About the telescopes that have been borrowed by club members. The 8" Celestron is still on the road. This telescope has been requested the most of any of the scopes we have. This 8" SCT is mounted on a wedge, has a clock drive, due shield, telrad finder scope and solar filter and can handle any of your observing needs, day or night. I have found that many of our new members have taken advantage of this opportunity before purchasing a telescope of their own.
I personally know how valuable this benefit is. When I first joined the Warren Club, I did not have a telescope on my own. I borrowed the club's 10 dob newtonian telescope and used it on and off for nearly a year! I found 92 of the Messier Objects, observed most of the planets, the Moon and other deep sky objects with that scope and when I received my deposit back, it had cost me nothing.
The club has a 4" refractor on and equatorial mount, a 6" Bausch & Lomb SCT, an 8" Celestron SCT, an 8" dob Newtonian and a 10" dob newtonian telescope.
Call Stephen Greene, the 2nd VP & Observatory Chairman, at (586) 598-1199 for more details if you want to borrow a telescope.
One other note; we needed to have two of the lights in the new dob shed converted to a red lens for nighttime use. Mark Kedzior stepped up to the plate and provided two red plexiglass lenses that were cut to fit the housing on the lights. Thanks, Mark.
We had an open house on Friday, December, 13th. The evening was originally scheduled for two Cub Scout packs for a lecture. Unfortunately, the Michigan Nebulosity showed up that day and refused to clear off for the evening. The leaders of the scout packs called to cancel, so I spent just an hour (6:30 to 7:30) at Stargate just in case someone did show up. As I mentioned to the scout leaders, showing up at the observatory on a cloudy night does not necessarily mean that it is a bust.
As a visitor, you can learn about telescopes at that time or if you are a member, you can be trained on the operation of the observatory and equipment. Stargate will be open for at least an hour on an open house night for anyone who wants to stop in.