PATS was held over the weekend and I was keen to go and check out all the latest gear in the world of astronomy. Unfortunately I could not attend any of the seminars because of a lack of time, but I still appreciated the few hours to look over things and have a think about where its all going.
While I was there I found the tracking mount I have been looking for and thinking about for a long time……. Sadly its about 3 times the price it should be and thus it is well out of my reach.
I refer to the AstroTrac. Small enough to take on the bike, low power, accurate, easy to set up, simple to align, it is everything I wanted and more, but the price, I cant believe it costs so much…… I think in due course the price will come down, it has to, the device is so simple and there is very little involved in making it, it will not be long and it will either get copied or he will simply drop the price (or both).
I am considering looking at what it might take to make one. Time and tools are the biggest problems on that front.
That was the only real bit of gear that jumped out at me. Of course there were lots of nice telescopes there, but the prices are well out of my league (anything more than 100 bucks is out of my league since getting here!).
I was impressed with the quality of the gear, all was top notch. The CCD world is moving ahead leaps and bounds with larger and more sensitive chips, you have to wonder where it will end up with the back yard guy taking photos that surpass large professional images from only a few years back.
In the end I came away with two books and a healthy dose of depression.
The first book is a kids book about what happen to Pluto. It has been signed by Mike Brown, the guy that discovered the chunks of rock out there and caused the whole debate to finally come to head and get resolved.
The other book is ‘The Perfect Machine‘; referring of course to the Hale Telescope. Again, this book is signed by the current telescope operator Jean Mueller, so its very special to me and I have to say thanks to Sue for arranging Jean to sign my copy.
The depression? In a nut shell its the northern skies, my current digs and the internal confusion I am facing regarding not being able to access something that I have felt very passionate about in the past.
If that makes no sense to you, then welcome to my world.

Apart from that, I’m busy at work, they want me to teach some sections of the classes as soon as next week. Selam goes on maternity leave in two weeks, the same time Tom leaves for a week of onsite training in Missouri, so that leaves me home alone with all the phone calls.
Did I mention that work keeps me busy……….?