Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eldorado Star Party 2010

This past weekend I attended the 2010 Eldorado Star Party (ESP) near
Eldorado, Texas. This was my second time attending ESP. This years ESP
was different compared to last year in many ways. This year my wife,
Tina, came for her first multiple club/public star party. My wife is
no stranger to a telescope field and is into astronomy and can starhop
with the best of them.

We originally planned to stay out at the X-Bar Ranch (where the star
party is held) and sleep in the Honda Element. Then a few days before
our trip we heard reports of freeze warnings and we opted for a motel
room. At the registration table I heard the temp dipped into the 20s
the night before so I knew we made the right choice! Tina and I
enjoyed sleeping in a king size bed at the Days Inn Devils River in
Sonora, Tx. It was nice the motel room served hot breakfast thanks to
the Sutton County Steakhouse and the blackout curtains were especially
nice in the daytime so we could sleep in. Although it added some cost
to our trip and extra miles to the odometer on the Honda Element
(rolled over to 100k this trip) the motel room was worth it and made
the experience much more pleasurable.

Telescopes & Observing:
This year left the 16" dobsonian at home and brought the 10"
dobsonian. This decision was done mostly because I was under the
weather earilier and didn't want to remove the seats out of the Honda
to fit in the 16". We arrived on Friday evening and set up the 10". We
stayed out until 9pm that night. I was still a little under the
weather so I didn't want to get too cold. I observed some usual
objects with the 10" like m57, m31, Ngc457, etc. It was fun but short.
Saturday, I decided to pack up the 10" in the Honda and just use my
eyeballs and my binoculars (Celestron 20x80s). Saturday we sat next to
some friends from our San Antonio club and we used an 18" scope of a
friend to look at a few objects. I star hopped to the Veil Nebula with
the 18" and a Telvue ethos. We looked at the blinking nebula, m77 etc.
There were some rather impressive rugs out at ESP mounts and scopes
that cost more than the cars that hauled them out to the ranch! My
scope was mild by comparison, it's a red tube Coulter 10"f/4.5
dobsonian and the only finder I had was my telrad. I didn't attempt
the observing list this year because I knew I wasn't feeling well
enough to stay out long enough to complete it.

People of ESP:
Being my second time attending ESP it was nice to see some familiar
faces. We had many friends in attendance from San Antonio and that was
fun. Like last year there were over 150 people in attendance. There
seem to be more vendors this year but I didn't see the Meade booth
this year but with my view of Meade lately that isn't much of a loss.
This year I seemed noticed the majority of the field was full of
imagers, something I'm not that into but I admire the dedication of
those that do it. Tina & I missed the guest speaker on Friday but we
heard the speaker on Saturday, Lucas Marci from Texas A&M department
of physics speak about determining the age of the universe. The
lecture we informative and lively. We both enjoyed it. Later Saturday
evening I bumped into, David Moody the author of one of favorite
Astronomy books Astronomical Sketching part of Patrick Moore's series
of astronomy books. Tina and I talked with David for an hour or so in
the warming hut at the observing field Saturday night. The San Antonio
Astronomy Association (SAAA) had good turn our of members and this
year (more than last year) and the SAAA was offically sponsors of the
ESP event this year. Blackie a friend of mine and SAAA member created
this year's ESP observing list and Mark an SAAA member was the MC for
the guest speakers.

Note: I'm having some computer issues... So photos coming later. This
entry was typed on my iPhone so I apologize for typos.