September 20, 2013


Welcome to The Star Deck Observatory's General News and Articles page!  It has been quite a while since I have authored any updates or Star Deck news, I've had a busy last few years!  I had a part time lawn and landscape business as well as working as a full time career Firefighter & Paramedic.  The landscape business bloomed into quite a bit larger business than I had originally set out to build, 48 hrs per week average on the fire department and 30 hours per week plus "office time for billing, sales, accounting, maintenance and planning" in my business just didn't leave me a lot of time to post much in the way of content here on The Star Deck Observatory website!  I did manage to get some time out under the skies some nights, and found I would rather get time in under the night skies as opposed to sitting in front of a computer pounding out website content...! Observing and Astrophotography comes first over this site when I have limited time and energy!  I had a quasi unofficial "partner" I worked with a lot in my part time business, but sadly he was taken by what is known as Sudden Cardiac Death syndrome at the ripe young age of 58.

Kernie had been a good, one of my best friends, hunting, fishing, as well as go to guy when ever there was a project or task to be done requiring some help for the last 20+ years.  His death along with some worsening lower back issues from the past pretty much caused quite a bit of loss of interest in my part time business.  I pawned my accounts off to a couple of other fire fighters and closed the business down in March of this year.  I can say I don't really miss it much, I did good at it, made good money most of which I put back for retirement, yea a little bit went into some astronomy equipment upgrades, but most of what was left after expenses, and taxes went to savings!  I miss my friend a whole lot more!

OK to more site specific news and updates!  I have more time now and am in the process of updating the entire Star Deck site, first off I did away with the DSO of the month pages and feature.  I had not updated it in a long time and had no plans to start it up again, so it's gone.  I may occasionally post interesting visual targets in this page, as well as other general articles mainly covering astronomy interests, but possibly the occasional off topic.  The front News page will only have a link back to the last article prior to the new posting, instead of linking back to all of the past articles.

I think about anyone who keeps and maintains a small personal, or hobby website could tell you after the initial setup of the site it still takes a bit of time to keep that site running and somewhat up to date, I have some plans for expansions of the Star Deck site and as I get the time to implement them it is here on the News page I will post updates about how those projects are progressing if they are going forward.

I have upgraded almost all of my equipment over the last couple of years, and plan on eventually posting a few articles covering some of those upgrades.  I put a Losmandy G11 mount with Gemini 1 Level 4 v1.05 mount control on The Star Deck as the main mount.  I installed the Losmandy High Precision Worm with the Losmandy One Piece Worm Block to the R.A. almost immediately after purchasing the unit on Astromart.  The G11 was a lightly used mount and has fit in well with my observing needs, so far I am extremely pleased with it!  Sold the 8 inch Newtonian I had upgraded with a Robert F. Royce primary, and picked up an Orion 10 Inch F3.9 Astrograph again used on Astromart.  I wouldn't really call it a major upgrade, but then I may go a different route yet for my larger objective OTA, or make the decision to sink some money in upgrades for the Orion AG10.  I have held onto the Meade Series 5000 80mm APO, it seems an excellent performer for the price point and would highly recommend one as a nice rich field small light OTA.  The Meade 5000 80mm APO is still on the deck mounted with the Orion AG10 and still gets good use for imaging sessions.

I still have the Vixen GPD2, it performed very well since I took care of the initial problems it had from poor assembly at Vixen.  Too bad and really kind of sad Vixen and Vixen Optics did not handle the situation better.  I could have posted good things about it in good conscious, but not so with the treatment I received when I had a complaint, not in good conscious at all!  At any rate I am keeping the GPD2 in the corral for now as my grab and go portable mount should I ever get the chance to get to a star party or dark site somewhere!

Clear Skies!

Mark Jordan

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