May 29, 2008

Hello and welcome to the Star Deck Observatory's News and Updates page!  It's been a quite a while since the last updates  here on the site unfortunately I've found myself once again being plagued by the same back injury from October of 2007.  What  this means to this web site is I cannot take sitting here in front of my computer for very long to peck out much in the way of  content and commentary for the site.  The condition just plain cuts into a lot of my free time activities, hopefully I will  be able to come to some kind of a positive resolution to the injuries with in the next few months and be able to get back to  some level of my normal activities.  Until that time I will likely not be contributing to the regular content features here  on the Star Deck or putting up a few of the reviews and articles I'd like to.  I do have one positive comment for any other  people visiting this site who might be have issues with their low back like me....  I no longer use the normal padded multi-adjustable office desk chair when parked here in front of this machine, but rather I have 2 different sized "stability balls"  I use as a seat when I am working on my desktop.  I use either a 75cm or a 65cm ball depending on how my back feels at the time,  looks a bit silly I'm sure, but it does help to keep my back from going south.  When I get fatigued from sitting on one or  the other I know it's time to get up and walk away.  Using one of these stability balls kind of forces you into more of an  "active" sitting, which means your low back doesn't sit there resting in a bad posture when you get tired, you move or you fall off of  the ball!  Well at least it seems to work for me, silly looking or not. ;^)

There have been some goings on around here despite the seemingly never ending nights of poor to no seeing conditions.  As I  stated in the last news on the site, I have been working on some major upgrades to my Orion SVP 8" Newtonian.  In fact it has  been significantly reworked enough it would no longer do it justice or be very accurate to call it an Orion product any  longer.  The only remaining parts that are still from the original Orion OTA are the steel tube, front end trim ring, and a  modified mirror cell.  Everything else has been replaced with high end upgrades, and the results are fantastic!  Last time I  was out with the "new" upgraded OTA I pushed it all the way up to 450X with a Celstron 9mm eye piece and a Power Mate 4X on  Saturn.  The view was still very sharp with good contrast and detail.  The Cassini divisions were sharp and clear as well as  the gas/cloud bans and 4 very pin point moons.  The best I could ever achieve without serious distortion from light loss and  optical quality on the original Orion U.S.A. optics was up to 200X then the view began to smear a bit.  The seeing conditions  were not the best but good enough to get a pretty good handle on just how much of an improvement the optics will be.  A quick  study of M106, M51, M13, M92, & M3 between passing clouds that same night revealed nice sharp views with good contrast and  pick up of fainter details as well as good star resolution on the globular clusters.  Once I've had the time and seeing conditions to  get a few presentable astro-images shot with it I will be putting together an article over what was done during the  upgrade/refurbishment of the Orion, also dependant upon the aforementioned discomfort situation!

I will try to get the DSO of the Month updated for June 2008, as well as post a few other articles I have discussed with  several folks on various user groups.  I am back to my regular work schedule for now which is a good thing so I should have a  little more time to work on this site some more,as my previously mentioned hurdle allows me.  Summer is coming and with it  hopefully plenty of decent nights for taking in some of the beautiful and interesting sights the night skies have to offer.   I am eagerly awaiting some more decent nights to get my "new" telescope uncovered for,the R.F. Royce primary and the  Protostar secondary are outstanding from what little I've been able to do with them so far.  When I am feeling better and  have had the skies and time to put together a good article and review of my refurbishment I will go into to some details.   It's not that difficult to rebuild an "economy" reflector into a high end telescope rendering astounding clarity in your star  gazing all for a bit less than what you's spend on an OTA "off the shelf" from a high quality telescope  manufacturer.......... until then!

Clear Skies!
The Mad One

Mark Jordan
39 47' 06" North X 85 46' 10" West


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