Friday, November 4, 2016

The Sweet Spot Part II

Tripping the Light...M33 looks nice tonight!
Last night's test of 'Leroy Grumman's "sweet spot" was a terrific success! Using the storage locker at the portside Rescue Boat station as a support I was able to use magnifications as high as 45x without the viewing being impaired by the ship's omnipresent mechanical vibration.

I set-up at sunset and admired Luna, Venus and Saturn as they fell toward the mountains of Crete to our south.  As the Milky Way became visible I began observations using my venerable old Astroscan.  Testing the waters, I first moved the 'scope around the top of the locker and then onto the deck around it.  Checks through the eyepiece at each location showed the starfield in various states of "jiggle" with one spot, about fifteen feet inboard of the locker, actually causing the telescope to physically bounce on the deckplates!

Back to the locker.  It stands about chest-high to me, placing the eyepiece at just the right altitude to make for strain-free observing.  Checks around the steel box's top with a paper cup full of water gave promising results; I call this the Jurassic Park test as you might imagine!  Thankfully, no Tyrannosaurs were in evidence, and the entire locker top seemed nearly tailor-made for my purposes.

Oh, there ARE a few "cons" to be considered here.  If you examine the photo below you'll note that a considerable part of the sky is blocked by the ship's superstructure and a cargo boom. (This is less of a problem than it would be ashore, as the ship's maneuvers are likely to bring much of the sky within view in the course of an evening!) Also, the site is close enough to the railing to raise caution flags; I'm not likely to fall overboard due the railings themselves but any dropped eyepieces, dew caps or filters would certainly be at risk of a long, deep soak.

So, the site is good.  Not perfect, mind you, but definitely usable.  I'll keep an eye out for other locations around the ship where the engine and generator vibration is minimal, but in the meantime I have a good, solid observing site aboard ship; a place to do some starlight on those long, dark nights at sea.

That'll do.

The Contented Astronomer!