I have used the Summer rains to get a handle on a computer problem that developed during the last imaging season. After a computer replacement, I am still feverishly programming it and installing the appropriate software. Last night I did a test run, but ran out of imaging time. The main CCD is back up and operational, but the guider needs some adjustment. Hopefully tommorrow night all will be ironed out.
Last night I attended the White Sands Star Party, with the family. I have often contemplated bringing a few of my scopes out there, but never seem to be able to commit to it due to other priorities. It is nice, however, to look through other people's scopes, if not to simply confirm that the scopes I am using are just as good, if not better and that my choices have been validated.
Star parties are nice, but I am usually a bit dissappointed in the diversity of scopes available. It is good to see the public interested in telescopes and astronomy, but the rise of the mostly Chinese scope dealers has pushed out many of the truly exotic optics that would have been seen in the past. Many of my telescopes would be seen as truly odd in comparison, as they consist of hand-made items and optics, or they deviate from the purpose for which they were built by way of modifications. I really love to see the unusual, but it seems these days that is becoming a bit rare, at least for visual observers.
Gone are the days where the budding astronomer lovingly crafts his scope out of available parts bought from the local hardware store and plumbing parts. The star party was nice, and the kids won prizes, and that is all that counts. Times do change after-all.
For those of us who image, the unusual seems to be much more common-place, only our scopes live their entire life covered with a jellfish of electrical cables, and buried underneath piles of computers and guidance systems. They are usually not very "public" friendly, nor are they portable.