Winter Star Party 2013

Best Winter Star Party ever. At least for me!

This was my ninth consecutive Winter Star Party, my second actually registered as a vendor. Registering as a vendor has its perks. For starters I can come on site on Sunday and setup wherever I want before the gates open on Monday. The stampede that occurs  when the gates open is something to behold, especially on the berm. I’ve seen grown men act like 8th graders fighting over who’s dob is blocking who’s and who got there first. Madness.

A week of heaven!

A week of heaven!

We (Software Bisque) had three Paramounts on the field, and I was a kid in a candy store. The weather was good every night, for at least some if not all of the night. I saw dawn a couple of times and had to throw in the towel Saturday night so I’d be able to drive home Sunday! The most challenging part of running more than one mount is remembering that you are not alone. Star parties are largely social affairs, and as a vendor you can’t just ignore everyone while tending to three or four imaging runs going on at the same time! I don’t know how many times I had to tell a friend that I’d be ready for a break as soon as I get… oh hang one…. wait…. now… no wait… just a minute…

I have a growing number of Star Party friends that I see mostly just at things like this, and had a few friends from my own local astronomy club who where there. There were three people actually from “Lake Mary Proper” including myself. In addition to great skies and imaging, I love eating the seafood while I’m down there. I was nearly heart broken that my favorite place to get wings “Parrot-dise” is closed and the building is for lease. My friends and I also hit “no-name pub” for pizza and my favorite sea foot place, “The Island” in Marathon. Hotel wise, I probably had the nicest place I’ve ever stayed… too bad I hardly ever saw it!

I won first place in the Widefield Astrophotography contest!

I won first place in the Widefield Astrophotography contest!

Wednesday Steve Bisque and I gave a talk on imaging and I drug myself in Thursday after greeting the sunrise to hear a talk on PixInsight and one on general imaging techniques. After a late night image processing spree, I had three entries for the Astrophotography contest ready Friday morning. My single entry in the Widefield category won first place (see my photo gallery)! I shot with a DSLR and 200mm lens, a DSLR on my f/3 Veloce, and with my QSI 683 also on my Veloce. I also had a chance to try out the new Canon 60Da. Oh, did I learn a lot this week!

Richard

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