Sunday, May 05, 2013

Starry Skies

Being almost a year since I had last visited Dinosaur Provincial Park, I decided that it was time that I paid the park a visit. With several goals in mind...well actually more that several, I made sure that I took my camera gear, as DPP is a wonderful place to shoot photos, as its all covered, from wonderful vistas, to wildlife photography, DPP has it in spades.
I also had decided to take advantage of the inky black skies, and I dug put my telescope that had not seen the light of day....or is that the light of night since maybe 2010! Besides, it was time that I refreshed my relationship with the telescope that I designed and built back when Jennifer was about 14 years old, and we had gotten involved with the local Calgary chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society Of Canada.

I really had not planned on getting in to Astronomy at the time, but being that I had to drive Jennifer and her friend Danielle to the various club meetings, and astronomy classes that they were involved in, as well as the star parties that we attended out of town, it was only a matter of time before I became interested in astronomy myself.
After I attended a number of star-parties, and saw all the cool homemade telescopes that the various members had built, I got the bug to build my own telescope. With a complete machine shop at home, I worked up a design for a telescope made from aluminum.
My finished telescope that I called "Starship" proved to be a hit with my fellow club members, and some time later, my telescope was featured in the premier astronomy magazine "Sky and Telescope."

So without giving you the complete story on how I designed and build this most unusual design of a Newtonian Reflector called "Starship" I'll get back to what I was loading into my truck before leaving for DPP.
I also planned on running tests on some ham radio gear that I recently finished building, and wanted to see how it performed in the field, or should I say "off grid" being it consists of a 12 volt DC Powerpack, and the companion solar panel for maintaining the AGM batteries that reside in the powerpack.

Of course it goes without saying, that I was going to stay out over night, so I brought along some of my camping gear. Because there was only me going, I loaded up my one man tent called the "Slumber Jack,"

Out of the three tents that I own, this little one man tent is my favorite, and I enjoy sleeping in it immensely. If you don't camp out with a tent, you wouldn't know that sleeping in a smaller tent is far cosier, than sleeping in a large tent. Don't sell a one man tent short, as they are quite capable. My one man tent holds my sleeping mat, my sleeping bag with pillow, and has room to store a pack at my feet along with my footwear while in my sleeping bag. It also as a gear loft for holding things like my keys, eyeglasses, and a place to hang a small light.

I finaly got everything loaded into the truck, and after a stop at my favorite Starbucks for a cup of Chai tea, I was headed East on what looked like a promising couple of days weather wise.
I arrived at DPP which is located 45 kilometers Northeast of Brooks, for those of you that may be thinking that all the dinosaurs are in Drumheller...Not!
Actually, DPP is the field station for the Tyrell museum in Drumheller, and the majority of the dinosaur remains that are displayed in the museum, were collected from digs at DPP. In fact, during most summers at DPP, there are a number of digs going on, with the specimens collected, prepared at the field station at DPP, before being transported to the museum in Drumheller.

Once I had set up camp, I then assembled the ham gear that I had brought along, and in no time flat, I was kicking back in the mid-afternoon sunshine, that proved to be very pleasant after all the cool weather that we have had lately. The full sun shinning on my solar panel, proved to be what was needed to keep my powerpack charged, and I was pleased with the results, as even though I had a mini fridge connected, as well as several of my ham radio HT's being charged by the powerpack, the solar charger was able to maintain the charge in the AGM batteries without to much difficulty. I also was able to keep my computer running, as well as my star-chart-finder lights while I was observing the night sky with my telescope later on in the night.

The weather proved to be beautiful for both days, and with inky black skies over night, and  a number of pleasing photos and video captured, as well as a successful deployment of my emergency preparedness ham gear, the weekend was a complete success.

Note: All photos expand

Note: If you want to expand this video full screen, and being the resolution is very low, check it out on my website here;!i=2495416272&k=sGTLH4T

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