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Around ASO in 80 days
Topic: Around ASO in 80 days (Read 513 times)
Around ASO in 80 days
June 04, 2012, 05:24:58 PM »
A few hours premature but here goes.
How do I begin my story of how I came to be around ASO for 80 accrued days?.... well let’s see.
I could say it began a little over fifty years ago when I received a Tasco reflector telescope for Christmas. It was pretty much what some have called a ‘department store’ telescope with questionable quality. For me it was enough to ignite an interest in things not of this earth though the moon was about the only thing I could see clearly. I spent many a summers night in the vacant lot next door peering into the night sky trying the two eye pieces that came with it. Like most kids over time the interest in that telescope diminished to the point that it was but a distant memory. I do not know what replaced that interest but at the time it must have been more important, perhaps it was because I found out how to tinker with things. As a young boy I became almost addicted to taking things apart and figuring how they had been built, though sometimes the ability to re-assemble them eluded me. I never gave up with the tinkering and after many years I got pretty good figuring things out and even started to invent things of my own. At the time I had no idea where that would take me if any where…..but I am wandering a bit.
Though my telescope became a thing of the past I never lost my wonder at what was up in the night sky. When my two sons came along and we started camping we would often talk about the stars and planets around the fire at night. They grew older and got interested in the Boy Scouts so to be able to spend time with them I became a leader and went along on the many camp outs our troop had. Somewhere in those years my oldest son decided he wanted to earn an astronomy merit badge so we picked up the study book and I got more engrossed in it than he did, though he eventually earned that merit badge. I became a counselor for astronomy and a few other things our troop had a need for and even compiled my own booklet of basic things to share around camp out fires. As all boys do mine grew up and went away to college so my wife and I were left to go camping by ourselves.
Years later in 2001 my wife and I were wandering from store to store in a local mall when we noticed there was a store with a big banner that said it was going out of business. The name eludes me but I think it was Natural Wonders and sitting just inside the front door there were some telescopes set up. We walked in and my wife was soon looking at things toward the back of the store while I had not gotten past the telescopes. Sitting there on top of a display case was a Meade ETX-125EC all shiny and new next to the box explaining how the thing could just about make flap jacks. I think I told my wife if she let me buy that telescope I would never, yeah right, ask for another thing and I walked out the store with my second telescope. It was not long after I started trying to use the telescope on the table of out deck in the back yard that I figured out that there was more to it than the box had implied. I went surfing the internet and found Mike Weasner’s Mighty ETX Site and soon found that there was lots of help for people like me. Mike was most helpful but in particular there was this one guy who was always posting answers to folks questions, that was P. Clay Sherrod. I read a lot of his postings and studied the photos he included and soon the wheels in my head were turning and the creative juices started flowing. In particular he had an article about a pier he had built for an ETX-125EC that spurred my imagination. I knew I could build a pier but I wanted to know more about HOW it worked. He seemed genuinely helpful to other folks but would he bother answering a new guy wanting to know all about what he had built, I took a chance and was utterly blown away by getting a reply forthwith and very detailed. Our communication had begun and we exchanged many more emails about our designs for piers and he eventually talked me into posting an article about mine, his was posted there as well, and I believe they are to this day.
I really enjoyed the little ETX but it was not long before I got aperture fever, for which I blame my subscription to Sky & Telescopes ads for…..truth be known the internet astronomy sites had a lot to do with it as well. Somewhere in one of our emails Doc told me about a new telescope Meade was planning to introduce an LX200GPS. This was just a couple years before I would be eligible to retire and I got to thinking astronomy would make a good hobby. We exchanged more emails about this new telescope and what capabilities it would have and before long I contacted Oceanside Photo & Telescope and placed a pre order for a 12” model late in 2001. Having had my ETX-125EC SuperCharged by Doc I had no trouble selling it online to help cover the cost of my new telescope, actually a guy in the UK wanted it really badly and was willing to pay the extra charges to get it over there…..I hope he is still enjoying it. At any rate I had already scheduled a side trip for the LX200GPS to stop off at ASO for another SuperCharge with the folks at OPT and Doc. During my wait I joined the LX200GPS Users group at Yahoo and started reading the many posts from folks who owned one of these big telescopes. My postings there at that time must have sounded like a kid at Christmas and on more than one occasion I was the focus of some fun by the others there. In one of those posts someone suggested that a scope of that size was akin to a big blue elephant and posted a doctored photo of a blue elephant missing trunk and front legs. I made some sort of reply that it would be an exceptionally blue elephant and came up with the acronym BeBE, Big exceptionally Blue Elephant which is what I still call her to this day. BeBE came to live with me on March 23, 2002 and has remained very close to me these past ten years. I am truly glad that I came to know about P. Clay Sherrod and his willingness to help amateurs like me and the great service he can provide with an ASO SuperCharge as BeBE had been trouble-free all these years.
Somewhere back in 2002 I learned of a star party that was going to be hosted by a club in Illinois in the fall of that year. I also found out that two of their guest speakers would be Mike Weasner and Dr. P. Clay Sherrod and have a representative from OPT, Mike Fowler the person I had dealt with to get BeBE. I made up my mind to attend the Illinois Dark Skies Star Party hosted by the Sangamon Astronomical Society to be held at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area. I took my last vacation before retiring to attend and meet so many people I had come to think of as friends as well as a couple guys from the Yahoo group, Charlie Trump and Mike Yancy. I think we all had a great time that weekend, I know I did, and we met many new people including Doc’s lovely wife Patsy. After the event instead of heading back to my home in Michigan I continued southwest to visit my dad in Missouri and spent the remainder of my vacation there. On November 1, 2002 I officially became a retiree and I have yet to regret that decision.
My wife and even my dad and I have made a few trips to Arkansas to go camping and visit with Doc and Patsy. There was even one time when my dad and I went camping with Doc and Patsy at Lake Nimrod down there but after they moved to Petit Jean Mountain which has a state park within walking distance we now camp there…..great place!
I know I have left out numerous details like how I came to be a moderator on ASO but at my age one can not expect me to remember it all!
This is a great place to hang out and the help and advice here are second to none but then I am overly prejudiced. Doc and Patsy are two of my closest friends and there is nothing on this earth I wish for them more than happiness.
[NOTE from Doc: Dave has become a dear friend and major member of our Forums. Just to put Dave's (now over) 80 days of logging into ASO, I have owned this website for nearly 12 years and my total time on the website is a scant, by comparison, nine days. There are many times it is great to have Dave around, pointing me to postings to which I need to answer, so thanks for the 80 days around the world and back, Dave!]
Clear, Dark Skies!
Birmingham Astronomical Observatory
ele. 516 ft/ 157 m
37° 56' 42.9" N / 88° 46' 17.7" W
12" LX200GPS s/n 05008
ASO SuperCharge # 243-2012
Main Imager - SBIG ST-402ME-C1
Re: Around ASO in 80 days
Reply #1 on:
June 05, 2012, 12:02:22 PM »
This is a great place to hang out and the help and advice here are second to none but then I am overly prejudiced
That is exactly why I've stayed here since 2002.
That is a great story and a great read. I vividly remember when you posted about your new 12" Meade and wanted someone to help you drag it outside
I have appreciated all of your help and willing to take on all task in helping others enjoy the wonderful world of Astronomy.
Thanks and double thanks for being here.
From a loyal member.
8"LX200GPS,Alt/Az,favorite ep 18mm wa
Canon T4i, 70-300mm telephoto
Hobbies:Astronomy, camping, sailing, fishing and now RC planes
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