by Michael WrightAAAP members were elated when the club took possession of its new “Observatory on Wheels”, a 12-inch Meade LX200 ACF mounted on an airdampened Peugeot trailer. Affectionately dubbed “The Cannon” by Saul Moroz who conceived the project, the observatory will allow members to do serious observing anywhere. “We’re ready for the Winter Star Party now!” said Saul.
For the astrophotographers, the trailer mount includes a stainless steel wedge for equatorial alignment and a heavy–duty power supply to run guide scopes, cameras, computers and other accessories. Gene Ramsey was impressed with the observatory’s features. “The manufacturer even supplied a switch to disconnect the backup lights and turn on the red tail lights to preserve our dark adaptation.”
Outreach Chair David Letcher is eager to unveil the scope at the next school event. “The kids are going to be so excited when we pull into the school yard with this scope in tow.” When asked about sponsors, Program Chair Kate Otto said, “No, corporate logos on the scope would look too NASCAR.”
The observatory will be stored in Director Ludy D’Angelo’s garage until a permanent storage building is built. Treasurer Michael Mitrano is chairing an observatory construction committee. He says “We want to build a garage at Washington-Crossing. The park rules prohibit garages, so we are planning a roll-off roof. It will look just like an observatory when the scope is inside.”
The manufacturer assures that the trailer can be towed at highway speeds without losing collimation of the OTA. John Church indicated “We’re skeptical so we’re going to run our own tests at simulated highway loads. We’ll determine the maximum running speed and if necessary place a limiter in the drive train.”
The observatory is available for use by any member after they attend wheelholder training with Gene Ramsey. Anyone wishing to use the Cannon should contact Ludy or email the secretary of the club.