The Riga Occultation

June 28/29, 2016

This one was best for Ted and the north bay. But a south shift more than 1-sigma could put me in the path, and there were 7 observers, so it was worth spending the evening. First, I had to fix the 10", which arrived home from the summer Astro 25 class with one of the bolts holding the RA motor assembly had fallen out and was rattling around inside the base. Not good. Biked to the observatory, spent a couple of hours diagnosing and solving it, with a panoply of hex head wrenchs and acrobatics of the telescope to get the bolt to reappear from the innards. Tightened it up, and seems to run fine, better than ever, even! We shall see.

Results:

Fog was coming into Santa Cruz, when I stopped at TJ's on the way to get some MetRx and bananas. But it stayed clear in Aptos. Unusual. However, my headlamp got left from the Astro 25 camping trip in the wrong place, not in my car. Arggh! After printing the charts in my office and then driving to the observatory, I scrounged and found the only other one I had, but it kept turning off after just a few seconds, so I was constantly stopping and turning the light back on. Also, the usual pedestal for the 10" wasn't going to work, with the 33 deg altitude against the observatory storage building, so I had to set up on tripod outside the observatory building, finding the right multi-extension cord to power the telescope and camcorder. This, after stopping at the store, and at my office and filling out the Census roster for Astro 25, which was due yesterday... it all chewed into time. I thought I'd still make it, since getting the scope 2-star aligned and on target went very fast w/o a hitch. The field was immediately identified. Telescope pointing was quite nicely done after the tuneup. Next problem is that since my light was so dysfunctional, I hadn't noticed that in pulling out the Watec videocam from its baggie, the nosepiece had hit the ground and went under the table. I thought maybe it wasn't in the baggie at all and put on other nosepieces I found in the box, but they were too short to be set-screw'd to the adapter. Time was now only a minute away. I punted, pulled off the Watec, and went visual. I followed the faint star with averted vision till 5:45:15, a minute after the predicted occultation. Pretty sure I had a miss, although a 1 sec event could have happened and I'd perhaps have missed it.

Anyway, I was happy that the telescope worked well and went straight to the target without having to spiral search for it as I often have to do. Today's tune-up may pay off in the future.