I had a Christmas party in Bonny Doon at my friend Mary's this night. But skies were beautiful and Shahram was eager to do some astrophotography. Plan A was to join the Santa Cruz Astronomy Club at their starparty at the airfield. I'd join in after 10:15pm or so, after having my fill of wine and re-acquainting with the Mary Coyle crowd. I got to the airfield... and no one was there. No starparty! So I drove back up the mountain to Shahram and my favorite photography spot, Locatelli Meadow. No Shahram. Still, I set up the GM8 and did an hour and a half of photography of Comet Machholz, which is now a bright, naked eye 4th magnitude comet in Lepus. A big green fuzzball, no tail yet. Still no Shahram by midnight, and I packed up and headed back down, only to find him at our 2nd favorite spot - Christmas Tree Ranch. Not good for far southern things like the comet though. Got no photos, but we did do some shooting of the nebulae in Orion. Above left, Shahram is setting up his LXD55 mount and refractor.
My goal was to get some practice with the SBIG STV video camera on the GM8 mount. I used our Nikon 100mm f2.8 lens. At right, I'm reading the manual to figure out how to take pictures.
...and twiddling the knobs on the console to see what they do (!). The STV is mounted at the top of the slanting oak mount board clamped to the GM8 mount jaws.
Shahram makes some final adjustments to his ToUcam on the refractor. The webcam can stack and accumulate image after image so if the mount is polar aligned well, he can accumulate very long exposures without much monitoring. His laptop shows the images as they are downloaded, in the background. The Orion Nebula is on the screen.
I'm in the back, behind the GM8 mount on the right and Shahram's setup on the left.