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November was a good month. Viewed 17 times in four different locations and had not only a month of viewing, but on working on and learning by improving a new (old) scope.

Went to the mountains one time where I was really able to view M33 and M34 for the first time under good viewing conditions. Had wonderful views of Jupiter at my brother's rural farm house in Central Illinois last week while visiting him. It is always a pleasure to show others marvelous sights in the night time sky, and if they are special to you like family - that makes it even better!

Worked a lot on the 10" Odyssey compact this last month- gave it a new 2 inch focuser (which necessitated modifying the focal length), some flocking, lightened the base of some weight and a new paint job on the exterior. I have bought a new spider for it and it is ready to be installed, but am hesitating on doing this. The old hunk of iron bar that holds the current secondary may not look nice, but it is durable and holds it in alignment probably much better than any newer one I can put in its place. I may open up the mirror cell to help with circulation and cooling, it is just two solid plywood pieces and modify the adjusting screws at the same time. Other than that, it is a very hard working scope that will last another 20+ years easily.

Cold weather is ready to set in for a while with a lot of clouds for the next week, but learning and skills will always continue. The star journal is up to 630 entries, I find that with the assortment of scopes and viewing options, I can choose which one would work the best for the situation/time/place. I hauled the XX12i on the family vacation, something that worked well and never imagined I could do. Which is nice, but I don't know if I want to haul them all out at once and take a picture of my "herd" of scopes. It might make my wife second guess me in any more purchases!

Actually, there is only one scope that would excite me (one which I don't have something like or does something that the rest can't do) and that is a old solid tube 17.1 inch Discovery. I am ready to handle and modify something like this and would enjoy the challenge. I have passed up one or two that showed up the last few years, but it would be hard for me to do that again. A purchase like that would make me sell one or two to make room for the conversion to a truss tube and storage of it; but what a journey it would be!

Oh well! I like many of you, have more than enough scopes, eyepieces, filters and tools to last a life time of viewing. We have so much modern options that we should be able to equal or pass up what the pioneers of this hobby have done, yet we always seem to fall short in this and do not add much of anything new to what is known or thought of. Why is that? Should not we do much more than they ever did? That might be a challenge for the next year in my list of goals for 2014; do something or learn something that would benefit others and expand what is around.

The shed is weather tight, full of good sky watching tools; my health is good and I should have time this month (weather permitting) to do some good stargazing. Time to buy a new snow shovel and mend some cold weather gear. After that it is all fun! I hope my fellow A, A,s (amateur astronomers) have a great holiday season and know peace and love this time of the year and all through the calendar months!

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Comment by mike moore on December 3, 2013 at 10:50am

I hope the Kansas skies cooperate too for you, Greg. Denver, as I found out after I got into this hobby, gives alot of opportunities to view because of the sunny days (about 300 per year) and low humidity. My wife is very accepting of me going out in the backyard to star gaze (after I make sure all else is done!). The times add up when you keep track of them and I only record the times that I spend more than 20 minutes + actually viewing, not the times I go out and come in because of poor viewing conditions.

With the scopes ready to go and on roll arounds, it is easy to open the doors and start. The disadvantages to all this is that there are times that you are just too tired to do any good, if you had the energy to go out. And while I do burn the candle at both ends sometimes (morning and evening views), I try not to do that too often. The neighbors don't mind and sometimes they come over. We attend star parties every month locally at a really nice telescope shop (S & S Optika) too.

Let us know how it goes this month, stay warm and have a great month.

Comment by Greg Wycoff on December 3, 2013 at 10:26am

Mike good read, can't believe you made it out 17 times WOW wish I could make it out that often. my last two times out have been met with very hight humidity and ended up packing it in way too early hoping December will bring lower humidity and clear skies.

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