Astro dealers, Wildlife, and Raith Rovers!

The highlights of today (20th February 2015) were a trip to Starizona to talk to Dean about all things Hyperstar and a lovely wildlife walk in Catalina National Park,…… the most bizarre thing was watching Raith Rovers in an Italian restaurant in Tucson!

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The itinerary for the day was to travel from Phoenix to Tucson, visit Lunt Solar (to drop off some solar filters for repair), visit Starizona (to discuss Hyperstar and other astro matters with Dean) and do some observing with Starizona in the evening.  This would conclude the first part of our trip and the Field Trip would then start with the arrival of my course mates and lecturers.

I once visited the Elqui Valley in Chile – the area where there are so many professional telescopes because of the weather and clarity of sky.  The day I was there they had their first rain in years!  Southern Arizona has around 300 clear days/nights a year – I managed to bring clouds!  (Perhaps I should offer my services to some Gulf states?)

The journey from Phoenix to Tucson was trouble-free and we broke the journey by stopping briefly in a shopping mall (and found clothes are very cheap here!).

We found Lunt in Tucson and talked the very helpful Brian through the problems with my filters.  He quickly diagnosed the issues and said he should be able to sort them out before we left (which was good news).  The only caveat was that the weather forecast suggested getting any sun for testing could be tricky!

Night Sky Observers Guide

Night Sky Observers Guide

From Lunt we headed for Starizona.  Visiting astro retailers is always a pleasure – although can often prove rather expensive…  This one wasn’t too bad.  I chatted to Dean about my hyperstar set up and he talked me through how to ensure collimation was good.  I came home with a washer and an adapter to fit my Atik  460 so I’m thinking that this will be my starparty set up (short exposures = easier I hope!).  Mike also bought me a couple of reference books, signed by the authors, as an early birthday present :-)


We decided to explore northern Tucson before heading for the hotel and came across the Catalina National Park.  We went from urban Tucson to wilderness in a very short distance.  It proved to be a lovely few hours (although the ‘bird’ walk we followed proved a bit of a misnomer!).  High spots for me were Mike crossing the river (and I suspect one of his was me trying to cross the river too!),  lots of cactus and bugs of various sizes, but mostly just the peace and quiet.

Big Beetle

Big Beetle




Celestron Beetle



Our plan to go observing at Starizona was scuppered by clouds, so we  headed for the hotel. There was a slight issue when we arrived in that the hotel had until that morning thought we were arriving on Saturday!  We all had beds though, just some people had to change rooms on Saturday.

Mike queried Tripadviser again in search of an Italian restaurant (we had had rather a lot ofBurgers, BBQ. Steaks etc and fancied something different).  It came up trumps again – Bianchi’s.  The website quote of ‘generous portions of delicious Italian food at a great price’ was very accurate.  We passed on the 24 inch Pizza option though!! There was a great atmosphere and football (ie proper football, not the odd thing the locals call football) on the TV.  It was rather bizarre to see it was Raith Rovers v Rangers!

We returned to the hotel and watched the Facebook updates as the rest of our group arrived. The Field Trip was about to start…..



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