A wonderful astronomical weekend near Spruce Knob WV, at the Almost Heaven Star Party.

The fields at The Mountain Institute where it’s held remind me of the farm I grew up on, near Clarksburg MD, and the farm I lived in with Susan Greenthal Hurd in East Ryegate VT about 44 years ago.

The altitude here in WV does mimic the climate in VT. I have never gotten bitten here at TMI or AHSP or anywhere else I’ve hiked or canoed in West Virginia by any ticks or chiggers – which bedeviled me and my siblings 50-60 years ago in Clarksburg MD and continue to bite me at the Hopewell Observatory in Northern VA near Haymarket.

I brought my 12.5″ truss-tube dob, which you can see in one picture. I had just re-made the secondary cage and spider and secondary adjustment mechanism. I had to perform emergency surgery to cut off the truss tubes by exactly one inch so that all of the eypieces would actually come to a focus.

Part of the road up to TMI and AHSP

Part of the road up to TMI and AHSP

Baling hay in fields right next to TMI / AHSP

Baling hay in fields right next to TMI / AHSP

Learning how to use a sextant; if you know the exact time, you can use this to calculate your location to within 100 meters or so.

Learning how to use a sextant; if you know the exact time, you can use this to calculate your location to within 100 meters or so.

Beautiful but slightly threatening clouds the first night ended up dissipating. We had three beautiful nights of observing!

Beautiful but slightly threatening clouds the first night ended up dissipating. We had three beautiful nights of observing!

Me and my 12.5" truss-tube dob that I built,

Me and my 12.5″ truss-tube dob that I built,

This is the Durbin Rocket railroad - a small and slow coal-burning locomotive designed to carry heavy loads of lumber. If you sit behind the engine, you WILL be coated with coal dust and cinders.

This is the Durbin Rocket railroad – a small and slow coal-burning locomotive designed to carry heavy loads of lumber. If you sit behind the engine, you WILL be coated with coal dust and cinders.

A friend's minimalist, ultra-light dobsonian telescope, either 18 or 20 inch diameter. Note the lack of mirror box!

A friend’s minimalist, ultra-light dobsonian telescope, either 18 or 20 inch diameter. Note the lack of mirror box! It also tracks and has both Argo Navis and a go-to capability.

One of the many excellent talks. In this one, Jan Wisniewski (Vish - NYEV-ski) is showing how to make an IR on-axis autoguider.

One of the many excellent talks. In this one, Jan Wisniewski (Vish – NYEV-ski) is showing how to make an IR on-axis autoguider.

Here I demonstrate how light and insubstantial are the famous Seneca Rocks that I passed on the way back from the star party.

Here I demonstrate how light and insubstantial are the famous Seneca Rocks that I passed on the way back from the star party.

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