This past week I attended my 3rd ECVAR, East Coast Video Astronomy Rendezvous at Coolbreeze Campground outside of Galax, VA.  Compared to last year’s washout thanks to Hurricane Michael, this year was a real treat!

We were able to get 4 nights of observing.  I spent most of my time playing around with various features of SharpCap and trying to nail down the correct settings on my camera and software…a rather daunting task.  I still have some work to do, including getting the right back spacing for my focal reducer, finding the right balance of gain and exposure and I ‘ve realized I need to get an IR filter to reduce the bloating of bright stars in my captures.

The facilities at Coolbreeze were excellent as usual.  Having good WiFi/internet while out under relatively dark skies is always a huge treat.

I tried out for the first time, a new measure to reduce/eliminate any light trespass from my EAA set up, possibly ruining fellow observer’s dark adapted vision.  My previous solution of a 10′ x 10′ canopy with black side walls too quite some time to set up/teardown and did not do very well with wind.  I tested a portable ice fishing shelter – yes, that’s right…an ice fishing shelter.  Can you imagine the sales and marketing team when they see a sale to of an ice fishing shelter to North Carolina?

In any case, it worked amazingly!  It sets up very quickly (less than 5 mins) versus 30 minutes for the old popup canopy and zippered side walls.  It’s rigid and curved sides are able to withstand much windier conditions.  As for light control, it is totally backed out and showed not sign of light leaking out from anywhere other than open doors or windows. 

I was able to get some solar observing in as well but getting good pictures of the sun was difficult.

Here is a video put together of my trip.

Clear & Steady Skies!