While the “classic” NMT scope has gone into discontinuation on the website in favor of the “hybrid” designs (the reprinting of the review of the “classic” model is perhaps not the best of timing), let there be no doubt that the long-short of the article and its reprint stands.
In the last seven year, I’ve bought extra pairs of binoculars. I’ve picked up sky charts. I thought about adding to my Televue collection (then won a Delos at Cherry Springs Star Party 2014 a few years back, scratching that itch). I even went so far as to pick up an iOptron SkyTracker to merely dabble in astrophotography.
In all that time, “Ruby” (NMT #1) has performed so well that I’ve never felt the need to even consider buying another telescope. In a hobby that caters to gear-hounds like no other, that’s about as strong an endorsement as I can make. Simply, Ryan Goodson continues to make the finest Dobsonian scopes on the market today. Period.
And make sure you subscribe/renew your subscription to support Astronomy Technology Today (as I did before the reprint!), which remains one of the best sources for in-depth equipment reviews and excellent commentary from real, honest-to-goodness amateur astronomy contributors.
2016 has been a looooong year in many respects (and I’m not even taking about Bowie, Prince, Cohen, Hutcherson, Bley, Glass, Schulten, Minksy, and now Glenn, to name but a few), made all the more difficult by many of the most significant events happening without warning and/or adequate statistical analysis.
Amateur astronomers, on the other hand, have had thousands and tens of thousands and maybe millions of years of advanced notice that 2016 was going to stink – at least for meteor showers. The timing of Full Moons this year has meant that the Perseids, Leonids, and Geminids were all going to occur in the presence of considerable lunar glow, wiping out the quality of all but the brightest shooting stars.
So, how doe one remain optimistic in the face of physics?
One possible way is to thank the gods for astrology. I’ve struck an ambivalent tone of sorts this year with the new Upstate NY Stargazing series concerning this thing we call the “Supermoon.”
Does a supermoon mean anything scientific? Meh, minus an inch or so difference in tides during the best of them. Do supermoon articles in the local papers receive attention? The Supermoon “likes + shares” kick the dark side of the Moon out of the monthly overview articles – which means people are reading and out-and-about taking pictures of our nearest and most important satellite. And so, there it is.
The November article, which I completely forgot to post about last month, included a new section announcing UNY/CNY observing opportunities with local clubs and organizations (Bob Piekiel reports that his November attendance was excellent!) and some subtle observing opportunities for those with decent binoculars. This was also the last good month for any observing of objects in the Summer Triangle, (meaning I have to think of a different shape for next year to keep the articles fresh).
The featured constellation in the December article gave me an opportunity to write about something I’ve lectured about since 2007 (when I started the Liverpool Public Library and Beaver Lake circuit). Of all of the delights in the nighttime sky, none stop me cold like the view of Orion and Taurus comfortably above the horizon. The December article gave a perfect opportunity to highlight the near-recent history of this part of the sky in light of discoveries in the Lascaux Caves in France.
Half of the image at top (you can find the original and many others at baerchen3.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/la-grotte-de-lascaux/. And, I ain’t gonna lie, someone spent an awful lot of time on the following: 19thpsalm.org/Ch01/LascauxSkyChart.html) has made up one desktop background on my MBP for quite some time – the figure of a Bull, complete with a number of dark spots strategically placed as if the artist – or someone soon after the artist – meant to overlay the most prominent, eye-catching stars in the Orion-Taurus grouping on top. Pareidolia and our common genetics being what they are, it would not be surprising that many cultures would see a bull’s head out of the Hyades and Aldebaran, just as they’d see Orion as a human figure. What would be a surprise was a discovery that our modern Taurus and this ancient cave painting were directly related through time, migration, and story telling around open fires – a 17,500 year long game of celestial telephone.
Before the year passes completely… I had the distinct pleasure of subbing for Joe English earlier this year thanks to a kind offer from local CNY great Mark Hoffmann and his funky-as-hell son Gustavioso. The equally formidable Syracuse band Jam Factory was inducted into the 2016 SAMMYS (Syracuse Area Music Awards) Hall of Fame, joining the likes of 805, Bill Knowlton, Calvin Custer, and Benny Mardones (now that’s eclectic).
The mythology of the time had band manager, the late Joe Leonard, signing the contract while relaxing in a bathtub after Jam Factory had opened to a standing ovation when they appeared with Hot Tuna at the Fillmore East. Word was Columbia saw Jam Factory as a threat to the genre Sly and the Family Stone was establishing, and wanted to stash them away on the vinyl shelf.
And this was how hip The Today Show was back in the late 60’s/early 70’s.
A Syracuse Music History Moment: JAM FACTORY plays the Today Show Special “From Ragtime to Rock: A History of American Music” broadcast live January 13, 1970. The vinyl album liner notes tout Jam Factory thusly: “This driving rock group brings us right up to date with what’s happening in American music.” – – Heartfelt thanks to my friend Earl V Ford Jr. for posting this to my timeline. That’s Earl showing off his new purple polyester threads (and well before PRINCE learned to zip up his pants mind you) with git-picker Mark Hoffman in “the fringe”! Gracing the Hammond B-3 is Gene McCormick – so in the groove at the finale he nearly shakes his head off his shoulders. On the skins is Joe English who displays true matched-grip sensibilities (when he can hold on to his sticks!) and awesome high vocal range. Not trying to miss the count on cornet is Steve Marcone and holding it all down is the late great Kent Defelice on bass. Awesome, Awesome, Awesome.
With nearly a full rehearsal (my inner solipsist barely coming to grips with all the reminiscing going on about events before the mid-1970’s) and partial soundcheck under our belts, the majority of the original ensemble took the stage as the closing music for the 2016 SAMMYS festivities on March 4th.
* Mark Hoffmann as himself (guitar, vocals)
* Gene McCormick as himself (keyboards, vocals)
* Earl Ford Jr. as himself (trombone)
* Steve Marcone as himself (trumpet)
* Gus Hoffmann (bass, vocals) as Kent DeFelice (who had a scheduling conflict with that big funk band in the sky)
* Anna Hoffmann (more vocals)
* Damian Allis as Joe English (well, at least they got the lefty player right)
The tininess of this planet Earth is highlighted by my older brother being Denny Laine’s touring drummer – making us both now one degree from the 1975-1977 Wings line-up. This begs the question – when Chris is mid-performance, does he think “Denny Laine… is in my ears… and in my eyes…”?
For interested parties, the gig was recorded for posterity and posted to youtube – one snippet from local music writer Mark Bialczak…
They weren’t my drums (but I certainly know the model and finish), so I should have hit them harder (but “eh”). For completeness, I included an impromptu homage to Joe English by stick-dropping during Tight-Knit Group (instead of You Better Listen, as per the Today Show vid above).
Other highlights of the night itself included hearing Ohne-kÃ¡ and the Burning River for the first time – as a big Keretta fan, I thoroughly enjoyed their mid-SAMMY set. Highlight of the awards dinner at the Dino BBQ the night before was being present for Mark Copani’s Music Educator award (snippet of an audio interview HERE).
Fast-forward to my Rochester relocation – I walk into Bop Shop Records for my first proper free jazz show since my many, many memorable nights at the Metropolis Book Shoppe in Syracuse, and what do I see staring right at me, priced just right for an impulse buy?