Delmarva Star Gazers and their guest amateur astronomers met for a weekend
of mirror making activities March 2-4 in Mallard Lodge, Smyrna, DE.
Seventeen people assumed the role of novice glass pusher under the
direction of experienced mirror makers. Steve Swayze of Swayze Optical
and Star Gazers Dave Groski , Joe Morris and Don Surles provided
assistance and instruction in successful mirror making techniques. The
sound of grit and glass soon surrendered to the smell of pitch as mirror
making moved from grinding into the polishing and figuring phases. Most
mirror makers finished their mirror and went home with a quality optic and
the knowledge to repeat the mirror making process successfully.
Dave Lane, from Nova Scotia (Microguider and Earth Centered Universe) spoke to the group Friday night about his experiences observing with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Dave's presentation whetted our appetites for clear southern skies at high elevations.
Saturday night belonged to Peter Ceravolo and his tales of designing and building a widefield camera just in time for Comet Hyakutake's apparition in early 1996. Although many of the audience had seen his famous movie, Comet Odyssey, we were delighted to hear first hand about the technical and personal details Peter and his associates encountered while making this movie. Peter's style of presentation invited each of us to share his exciting and rewarding experiences.
Delmarva Star Gazers like to eat well. Fellow Star Gazers Kathy Sheldon, Gina Acker and Karen Surles provided excellent food for this event. Camaraderie among fellow amateur astronomers increases exponentially at the dinner table. Many new friendships were created and cemented during meal time over the three days.
Approximately fifty people participated in this weekend of amateur astronomy. Mallard Lodge, with it's early 1900's waterfowl hunting lodge atmosphere, remote marsh setting, and the threat of a major winter storm provided opportunities for all of us to share and learn from each other. Think of the contrast in sounds of grit and glass versus flocks of honking Canada geese; and think of the contrast in smells of pitch versus marsh. We persevered even though our weather forecasters predicted snowfall to be measured in FEET not inches; actually, we didn't get enough snow to measure in millimeters!
Each of us learned more about this hobby and more about the people who are amateur astronomers. We have all agreed, we will do this again.
Link to the Mirror Grinding Seminar Home Page
Link to DMSG Images of the seminar
Link to Mike Lindner's write-up on the Seminar