Back from Colorado

Quite an experience. The last time I was out there was to visit my mom in Denver shortly after her move there… that was when I got my first US driver’s license! Wow – things have changed. There are more people, the town is built up, and there is more public transportation. There are freedoms and support for a variety of life styles that we do not really have so much of here in New Hampshire. Visit Boulder, and you will see.

The conference was splendid: the combination of the EPO and the Cosmos in the Classroom meetings really was a huge success for me and many others in attendance. The regular ASP annual meeting/s, Cosmos and EPO meetings were well meshed with each other. Posters and presentations rounded out the week and made for excellent discussions, meetings-of-minds, and collaboration. I hope in all sincerity that the ASP decides to do this combined meeting event again each time. The savings in time and money are great, and the plusses are too many to mention.

The opening sessions were held at the Fiske Planetarium right on the campus in Boulder. We were given a simply ridiculous sample of the new Sky-Skan projection and animation systems under the dome. I can say that we DID use binoculars in the planetarium, and we DID see the fainter Messier and NGC objects with them…. and no pixels. You do have to see it to believe it.

A really cool display in the planetarium was an 10’ diameter fiberglass sphere, onto which 4 high definition projectors shone images of various subjects without any visible breakup or overlap: Mars, Earth, all the planets, the celestial sphere and more. The whole thing was computer controlled (Linux) and seamless. The globe looked to rotate, but it was a splendid illusion. Just look at the image below. Incredible.


Got to meet up with a slew of friends including Katy Garmany (NOAO), Chris Martin (Howenstine High Magnet School, Tucson), Connie Walker (NOAO/NASA Globe), Travis Rector (U Alaska/NOAO), Steve Pompea (NOAO), Ian Otto (PEA grad) and many others. Here we see Chris Martin and Katy Garmany with their poster about the AstroBITS project. Check it out, as it is a very worthy project.


Was able to finally meet Steve Bisque of Software Bisque and Paramount fame, to whose company I have sent many thousands of dollars. They have a new “mini-paramount” which is definitely worth checking out. Just look at it below. Features: Polar alignment scope, more portable (holds less optics but still carries a C14 easily), PC controlled and is wired for all your needs.


The banquet was as wonderful and fun as banquets are. I had the pleasure of being at the head table with the other award winners for the year including Alex Filippenko (Berkeley), Marcia Bartusiak (author), and Allan Rahill (Clear Sky Chart). The dinner was delicious, the humor fun, and the award talks excellent. I had my minutes of fame talking to the 400+ audience, giving them my thanks for their support and the award, and also talking a little about my methods.



Afterwards: a reception at the Sommers Bausch Observatory on the Univsersity of Colorado’s Boulder campus. Unfortunately the skies were, well, thunderstorming. No stars. We did get the tour of the roll-off roof section and the domed observatory itself. It’s a fine school observatory with a lot of open space, modern gear and all. After this reception there was reportedly another post-party-party in which (yes you are reading this) team tricycle races were to be had. I missed that. It was beyond my bedtime. I settled for an Avery Brewing Company local IPA. It was just fine.


Frigid (the family penguin) and Polly (not Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon who is our other cat) also enjoyed the journey. They had a tour of the Southwest 737-700 series cockpit, enjoyed travelling through and around Denver, and had a blast seeking out air at 14,000’ on Pikes Peak. We found a few geocaches on the peak and around Denver as well.



Other exciting/fun/enjoyable opportunities which we did not pass up included a trip to the local Johnny Rockets (fries, shakes and burgers of better quality than most). Wish I could gather $700,000 to think of owning a piece of that franchise. We toured through the Museum of Science & Nature and saw their IMAX Hubble show as well as the fabulous gem collection. On our last full day we checked into the Denver Botanic Gardens and marveled at their collection.

So, all in all, a great trip at the higher altitudes. We’re back in Exeter now, getting ready for the last few weeks of summer break before heading into a new school year.

About johnb

- Director of Grainger Observatory, Phillips Exeter Academy. - Variable-star-crazed astronomer, but have done research in other areas. - Drummer, archer, pilot, chef, friend, pet owner, husband, father, Train-nut.
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