Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TONY was a Good Man...

Tony Dralle, PhD. (Physics), of Leprechaun Dr. in Bethel Park PA; lately of the Asbury Heights complex on Bower Hill Rd…

Tony passed this morning. 
Tony was a good man.

I’ve known him as fellow astronomy enthusiast and have been seeing him at our local astronomy club almost every month for the last 43 years. Over its history, our membership was never large, averaging 5 or 6 people, and for many years it seemed that we could only be sure that at the meetings there would at least be Erik B., Tony, and myself (EricC.).

That constancy and his gentle but fundamental decency were the hallmarks of Tony’s character to me. It was through Tony I learned that two people can maintain very different political opinions and still not let that ever get in the way of the mutual appreciation for each other’s basic goodness. Throughout my life I had always referenced Tony’s manner in that area as the very definition of “gentlemanly” conduct.

Tony loved astronomy and in the 60’s contributed a stream of his own careful backyard observations of the changing brightness of variable stars to the AAVSO, the national organization that compiles that work for the use of professional astronomers. He was always an eager contributor to our discussions on telescopes and observing techniques and his observations of the latest apparitions of the moon and planets, comets, and stellar phenomena. He owned several large telescopes and often brought them out to our public star parties to show kids and their families the wonders of the nighttime sky.

He also loved jokes; the cornier the better, and it seemed that hardly a month would go by without him stopping the conversation, barely masking the wry expression on his face that portended what was to come. We knew it was coming, and we always looked forward to it.

Tony was a lifelong Roman Catholic and held his spirituality close to his heart, living it as a quiet example of how a good Christian relates to his God and others. I always imagined that Tony’s broad knowledge of Physics and Astronomy only further enriched his spiritual appreciation for the Universe; of this I’m certain.

Like most of us he had his share of heartbreak; troubles, the details of which he rarely acknowledged to us but would on occasion, to at least clue us in to the current challenge he was dealing with. It was only a couple years ago that we stood with him before his son’s coffin at Henney’s Funeral home in Bethel Park as he bore up under the harshest of burdens ever visited upon a parent.

And so it is that we will join him there one last time, and remember him every time we look up at the stars.

Eric Canali   7/26/2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Here's a short list of celestial options for those in the South Hills this summer of 2016...


July 8 & 9, 
August 12 & 13, 
September 23 & 24, 
October 21 & 22, 
November 12.

You can visit the Mingo Observatory without a reservation any clear Friday or Saturday night, April through October - BUT - the nights listed above are worth considering because of their optimal dates relative to the Moon's phase and the number of extra telescopes available and the added programming planned for those nights


METEOR SHOWERS for the remainder of 2016:

MORE DETAIL and many more links are available on our "ASTRO-LINKS" page.


A simplified MAP to the MINGO OBSERVATORY:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Choosing a First Telescope?

This morning I got an email forwarded to me that asked:

"I wonder if you might have a recommendation on a telescope that I can get my nine year old son for his birthday?"

This is how I replied.:

"It’s hard to make a good choice and still
meet the expectations of a 9 year old…

It’s gotta “look” like a telescope…

Like this? >>

<< but those are not the best use of $200.

Above is  a “refractor”-style telecope (i.e. the “spyglass” type with a lens up-front);

The other kind, the “reflector” (below) is less familiar in appearance but typically gives
you much more telescope per dollar since they have a larger diameter element
as the primary optical collector, in this case not a lens, but rather, a mirror…

<< a “reflector” telescope  = more scope per dollar...
It’s gotta give HUNDREDS-“X” of power…

Er, nope.
If it can do powers from 30x up to around 90 or 100x –that’s all you really need.
((We advanced hobbyists do 90% of our observing time around 60x. Really!))

It’s gotta have all kinds of technical doo-dads and computer controls…

Not really. The computer control options can make something that’s a little
challenging, initially, into something that’s often a frustrating dead-end for
many kids. Keep it simple and put your money into a scope of a bigger-diameter
and having a solid, easy to use mounting without the computer stuff.
While they can be fun for some technically inclined folks, computer controlled
“Go-To” setups are absolutely unnecessary in a general sense.

--------- SUGGESTION ------------------------

one of the most highly recommended “beginner” scopes:
- Eric C.
OH, and PS:

If you think this is a good "first scope" for your kid - - or for yourself...
then consider if this would be a good "first car" for your kid  - - or yourself...