January 31, 2017: What is “A Lifelong Dream Fulfilled,” Alex?

Having absolutely nothing to do with astronomy – well, almost – I am overjoyed to announce that I have been chosen to appear as a contestant on Jeopardy!  I will be going to Los Angeles next month for the taping of the show – or hopefully, shows – with the airdate to be sometime in the spring.

I have wanted to be on the show ever since I was 8 years old and my mother was wrong on an answer that I got correct.  Pretty shocking turn of events for a kid to learn that you know more than your parent does.  That was waaaay back during the Art Fleming era.  (Google it, kids.)  Truly, this is a lifelong dream for me.

Although I am obviously trying to win – I’ve got a few weeks to study – and would certainly love to do so, I have no allusions that I will.  After all, two out of the three contestants lose, and my middle-aged reflexes ain’t what they used to be – and are certainly no match for the young’uns they usually have on the show.  My goal was always just to get on the show.  Well, get on the show and not pull a Cliff Clavin, that is.  Or finish in the red, so that Moose and Rocco will have to help me find my checkbook.  So for me, just getting on the show alone is more than achievement enough, a true bucket list item crossed off.  (Although I sure could use the money.)

The second and third place finishers receive $2000 and $1000 respectively, so regardless of what happens, I’m definitely going to treat myself to some more astronomy stuff.  So maybe this post is about astronomy after all.  First and foremost will be to get myself a copy of the new Burnham’s – Annals of the Deep Sky.  I won’t get all four volumes at once; I’ll buy one to make sure I like it before buying the rest.

More importantly, I also plan to take that prize money and move up in aperture and get a new scope.  Well, a new used scope, anyway.  I’m looking at overcoming my collimation-phobia and getting a used Celestron 8 SCT – or maybe even a 9.25.  The 8 will let me go a full magnitude deeper; the 9.25 will push that to almost 1 1/2 magnitudes, hopefully even down to 13th magnitude under dark skies.  And at least to 11th magnitude here in town, so watch out, E and F stars of the Trapezium!  Of course, this would also include buying a focal reducer, a two-inch diagonal, two-inch eyepieces, and a dew shield.  Hmmm.  I’d better win second place, not third.

Getting a bigger scope means that I’ll also have to get a new, sturdier mount to put that larger scope on.  Although I’ve been looking at the iOptron AZ Mount Pro for quite a while, this long-running thread at Cloudy Nights has convinced me that it’s just not ready for prime time.  And unfortunately, the iOptron website is showing that my previous top choice for a new mount, the MiniTower Pro, is “currently unavailable.”  Not sure what mount to get now.

Unfortunately, I won’t see any of this money until 4 months after the show airs, so we’re talking late summer before any of this happens.  All of this makes this video all the more appropriate for when the time comes:

Wish me luck!

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