At SMSW-II, I was greeted by the single most welcoming group of astronomers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting! There was no need to ‘break in’ or ‘prove myself’– these brilliant folks just welcomed me with open arms.
I’m quite sure that I learned more about spectrography in those 3 days than I would have learned in the next 3 years otherwise!
As wonderful of an experience as SMSW-II was, it had one big flaw– it was focused entirely on high-end slit spectrographs, and neglected slitless gratings like my own Star Analyzer. As a result, I very nearly came away with the impression that I, personally, could not take useful spectra; not without many thousands of dollars of specialized equipment. Fortunately, I met a few kind souls during the conference who went out of their way to encourage me to pursue working with spectra using my Star Analzyer. I’m so glad that they did. My first few spectra after SMSW-II were disappointing, but I kept trying.
Eventually, after a year of refinement, I’d developed a solid method for recording very high quality, scientifically useful spectra with just the simple equipment I had on hand. The method is called the ‘drift scanning method‘, and all you need to get started is a camera, a diffraction grating, and a telescope of any kind (tracking is not required).
Though the drift scanning method is simple, I haven’t been able to find any existing resources or teachers of the method. So, I decided to spread the word myself: Spectrography is easier than you think!