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A dependable scope changes hands in style.

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#1 steveyo

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:30 PM

This all started with a guy named Fred T. emailing on January 7th, 2013, in response to my ad selling an Apertura AD8 (8-inch) Dobsonian telescope in the Cloudy Nights classifieds. We decided to pick a place halfway between my house near Albany, NY, and his in CT. Our schedules made that very night seem like a decent choice to meet, and a clear, cold weather forecast made us decide on having a mini-observing session. Fred was new to astronomy, buying my AD8 for his first scope ever. A clear sky would mean a bonus evening star-watching, and would be a good chance to for me to teach him a bit about the scope's use and adjustments and show him a sampling of the sky.

We picked a place on Googlemaps that looked like a view-point parking area, high on a ridge between Lenox and Richmond MA. I was worried the gates would be shut for the night, but they were open, and we drove right in at the same time. Getting out of our cars to introduce ourselves, we both noted the beautiful night sky. We were in a clear area, with only some trees to the north and low western mountains preventing full 360 degree views. There was no direct light except an occasional passing car and small light dome over distant Lenox MA down in the valley. The Milky Way was bright above us, and Orion and Jupiter were front and center. “Dude.”, I said, “This is gonna be good.”

I got Fred to do the heavy lifting, taking the 30 lb Dob base out of my hatchback. We put it down on a small tarp, and then slid the big OTA (Optical Tube Assembly) into its slots. From the bag containing my (now Fred’s) included accessories, I dug out the RACI finder scope, the Telrad, and the 2” 30mm eye-piece. Fred and I put the pieces in their proper positions and pointed the AD8 at the Orion Nebula, M42. After a moment’s confusion, I remembered the 2 inch eyepiece needs a bit more back-focus, so we pulled it out of the focuser a cm. or so, and got the focus right. The nebula was big and bright, always a crowd pleaser, and Fred was no exception, judging from his long, low “Wooooooow!” as we finally snapped M42 into focus at 40X magnification.

From Orion, I showed Fred a couple other constellations and Messier objects. In Gemini we looked at beautiful open cluster M35, and over in Lepus, we viewed M79, a dim globular cluster, which was a new object for my own Messier checklist. My laser-pointer enabled me to show Fred the different star patterns and locations of objects with ease. I saved Jupiter for later, because I knew how good it would be this night.

Before the best view of the night, I showed Fred how to collimate the telescope, using a laser collimator and the various knobs on the scope to tweek the mirrors into perfect alignment. A car trip bumps the mirrors around a little, and they’d gotten slightly out of alignment, so Fred got to watch and help tune his new instrument. (I wish I’d had someone to walk me through it my first time!). We dug out my (Fred’s) other eyepiece, a 1.25” 9mm, for a magnification of 133X, and popped it into the focuser. Pointing the Dob at Jupiter, almost directly overhead, Fred was blown away. He said "Now I see why you like to sit down - you could just look at it for an hour!"

Seeing was excellent, and we could clearly see Jupiter’s main color bands with a few more minor swooshes of color in between, and the Great Red Spot was right there, plain as day. It may be the best view I’ve ever had of the great gas planet, due perhaps to having just collimated, the planet's angle, almost straight up, and the clear, dry winter air. I tried my own ES 4.7mm eyepiece, and the 255x magnification still presented almost perfectly clear detail, certainly the highest I’ve ever pushed this scope with such good resolution. Just stunning. After this view in particular, Fred appeared quite psyched with his new astro gear.

We looked at M31, (Andromeda Galaxy), and played around with a couple pairs of binoculars, but eventually we transferred all the AD8 and it's trimmings from my car into his pickup truck. I threw in a copy of “Turn Left at Orion”, because I think it’s perfect for a beginning star-hopper. My toes were frozen after the hour-and-a -half session, but it was a fantastic way to change the ownership of this righteous little 8” reflector. I hope Fred gets as much enjoyment from it as I did. It'd be almost bittersweet, but I still have plenty of tools to make really far-away things look closer.

http://steveyo-astronomy.blogspot.com/

#2 Widespread

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:05 PM

I was out looking at some of those same objects last night. It was cold in Kentucky, so I can only imagine what it was like in New England.

Thanks for the great write-up; I sure wish I'd had someone to show me the ropes when I first got my 8SE.

#3 Tony Flanders

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:19 PM

We picked a place on Googlemaps that looked like a view-point parking area, high on a ridge between Lenox and Richmond MA.


Wonderful story!

I think I see the spot you're talking about, on the edge on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, right? I own property on the same pipeline in NY state, and I've driven Lenox Road too many times to imagine. The road with the rock painted as a shark ...

Seems to me like this turnoff would have pretty severe skyglow, less than 3 miles from Lenox, and with plenty of light from Stockbridge, Pittsfield, and Albany as well. But I suppose it would seem like heaven compared to the immediate Albany suburbs. Which, in turn, are far better than my city home in Cambridge, MA. Goes to show how huge the range between cities and dark skies really is.

#4 GeneT

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:49 PM

I still have plenty of tools to make really far-away things look closer.


Nice story. What 'tools' do you still have and use?

#5 wky46

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 04:05 PM

It was cold in Kentucky

Yes it was Widespread, but so clear :) (I'm just north of you in Ohio Co.). So glad everything went smoothly Steveyo. He should have no excuses not to jump headfirst into this great hobby of ours.

#6 steveyo

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 06:14 PM

I still have plenty of tools to make really far-away things look closer.


Nice story. What 'tools' do you still have and use?

I currently have 2 refractors: a W.O 110 FTL triplet and a TV Pronto doublet. I've also got a few different pairs of binocs.

#7 CJK

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:27 AM

Nice story -- and another one joins the fold!

-- Chris

#8 Michael Rapp

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:53 PM

That was an excellent story!

#9 steveyo

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:19 AM

...Seems to me like this turnoff would have pretty severe skyglow, less than 3 miles from Lenox, and with plenty of light from Stockbridge, Pittsfield, and Albany as well. But I suppose it would seem like heaven compared to the immediate Albany suburbs. Which, in turn, are far better than my city home in Cambridge, MA. Goes to show how huge the range between cities and dark skies really is.

Funny - checking the LP map, I see that our spot on Lenox Rd. was in an orange LP zone, though close to a yellow zone. Funny how dark it seemed to me! As you say - it blows away the skies in a big-city suburb! It seemed like paradise!

#10 rdandrea

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 12:41 PM

Where's the "Like" button?

#11 Dennis_S253

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 01:50 PM

Very good story, sounds like Fred received a good head start.

#12 nirvanix

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:43 PM


Where's the "Like" button?


:waytogo:

#13 herrointment

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 06:41 PM

Fred is currently cursing the unending overcast.

#14 azure1961p

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 06:52 PM

No doubt that scope of his is now singlehandedly shifting the jetstream.

Pete






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