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First light with my Unistar Deluxe (plus scopes)

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#1 Thomas Karpf

Thomas Karpf


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Posted 08 February 2013 - 11:10 AM

I took out my new Unistar Deluxe a couple of nights ago to a (relatively) dark location about half an hour northeast of Hartford. I have the Unistar set up on a light surveyor's tripod I bought from Universal Astronomics a couple of years ago. The tripod is a bit light for the mount, and almost certainly won't do well if I put a BIG scope on it, but right now it's okay.

I set up the tripod/mount in a parking lot next to my car. Temperatures were about 20 and falling, but the skies were clear and there was no moon. The location is well shielded from cars and houses in the area, and (for Connecticut) there was little light pollution. I turned off the interior lights and left the driver's and back door open next to me to facilitate getting at my gear.

First up: my Astro-Tech AT6RC, a 6" f/9 Ritchey Chretien. While not exactly designed as a visual scope, it works quite well, even if a bit of contrast is lost from the 50% secondary mirror. Putting the AT6RC on the mount was much easier than with my previous mount: an old Great Polaris which required me to screw the bolt mounts into the bottom of holes I had cut into the bottom of the mounting rail on the AT6RC (I was too cheap to buy rings for the scope). Putting the scope on the old mount required me to balance the scope in one hand while screwing in the bolts. I was always afraid that I would drop the scope.

First target: M42, using the AT6RC. Due south and about 45 degrees elevation. Easy to find and easy to track.

Took the AT6RC off the mount and switched to my little SVR70ED refractor, using only ambient light. No issues switching scopes, but balance was 'interesting'. I had forgotten that when I looked at the Unistar, it was suggested that you start with the tightening bolt on the jaw pointed at the ground. That way, the scope is BELOW the balance point, which helps a lot when the eyepiece is ABOVE the balance point. This combination worked a LOT better at home the next day when I set up everything in the light.

Subsequent (attempted) targets (with both scopes): Jupiter, the Ring, and Pleiades. All basically straight up. What WAS I thinking???

The Unistar takes up substantially less room in my car than my old Great Polaris. The Unistar sets up in about 1/10th the time of the Great Polaris. For the forseeable future, both my scopes, the Unistar, and my observing chair are going to live in my car. Replacing my old mount with a Unistar is going to double or triple my time under the stars.

Thanks Universal Astronomics!

#2 lamplight



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Posted 08 February 2013 - 04:12 PM

Sounds great. I enjoyed that clear sky outside the other night as well. Don't think we'll be out tonight ;)

#3 coopman



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Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:21 PM

You are obviously suffering from NUAS: New Unistar Appreciation Syndrome. I've been using one for years myself and love it too.

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