Hello Cloudy Nights!
I have read this entire thread during my free time over the past month. I have learned alot and have done a few things listed. I live on the north side of Houston, TX and have only looked up at night and wondered. Zero experience with telescope or even reading the sky in any sense. I understand how planets move and the sky changes throughout the year but haven't learned the constellations by sight yet.
I got my OneSky ordered on a Tuesday and it was delivered on Friday. Awesome shipping queue.
Right out of the box the extra screw in the bag was put in the dovetail. RDF was thrown on and rough adjusted. Venus and Jupiter were getting lower and the clouds were moving in from the west so I was in a rush. 25-15° above the horizon (just a hair above the tree line) I found Venus quickly. A good 1/3rd was hidden due to the shadow but the terminator line was vivid and crystal clear. Slightly right and down for the next brightest dot was Jupiter. The 95°F temperature and the height of the planet made it really wavy in the EP. But I did manage to get a picture of of it with a terrible cell phone. (Not too good but noticeable)
Clouds moved in with a vengeance so the viewing was over for the night. Saturday was a new day (July 4th, 2015). Family has land in a blue zone (according to Dark Sky Finder). Had plenty of time while the burgers and steaks were cooking to have a gander at looking at properly collimation of the primary, secondary and RDF alignment. After the mirrors were finished I found a tree about 1/4-3/8 of a mile away and began with the RDF. During the adjustment I noticed a friend that I couldn't see with my naked eyes. (Sun hitting the secondary really affected the image)
Later that night with the stock EP's, I had my whole family gathered around a 4 legged stool and when they saw Venus the first response was "why is the Moon so small in that?" I had to have a little explanation (drawn in the dirt) of how we can see a planet closer to the sun than us and also see another planet much much further away just by adjusting the telescope a little.
Once turning toward Jupiter and a slight focus adjustment this was the first time I was able to make out the bands on the surface. My eyes aren't the greatest but the image was clear enough with the 10mm to make out 7 or 8 different color bands as well as 3 bright and crisp moons. Slowly the excitement and upward open mouthed gazing started to become commonplace. After the viewing the sky started to darken, tiny dots were showing up 1 by one. Everywhere you turned the was a point of light and the longer you looked and your eyes got more and more accustomed to the darkening sky's, the points of light were not countable.
Taking a small break to help ourselves to another coating of mosquito repellent. I got to looking around for stars that didn't twinkle. I saw an orangish dot that wasn't sparkling. It was slightly up and to the right of 4 bright stars, I used the RDF and pointed in the direction. I was not ready for what I saw. It was Saturn. The planet just floating out there and the gap between itself and the rings were extremely clear. During the excitement I didn't look too long in the eye piece because I didn't think I saw what I saw. Yep, there it was, Saturn in all it's glory. I could see 2 bright points of light close to it. Not sure if the 10mm EP can make the moons shine like that. The heat from the almost 100°F day was affecting the clarity and you could see the atmosphere moving like driving on a long flat hot highway.
After looking at Saturn and having to move the telescope quite a few times to keep it centered. I started to keep my eye on the EP and just move it rapidly across the sky. Other than the stars flying past quickly, I would stop and focus if one was much brighter than usual. I have no idea what I was looking at. I had bought a star and constellation finder earlier that day. I dialed it in and started to look and didn't realize the spacing between some of the stars on the paper vs the actual sky was so large. Looked back to where Saturn was and the 4 stars I saw earlier were the right claw of Scorpio. Looked way to hard for the big dipper. I was focusing on a part of the sky that was too small. I then pieced together the stars for the handle, and pot. Followed the right side up quite a ways and saw Polaris. (I didn't look for the small dipper because I though it was in a different part of the sky, like I said I was oblivious to the night sky, I later found I was looking at Pleiades I think, thinking it was the little dipper)
I wanted to see the full moon but the clouds moved in about Midnight and it was just a glow behind the clouds.
Reading the thread made me want a few things changed on my telescope. Bought a 2x Barlow, 4mm Celestron EP, Nikon adapter and the T-adapter. Built the wooden tripod and then looked at the Moon.
The first viewing thru a capable telescope was just jaw-dropping.
So bright and clear with all the EP's.
Bounced around a few stars the rest of the night and then wasn't able to view for the rest of the week.
6 days later the moon changes a lot.
Lower shot is a little blurry because I think the combination between the high heat and collimation is starting to get a bit off. After disliking the amount of play in the focus, I remembered the tip of applying something to the thread. Chap-stick to the rescue. Word of advice - pick a type that smells good. I used a coconut/pineapple scented one. Your nose is right against it so might as well make it smell good.
Next step is to make a shroud for the ambient light blocking, learning the skies slowly but surely and maybe looking at the local Houston area clubs.
My almost full month of owning the AWB OneSky and making a few mods for comfort and portability the oblivious everyday guy can begin to know what's up there and can point out things just from memory and patterns.
I hope to enjoy my time here and you guys/gals are great so far.