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/ Finally put my Pentax to use!
Finally put my Pentax to use!
November 10, 2003 11:49 AM
Last weekend’s lunar eclipse presented a wonderful opportunity to test my new Pentax 7X50 PCF with conditions that mimic heavy light pollution with a fully illuminated full Moon as well as VLM 5.5 skies during totality. Seeing conditions in Litchfield, Connecticut were poor with high winds, a recently removed storm front and Jet stream parked overhead. Ambient temperature was several degrees below freezing. Transparence was good.
Fully illuminated full Moon- Both handheld and tripod mounted views showed sharp images with no apparent false color. The central focuser was pleasing to use initially but images lacked the snap to focus that I experience with Oberwerk 15X70. After about an hour the night’s low temperature made the focuser very stiff and difficult to use. Also the low magnification made any detailed observation of the moon impossible.
M31- With the Moon still fully illuminated VLM was similar to what I get around NYC. M31 was easily viewed as a slightly elongated grey nucleus. M110, as well as M32 were not visible. The image of M31 was surprisingly similar to what I’ve seen with the Oberwerk in NYC. During totality, I went back to M31 to find it a transformed image. Beautifully framed in the fov spanning 5 degrees with M110 observed as a slightly fuzzy stellar object and M32 looking completely stellar.
M33- I was completely surprised that the Pentax showed me anything of the Pinwheel with the Moon fully illuminated. In fact, I’ve never tried observing M33 with the Oberwerk in NYC, thinking all the time that it would be a futile search. The Pentax showed a small patch of grey. In some respects M33 might be easier to view than M31 with heavy light pollution. My girlfriend’s brother managed to spot M33 quicker than M31 with the binocular tripod mounted. I told him to look for a small light grey cloud for M33. He managed to see it a couple of seconds, although not completely understanding that it was indeed a galaxy he was observing. With M31 looking more stellar and with a fov crowded by more stars it took him sometime to finally “see” M31. During totality M33 showed quite brightly against the night sky. Observing with a tripod I could start to see “hints” of structure but I’m sure it was more optical illusion than reality.
M13- The first object I viewed that night was M13 while it was still above the horizon. It showed as a distinct fuzzy stellar object. Not much to look at but still exciting to observe it during a full Moon.
M15/M2- Both observed as looking completely stellar during totality.
M57/M27- Suspected observation as stellar objects during totality but not 100% sure.
M39/M29/M34/M38/M36/M37/M35/M52/M103/M45/M42/Double Cluster- All seen during full Moon. M42 showed the slightest of grey glow; 2 stars resolved.
The reason I bought the Pentax 7X50 PFC was to have a weatherproof pair of hand holdable binoculars that is easy to travel with and also shows me the location, if nothing else, of many DSOs. Although I encountered problems with the focuser as the night wore on, I did enjoy having non-dewing lenses, as well as the wide fov presented by the Pentax. A binocular in this range might be the perfect travel “scope” for me.
Other notes: Eye relief is about 20mm and fov is about 7 degrees.
/ Finally put my Pentax to use!
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