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Rehab Partner


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Rehab Partner

 

Back in November I mentioned to our family doctor that I was having to take an extra break while cutting the grass. I smiled and told her I guessed I was just getting old. She frowned and ordered some tests. Three weeks later I was coming out of recovery after a quadruple bi-pass. I’m doing great and the prognosis is for a long and healthy life… but for the next few months I am limited to lifting no more than 10 pounds. Now I have a real problem – how am I going to observe?

Hopefully you don’t have one of these

I am scope-sitting an 11 inch Starmaster EL – no way.

My beloved Questar Standard weighs less than 7 pounds but its tristand comes in at 25 pounds – nope.

My equally beloved Orion XT6 OTA only weighs 10 pounds but the base weighs in at 20 lbs – unh unh.

Binoculars? Holding them up after a short while is not comfortable at all (I’m still pretty sore after the surgery).

Looks like naked eye only… well, there was one more option – I moved things around and in the back of the closet found a bulky red tote. In it was a scope I had bought some time ago at a tempting price on a whim. More for nostalgia than anything else – an Astroscan! Its wide field images were actually pretty good but I never found anything to set it on that really worked for me.

A quick look through Ebay, Craig’s List, and Facebook Marketplace and I found an ad for another Astroscan not far from where we live here in Birmingham. This one had the tripod by Edmunds included in the deal. The price was not bad and… I now have two Astroscans. I love this country!

The new tripod weighs much less than 10 pounds and is one of the models that you attach the Astroscan base to. It solves the “where do I put this thing to look through it” problem. It solves it really well as a matter of fact – and none of the individual pieces weighs more than 10 pounds. Well, the Astroscan comes in at 10+ but I’ll call that good.

I love this country!

That same night it was clear and the transparency was excellent (for Birmingham). I could see six stars in the Little Dipper. I set the tripod up and attached the base and then set the telescope into it. I was off to the races.

First target was the M81/M82 duo – I was using the 28mm Plossl which yields a whopping 16¼ X with an amazing 3° apparent field of view.  They were easy to spot and definitely there with direct vision. There were no bloated or flared star images in the field of view. You could tell it wasn’t the Questar but the stars were points of light all the same. I was impressed.

I was cheating a little using a green laser to point. I held it up against the focuser assembly and the alignment was not bad – but with a 3° AFOV how good does it have to be?

Jupiter was still in the trees but I looked anyway. As it moved through the limbs you could see moons and at 30X and 1.7° AFOV with my “high power” 15mm Plossl you could just make out dim bands. I did try a 5mm Plossl but at 89X the view was too soft. 40X or 50X are going to be the limit.

M13 and its smaller neighbor M92 were clearly there – no, it did not resolve individual stars…

28mm and 15mm Plossls

The beautiful very red carbon star UX in Draco stood out.

Tiny M57 in Lyra was definitely there. The Double-Double was just Double.

T-Lyrae was another showpiece carbon star that, to me, was glowing a darker red than UX Draconis.

The surprise was M51, the Whirlpool; It was dim but definitely there with direct vision. I didn’t expect that, but the nights aren’t usually this transparent and it was on the meridian so the conditions were good.  Again my best view was with the 15mm Plossl.

I must admit that I looked for, but never found, the Cat’s Eye – Caldwell 6.

It was getting a little chilly and I sneezed once (a scary thing after surgery) and called it a night. I’ll look more for that one in a few days.

I was having fun.

Not bad at all for a night’s observing.

Ready to go.

The Astroscan may have its detractors but I’m not one of them. It’s 4.125inch parabolic optics at F/4.2 are housed in a relatively kid-resistant and star party friendly, sealed, compact package that travels well. The addition of the Edmunds tripod makes it one of the easiest scopes to set up I have ever used. It’s bowling ball shape is infinitely adjustable to any viewing angle and modest eyepieces match up well to provide pleasing images.

This is a solid, real telescope that does the job it was designed for – rich field viewing – very well.

I have found my rehab astronomy partner!

 

 

~

 

Now. Back to the bypass surgery.  I started to say I don’t want to scare anyone but I do want to scare you. I had almost no signs of heart problems and I had 78%/90%/95%/95%/100% blockages. No classic Hollywood symptoms – just a little more out of breath when I worked in the yard on a hot day. I had the non-invasive Cardiac Calcium Count test done several years ago and I passed it with flying colors. I thought I was OK - I wasn’t. The CCC test is for hard calcified plaque. It does not measure the soft plaque… There are 7 heart disease risk factors. I nailed 6 of the 7 (I never smoked).  Find out what they are and talk to your Doctor.

Then go look at some stars.

Fred

2/27/18

 

 


  • Mike B, doctordub, mrowlands and 9 others like this


27 Comments

Nice article!

 

I'm glad you are recovering - and that you wrote a really nice article!

 

Interesting that it appears they stopped producing the Astroscan because the mold for the plastic body broke.  There is mention that the Astroscan might come back on the market in 2018, but I don't think this is a sure thing.

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JamesMStephens
Mar 24 2018 08:52 AM

Fred,

 

Maybe a small refractor on a light alt-az would also work for you.  

 

 

Have you considered binoculars?

 

Jim

two dogs and many telescopes

Guys, surgery was likely in November or December.  He is not likely under the same restrictions.  His article explains what he did and why.  It's a good article and well worth the read.

 

But the key is that he is not looking for a solution now.  He found one which worked well for him and wrote a worthwhile article about his solution.

    • JamesMStephens likes this

Did you have a nuke stress test prior to surgery?  If so, what did it show and when was it done relative to the by-pass?

Olecuss is right. Was replumbed the first week of November. Restrictions are for six months so I don't have much longer before I can start easing the weight up. The AstroScan is my primary for now - although i did get the daughter to set the TriStand on the back deck for a couple of nights and I pressed the Q into service. :-)  I'm going to take  both of them to the MidSouth Stargaze next month and depend on the kindness of strangers to help me with the mount.

 

Colnago I had the nuke stress test on a Friday and flunked it handily. Cardiologist still didn't think it was too bad and was talking stints...  Had the arteriogram the next Tuesday and when everyone got real quiet during the procedure I knew it was not good. He admitted me immediately. The next afternoon I was coming out of surgery and they had me up and walking.  Went home four days later. Amazing. Like I said, for all of our fussing - I love this country!

 

I had fun writing the story. Glad you enjoyed it.

 

Fred

    • Unknownastron, 30mmgunpilot, Loren Gibson and 2 others like this

OleCuss, 

 

I hope they do  bring it back at a good price point. I did see where someone had set up a fund-me to get it off the ground.

 

I enjoy a nice large aperture robo-scope as much as anyone. Our club has a 20 inch Obsession with all the bells and whistles and its a dream to use but there's something special about a bare bones, point-and-peep dob that is easy to set up and has just enough aperture to make things interesting!

 

Fred

    • OleCuss likes this
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Richie2shoes
Mar 24 2018 06:30 PM

Glad you're doing better, Fred.  I'm also a member of the zipper club, only a double bypass for me.  I'm glad you found a solution, the post-op boredom was terrible!  Couldn't drive, couldn't lift anything, couldn't even take the dogs with me when I walked! 

 

Rich

    • randy_1701 likes this

OleCuss, 

 

I hope they do  bring it back at a good price point. I did see where someone had set up a fund-me to get it off the ground.

 

I enjoy a nice large aperture robo-scope as much as anyone. Our club has a 20 inch Obsession with all the bells and whistles and its a dream to use but there's something special about a bare bones, point-and-peep dob that is easy to set up and has just enough aperture to make things interesting!

 

Fred

Your post inspired me to do a bit of searching on the plans for a revival.

 

It looks like there was a Kickstarter project which would make a "Bright-Eye" telescope.  Spearheaded by one of the folk who helped design the Astroscan.  Probably couldn't use the "Astroscan" name due to patent/copyright issues?  The Kickstarter campaign should have resulted in a delivered telescope by late 2016 but I can't see any good evidence that any were delivered.  Even though their fund-raising goal was substantially exceeded, I suspect the amount of capital raised was grossly inadequate to the task.

 

But it turns out the Scientifics Direct site (scientificsonline.com) once indicated they would be bringing the Astroscan back in early 2017.  Wikipedia indicates there was a plan to have the original Astroscan return in 2018 but the link they provided doesn't seem to lead to anything enlightening anymore.

 

It may be that the little red scope is not coming back?

    • JamesMStephens likes this

Hey Fred-

 

Really glad to hear your condition was discovered in such an expeditious manner (kudo's to yer doc!), your procedure went so well, and yer recovery & long-term prognosis are so good!

 

Thanks for the scare, too.    8vO

 

I, too, found a used AstroScan on the CNC a short while back- really clean, and with all the bells & whistles (no tripod, tho). Was originally intended as an easy-to-use beginner scope for my granddaughters, but they quickly fell out of the "interested" phase before i could even spring it on 'em. So i did what any self-respecting gearhead astro-Grandpa would do.

 

I kept it! Been enjoyin' that li'l red rascal, too- it's a hoot!

 

Being a firm believer in using eyepieces at least as expensive as the scope (more expensive is even better gooder), i snagged an amazing find for it- an old 1-1/4" TV ParaCorr! A really good start on the cost-benefit imbalance ratio, eh?

 

So now ridin' atop this tall glass-stack protruding from a small red ball, lookin' like a Tootsie-Pop, are a TV 24mm Widefield (~3.5° TFoV!), a 15mm Celestron UWA, and even an 8.8mm Meade UWA for when i really wanna go nutz (~50x)! All purdy well corrected for views with the PC, and really taking good advantage of what this li'l "richfield" scope was designed to do!

 

Clear & steady recoveries!

mike b

Rich, thanks! Yep on the boredom! The first few weeks you're too sore to worry about it and once you get feeling better you can't do anything. A few more weeks and I can start easing back into normal. Thanks again!

 

OleCuss - Yep, it might not happen. I hope it does. I'd like to see a "back to basics" movement in the hobby and the AstroScan would help. Too many folks think you need to spend a few thousand dollars to enjoy the sky and too many folks get frustrated with all the techno-issues that seem to crop up once they do get started. Not that I haven't done the same thing... :-) I seem to always come back to alt/az or setting circles. I gotta admit that I really like Servo-Cat and ArgoNavis from time to time!

 

Fred

Mike, thanks!

 

I can't say enough good things about the folks at Shelby Baptist Medical Center. Made us feel like we were the only people in the hospital! The nurses did not put up with my whining either -got my butt up and made me walk!

 

I love the Paracorr idea. Gonna have to try that. I agree that 50X is all you're going to get. And its enough.

 

These scopes are fun. Give you a different perspective. 

 

Keep looking for one of the Edmunds tripods. Big difference!

 

Hope to see you at a star party one day and we'll compare views.

 

Thanks again,

 

Fred

Great article! I've owned and used my Astroscan for many years, and still use it along with an 8" dobsonian and 90mm f/10 refractor. My experience has been that it works best if you don't push it beyond its intended design. For instance, mine maxes out at 75x and going further doesn't get you anything. It excels at quick setup low intensity observing. No collimation, just bring it out, set it down, and start looking. I've come to appreciate that more after using my other more capable but much heavier scopes.

I've seen dog feeding bowls used as a base for the Astroscan.... at 16x, you can also hold it in your lap (maybe use a pillow off you are tall) look through the eyepiece and just "snorkel" around the night sky. I find it's like snorkeling a coral reef. Not looking for anything, but looking at everything. If you are a parent, you might find the weight of the telescope comforting - it weighs about the same as an infant resting on your lap!

My nine year old son actually started out using the 8" dob and recently "discovered" the Astroscan. He says "the red telescope is just so easy to use" and it seems to have become his favorite.

Best wishes for your full recovery and enjoy your brace of Astroscans!
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Starry Messenger
Mar 25 2018 08:53 AM

Rich, thanks! Yep on the boredom! The first few weeks you're too sore to worry about it and once you get feeling better you can't do anything. A few more weeks and I can start easing back into normal. Thanks again!

 

OleCuss - Yep, it might not happen. I hope it does. I'd like to see a "back to basics" movement in the hobby and the AstroScan would help. Too many folks think you need to spend a few thousand dollars to enjoy the sky and too many folks get frustrated with all the techno-issues that seem to crop up once they do get started. Not that I haven't done the same thing... :-) I seem to always come back to alt/az or setting circles. I gotta admit that I really like Servo-Cat and ArgoNavis from time to time!

 

Fred

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Starry Messenger
Mar 25 2018 09:50 AM

Fred: Zipper Club, 1995. As an owner of 4 Astroscans (and an 18" Classic Obsession, and Lunt LS152THa), I was naturally drawn to your article. I too have heard all the rumors through the years of bringing back the Astroscan. Will no one take a chance and at least do a test run to see how well the Astroscan could be received? Hey, America loves retro, in fact revels in it. Of course, there's the case of Sky & Tel magazine publishing what many of my fellow astro hobbyists felt was a long-overdue magazine, called Night Sky. It was aimed squarely at newbies and wannabies, but also at those of us, which includes most of us, who have forgotten some basics or need a brushing up of those things we're supposed to be teaching others at our various clubs' important public outreach events. The magazine ran for a few years, then suddenly stopped, as Sky & Tel would rather put its efforts into its already profitable mother magazine, not one with a great deal of hope for future enthusiasts, and net loss. At least, that was my take on NS. I think it's time for a retro-effort to re-establish Night Sky, too. Both the Astroscan and Night Sky magazine have much in common. They are certainly both necessary, if we intend to guide a new generation into a complex hobby. Both the Astroscan and Night Sky gave the new hobbyist an inexpensive doorway into amateur astronomy. Isn't this what we strive for, long to provide those "young at heart," a gateway to a lifelong recreational activity? -- Ronald Lewis, Founder & President, Green Mountain Astronomers (Vermont)

    • randy_1701 likes this
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JamesMStephens
Mar 25 2018 09:53 AM

Guys, surgery was likely in November or December.  He is not likely under the same restrictions.  His article explains what he did and why.  It's a good article and well worth the read.

 

But the key is that he is not looking for a solution now.  He found one which worked well for him and wrote a worthwhile article about his solution.

Just giving Fred another option or two.smile.gif

    • OleCuss likes this

Wonderful article. For a fun read. I don't have an astroscan but will be open to acquiring one with a proper tripod. Glad to hear you are recovering well. 

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JamesMStephens
Mar 25 2018 08:40 PM

You know, I have an Astroscan in my lab at the college.  I'll have to check tomorrow to make sure I have the base.  It has a 28-mm RKE, and I'll have to check for other eyepieces.

 

Jim

Fred, just now reading your article, I feel that I found a kindred spirit, as it was exactly one year ago today that I had a heart attack, and Saturday is the anniversary of my own 4 way bypass. I have a Celestron C8 and a C5 spotting scope, and i recently added a Classic C80 f/11.4 and a C102 f/9.8 classic, but what got me through the many months of recovery was restoring and upgrading a vintage 60mm Bushnell Sky Chief II f/13.3 refractor. It may be small in size, but the Japanese optics are remarkable. Hang in there with the recovery, I did cardiac rehab afterwards and did very successful in getting back up to speed in about 12 weeks, but besides lifting over 15 lb the big thing I had to consider was lifting my then year and a half year old son, he's now 33 plus pounds, and I can lift him with no issues, a year now after surgery. Also got a pair of 8 by 40 binoculars Minolta in fact which were lighter weight yet still gave me almost the same effects as 10 X 50s that were so heavy I had before, hang in there it will get better with time. As far as recovery goes the best thing I ever did was cut out sugar cut out excess fats, starting eating sslads, have less carbs in general. It is worth it in the long run. Clear Skies and good health, Randy

Jim - bring the AstroScan with you if you make to Mid South. We'll have a mini-AstroScan meet along with the Questar meet!

 

Randy - Thanks for the encouragement! I went to the Dr. on Monday and he officially said I can start easing back into a normal routine! I've just completed my Cardiac Rehab and are now doing A LOT of walking and will get back (slowly) into weight training. ( I like your 33lb. weight training regimen... :-) )Yep to cutting out salt and sugar and eating more fruit and salads. 

 

Knowing there's a bunch of kindred spirits out there has really helped. Thanks again to  you and the other members of the "zipper club"....

 

There's some good people in this hobby!

 

God Bless!

 

Fred

    • randy_1701 likes this
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JamesMStephens
Mar 29 2018 03:31 PM

Jim - bring the AstroScan with you if you make to Mid South. We'll have a mini-AstroScan meet along with the Questar meet!

 

Randy - Thanks for the encouragement! I went to the Dr. on Monday and he officially said I can start easing back into a normal routine! I've just completed my Cardiac Rehab and are now doing A LOT of walking and will get back (slowly) into weight training. ( I like your 33lb. weight training regimen... :-) )Yep to cutting out salt and sugar and eating more fruit and salads. 

 

Knowing there's a bunch of kindred spirits out there has really helped. Thanks again to  you and the other members of the "zipper club"....

 

There's some good people in this hobby!

 

God Bless!

 

Fred

It has the base.  not the Edmunds tripod, but it's complete with base.

    • randy_1701 likes this

Glad you're doing good Fred.  We need you in here.

                                                        Marty

    • randy_1701 likes this

Jim - hopefully we'll have some pretty weather and get to compare that RKE with a Plossl! I've attached a picture of how to use the hood of a Ford F150 as a tripod for the AstroScan... :-)

 

Brother Marty! Thanks!

 

IMG_2253 (1).JPG

 

    • bumm, JamesMStephens and randy_1701 like this
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JamesMStephens
Apr 02 2018 09:06 AM

Anyone remember the Bushnell Voyager?

 

https://tinyurl.com/y98vs8no

 

This was an Astroscan clone, and it, too, appears to be out of production.

 

Jim

    • randy_1701 likes this

@ Jim, yep I remember the Bushnell Voyager, funny that they borrowed the name of the Edmund 60mm "little brother" refractor to the original Astroscan, which was also a cool smaller scope.  I myself had (and thankfully STILL have!) the Edmund 4.25" f/10.5 Newtonian pedestal scope from the same era, I really cut my teeth on that scope.  Too bad that Edmunds as it was in the 60s, 70s and early 80s is no more...

 

Also there is/was the Celestron version, all in white....They still list them for $80 on Amazon, albeit it is only 80mm aperture...

https://www.amazon.c...oding=UTF8&me= 

 

@Fred, so glad that you continue to do well.  My cardiologist also gave me some good news, last visit, and the day before Easter was my final dose of Plavix; she said that as good as I am doing I don't need the benefits of it now a year past surgery.  Love coming OFF the medicines!  Glad to share about recovery, and glad to be counted among the Astro Zipper Club members, especially post recovery!  Agreed that there are some good folks here on CN.... I may have to look you up at a southern Astro event; I grew up in Northwest GA, and the East Alabama, East TN and western North Carolina area, and now I am a Charleston resident ( I think the rule is if you have been anywhere long enough, you become a "Native"...)  In any case, I married a Charleston/Carolina Girl, and our son is 100% Native by the grace of God. grin.gif The plan is for the Edmund 4.25 incher to be the boy's, someday...

 

Love the following two verses, both dear to my heart for this hobby:

Psalm 19 (NIV) "1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."

Isaiah 40(NIV) "26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."

 

Good health, and Clear and Dark Skies,

Randy

    • JamesMStephens likes this


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