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Beginner Series: How to setup a dob

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#1 asaint

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 07:41 AM

Beginner Series: How to setup a dob

#2 lighttrap

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 10:53 AM

I like the idea behind this series of articles. I would add a few comments. Over the past few years, I've probably had 80-100 people look through my Hardin 8" Dob for varying lengths of time. The most popular objects have very consistantly been Saturn, Jupiter & The Moon, (in that order). I think it's good practice for newbies and potential buyers of an all manual Dob to get used to tracking a planet at 100x or so. Most folks figure out how to do that by "moving the sky" (in the eyepiece). I'd guesstimate that fewer than 20% of the folks that have used my scope have had serious trouble tracking after the first 5-10 minutes. However, if sharing the views with others is important, a tracking scope is a MUCH better solution. Non-tracking Dobs are primarily for the solo observer who will spend some time learning their idiosyncracies in exchange for being rewarded with good views for not very much monitary outlay.

Finding objects is another story. Equipping a short tube Dob with a straight-through finder is a cruel joke. IMO, the two best improvements that can be made to a short tube Dob are to swap the factory straight-through finder with a right angle one, and to add either a Telerad or a Rigel Quickfinder. I mention those two specific non-magnifying finders, because the rings that they show, will provide a new starhopper with an easy reference point, and there are plenty of star charts and star hopping books that are based on using the Telerad circles.

Another thing that really helps a lot of these scopes that rely on springs to tension the tube down into the rocker box, is to only hook up one spring on one side for easier movement. (With heavier eyepieces hooking up both springs becomes more important.) To ease putting the tight springs on the screws that retain them, add an empty keyring to each side. Never trust the cloth loops that come stock on these scopes, as they frequently break when trying to stretch the spring to install it over the retension screw.

Finally, whether you're showing someone else how to use one of these scopes or just starting out with one, yourself, keep the first few observing sessions fairly short. It's better to have a memory of a few easy successes, than to leave a memory of an endurance marathon.

Mike Swaim


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