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First light on 16" LX200GPS

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#1 Jeff Young

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 07:09 PM

Or perhaps this should be titled "how not to do first light...."

I got my 16 about a week ago. The observatory still isn't done (I'm waiting on the dome), so I've got no where to mount it yet. (Observatory construction thread: http://www.cloudynig...Number/544994.)

I came home this evening, and it was sparkling clear. I thought: this would be a good night to move the scope outside and at least get the sensors calibrated, the GPS ephemerii downloaded, the scope collimated, and a star test done to make sure the optics are OK (remember -- no tripod or pier, so I'm going to be sitting on the front steps with the scope next to me).

All of that went smoothly. (Well, mostly, anyway. On the first alignment, it chose Vega, which I centered, and then 3 stars in a row that were behind the house. After down-arrowing the third one, it chose one that looked like 5 or 6 cyrillic characters followed by "30", and then Autostar locked up. It just beeped every time I hit a key. I rebooted, selected auto align, centered Vega, and then it went to Kocab, which I centered, and all was well. Odd... but see last paragraph.)

Oh, and the new spring-loaded secondary uses some off-size allen key (7/64, maybe), which Meade didn't think it important to supply with the scope. I was able to turn them with my fingers, though, and get pretty good collimation. It'll do until I put the Bob's Knobs in (which need shortening for the new-style secondary).

So now I've done all I came out to do. But of course, there's a huge temptation to "just see what a few things look like" through 16" of aperture. Remember, I haven't bothered to cool down the scope, I'm not dark-adapted (I've been using a flashlight), the scope rocks a bit on the porch, and it's starting to cloud over. But, hey, it's out here, I'm out here, and the stars are still (mostly) out here....

Man does this thing collect a lot of light! Sadly, the unwanted kind is more noticable than the wanted kind. The background is *very* gray with 41, 27, and 19 Pans, and even somewhat gray with an 11T6 (we're talking 370X here!). Perhaps it's that I'm sitting on the porch with a few lights on inside, and perhaps it's exacerbated by the high level haziness that's starting to make the usually-not-so-bad light pollution in my area worse. But still somewhat disappointing.

The other thing I notice is that this thing takes magnification better than expected. The seeing isn't great (maybe Pickering 6), yet 370X still looks fine. The image is starting to break down at 550X, and is completely mushy at 800X. Still, this type of seeing won't support even 370X in my 8".

I checked out a few galaxies, but the haziness was getting worse. The ring nebula pretty much faded out before my very eyes (but not before glimpsing the central star -- which is right at the limit for the conditions tonight -- so my dark adaptation must have been decent by this time).

A couple of other notes: this is the first time I've ever observed in Ireland with no dew. Scope ran fine off the 12V battery I use for the 8" -- despite the fact that the 16 is supposed to be an 18V machine. (I didn't have any power out on the front porch.) Then again, perhaps all the slewing on the 3 alignment cancels in a row dropped the voltage enough to give Autostar it's seizure. It took my 8" a long time to get it's first GPS fix after bringing it to Ireland. The 16 put up 3 stars and said: "hey, we're not in Kansas anymore". This with the entire south horizon blocked by the house. Go figure.

-- Jeff.

#2 rboe

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 04:54 PM

My 16 gives a fairly light background here in the city. Never been able to see the central star in the ring and the Veil is totaly washed out. Can't see a thing. But it still brings in M13 almost as well as my NS11 does at a dark sky site so there is some compensation. Sounds like you're doing pretty good.

#3 Jeff Young

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 05:50 PM

Ron --

It still seems like it shouldn't have been that bad. My skies over here are normally Bortle 4 (nothing like the Bortle 8 skies I've got in San Jose, CA). M13 was actually worse than I remember in the 8". (Not everything was bad -- I could see multiple dark lanes clear as day in M82, and make out some structure in M51 -- neither of which I've been able to do in the 8").

The moon (~30%) had set maybe an hour or an hour and a half before I went out. Would it still be brightening the upper atmosphere?

I woke up later that night, though, and you could still see trees outside my window as black outlines against a gray sky. (And this was at 4am, hours and hours after moon had set.) Just weird atmospheric conditions?

It'll be most interesting to get it out again, but that might have to wait for the observatory to get finished. I spent an exhorbitant number of brownie points getting the thing set up and torn down. :shocked: (Just in case the wife is reading this: you're the greatest, babe!)

-- Jeff.

#4 Don W

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 06:21 PM

16 what?

#5 Tim13

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 06:28 PM





A couple of other notes: this is the first time I've ever observed in Ireland with no dew. Scope ran fine off the 12V battery I use for the 8" -- despite the fact that the 16 is supposed to be an 18V machine.

-- Jeff.



I'm guessing by this statement, that it's a LX200 16 inch SCT.

Tim

#6 darylf96

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 07:07 PM

Must be that Irish Pub Polution!

#7 Jeff Young

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 06:55 AM

Indeed, it is a Meade LX200GPS.

You know, the pubs have gotten worse recently. Ireland went and outlawed smoking in public buildings last year, and so all the pubs had to go out and create "beer gardens", with, of course, lots of attendant outdoor lighting.

-- Jeff.

#8 Don W

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 09:49 AM

Thanks, Jeff. We have a lot of people on Cloudy Nights that are new to the hobby. It's nice to say what scope you have. They won't be able to just guess like the rest of us.

#9 Jeff Young

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 01:23 PM

Thanks, Jeff. We have a lot of people on Cloudy Nights that are new to the hobby. It's nice to say what scope you have. They won't be able to just guess like the rest of us.


Don --

Good point. I was thinking it was obvious on the CAT thread, but that's only because I'm familiar with the main manufacturers' product ranges.

It's funny too -- being a transplanted American in Ireland, it drives me nuts when the Irish get all vague and avoid specificity like the plague. And then there I go.... :foreheadslap:

-- Jeff.

(OK, that's the first time I've used that graemlin, and I note that it's called "foreheadslap". I'm sorry, but clearly it should be called "doh!".)

#10 JerryWise

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 01:33 PM


Hey Jeff, just keep up the posting. A lot of us are lurking as you go through your project. That observatory has me thinking of scraping the one I have and starting over in the field. (And do you know what property taxes would be on that little villa of yours over here?)

Also, I'm very interested in the 16" Meade with the prices they are selling for now.

#11 Nauset

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 06:46 PM

Jeff, Congratulations on your 16" Meade! Our Astronomical Society has the same at the Observatory. Myself, and 2 other members are using it mostly for research now. Hope to do some research end of Oct. and the month of Nov. on the new exoplanet.

Enjoy your new scope! :jump: And do keep us posted.


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