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10" OTAs: EQ vs Dob...

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#1 duff.stone

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 10:42 AM

Can I please solicit some expert, or at least "experienced" opinion on this subject?   I've read posts and articles, but I've not seen a place where I might get some more specific answers...    the chances of me making a star party anytime soon (to get hands on experience) are rather slim, and Jupiter is slowly slipping away,  Orion is already gone, and Saturn won't get much higher than it is already...  I'd like to take advantage of the late spring sky while I can, then wait for the winter goodness...

 

so...  I really enjoy the Equatorial mount I have on my 130mm scope.   that being said, I want more aperture.  My landing spot so far has been between 8" & 10" with 8" being the most reasonable so far, but 10" being what I really want.  I understand the basic operation of both types of mounts, but...

 

How realistic is it to have a 10" EQ mounted scope, having a total assembly weight around 90lbs...   This... is my ideal situation in my head,  but I am trying really hard to understand the full "weight" of the situation before I buy.   What I need to know is, how much worse would that be when compared to a 10" dob?

 

how do you do the fine tracking with a dob?  I've become accustom to doing a quarter turn at a time with my EQ mount to keep things in my FOV.  Seems Like I'd be spending more time on the finder scope fixing bad nudges than I would looking through the high magnification EP...  Seems...  again, I've not used a Dob yet.

 

Where EQ's are concerned,  How valuable is it to have a tracking mount?   It's really tempting for me to get one so i'm not always shaking my scope up to get Jupiter back into the FOV...   But are they really as nice as the vendors tout?

 

-Tobin



#2 Brian Carter

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 11:06 AM

A GEM for a 10" Newt is going to be pretty massive.  There's also the ergonomics of it.  A GEM mounted Newt does not always put the eyepiece where you want it to be.  With SCTs or Refractors you can just rotate the diagonal a bit, but a Newt you can't do that.  You can get rotatable rings of course, those start getting expensive.  If you want to photograph with a 10" newt, then you need a truly massive mount.  For visual use, the GEM is overkill.  If you want tracking on a 10" newt, you can buy a dob with tracking.  The dob base is very heavy, but it is a nice compromise and keeps all of the stability and convenience of the dob mount while providing tracking and goto.

 

The weight:  I think you can get an Orion 10" Newt on an Atlas mount that, including counterweights, should be right around 100lbs.  That's a lot, about as much as my entire 15" dob, a much bigger scope.  That's a lot to be packing up late at night.

 

Hand tracking a dob is not too bad really.  On my 10", my typical working magnification on DSOs is around 100-150x.  At this magnification, tracking is very easy. With a widefield eyepiece I don't even have to do it very often, maybe about once a minute.  In my 15", my typical working magnification is about 200x, and this is still not very hard.  Over 300x and tracking starts to become a chore for me.  I can do it easily enough, I just have to do it too often.  But it isn't often my skies will give me that opportunity.



#3 csrlice12

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 11:07 AM

Nudging is not the boogey man its made out to be if you're using wide-field eyepieces.  A decent dob's stiction will be minimal, and there are ways (lots of ways) to improve it.  You can also ad an EQ platform down the road for tracking.  A 10" f5 newt is a beast and will need a $$$$ mount.  A 10" dob is cheap, and you can get a 10" Intelliscope new for less than $1000, which can be used to find objects (you supply the motive power), but can also be used as a manual scope with no loss of function.  The GoTo dobs are a LOT heavier and do not take well to being used manually.  You'll pay a LOT more for a 10" newt and mount then you would a dob and an EQ platform.....The dob is also a lot easier to set up and use.  The OTA a lot of bulk (it's only a 30ish lb OTA, but it is long and bulky) to lift up high to put on an EQ mount, then theres the need to reposition the OTA depending on the object being viewed (they make wilcox rings for this....more $$$).  They're also wind socks in anything over a 5mph wind.  An EQ mounted 10" newt could be used for AP, but not one I'd recommend for a beginner.  If all the weight, size, and hassle of setup/teardown doesn't bother you, then the newt will provide you some great views......but you'll get the same views with the dob....and with an EQ platform, tracking as well.  An EQ platform is for visual use however, and will normally not provide enough stability for long exposure AP (short exposure is possible).  Both are good scopes, but the dob is just overall a bit easier to use and set up.



#4 izar187

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 11:10 AM

Setting up the 10" on an eq mount, every time you wish to use it, ultimately, will be a deterrent to using the 10.

If you can roll the 10" eq out on wheels to use it, already set up, from shed or garage... that would be the best way to go.

 

Manually tracking with a dob mounted newt becomes second nature pretty fast.

Eyepiece position is easy to work with.

Set up is the fastest of any kind of scope mount, and take down then also, when done observing.

 

With attention to a few details, a 10" dob can even be grab and go.

As they will fit in almost any vehicle.

 

For tracking purposes, an equatorial tracking platform can be added later, under the dobsonian base.

 

Be sure to keep the 130, no matter which way you go.



#5 gene 4181

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 11:29 AM

 

 

so...  I really enjoy the Equatorial mount I have on my 130mm scope.   that being said, I want more aperture. 

 

   What I need to know is, how much worse would that be when compared to a 10" dob?

 

how do you do the fine tracking with a dob?  I've become accustom to doing a quarter turn at a time with my EQ mount to keep things in my FOV.  Seems Like I'd be spending more time on the finder scope fixing bad nudges than I would looking through the high magnification EP...  Seems...  again, I've not used a Dob yet.

 

Where EQ's are concerned,  How valuable is it to have a tracking mount?   It's really tempting for me to get one so i'm not always shaking my scope up to get Jupiter back into the FOV...  

 

-Tobin

 this is the key points you mentioned, what's to think about, get the equatorial mount. it'll be even MORE important in the winter cause your not touching the tube, thermal effects.  is the 10in dob easier to set up, maybe it is , but it doesn't track the moon or planets and it does make a difference in discerning detail that is fleeting, it comes and goes in  poorer seeing situations.  and having to roll the tube isn't a boogey man either , I've done it.  get what you want/need, no disrespect to my esteemed  collegues above , but pushin a dob isn't hard but you might not like it, especially on planetary work.  and I AM a pusher , always have been, but don't think I don't notice how nice it is too have tracking when I get out my one equatorial and use it for planetary. and you can use an equatorial and just push the tube around if its balanced properly, it just turns on different axis. you'll get a lot of opinions on this. some won't use a scope without tracking, they're adamant about it. other's wouldn't have an equatorial because of the hassle to set it up and they are just fine without it.   where the equatorial shines is in planetary/moon work, all else, general observing , just cruising around, the dob style mount.


Edited by gene 4181, 05 May 2015 - 11:34 AM.


#6 duff.stone

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 11:49 AM

Thanks for the input.   another Q:  How much would I be loosing in visual / AP quality by going with an 8" instead?



#7 jlandy

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 11:56 AM

if you are interested in AP you are going to want to stick with an equatorial mount, and choose a telescope that the mount can handle

 

I currently shoot with an old 200mm (8") f/4 newt, which has an ST80 attached to it. The Atlas handles the weight without any problems. The extra 200mm focal length from the 10" equivalent isn't all that significant, the only losses are in how much light you can gather at once



#8 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 01:19 PM

Tobin:

 

I have owned both equatorially mounted Newtonians as well as a number of Dobsonians.  In the smaller sizes like your 130mm, GEMs work quite nicely, the tubes are relatively light and short and the GEM raises the scope so that the eyepiece height is comfortable and while rotating the tube to achieve a comfortable eyepiece position is necessary, the lightweight tube makes it quite easy.  Setup is not an issue because of the size.  Typically the mounts are undersized, a 130mm F/5 really requires a CG-4 class mount rather than the typical CG-3/EQ-2 mount manufacturers provide but the smaller mount is workable.

 

But in the larger sizes, mounting a Newtonian on a GEM (German Equatorial mount) becomes problematic.  Even with rotating rings that allow the tube to rotated, eyepiece positions can be awkward, the tripod and the counterweight represent obstacles that may require straddling or otherwise working around... And the size of the mount required becomes quite enormous.  Even for visual, something in the Atlas class is necessary for a 10 inch F/5, that in itself is expensive requires a considerable amount of effort for setup. An AVX should handle an 8 inch with reasonable authority for visual but not for photography.

 

About 1980, the Dobsonian entered the scene, prior to that, all Newtonians were mounted on GEMs.  Soon enough astronomers learned that hand tracking really was possible and that ease of setup, the simple but solid base made larger aperture scopes possible. Whereas in the 1970s the typical Newtonian was the 6 inch F/8 on a GEM, 20 years later, it had become the 8 or 10 inch Dobsonian.  Tracking by hand is surprisingly easy at normal magnifications and with practice doable at very high magnifications, I consider about 800x to be my limit, it is not easy but it is doable. 

 

The ergonmics of the Dobsonian are one major advantage.  Just as scientific research telescopes have shifted from the Equatorial mount to the ALT-AZ mount, just as the SCT has shifted away from the difficult ergonomics of the fork on a wedge to the alt-az fork mount, the Newtonian with the Dobsonian mount became or practical and comfortable.  With a Dobsonian, the eyepiece position does not rotate, there are no counter weights, the scope is not cantilevered out in space, you sit alongside it in a chair, it easy and comfortable.  

 

Tracking is done while looking through the main eyepiece, it soon becomes intuitive which way to nudge the scope to track.  At 200x with an 82 degree eyepiece, the true field of view is about 0.4 degrees, that means in the worst case scenario, an object remains in the field for more than a minute and half so tracking is actually quite leisurely.  Of course the particular telescope and it's mount make a difference.  

 

These days, I only have one GEM mounted Newtonian, a 130mm F/5, the others, most recently a 6 inch F/8, an 8 inch F/5 and a 12.5 inch inch F/6 have all moved on to new homes.  It wasn't that I didn't like the GEM mounted Newtonians, it was just that I always seemed to choose a Dobsonian.. More capability for the effort required.  

 

There are a couple of other alternatives if one wants tracking on a Dob.  GOTO is one answer, that tends to be expensive and limits your choices but it is a viable and very workable alternative.  

 

The second alternative is the Equatorial Platform.  It's a clever design conceived of by Adrian Poncet that provides tracking for a Dob while retaining the ergonomics of the Dobsonian design.  The EQ platform is a about 6-8 inches in height and provides tracking for about 90 minutes. After about 90 minutes it needs to be reset, it only takes a few seconds but the object must be reacquired. An EQ platform can replace the ground board so the added height is only about 5-6 inches.  You can build one yourself from plywood and some hardware.  Basic models are available from backyard manufacturers for $300-$400.  High end Equatorial Platforms tend to be expensive but compared to GEM capable of equivalent capacity, they are quite affordable..  Below is a photo of my 10 inch GSO dob on a Tom Osypowski Equatorial Platform.  That particular platform can handle a scope up to about 18 inches. 

 

6344666-10 inch Dob on EQ platform.jpg

 

 
I like to say.. There's a reason they call it the Dobsonian revolution..  Prior to the Dob revolution, a 12 inch scope was essentially an observatory scope.  These days it's nearly a beginners scope.  In terms of cost and the views you get, the effort required, a GEM has a big hassle factor with a comparatively small gain at the eyepiece.  
 
Jon


#9 havasman

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 02:04 PM

There are really good reasons why Dobsonian mounts dominate the population of Newtonian scopes, particularly at 6" or greater apertures. Many are listed above. 

I think there are lots of equipment options in astronomy that look good on paper but aren't.



#10 jlandy

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 03:32 PM

I think those EQ platforms are awesome... I was curious though - how do you go about aligning with Polaris? Also, can it accept autoguiding corrections?



#11 csrlice12

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 04:25 PM

EQ platforms are basically still visual equipment.  Polar alignment isn't any more complicated then north aligning with a compass, and if you want the best visual accuracy, don't forget to account for the magnetic "offset" for your location.  The controller on most will allow you to speed it up/slow it down, and some will allow you to reverse direction....but computer controlled autoguiding.....they're not there yet that I know of.  Also, there are some platforms that will move in RA and in Dec (most are RA only).  These will let you do some limited AP, but if you really want to do serious AP, then you're talking big, big, big, big $$$$ with a 10" newt on an EQ Mount & tripod.......IF AP is your thing, then I'd pass on the 10" and get the mount/tripod and a small APO (think teeny tiny scope on big mount).....of course, you would then need a nice 10" dob for visual use........



#12 MikeBOKC

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 04:31 PM

My first large scope was a Meade 826 reflector on a very heavy and bulky equatorial mount. Optically it was great; ergonomically a true challenge.

 

I agree with most above: a small Newt (say 4 inches) is fine on an EQ mount, but a large one is buying a lot more hassle than it is worth, from difficulty of transport and setup and balancing through the contortions one goes through with eyepiece positions.

 

A Dob is just plain simple and easy, by at least one order of magnitude over the EQ mounted Newt. Plus you get more aperture for the buck.

 

Finally, I'm going to strongly urge you to be patient and spend some hands on time with a variety of scopes before you leap. Observing is not as seasonal as you suggest. There are tons of terrific objects in the spring and summer skies, with the Saggitarius region alone yielding a dozen or more great targets.

 

If we can get this rain pattern moved out the next OKC club night at the club observatory out west is a week from this Saturday, May 16th. There should be a dozen or more scopes there that night.

 

I've seen a lot of posts here from people who say "I went out and bought Scope X and after trying to use it I found it was not right for me." Patience with a purchase like this really is a virtue. I compare it to car buying, since you will own a good scope for at least as long as you own a car. You wouldn't buy a car via the internet without a test drive either.



#13 csrlice12

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 04:39 PM

There's only one thing worse then buying a big scope you don't use......that's buying an even bigger one right off.....Go to the star parties, check out a scope store if you can, if nothing else, check out a couple of local "craigslist" scopes (may not find one in good shape, but at least you'll get an idea of the size, how they move, how the focuser works, etc...and who knows, you might even get lucky and find a good one at a good price).



#14 duff.stone

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 05:09 PM

Yeah, as mentioned above, I might never get rid of the 130mm I already have.  I might upgrade the hell out of it, but probably won't get rid of it. 

 

My main purpose was to get some color on the large aperture EQ setups...  I think I got plenty of that,  and I thank you.   I'm going to go look at a used 8" on a motorized GEM tonight,  with all the nifty accessories for what my research shows to be a good price.  I won't buy it if I can't get a good confirmation that the optics and mount are in good working order.  If they are, then that ought to satisfy my needs for a good while.   Hopefully...

 

Maybe next year I'll jump into the Dobson fold.  but for now I really like the fine adjustment you get out of an EQ. 

 

I'm quickly realizing that a new hobby astronomer with extra cash is a dangerous thing. :-)

 

-Tobin



#15 beatlejuice

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 05:46 PM

I think those EQ platforms are awesome... I was curious though - how do you go about aligning with Polaris? Also, can it accept autoguiding corrections?

 

Check out this procedure for future reference.   It is at the bottom of the page.  This is not necessary for visual observing, I just point the platform towards Polaris by eyeballing it,  but if you want a more precise method this works pretty well.

 

Eric


Edited by beatlejuice, 05 May 2015 - 05:49 PM.


#16 Laika

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 05:51 PM

Don't get rid of the 130, as you get bigger scopes that 130 will be a perfect wide field grab n go :)

#17 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 07:12 PM

I think those EQ platforms are awesome... I was curious though - how do you go about aligning with Polaris? Also, can it accept autoguiding corrections?

 

Hi:

 

Alignment is relatively straightforward and one can buy an optional polar alignment tool.  The one in the photo is considered the top of the line, it's all aluminum with quartz controlled, dual axis drives.  It can be used with either the hand controller or an autoguider.. There is no slop in the drives and they are responsive.  The actual rate can be calibrated quite easily.  For a 10 inch, it would be an expensive mount, for an 16 or 18 inch scope, one would spend a great deal more for an equatorial mount.. 

 

It is pretty sweet, a mount that weighs about 30lbs, adds about 6 inches to the eyepiece height and can be used with just about any Dob without modification.. 

 

Tom Osypowski Equatorial Platforms

 

Simpler platforms like the Atomic Platform are much less expensive.  

 

Jon



#18 Dodge2013

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 08:32 PM

duff.stone

 

In your name, it says location OKC. If this is Oklahoma City, the host for this site is Astronomics. Located in Norman. May be in your backyard. Might give them a visit.



#19 Kendahl

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 08:15 PM

I own two GEMs -- an Orion SkyView Pro and an iOptron iEQ45. Nevertheless, it's my opinion that a Dobsonian is the best choice for visual observing with aperture greater than 8 inches. It's lighter, less awkward while observing, and much cheaper than a GEM carrying a Newtonian of the same aperture. Very large telescopes are invariably Dobsonians. You would need a crane to handle a GEM big enough to carry one of them. The only people who really need a GEM are astrophotographers. They need it to avoid field rotation during multi-minute exposures. That's not an issue for visual observers.

 

Dobsonians come in three flavors. With the basic, unpowered type, you find objects through star hopping and manually push the telescope to keep them in view. A "push to" Dobsonian has digital setting circles to help you find objects but you still have to push it by hand. A "go to" Dobsonian both finds and tracks. If you have go to, an equatorial table serves no purpose. On really large Dobsonians, the optical tube can be split up into three pieces for transport -- base with the mirror, cage with the diagonal and focuser, and struts to connect the two.



#20 duff.stone

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 08:55 PM

I ended up buying an 8" w/ a cloned EQ4-5 or CG-4-5... I haven't seen enough mounts to know the difference.  It's huge though, and has working motors for tracking only.  Not a go to.

 

I've spent the last two evenings (minus 3 hours in the tornado shelter) tuning it up, tightening it up, etc..  I think it's going to work out well.  Big SOB though, glad I didn't get the 10". hehe..

 

-Tobin

 

* *edit* *

 

One thing I've noticed while collimating and working on the focuser is that it still shakes.  almost as much as the 130mm. The difference is the wavelength of the shake is longer so you can actually see the object that shakes.  I like that. :-)   Now I just need find something celestial to look for.


Edited by duff.stone, 07 May 2015 - 09:00 PM.


#21 SeaBee1

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 07:50 AM

Hey Tobin, stay safe, I am in the Dallas area and it looks like the storms ain't over yet. This weekend looks pretty gnarly for you and us... I don't think a tornado would look so good in any scope... regardless of aperture...

 

Best regards

 

CB



#22 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 08:03 AM

I ended up buying an 8" w/ a cloned EQ4-5 or CG-4-5... I haven't seen enough mounts to know the difference.  It's huge though, and has working motors for tracking only.  Not a go to.

 

I've spent the last two evenings (minus 3 hours in the tornado shelter) tuning it up, tightening it up, etc..  I think it's going to work out well.  Big SOB though, glad I didn't get the 10". hehe..

 

-Tobin

 

* *edit* *

 

One thing I've noticed while collimating and working on the focuser is that it still shakes.  almost as much as the 130mm. The difference is the wavelength of the shake is longer so you can actually see the object that shakes.  I like that. :-)   Now I just need find something celestial to look for.

 

Tobin:

 

First thing: Stay safe.. 

 

Which scope did you get?   How about a picture?

 

Jon



#23 duff.stone

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 08:41 AM

Konus Konusky-200 Motor.  It's an 8",  1000mm FL, reflector on what I'm going to call an EQ5 clone mount. 

 

I bought it off a fella in Norman, OK. Who had originally purchased from Astronomics a few years back.   Near as I can tell it's the "Good" Konusky, with the thin spider veins and Orion Dovetail.  either way it's a sharp looking unit that seems to function well given I haven't seen anything but clouds since I bought it Tuesday night.

 

It needed a small bit of TLC like I mentioned above, but I think it's field ready.  I still have some QOL improvements I want to make, like cable SloMo adjusters instead of the solid ones, it needs a good focuser cap (using my coll cap right now), and the focuser tube is huge, which means I should be able to replace the 1.25" EP doodad with a 2" EP doodad, but I don't know what it's called. 

 

the primary is VERY dusty when seen in the right light, but viewed head on holds a very crisp image of my head,  no scratches or smudges.  the Secondary looks great too.  I think I got a good deal, but time will tell as always.

 

-Tobin 

 

* * Edit * *

We never take the weather for granted in May.  Especially during early May.


Edited by duff.stone, 08 May 2015 - 08:55 AM.


#24 macdonjh

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 10:03 AM

Tobin,

 

I hope you enjoy your new scope.  Even though you've purchased a new scope (thanks for all the clouds, by the way), I'll still pile on a bit:

 

I have a 10" f/4 Newtonian, and a GEM mount.  Setting up that scope and mount for a whole night or weekend at our club's dark site is no big deal.  However, I never set it up at home for a couple hours' viewing, let alone a "quick look".  Too much hassle.  I tried to live with fixed mounting rings, but ended up selling those at a loss and purchasing rotating rings.  They were very expensive, but made using the scope enjoyable, so worth it to me.

 

Those are my short experinces with a 10" Newtonian.  It looks like I agree with almost everyone here: larger than 8", and perhaps even for 8" Newtonians, a Dobsonian mount is much more practical for visual astronomy than an EQ mount.  If you must have tracking, then pony up for a go-to Dob or an equatorial platform.  Better for you if you can learn to nudge and track yourself.  That preserves the inherent simplicity of the Dob mount.  There are dozens of forum posts out there with ideas for improving the function of stock Dob mounts to make manual tracking easier.  I spent several hours working on my son's 6" Orion Dob and now it's easy to point and to manually track.  My friend's 16" Telekit manually tracks like a dream.  It should come as no surprise that well designed and executed gear works well.

 

I also seem to agree with almost everyone on this thread that all Dob bets are off if you want to take pictures.  It's never easy, is it?

 

All food for thought for the next time aperture fever hits you.



#25 MikeBOKC

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 12:46 PM

Tobin FYI the astronomy club meeting has been cancelled for this evening. Club president had flooding damage at home, so did the scheduled speaker and museum is cancelling all their other activities. So hopefully we will be back on track for June.




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