My girlfriend ordered my Orion XT12G (12 inch solid tube dob with goto) on November 8th for my Christmas present and it was backorder until arriving yesterday. I was shocked to see it show up on a night with no clouds!
The assembly of the base was pretty quick and easy, my only concern is the hand controller cradle looks very flimsy (not the cradle its self, the way it's attached). I'll try and make sure I keep it protected as best I can. Next up was swapping the stock focuser out with a Moonlite CR compression ring, dual rate, tri-knob, with shaft lock. Although I've never done this before, it was nice and easy. I removed the secondary to blacken the edges and replaced the collimation screws with a set of Bob's Knobs. Next up was the primary mirror. Before replacing the center spot with a Catseye large white HotSpot, I laid my templet over and was surprised to see the factory mark was off by almost an eighth of an inch! The last thing to go on was my Orion 9X50mm illuminated RACI finder.
It's been a long time since I've had to do this and I struggled a bit here. I have all the tools I need including the Catseye set and the Starlight version of Howie Glatter's 635nm laser and TuBLUG. I spent a little over an hour and got somewhat close but I need to go back and do a lot of fine tuning. I was just ready to go out and take in some sights knowing full well that they will only get better once I get everything dialed in.
I was in my red zone backyard and not far from the white zone of Oklahoma City. It's not an ideal location due to the trees and clutter of stuff that blocks the view, but far better then the front yard and all of the Christmas lights that my neighbors proudly display. The good news is my girlfriend inherited her family farm that's only an hour away. We are currently working on fixing it up (it sat empty for about 5 years) to use as a weekend retreat. It sits in the middle of 40 acres and butts up against a 126 acre flood control reservoir. It's a green zone location where the Milky Way is clearly seen and will by my primary observing location.
There is something truly special about the first view you get to see after spending your time and money on the hopes and dreams of seeing the "big picture"! Due to the limitations of my location I didn't power up any of the electronics at my disposal, I went old school and struggled to find my first target. I say struggled because my finder was not aligned at all and I was tired of looking at my scope, I wanted to look through my scope! I placed my new ES 82* 30mm into the focuser and eventually found the Orion Nebula. "Hello my old friend" was what I thinking as I soaked in the amazing view! I thought it was a fitting target based on the manufacture I entrusted my return to observing with. A quick star test confirmed that my collimation was off, but the views were still very rewarding to me! I only managed a few other quick views before calling it a night as it was after midnight when I carried my new pride and joy out to see the wonders of the night sky.
I hope you enjoyed this mini review and I'm sure you will hear more from me as I dive back into the deep end of the pool. I still have a smile on my face this morning as getting back into observing was long overdue for me. Clear skies and Merry Christmas to all!