Did a public star gaze on the beach last Friday and Sat night. Took my 6 inch f8 home built dob out there.
Haven't done any such gazes in years and back when I did I was hauling out the 10 f5.6 "big dob".
Turns out the 6 inch f 8 is the perfect outreach scope as well !
There was a C8 celestron. A 9.25 something or other cat. A 4 inch relatively fast ED refractor. Some other guy with another C8 ish type scope set up with a display screen and astrophotography.
Then, off to one side was my little 6 inch F8 Dob.
A fair fraction of the folks that looked through my scope made a point of saying that they were attracted to the scope and wanted to check it out.
And I can think of several reasons why. First obviously home built. Not nearly as impossing as the other scopes. Even the 4 inch frac had a serious looking mount. Not complicated looking. Those other scopes with all those fiddly bits and hand controllers and whirling motors are fairly intimidating to the general public I think. And needless to say the astrophoto/display screen scope took that to the next level.
Not only did it look simple...folks could see it was simple in use. Look at Jupiter say. Then swing around, sight along the side of the tube or use the laser pointer on the tube and bammmm....now we have Saturn....swing around again....Venus....swing around again...Alberio...swing around again...the moon...and so on and so on.
Need to move the scope to get an unobstructed view of X? Pick it up....move over...plop it back down....bam....done.
Most people expressed awe that I could "just find" things. But I explained things...simple landmarks in the sky. Albierio....end star of the easy to see Cygnus. M4...sorta between Antares and that other star. M22...forms a parallelogram with the handle and top of Scorpious the Tea Pot. M57....right between those two easy to find stars near easy to find Vega. Explained how Mars, Jupiter, and Venus are fairly obvious targets once you know what you are looking for. And even Saturn with a little care.
Then a fair number got fairly interested in the home built aspect. Hey, I just bought the optics and built a wooden box ! The side bearings are PCV flanges...look here the focuser is made of plumbing parts....you can do this too...especially with all the info and help on the internet these day....
Hey, how much does this cost? Ohhh, you can get something like this for around $300. A bit more and you can get an 8 incher ! The 4 inch frac cost about twice that (the tripod alone was $300). The other scope...well, more like $3000 rather than $300. They probably didn't wanna know what the imager guy had invested.
As for views? The 9.25 showed a little bit more detail on Jupiter...but it was all a bit washed out to me (probably that large secondary mirror doing that). The six f 8 dob beat everything else IMO. And this is just some random mirror I bought 25 years ago with a bog standard diagonal. Have never even star tested it. And the eyepieces....my $10 Vite 3 element/plastic lens 10 and 23mm plossls.
End of the night. Put the tube under one arm...grad the handle on the rocker box and walk to the car in the parking lot. Easy peasy.
I think a lot of people came away less intimdated about telescopes and costs and finding things in the night sky after seeing the little dob in action.
Edited by starcanoe, 29 June 2018 - 11:46 AM.