The night before yesterday, I went on the roof with my two current scopes, a ST80 on a lightweight photo tripod and a 114/900 reflector converted to a dob mount. Currently grinding a 8 inch F/3.5 but that’s for later.
I have had the pleasure to have the steadiest sky I had ever seen in my 8-month practice, with Venus taking magnification up to 225x with a clear, well-defined phase on the reflector. That was nice.
I then moved with the night (and the unhelpful moon) to find some Messier objects in this sequence : learn their position with the ST80 and its wide field, find them and study more detail in the reflector, then go find this newly learned detail in the view provided by the small scope.
I did that with M37, M38, M42 (again, best view I ever had despite the moon : shapes were well-defined at » high « magnification), and went to chase some globulars, mainly stayed on M3.
After an hour my back hurt a lot. The dob is too low and the ST80 is too high for my chair. This sadly cleared most of the views.
Yesterday night, seeing that the seeing was still very good, I spent the evening reading a Jack London novel then putting my alarm clock at 3:15 AM (South of France, N43, Bortle 8 with some far direct lights).
I spent an hour outside with a wooden stool to elevate the dob, and learned to find the ring nebula. However, I’ve been unable to see it other than with an overview eyepiece because I have to fix balance : altitude seems to drift a bit when I remove my eyepiece. Then, I moved to the fantastic M13, never seen before, and found it just by pointing to where it should be with my straight-through tube, confirming in the RA finder, and going to the eyepiece.
I spent half an hour observing this marvel, sometimes resolving stars, sometimes not, but it had a distinct grain that I chased in the last months in others globular to « train » me for when I’d get to M13. It was fantastic, I could magnify by blocking the alt bearing when I changed eyepiece and also went to 225x on it to get contrast.
Despite the back issues, the moon and the bortle 8, I’m lucky to have this rooftop (and to have built a ladder just when lockdown started). It’s a nice place, and I’m really eager to get to dark skies for the first time.
Enjoy the skies,
Edited by chantepierre, 05 April 2020 - 03:15 AM.