Here's the first light report I wrote for my observing log in early August. I don't have access to pics so will add them later. Since I wrote it I have managed to purchase a Rigel finder and have begun documenting the Lunar 100 and the AL Lunar 1. I'm substituting the Stowaway for binoculars for some observations as my eyes just don't like my small 8x30s.
"After an anxious weekend thanks to UPS and a major tropical storm, the Stowaway arrived safely. I was keen to get it under the stars, but we lost power for a few days, so astronomy had to wait. My hometown has a park with a proper observing platform: a solid concrete plinth with a wooden surround, so with power restored I headed there last night. Unfortunately, so did a few million mosquitos.
I use small refractors because my New England skies are often poor, so I prefer scopes I can easily transport including by air--at least in theory! I have a 130GT, which is airline portable but was bigger and heavier than I expected. The Stowaway will give me flexibility. My favorite targets are the Moon, the planets, and double stars. For the Moon adding aperture doesn't necessarily add image quality under my soupy skies. I have an eclectic collection of eyepieces and had started with an old 50mm Parks Plossl. It produces lovely wide-field views, but suffers a bit on bright stars and planets. I had to use it because I have lost my red dot finder. I hate sighting along the tube, and am bad at it, but had no option. The Plossl at least helped me center my targets. After that, I moved between a Televue 8-24mm zoom--a terrific and often-used eyepiece--and a very sharp but tiny 6mm University Optics Orthoscopic.
My wife accompanied me for the first time, so I chose some easy targets. I planned to visit Vega then hop around Lyra, but Jupiter was the first to show through the haze. In moments of decent seeing, I counted six distinct bands in beige, pink, and white. All four Galilean moons were hard bright little dots. Unfortunately there were no shadow transits, though Io is obliging tonight. The Great Red spot and its accompanying whorls were visible, but their colors didn't pop against the planetary background.
Saturn was next, and he got a strong reaction from my wife. Titan and the Cassini Division were easily visible; the subtle banding on the planet less so. I had a bonus there, of which more later. After Saturn, I hopped from Vega (I don't do star tests) to Epsilon Lyrae, gradually increasing magnification and asking her what she saw. At first, she didn't see the splits but at about 75x noticed the separation. I hadn't given her any clues! Then to Mizar, after which she'd had enough--the skeeters were getting worse.
After she left, I roamed the milky way for a while. Faint fuzzies on a 92mm scope in murky skies are what you'd expect: pretty faint and pretty fuzzy. I had planned to check out the Double Cluster but it was behind some tall trees--not ideal for an observing platform. So, I went back to Saturn and noticed that with averted vision there was something between the planet and Titan. In moments of clarity, it was plainly visible. My (first gen!) iPad suggested it was my "bonus moon" Rhea, which seemed reasonable given its magnitude of about 10. This was a first for me, and I am excited at the prospect of seeing other Saturnian moons in better conditions.
Last was the Moon. It didn't rise till after 11:00 and everything was soaking by then. Well--nearly everything. Amazingly, the objective was bone dry, despite having only the dew shield as protection. I'm planning to use the Stowaway to do the Lunar 100 and the AL programs so was very keen to see how it performed. The skies were boiling, and I was by now being eaten alive, but early indications were good. Posidonius and Theophilus were on the terminator and their sun-facing crater walls were brilliant crescents against the earthlit side. Finally, I crater-hopped from Plinius to the area of the Apollo 17 landing site.
And that was all I could take of the bugs. Mars was close to the Moon, but I had a fair idea of what I'd get with him so low in the sky. The Red Planet can wait for another night. Packing up was a slippery mess but it had been a fun night. It will take a few sessions to learn the scope fully. For example, I wasn't able to put my hand on the focuser without looking away from the eyepiece. Similarly for changing eyepieces, but I was doing that much more often than I will have to once I purchase a new finder. There's every sign that Astro-Physics has produced another wonderful telescope that will get me out under the heavens much more than I was last year. The only problem I don't know how to solve is the bugs. I guess I'll leave that for winter.
Edited by jouster, 06 October 2020 - 07:20 AM.