It had been a long stretch of cloudy, rainy, nights, but yesterday the weather report and the clear sky clock predicted clear, transparent, skies. I was eager to make a run down to my dark sky road to catch a few sights and try out some new stuff. That afternoon, I sat down and planned some starhops in "The Realm of the Nebulae" for my 20x80 binocs. Having given up on my left eye recollimating itself after cataract surgery a year and a half ago, I'd recently "un-collimated" all my binoculars to work with my slightly collywockle left eye, and they all felt new again. I'd also recently bought Orion's 5376 Paragon-Plus Parallelogram Binocular Mount and cobbled it onto an aggressively ugly old surveying tripod I'd bought in a junk store years ago just for this purpose, and was eager to try it out under the stars.
Unfortunately, I'd neglected to look at the Galilea Moon Phase Clock sitting in front of me in the living room. The nearly 6 day old moon was obvious enough though, driving down to my little minimum maintainance road, even after waiting till 10:50 for it to get dark. (Lord I hate DST) Shucks.
Looking around while setting up on my dark road made it obvious that tonight wasn't a "galaxy night." The Sombrero Galaxy was barely visible in the 20x80's. I'd picked it up awhile back in 7x35's from my house. M4, one of my favorite globular clusters was a faint smudge. So ~ what was going to be an observing report with an aside on my new mount became an equipment report.
Looking at ads for and pictures of parallelogram mounts in the past had always left me wondering how stable they could be... Everything just looked a little spindly and floaty. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the big binocs handled though, and how steady they were. Very little vibration, and after moving them, things damped out quickly. I hadn't been able to bring myself to pay 35 bucks for the 7589 adapter to mount my Zhumell 20x80's, but the one I'd cobbled out of steel barstock and solder worked well. The mount was heavy and solid, and my ugly old tripod was rock steady. Moving around to different targets was easy... Mainly a matter of tweaking the tension screws to the right tightness. A few times I found myself hunching down a bit, but then I'd soon realize all I had to do was boost it up a bit, and it was still aimed. None of this is probably new or exciting to members of this group, but I was happy.
Altering the old surveying tripod hadn't been too difficult. A 6 inch plywood disc, and a cobbled 3/8ths inch wing-bolt to replace the 5/8ths inch original, and I was in business. It had been so rancid dirty since I'd bought it that I scrubbed it down with Murphy's Oil Soap and hosed it off in the back yard. I'd had a little trouble wrestling the bolt, the disc, and the oddly shaped mount into the same spot last night, so this morning I drilled the top plate on the tripod and screwed my wooden disc onto it. That would keep the disc in place and the bolt centered.
The prettiest view of the night? Sweeping Lyra with my 10x50's. Vega bright and beautiful, obvious pretty doubles at ε and δ, dimmer stars trailing down below Sheliak and Sulafat, and the whole scene peppered with Milky Way stardust. Simple, but wonderful, even with the moonlight.
Edited by bumm, 29 May 2020 - 03:45 PM.