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Outreach to your immediate family a virtue of Alt - az

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#1 gnowellsct



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Posted 25 July 2020 - 12:57 PM

I have been using German equatorial mounts for decades and have arrived at configurations that I am very happy with. My son has been coming out to start parties since he was five or six. As he has gotten older he has enjoyed the views and also occasionally brought a friend along for the night.

Anyhow he's 20 years old and has a 20-year-old pal both of them are entering their junior years in engineering school. The amount of time my son and his peers spend gaming is... I'd rather not get into it. In any eventwith the limitations on socialization due to the plague I have been looking for ways to pry him off the gaming computer.

As it happens beginning last year my first serious alt-az Mount entered my life a DM6 on a TPOD. I got it for the 5 to 10 minutes setup. But it occurred to me That rather than give a 90-minute seminar on how to set up the c14 on the AP900 QMD that I could just give them the TPOD and the 5-inch refractor and they could get it up and running with minimal supervision and they would have their own scope to play with.

I took a deep breath and said okay these guys are going to be third year engineering students. So I let them use the 5-in GT 130. That's all I have in that category anyhow. I do have a c8 they could play with but that would add the complication of a heavy battery and anti-dew equipment which in any case is being used on the c14.

So they get the autonomy to drive out to the observing site in the second car and they get the autonomy to set up the second telescope and they get the autonomy to determine what it looks at and what magnifications. Their very own AP 130 mm to play with.

Although I saw this is potentially very risky use of an astrophysics I also saw my own desire to have complete control over these instruments as an impediment to getting others interested.

Arguably an 8-in dob would be the best choice for this function because it's a very good scope and it doesn't cost a fortune. But I have no dobs in the house.

Anyhow my instincts proved correct. I was able to point them to a few deep sky objects with the green laser and I gave them a pair of binoculars and said just look around and use the scope to look at anything that seems interesting. And there they were completely engrossed in both finding objects and exploring how they looked at different magnifications. At about 2:00 a.m. their conversation started turning to foodand it didn't take long for them to decide that it was time to break down and go get something to eat.

And so they broke down the gear and left. All in all I think it was a very good use of a 5-in refractor that otherwise would have stayed home unused.

It was the first time I really thought wow my kid might actually have an interest in pursuing this hobby after I'm gone.

Greg N
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#2 E-Ray


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Posted 26 July 2020 - 02:56 PM


Glad to see your son is interested in astronomy again! Hopefully it becomes a passion.


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#3 BlueTrane2028


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Posted 29 July 2020 - 10:06 AM

I was given a 60mm refractor on a crappy GEM as a youth.  It wasn't fun to use and interest faded quickly.  If that thing was on an alt-az mount, I'd have done a whole lot more with it.

Fast forward to adulthood, my first "real" scope was the Starhopper I have memorialized in my profile pic.  No more hard to figure out mount when you just want to look "up", plenty of aperture, the skies became a source of wonder again.

I don't have any equatorial mounts and don't see any coming, except maybe one of those angled platforms for a dob.

Edited by BlueTrane2028, 29 July 2020 - 10:07 AM.

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