Joshua's Observatory First Light Report

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tplank

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OK, so my Son's new Orion XT6 is a humble beginning. But as I see it, first light is First Light.<br /><br />I must say that the first short viewing was rather pleasing. We spent a lot of time observing Mars and just getting used to tracking the movement. I was able to resolve a nice bright disk and observe hints of surface features. We had a lot of atmospheric cooling tonight and I'm sure that viewing conditions will improve later. You could practically see the heat rising but the night was clear.<br /><br />I must say that I am THRILLED with the factory "2nd" from Orion. I have no clue what the less than perfect aspect of this scope is. Assembly was a snap and everything seemed totally in order. I was truly amazed that the scope was delivered in collimation and I did not have to tinker a bit.<br /><br />The first accessory to be had is some sort of right angle accessory for the finder scope. The posture required is just a bit too bent over for my wishes. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I don't see how such a thing can attach to the finder, but I definitely will want to do something.<br /><br />Anyway, thanks to all the many people who have posted advice here. We are happy with the new scope and I can tell it is going to serve us very well. I never dreamed that first light could be this gratifiying for a rank amateur like myself.<br /><br />Merry Christmas everybody! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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nevers

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Great to hear your report! I'm glad everything worked out for you and your son. Yes, I'll agree on a right-angle finder - Orion has them too: ones that will fit your 'scope. When I got my XT10, I thought I was going to do a head-over-heels trying to look through the finderscope. Plus, my back was killing me. Then, I discovered an old office chair that was laying around that made things much easier. My 16" Dob is even the same way - a couple of times I almost fell off the ladder trying to angle myself for a view. A 90degree correct-image finderscope is a luxury I'd hardly do without. It also helps to orientate your view to maps of the sky.<br /><br />It's amazing for the desert, usually we have days and days of clear, low-to-no humidity skies. Its been many months since I've had the chance to do anything but casual observing. Hope to hear more of your observing sessions in the future.
 
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tplank

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OK, I definitely want the angled finder scope. Looks like this will work.<br /><br />http://www.telescope.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=158&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=6&iSubCat=27&iProductID=158<br /><br />Are there any considerations that I may not yet be thinking of? I defintely think I want the wider field of view until we get better at this stuff.<br /><br />Any input is appreciated as usual! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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nevers

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That's it...either one will mount right on to your 'scope. I have the 9 x 50 one. You might also consider adding the "Red dot" (EZ Finder) too.
 
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tplank

Guest
I'm a bit tempted to save my $$ for a green laser and mount...any opinions on that as opposed to the optical finder? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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tplank

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Second light was a great sucess as well. More of the same mostly. Just getting a feel for things. I have made the decision that if the local astronomy store has it in stock, I'm buying the right angle view finder after work tonight. I just don't have what it takes to hunch over that far repeatedly. Not to mention you are talking about the "walk-around" time.<br /><br />When you look at the relative price on the Orion website, I sure wish they had asked me to kick in a few extra bucks for that upgrade. I have trouble imagining NOT having an issue with stooping over for that.<br /><br />So, is there any use I can put the old finder scope to? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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tplank

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Oh, and just a think out loud kind of note. Tracking the objects isn't that hard by yourself. Even at high magnification I can do that without trouble. But it is more complicated when you are sharing the view with others. I now have a better appreciation of the sharing that was being done at the star parties by others.<br /><br />When showing things to my Son, I have taken to anticipating the tracking and placing it off center before telling him to take a look. I figure by the time he gets his eyeball on it, it is about centered...then, I get it back in time to catch it before it goes out of view.<br /><br />Anyway, just a newbie talking out loud... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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nevers

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And we're listening...! Looks like it's going to be cloudy with rain possibilities for the rest of the week, so, maybe it will be clear after all. Go ahead and do all the talking you want - I'll observe vicariously through you. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
 
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tplank

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Unfortunately, I think clouds are headed my way.<br /><br />We will see...we are planning to visit a star party with the new scope in tow on Friday. Just hoping to meet some people and maybe get some advice and guidance.<br /><br />I guess there is one other thing I've learned. Everything said here about how you need to figure out the ratio of price, portability and aperture which is right for you is right on target. I was not expecting that my XT6 would be so easy to handle. What a pleasant surprise. It is rather easy to carry and because of the tension system, it can be carried in one trip. Too cool. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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tplank

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Well, we took the XT6 to a Star Party tonight. What a learning experience! I was just amazed at how good the Great Orion Nebula looked in our little scope. And we had our first crack at Saturn. Satrun did not disappoint.<br /><br />I think one of the most educational things was how well our little factory 2nd reflector stacked up to some of the more expensive hardware out there. Of course, the tracking was all manual but the dude with a nice big Mak said, "Man, you have a better view of Saturn than I have dialed in". And after going back and forth, I agreed.<br /><br />I only wish I could've stayed a bit later, but as I've said, this is a project for a six year old and that limits the amount of time in the saddle. We had to bolt due to fatigue, but that was OK. It was an awesome time.<br /><br />I will say again that I continue to be impressed with the easy portability of my XT6. The trunk of my Honda Accord swallows it up with room for luggage. A very nice compromise that I think fits my family perfectly.<br /><br />Thanks again to everybody here and all their advice. I think this is a great new hobby for all of us in my little family. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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tplank

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Forgive my babbling on to the ether here. Just sharing for whatever purpose it might serve.<br /><br />We are getting better with the scope. Last night we revisited everything we have learned. Saturn was really cool and I was wondering if the little point of light I saw was Titan? The seeing was a bit better and I was able to see the Cassini Division for the first time. This definitely puts me in the mood for a bit more magnification. I’m think a Barlow would be good. Any specific recommendations would be appreciated.<br /><br />I can’t wait till Jupiter is up at a decent hour.<br /><br />I’m also looking forward to getting the scope to darker skies somewhere. No hint of color in the Great Orion Nebula. I looked at it for a very long time hoping that eye adjustment and relaxation might produce a hint of color, but it did not.<br /><br />Anyway, the whole family is getting into it now and we are having a blast. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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tfwthom

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Babble on.........It's always fun to watch someone new that's excited about their new hobby.<br /><br />Telescopes......a hole in the sky ya shovel money into! Give it a couple months and you will be looking for your next scope.<br /><br />Try Night Sky Magazine not as tekkie as Sky & Telescope or Astronomy. Night Sky is more based with the beginner in mind. http://nightskymag.com/ They send me sample issues to hand out at public events (Astronomy Day, GCSP, etc)<br /><br />And it probably was Titan.<br /><br />These are old (some out of date) just interesting:<br /><br />1. The Moon is approximately 250,000 miles away. <br /><br />2. Jupiter averages 450 million miles away. <br /><br />3. Saturn averages 750 million miles away. <br /><br />4. Mars averages 40 million miles away. <br /><br />5. The Sun is 93 million miles away. We call this 1 A.U.(astronomical unit, a unit to measure by) <br /><br />6. A light year is about 5.6 trillion miles. Light travels at 186,000 miles a second. <br /><br />7. Light will travel around the Earth 7 1/2 times in 1 second! <br /><br />8. The moon is 1 1/4 seconds light speed away. <br /><br />9. Jupiter is about 45 minutes light travel away. (that means you are watching Jupiter 45 minutes old.) <br /><br />10. Saturn is about 1 1/2 hours light travel away. <br /><br />11. Jupiter is a big ball of Hydrogen gas and is surrounded by 60 satellites. We see 4 of them at any given time from Earth, they are called Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. <br /><br />12. Saturn is a big ball of Hydrogen gas and has 31 satellites surrounding it. Through our telescopes we see up to 5 maybe 6 of these satellites, but the biggest one we almost always see is Titan. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1" color="#3366ff">www.siriuslookers.org</font> </div>
 
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tplank

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Thanks for the response. I saw six potential moons in all...since one was quite a bit bigger, I felt like I was looking at Saturn's Moons and Titan in particular.<br /><br />On the next scope...I got the itch for that before the first one even arrived! The lack of cash problem will definitely llimit my scratching that itch though. I will have to live vicariously through others at star parties. We have a great local club and the haul out a lot of awesome hardware. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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tfwthom

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About a barlow.....I may sound like an ad for TeleVue but I believe in buying the best, and right now that's TeleVue.<br /><br />"Barlows amplify the power of a telescope. They can be considered "focal reducers" for eyepieces, or "focal extenders" for objectives.<br /><br />Terence Dickenson, in his Barlow test report in Sky and Telescope, July 1997, says: "Technology has erased the old objections. A modern Barlow will not degrade your telescope`s optics. Anyone telling you otherwise is using outdated information. Moreover, the highly regarded Nagler eyepieces and their clones have built-in Barlows, ample evidence that the lens is not some detrimental intruder." Thanks, Terence, for laying the myth of the degrading Barlow to rest.<br /><br />Barlows do more than just increase magnification; they also retain eye relief (or in the case of long focal length eyepieces, actually INCREASE eye relief). A high quality Barlow must be properly designed and manufactured in order to avoid compromising a telescope`s color correction and spherical aberration correction. The "invisibility" of Tele Vue`s 2-element Barlows have been noted in test reports in the astronomy magazines."<br /><br /><br />Note......"A high quality Barlow must be properly designed and manufactured" <br /><br />That said....I love my Powermates (both the 2.5X and the 5X) I have a Meade shorty 2X that works in the LX90 but not in the refractors (it shows color) OK I have to stay with 1.25 eyepieces but except for my 13mm type 1 Nagler that's usually what I buy. (154X 82 degree "spacewalking" is nice $250 used) The color corection in the 2" TeleVue Big Barlow isn't as good as the Powermates. (friends have them) <br /><br />http://www.buytelescopes.com/product.asp?t=55&pid=5812&m=3<br /><br />Yeah I know expensive!!! You get what you pay for, besides you only need to buy it once and you keep it for all your other scopes.<</safety_wrapper> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1" color="#3366ff">www.siriuslookers.org</font> </div>
 
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tplank

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Thanks for the info. I didn't know there was a 2.5X barlow...that sounds perfect. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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tplank

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We are well past First Light at this point. Just continuing to babble and share.<br /><br />Skys have been overcast for a bit. Got the scope out briefly again tonight and observed Saturn and the Beehive Cluster. I am very glad that I have Starry Night because I would have probably missed Beehive and not realized what I was looking at.<br /><br />I think it is mostly the fault of light pollution and poor seeing, but the Beehive was rather ho-hum. I could make out the big stars but not much of the rest of the cluster. I can't wait to get this puppy to some dark skies.<br /><br />If anyone is reading, I do have a question. The Orion version of Starry Night that I have does not seem to have any settings for simulating light pollution or seeing conditions. I also can not tell any difference between moonlit and moonless nights. Do any of the products out there do that. It would be nice if my simulated sky resembled my actual sky a littl more closely. This is not to be overly critical as I certainly consider Starry Night and essential tool at this point. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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formulaterp

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I don't have Starry Night, but I use Cartes du Ciel (free download at http://www.stargazing.net/astropc/ ). There is a toolbar function which will increase/reduce the visible magnitude level, which displays more/fewer stars. Although to be honest it still doesn't resemble the actual sky, but it is good enough for my purposes.
 
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tplank

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Yeah, Starry Night has that. It just isn't the same. As I said, I don't really fault Starry Night...it is an awesome tool. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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tplank

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Well, I got my Barlow and last night took a gander around. I am very impressed based on what I have been reading with my scopes ability to handle the magnification. Saturn looked awesome. In spite of light pollution I was able to see the Cassini division clearly and some atmospheric bands. I looked at Saturn for a very long time. The Orion Nebula looked spectacular even though I still can not discerne any color.<br /><br />The views I'm getting are so spectacular that I can not belive it. At a recent star party, my views were superior to those of some much more expensive hardware around me. <br /><br />All in all, I can't thank the fine people on this board who have rendered so much advice enough. Thanks for everything. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>The Disenfranchised Curmudgeon</p><p>http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/ </p> </div>
 
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