Tuesday, December 30, 2003


snowflakes reflecting
moonbeans flashing blue and white
like the stars above

Saturday, December 27, 2003

using the reflector (Union)

location: Union, Ontario

5:00pm - 6:45pm

Used Al's telescope, a Edscorp 6" reflector (on an equatorial mount). It has an eyepiece that looks about 50 to 60 power. Nicely collimated—my first attempt (thanks to the notes in The Backyard Astronomer's Guide)! First used it on the Moon (first quarter), then Venus, gibbous, and finally The Pleiades. The Moon resolved very nicely (despite heat waves), easy to focus. The Pleiades look really good in a wide field. Fired up my 'scope.

Even though the reflector has a smaller objective, it produces a comparable image to the cat (the Celestron 8" Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope on Vixen Super Polaris mount).

Looked at Mars, gibbous, and Venus (fairly low in the horizon). Mars is so much smaller now, cannot resolve any detail per se. It is half or a third the apparent size compared to the summer.

Lots of dew.


11:00pm - 12:00am

Frost. Heaters worked great. As the eyepiece warmed up, Saturn became incredibly bright and crisp. I could see different cloud bands, the shadow of the rings on the planet, and the Cassini division between the rings. Everyone (Mom, Donna, and Steve) enjoyed it.

Saturn is in Gemini at 6h43m RA and 22°23' Dec. Drew map of image in cat. This is my first time attempting to determine if I'm seeing the moons of the planet...

Orion Nebula. Could see the four little stars in the middle!

[ed: Messier 45 (M45), Messier 42 (M42).]

Friday, December 26, 2003

Mom's telescope

Friend of my sister, Al, it seems, had an old telescope which he wasn't using. I gather my sister talked about some of our astronomy stuff so Al "gave" it to my Mom. Cool!

It did not come with any notes or documentation so I had to do some digging on the net to learn about this thing... It is apparently circa 1974!

type: reflector / Newtonian
make: Edmund Scientific Co.
model: 6"
sighting finder scope: none included
viewing equipment: 1¼" shaft, rack & pinion focuser

mount type: equatorial with 2 counterweights, 1" shaft
mount accessories: Conrac single-axis "clock drive" motor
tripod: iron (heavy!), 3" pillar

  • unmarked, wide field, looks old
  • Meade 18mm, orthoscopic
  • Meade 4mm, orthoscopic
accessories: none

technical info:
  • focal length: 1210mm (the main tube is 47-5/8” long)
  • aperture: 6"
  • focal ratio: f/8
  • minimum / maximum magnification: 22x / 300x
I found a photo on the Astromart Classifieds site. This is the same mount as Mom's.

On the tripod, Edmund Scientific Co. is embossed in the metal everywhere. The code C2058 shows on the base cap. And on the equatorial mount, B-2088 or B-2089 shows.

Here's a close-up photo (also from Astromart Classifieds) of the clock drive.

The A/C-powered, synchronous clock drive motor has the following printing:

  • CRAMER DIVISION, Old Saybrook, Conn.
  • Type 117, P27MABA3, 18A1XA08A-L, date 6 72, RPM 1/15 V115, CY60 W2.7
It has a 96 tooth ring gear and a single helical worm gear.

The 'scope didn't work correctly at first. I realised it needed to be aligned or collimated. I was able to do this easily!

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Seeing and Believing

My sister gave me another astronomy-themed book. It's Seeing and Believing by Richard Panek from Fourth Estate publishing.

It's about the development of the telescope! Cool!


I enjoyed this book. I learned about the history of the telescope and the sequence of events leading up to the understanding of the workings of the solar system and the Universe. I particularly liked learning about Galileo and how he kicked off the use of the telescope for observing the "fixed" stars. It also gave me a better appreciation of radio astronomy.

Monday, December 08, 2003


Diane asked me if I'd like to help her friend David in the purchase of a telescope. He wanted to get a nice 'scope for his girlfriend whose a very accomplished photographer. We exchanged a couple of phone calls and many emails on types of 'scopes, costs, resellers, other supplies, books, etc. I also talked my few attempts at astrophotography.

Stumbled across a web site by a guy who's used and reviewed over 70 'scopes!

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

cool postcard

My sister sent me a postcard from Newfoundland. She and her husband are on vacation, trying to view icebergs, whales, but avoid moose.

The postcard shows a last-quarter Moon over an iceberg.

Eerie! Cool. Brrr...


Artist unknown...

Sunday, August 17, 2003

raging horde at York (North York)

Alan and I got together, with my telescope in tow, to check out Mars during its close approach to Earth. I can't remember now why we did not go somewhere isolated, but we turned to York University, perhaps thinking we could look through their big telescope.
Instrument: Celestron 8-inch SCT
Mount: Vixen Super Polaris
Method: star hopping
We drove to the top of a parking garage building and unloaded my telescope. On setting it up, a line of people formed! They all took turns looking through the 'scope and asking questions. It was weird. Hundreds of people were here. And it was clear that they thought Alan and I were staff at the university! Ha!

It proved a rather enjoyable evening. It was only awkward when we begin the disassembly of the 'scope. Some people were angry saying they had been waiting in line for a long time. Alan ran block for me, explaining we were not employees or staff of York.

Afterwards, we joked that we should have put out a jar for coins! If we had charged even 25¢ a look, we could have made a small fortune!


I heard that 6,000 people showed up at the Ontario Science Centre!

Saturday, February 01, 2003

radio silence

The shuttle Columbia broke up today on re-entry. Again, this disturbed me. But this time there was a tinge of anger. Maybe, because there was a "civilian" aboard. We cannot let this happen again!