Wednesday, August 17, 2005

observing from Huntsville

Elinor invited me up to the cottage for a couple of days. I leapt at the chance. And packed the telescope. First time using Steve's old backpack frame and the battery in an old laptop bag.

The backpack works! I can now carry the 'scope case, counterweights, shaft, books, and other materials on my back, battery on a shoulder, tripod and dew shield in one hand, and mount in the other. Can you say "mule?"
  • seeing: 2 to 5 / 10 (very poor on the horizon)
  • time: 8:00pm - 11:00pm EDT
  • location: Lake Fairy, 45.3°N
We checked out Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon. We could see the 4 big moons of Jupiter. They were slow close to the horizon, it was like looking through a fish tank...

Jovian moons at 9:30pm EDT:
Ganymede and Io left of Jupiter, Europa and Callisto on the right

I stayed on later to try to catch some deep sky objects but the gibbous Moon was very bright and there was a thin, high cloud layer messing with transparency. Still, after much fiddling, I found Messier 57 (M57), the Ring Nebula.

I created a "viewing ring" (blue) for my finder scope (7x) , which will also work for the old Bushnell binoculars. I tried to make a ring for the 26mm eyepiece but I could not find helpful markers.


Elinor produced a telescope of her own (or her son's rather). It was a table-top! I've never used one of these. It was the Bushnell Voyager with a cradle base.

I found it a little awkward to use. It's partly that the image presentation is different than my cat so I kept moving it the wrong way. It's also partly the base. The thing is "nose heavy" so if you're trying to view things close to the horizon, it keeps slipping in the cradle. And, of course, it wasn't on a tripod. So, you really need to be sitting at a table or have it placed on a tall platform.

Still, I got it aimed at the Moon as it rose over the lake. It produced a nice image. The kids enjoyed it!

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