10/19/2011, front porch, Ankeny
Used only 30mm EP, and 2x Barlow
What I viewed:
* Jupiter (and 4 moons)
* Cluster near Taurus, contains Atlas? Pleiades / M45. (my first Messier object)
Now the rest of the story:
It was a cloudy night, as it always apparently is when one buys a new scope, and I spent way too much time unpacking, assembling, drooling over my new Zhumell Z10 that was freshly delivered via FedEx. While I was at work. Late morning. Ugh!
Even at age 32 I have very little patience when I get new toys — PLUS, when I got home, I had to wait until the kids went to sleep to even acknowledge that there was a brand-new telescope in our house, all packed up in boxes, since it is supposed to be a surprise xmas gift for them. Luckily, they go to bed at 8pm. Plenty of time to get that puppy all put together, finder aligned, collimated, and ready to go for the next clear night. Right?
Flash forward to 9:30pm. Assembly on the Z10 was a breeze. I was watching the Zhumell installation YouTube video on my XOOM the whole time, just so I did everything just right, didn’t want any scratches or unnecessary badness going on!
So, anyway, 9:30pm. I’m a fiddler, a DIY guy (when it is possible), I like to know how things work. So it didn’t take long for me to completely screw up the collimation and alignment of both the primary AND secondary mirrors. 11:30 rolls around, and I finally finished what I thought was half-way decent re-collimation and alignment of both mirrors. It took me at least an hour to realize the [frickin’] laser was out of collimation. Oops. Oh well — I eyeballed a lot of it. Hopefully it is OK, right?
I hauled the dobsonian base from my basement hiding place onto my back deck. I knew it was cloudy, but wanted to at least align the finder scope! Nothing was a good enough spot to do that out back, so, back through the house, to the front porch. Gave the cloudy sky the ol’ stink eye, and then attempted to align the finder on a street light. Then I decided that wasn’t good enough and growled at the sky again, deciding to wait until tomorrow during the day to line it up. I took the OTA off the base, hauled it down the basement again, cut my finger on the finder scope (argh, should have removed it before moving), and went back to get the base.
And…I saw a huge break in the clouds, that were FINALLY rapidly leaving the area. OH YEAH, BABY! Back up from the basement comes the OTA, and I moved the whole thing to the sidewalk in front of my house. Time to give it a whirl!
Using the 30mm eyepiece, I was able to align the finder using Jupiter, then Betelgeuse. Done. Now the test, I put in the 2x barlow, centered the finder on Betelgeuse…looked through the eyepiece. Nailed it. I LOVE the crayford style focuser on this thing. I’ve never used a scope before either, there are many like it, but this one is mine. And I love it!
It’s midnight, now, and I have to get up at 5:30am to work out. WHO CARES! I ended up spending over an hour looking at Jupiter, Betelgeuse, Pleiades, and our own amazing moon (through tree branches, just above my neighbor’s roof). Apparently I nailed the collimation, because I was able to resolve more detail than I ever expected, and not even using any more than ~80x (30mm with 2x barlow). It was awesome. So awesome.
I got to bed at 1:30am, to sleep around 2ish. It was worth it, even when the alarm went off at 5:30, I think I was still jazzed up from the experience.
Tonight’s looking clear, hope it stays that way!