My First Telescope: The Journey-First Night Out Among the Stars

Author photo.
Author photo.

First Night Out Among the Stars

This is a continuation of My First Telescope: The Journey-Decision/Order/Delivery/Setup

After weeks of cloudy nights and bad weather, there is finally a clear night. Of course the temperature is down in the teens but I figured I could at least get a start on my skyward journey.

I bundled up well and started carrying my telescope out onto the front deck. Before I even got out the door the tilt plate, which I found out was not locked, moved and got stuck in the full upright position. With that much weight shifting suddenly, I stumbled around like a drunk and almost fell. But fortunately I did not and was able to set the tripod down. But the latitude adjustment rod was stuck and I could not get the tilt plate to go back down. What a start to my first scope experience! So I carefully took the fork arm with the optical tube off of the plate, took the bolt out of the hinge and was able to get the tilt plate to go back down. After putting the bolt back in, I tightened the tilt plate so it wouldn’t move on me again and replaced the fork arm and tube. There was nothing in the setup instructions about tightening up the tilt plate. Then out the door I went.

OK – now I need to set up the hand control. I found the switch and it powered up. I entered my location, the date and time. Now all I needed to do was go through the alignment procedure so I could use the ‘go to’ features of the scope. This entails finding a bright object in the sky and centering it in your eyepiece. Once it has accepted this object you pick a second one as far away from the first one as you can and repeat the procedure. You repeat it once more with a third object. I did this and it accepted all three of the objects….but wait, alignment failed! Darn! So I proceeded to try it again and got the same result. I think I wasn’t picking the objects far enough apart but that was tough to do on the deck. But by then I was getting too cold and I didn’t want to try hauling it down the steps and onto the driveway. So I decided to find a few objects on my own so I could say I had looked through my telescope! I first tried the moon but it was full and there was too much light, so all I saw was a bright circle of light. If you want to see any Moon features it needs to be in a phase without so much light. Then I pointed it at what I thought from the naked eye was Jupiter. I saw a large round planet with two moons on either side of it! I was looking at the same thing that Galileo gazed upon way back in 1610! He discovered Jupiter’s four largest moons. I really wanted to play with the magnification and some of the filters to try and bring out some details but by then I could not even feel my toes! So, it was time to put the scope away and wait for weather conditions more suitable for long-term viewing.

 

Happy Stargazing!

I finally got my first taste of viewing the sky with my very own telescope! I have so much to learn but the journey will be exciting. It is also a journey I will be on for the rest of my life! If you are sitting on the fence about purchasing a good telescope, get off that fence and buy one – you will not regret it.

 

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