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My First Telescope: the Journey-Decision/Order/Delivery/Setup
I have been interested in astronomy since I was old enough to look up at the sky and wonder what was out there. I sat in awe watching every moment of Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the moon. I followed all the space missions. But I really did not get that involved in astronomy as a hobby until a few years ago. I joined the local astronomy club, attended their meetings and went to their public night programs to learn as much as I could. At first I was content to look through the telescopes at the club’s observatory. But in doing so, I became spoiled. They had a couple of 16 inch telescopes which allowed great views of Saturn and its rings, Jupiter and whatever target you wanted to view. Then the local university donated a 24 inch telescope. Not many astronomy clubs are fortunate to own such a large scope! I learned a lot about the types of telescopes and which telescope is better for which viewing situation. But I wanted one that could do everything! I read hundreds of telescope reviews. I read everything I could find about picking out a telescope. The trouble was I had so much information I went into brain overload and I could not decide. When I finally did decide, it was too expensive or too heavy to be portable. So I backed down on the size and consequently the price and finally ordered one, after 2 years of agony.
My choice was a Celestron NexStar 4SE which is a Maksutov-Cassegrain computerized telescope. This scope has a combination of mirrors and lenses. I found a terrific on-line deal and had money left over to order an eyepiece and filter set. With two up-front discounts and a $100 rebate, a $1,300 telescope with an eyepiece and filter set only cost me $440! It pays to do some research!
It is December 1st as I am writing this and I am waiting for it to be delivered. I can’t wait to unpack it and read all the instructions so I can start viewing the sky. Where is that darn UPS truck? They only deliver until 7pm and it is already 7:20pm! It is 7:45 and I doubt it will be coming tonight. What a letdown. It is now 7:55pm and it has arrived! Last stop of the night!
I opened up the small cardboard box first. It contained another box which contained a metal suitcase. In it was an assortment of Plossl fully multi-coated eyepieces and a variety of colored filters to better see details of the planets and the moon. Cool! Then I tackled the large box. I got the cardboard opened and there was another pasteboard box with bright colored pictures and scope details. Off it came only to find another cardboard box! After opening the third box, I finally got down to three boxes that contained the telescope parts! The parts are out of the boxes and sitting on my living room floor. They were extremely cold so I decided to wait until the following night to assemble it. But after reading the set-up guide, I decided it was a weekend project. And it’s been cloudy since I got it so there is no need to rush putting it together.
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The weekend has come and gone and my scope is put together and sitting in my den. The eight rechargeable batteries are charged and installed. All that is left to do is align the finderscope which can be done during the day and then align the scope which needs to be done at night. But ever since I received the telescope, the weather has been cloudy. Today is the start of a major winter storm and tonight and tomorrow we will have blizzard conditions! So the telescope will be sitting in my den for a while. A hobby in astronomy requires one major characteristic – patience!
It has been 10 days since I received my telescope. I took it outside after work a couple of days ago and aligned the findersope. First I had to turn on the power switch to the hand control. Then using the controls I moved the scope so the red alignment dot in the finderscope was over an object in the distance. Turning on the power switch to the finderscope, I used the azimuth (right/left) and the altitude (up/down) knobs to center the red alignment dot on the object. Once the object is centered, the finderscope is aligned and what you see in it should be what you see in the eyepiece. It is now ready to align to the sky which of course must be done in the dark. I turned off both power switches and returned the scope to my den to wait for darkness to arrive. But, much to my dismay, the clear sky became cloudy again after dark. It’s been cloudy all week and not a clear day or night in sight. Sigh….patience!
This telescope has a database with almost 40,000 objects. After the scope is set to my location and time and it is aligned to the sky, I will be able to pick out an object in the database and the telescope will go to it. It even has a tour feature which automatically takes you to all of the best objects in the sky for any given month. It has enough memory to save up to 100 user-defined objects. I will be able to create my own custom tour. Of course all of this needs a clear sky to accomplish. Winters in the Midwest do not offer many clear skies… but when they do it is worth the wait. The journey will continue with my first night out among the stars.
First Night Out Among the Stars
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