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View from a Scope | November 20, 2017

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My First Telescope

My First Telescope

Well it has arrived after a long agonising wait over Christmas and having the FedEx tracking website on constant refresh, my new telescope (Skywatcher 150p) arrived yesterday evening and what an awesome piece of kit it is. Below I am going to go through the setup and what I can remember of it as well as my first experiences using the telescope.

Arrival

When the telescope arrived it came in 2 big boxes, one was crazy heavy and the other light as a feather, indeed one was the mount (heavy) and the other was the telescope (light). I must admit that at this moment it felt like I was seven years old on Christmas morning. So naturally I tore open each box to see what was inside.

The telescope itself was very neatly packed and was the only thing in the first box so I put it aside for now. The second box contained the mount and accessories.

 

Setup

I took my time with the setup of the mount and read the instructions cover to cover, I did get the sense that the instruction were written for people who already have experience with EQ mounts, so it took a little time to figure out what went where.

Saying that the main body of the mount was already assembled, so it was just a matter of attaching the accessories. One thing I did find was that one of the legs of the mount was stuck and would not extend down like the others. Eventually I took to prising it loose with a screwdriver and it worked fine after that.

 

Once the mount was put together, it was time to attach the dove tail that would hold the telescope. Again things got a little confusing here as a dove tail is supplied with the mount but there is also one on the telescope as well.

The instructions tell you to connect the dove tail to the mount with the 10mm spanner and nuts provided. On looking in the box I could find no nuts but only later realised that the same dove tail which is connected to the telescope tube rings on the telescope might work, which it did.

So I had one dove tail left over and a spanner I never used. I generally don’t like having bits left over after putting something together and I had this awful feeling as soon as I put the telescope in the whole thing would collapse. Despite this concern I belted ahead and connected the telescope up, now it started to look like it should (Photo Right). I just had to connect the finder scope and the eyepiece and I would be well sorted.

At this point I started to play with the controls, and immediately realised why as a first scope it is recommended you go with a dobsonian. The way the scope moves around the mount is initially hard to get your head around definitely not as simple as a dob.

The first thing I figured out is that the starting position is very important on an EQ mount and tripod, One of the legs will have an N written on it this needs to be facing north, you also need to be sure that the telescope mount itself is line with the North leg of the tripod. Next your latitude needs to be adjusted to the part of the world you are in. In the Northern Ireland I have set my latitude to 54 degrees, This site is a good one for finding your own latitude (Maps of the World). There will be 2 screws that allow you to adjust this up and down and unless you move to another latitude you should need to set this again.

First Use

So with the telescope put together I was itching to try it out. Unfortunately as I am sure new owners of telescopes have found as soon as you get your scope you are guaranteed clouds. Despite this I ventured out. Now usually before you start using your telescope on an EQ mount you need to polar align it. This involves looking through the polarscope in the mount and lining this up with Polaris. This orientates the mount and allows you to following objects in the sky with the natural rotation of the earth. However as it was very cloudy I just took a guess at where Polaris was.

I could however see Jupiter and Orion and the Pleiades and I thought awesome, 3 great targets to view first. So I pointed the telescope in the general direction of Jupiter. I then lined up Jupiter with the finder scope until it was dead in the cross hairs. I stepped back took a deep breath, put my eye to the eyepiece and got my first glimpse of ….. the dust cover of the telescope (make you sure take this off before use for obvious reasons).

After removing this I still could not make out anything and realised that I was completely out of focus, So I played a little and suddenly some stars were becoming visible, this was awesome but no sign of Jupiter. I looked again through the finderscope and there is was, so obviously my finderscope and telescope were not aligned properly. I thought to myself no bother I will just hunt for it through the telescope. It was at this point that I realised it is incredible difficult to search for something just using the telescope.  I could see plenty of stars but no sign of Jupiter. I did however come across the Pleiades by accident and this was amazing through the 25mm eyepiece even on the cloudy night you could easily make out the individual elements of the cluster. They just looked like shining diamonds in the sky.

Again unfortunately clouds came along and spoiled the fun. So I decided to pack up and get everything inside and wow the whole thing is really heavy. Most definitely the safest way is to dismantle the telescope and mount and carry each piece separately.

One last thing if you get a dobsonian or a reflector I would recommend getting a collimator scope. This helps you to align the primary and secondary mirror so you get the best possible view. My own telescope was quite a bit out and needed some adjustment to get the best view.

 

I am now waiting for night fall again so I can go out and use my telescope properly for the first time. I will update and let you all know how I get on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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