Hi everyone, I’m back after a few observing runs with the “new” scope setup. Before that happened, though, I had to take it apart again to replace the part that I didn’t put on when it was originally reassembled. That went pretty well, and I was anxious to see how it worked. As I set up on Thursday (Feb. 6) for the first time, I noticed a low, thin layer of fog in the field. Well, that wasn’t going to stop me- I set up anyway. I turned the knob on my DewBuster to “10”, and left it there all night. I never had a problem with dew on the corrector plate all night, despite the fog. I plugged the mount into the battery, and was happy to see it light up and go slewing on it’s way. The fans plugged in and turned on correctly as well. On it’s first alignment star, Sirius, I focused it and ran it through the gauntlet of magnifications. Seeing was definitely not good. Despite that, I was quite pleased to see that it just needed a bit of collimation, which I achieved as best that the seeing would allow. After finishing the alignment, I moved to Jupiter. Contrast was good, hopefully a result of the flocking I installed in the tube and on the mirror baffles. Jupiter is a good test for telescopes; good telescopes will give nicely detailed images (assuming good seeing, of course). It kept a good, sharp image with some, but not much, detail at 235x. I bumped it up to 588x, but it definitely wasn’t sharp. Not much detail seen. I really hoped this was a result of poor conditions and not-perfect collimation. Fortunately, I couldn’t detect much fan-originated vibrations. As to whether the fans improved thermal problems was hard to determine, also due to poor conditions. The next target, the setting moon, I briefly glanced at. I was slightly disappointed with a lack of contrast around the moon. I then decided to call it a night and wait for the next clear opportunity. I was happy that just about everything was working on the first round.
Over the weekend, I cleaned my 2″ mirror diagonal, and noticed the shiny black interior reflecting light. I concluded that this may be a possible cause of less-than-hoped-for contrast on the moon. After a bit of thought, I decided to flock it as well. It went pretty well and it did cut down the shiny reflections; however, I got a bit of the sticky adhesive backing on the mirror, which required careful cleaning. Lesson learned: next time, remove the mirror.
And that brings me to yesterday. The entire setup went mobile when I put it on a rolling platform. Now, I’m able to roll out and set up in 5 minutes. That’s about 100lbs of 9.25″ SCT, GEM, and battery, ready to roll at 5 minute’s notice. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Later yesterday evening I rolled it out under clear skies. I pointed it roughly north, and did a simple Solar System Align. I spent a little time on the moon and Jupiter beneath darkening skies before shutting it down to go inside to watch the Olympics for a few hours. The images were very turbulent with seeing, tube currents, or both. I left the fans running to let the scope reach equilibrium, and left the dew heater going on low to keep the dew off. Unfortunately, I came out after the Olympics to find high clouds. I decided to take a peek at a few things before going in. The moon and Jupiter were about the only things worth observing. After aligning and improving collimation, I went to Jupiter. Seeing wasn’t too bad, and any traces of telescope thermal problems were assuredly gone. Still, I didn’t see quite as much detail on Jupiter as I wanted at 235x, and it still wasn’t very sharp at 588x. Then again, I was observing through clouds and imperfect seeing. I shut down and rolled it back into it’s place in the shed and went to bed. So I continue to battle conditions to critically test my telescope.
Conclusion? Needs more testing, under some favorable conditions. But, I am certainly happy to get this system up and going, and working well!