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Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
Two months?!  Has it really been that long since I had the scope out?  Sigh...  I guess so.  This summer has been so busy.
 
But I digress.  In preparation for my inlaws visit this weekend I finally got the scope out to make sure everything was working and, honestly, to make sure I still knew how.  Setup took a bit longer than usual but I managed to align the GOTO function on the first try.

Location:  The Backyard in Camas WA
Observing Time: 9:15PM-10:30PM PDT
Sky conditions:  Clear sky, Bortle 5
 
Notes:
I chose easy targets tonight because I wanted to find things for my inlaws to look at that a) I could easily find and b) they would be able to readily see.  The targets were:  M13, M31, M27,  Jupiter and M57.
 
Tonight was the first time I had seen Jupiter through the Celestron 8SE and I must say I was wow'ed.  Io, Europa and Callisto to one side with Ganymede to the other.  I could make out the bands on the disk of Jupiter but this was difficult because it was relatively low in the sky and I didn't have the appropriate filters.  Still an eyeful!!
 
My challenge of the night was locating M57.  It took me a while to figure out what was going on.  Every time I used the GOTO feature to locate it I could not find it.  Additionally, after every attempt the alignment failed.  I would realign, check other targets and it worked fine.  Try to find M57 and everything fell apart.  After some troubleshooting I finally found the problem:  I had not mounted the scope high enough in the mount.  Every time I tried to slew to M57 the diagonal was catching on the bottom of the mount just enough to drag because the target was nearly overhead.  The scope did not stop it's slewing but, of course, the dragging threw everything off.  Once I remounted the scope higher in the mount this problem went away but I wasted probably 20 minutes trying to figure it out.
 
I was then able to easily locate M57.  I went inside for a moment to get a drink and when I came out I noticed that my observing night was over.  Dew had formed on the primary objective... I was done.
 
Lessons learned:
I have a dew shield--use it.
I need to invest in a HEATED dew shield--add that to the list.
Filters are also needed for viewing of solar system objects.





Comments:
On 09/10/10 at 02:56am Neil Heacock wrote:
This is a great entry Jim. The pains of trying to remember how to use everything after two months of no use, and the lesson of scope positioning and, of course, the nasty dew we get here. All good experiences to grow by (even though frustrating while it's happening).

-Neil



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