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Saturday, June 10th, 2006
Since getting the equatorial platform, my observing has changed quite a bit.
 
Setup time
I used to have casters mounted on thhe bottom of my mount and just roll my scope out into the driveway and observe away. I was very pleased to be able to go from nothing to observing in minutes.
 
Well.. those days are over. I had to remove the casters and put the original feet back on so the scope will sit on the EQ platform. That means going through a multi-step process to get from nothing to observing.
1) Lay out the EQ platform and rough align it. Takes perhaps 2 minutes or less.
2) Take my scope off of the mount and put it on the ground
3) Put the scope mount on the platform
4) Put the scope on the mount
5) Fine tune the tracking
 
There is way more if I want to try and take a picture. I won't go into that though.
 
Observing Quality - very significant 
I will say this though: the quality of observing is absolutely worth every extra minute of setup time.
  
I've been observing again for every clear night (5 or 6 of them in the past few weeks). I have toyed with taking pictures, learned more about dialing in my EQ patform,  and for the most part, observed favorites from the past 2 years looking at them afresh.
 
For sure it is true that the EQ platform makes all the difference. I see far more detail then I did before. I can use more power than before. I can take in an object longer than before.
 
 
Jupiter 
I tonights observation session I could see the faint, tiny shadow of Europa transiting the great planet. I could see more detail in the storm bands then I've ever seen before. And tonights seeing conditions were ony mediocre at best.
 
M29 - Cooling Tower Cluster 
I looked at M29 at 300 power. I've never done that before. At that power I saw more stars then I realized were in that cluster. From an open cluster standpoint, I was never much impressed by M29 but tonight's session made a big difference. It is a wonderful object to view and has much more shape and character then I'd ever noticed before.
 
M57 - Ring Nebula
Not on this night, but last week I was looking at the Ring Nebula at 400 power and for the first time I saw the central star. And it was using *my* scope, from *my* backyard! Without the tracking I may never have seen it.
 
 






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