Scoped and mounted.
Well, after some time, luck, money, time, research, more time and some totally hilarious foibles, I finally have a new telescope. My last one was an 8″ Celestron SCT with computerized “go-to” mount. It was optically very good and the telescope itself wasn’t too heavy, but the mount was (I replaced the one it came with for a heavier duty one), as well as unruly and required power to use, all in addition to a somewhat tedious set up. Everything worked as it should, but I wasn’t using it much because it took too much effort to get everything going. I sold it and wound up getting back almost all my money, which is great, but not unusual for optics and astronomy gear.
So, I went with the nice, low-tech approach for this one. I wanted to be able to go out on my back porch and just start observing, which is exactly what this kind of setup is for. This scope was purchased used and I scored UNBELIEVABLY when I bought it. It’s from about 2004 and made by the Taiwanese company William Optics (specifically a William Optics 80mm Megrez LOMO apochromatic triplet refractor, f/6). It’s a refractor with an 80mm objective lens and a “triplet” design, which means it has two more lenses after the objective, which helps bright objects from looking like they have funny colors and is typical of “apo” scopes. High quality internal glass makes this aspect even better and this is where I scored. Unknown to the seller, this one has glass made by a Russian company called LOMO. Many amateur astronomers consider these LOMO scopes to be the best 80mm refractors ever made.
It wasn’t cheap, but it was about $500 less than it probably should have been and the condition was absolutely pristine. Sorry if that seems like gloating, which isn’t very becoming, but it was an EPIC win.
I was looking for a William Optics scope not only because they’re high quality instruments, but also often come with these cool backpack cases. Why more makers of scopes don’t do this, I have no idea, it’s great. It all adds to the portability and usability of this scope. The tripod was ordered from KB Systems, who make the tripods for Televue, lightweight and made of wood (ash). The mount is a lightweight, all aluminum, unit that lets me just point it where I want it. Simple. The opposite of what I had before.
“First light” finally came after a bit of waiting. We’d been in the grip of a mild drought (NOTHING like what the midwest was experiencing recently) and had a lot of clear nights, which ended abruptly the day my tripod arrived and provided us with weeks of rain. Sometimes occurrences like this are referred to as the “two week curse”, which amateur astronomers (with a good helping of confirmation bias) know as the period of cloudy or otherwise crappy weather following a new scope’s arrival. BIAS CONFIRMED!
The night turned out to be clearer than predicted and seeing was pretty good. My targets were easy things like Alberio and splitting Polaris. Everything worked very well. I even got Neptune (currently at opposition) in my field of view, but it was pretty low in the sky and between some local light pollution and the scope being on the small side, any color was difficult to see.
My plan was to go out for 30-45 minutes and just try everything out, but I was outside for almost four hours, loving every minute of it. I think I’m going to enjoy this scope 🙂