Thursday, March 29, 2012
I took took my new Dobsonian telescope for a spin around the early night sky...
This month, the last of my 53rd year, I spent some of my holiday gift money on something I've long thought about buying - a telescope. The Bushnell ARES 5 inch Compact Truss Tube Dobsonian Telescope had many nice reviews for a starter scope and the price was very nice at OpticsPlanet. Everything cheaper was smaller and had fewer features. Everything more expensive was a lot more expensive.
I adjusted the collimation of the secondary and primary mirrors with a home made tool this evening and took it outside a little after sunset. I used the moon as a target to zero the red dot finder scope (I ran out of adjustment; it'll need a shim). The moon filled the eyepiece and the craters looked like I could reach out and touch them. By then Venus was shining. It is almost annoyingly bright and it was only quarter phase. Then a pinprick of light appeared a fist width below it in the darkening sky. Yes, it was Jupiter and its four Galilean moons. I could make out bands of color. I invited the folks to come have a look and then texted the kids and my sister-in-law, whose gift funded this neat purchase. As Jupiter descended into the trees to the west Mars was rising above the trees to the east. I reoriented my little Dobs and had a look at the small orange dot. Not a bad start for my first night observing the sky in the light polluted suburbs. This telescope will be a hoot at the cabin this summer. Fun, fun, fun.