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Monthly Archives: May 2012

31 May

I’ve been trying to choose the right telescope and I’ve settled on a reflector telescope because that gets me the biggest telescope for my telescope dollars. My only concern is collimating the mirrors. Is this a big deal?

This is a major concern about reflector telescopes for many beginners. Collimating, by the way, means adjusting the mirrors so that they are properly aligned to provide the best in optical performance. So, just how hard is it to collimate reflector telescopes?

Like so many things, it’s just a matter of experience. Once you’ve done it a few times, no big deal, …

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30 May

Like so many astronomers who love to hunt faint galaxies and nebulae, I regard dark nights with no light pollution and great atmospheric transparency as gold. For this kind of work, even the least amount of light pollution will render these very faint objects invisible in the telescope eyepiece and , for sure, those nights are all too rare.

Like many astronomers, then, I USED to hate the part of the month when the moon was in the sky, because even the worst urban light pollution can’t keep up with a full moon when it comes to making faint objects …

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29 May

Do you remember your first telescope? I sure remember mine and that’s saying a lot, after some forty years of doing astronomy with both astronomy binoculars and telescopes of all types.

My first telescope was nothing special, even by 70s standards, but it did get me started in astronomy and, because of that, I loved that telescope. It was one of those ubiquitous 60 mm refractor telescopes of the department store variety that I actually bought at a sporting goods store for the then enormous sum of thirty dollars and, believe me, thirty dollars was an enormous sum for a …

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25 May

Grab and go telescopes for astronomy are more popular than ever in this busy, light-polluted world of ours. So many astronomers have limited time to setup & use a telescope, thanks to the demands of career and family, so it’s nice to have a telescope that can have you observing in a matter of minutes. It’s also a sad fact of life that many astronomers live in light-polluted areas, so telescopes that can be quickly and easily packed in the car and driven to a darker site can also be very useful.

Grab and go telescopes, then, mean telescopes that …

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24 May

As an astronomer who uses both astronomy binoculars and telescopes with equal passion, I am sometimes asked, why bother with binoculars? Gee, you have such wonderful telescopes, why do you even mess with binoculars? Surely there is nothing that you can see in binoculars that you cannot see better in the telescope eyepiece.

This attitude, though understandable in someone who is not acquainted with using binoculars for astronomy, is wrong, for two reasons. First, there really are some objects that are better viewed in the wide fields of view provided by binoculars – objects too expansive to fit in the …

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23 May

One of the first thing beginning astronomers learn is that the things we astronomers like to see in our telescopes and astronomy binoculars are not evenly distributed across the sky – some constellations seem to packed to the gills with things to see in the telescope eyepiece and others seem almost barren by comparison. It’s all just a matter of the perspective from our earth-based platform in space, of course; a matter of coincidence as to what we can see from this planet. The view would be quite different were we observing on a planet in another star system.

This …

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22 May

After 40 plus years of doing astronomy with telescopes and astronomy binoculars, I am still a bit amazed at how quickly seeing conditions can change and drastically alter what you see in the telescope eyepiece. Seems like every time you setup & use a telescope, you are rolling the dice as far as what you will have for viewing conditions and, oh, how quickly things can change!

Last Friday night, I was galaxy hunting in the constellation Draco, using my large Dobsonian telescope. I had just located the galaxy NGC 5866 and as I admired the view, I made a …

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21 May

My three telescopes do not collect dust – I use all three on a regular basis for the various astronomical objects I like to observe. Now, three telescopes may seem like an abundance of telescopes to someone who is not an astronomer, but it’s actually not. I do know several astronomers with a dozen or more telescopes, though they typically do the bulk of their observing with only a couple of telescopes. Some folks just like to collect telescopes and I would no doubt do the same if my budget could take the strain.

Three telescopes, though, easily covers all …

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18 May

It’s probably a stretch to include weather forecasts under the category of telescope accessories, but for darn sure, I do use weather forecasts as much as I do any of my telescope accessories. I like to plan, ahead, as to when I can setup & use a telescope or my astronomy binoculars and weather forecasts allow me to do just that. Weather forecasts, for an astronomer like me, are for more than checking to see if I will have clear skies, too. That’s a place to start, of course, but if the forecast is for clear skies, I still dig …

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17 May

Had a clear sky, last night, so I rolled out my large Dobsonian telescope (it’s equipped with a wheel barrow handle and wheels, so I did literally roll it out) in the hopes of seeing … well, something different, something other than the famous deep-sky objects, something I wouldn’t normally seek out to see in the telescope eyepiece. Time to look for something off the beaten path, so to speak. While I was at it, why not browse through constellations that are not known for their wealth of deep-sky objects?

Bootes is just such a constellation. It’s an easy to …

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