Equipment Updates

1 05 2017
Musty rusty DS-10

Meade DS-10, purchased c. 1983. 10-inch f/4.5 Newtonian reflector on an equatorial mount.

As you can see, I’m still grappling with the beast, only now it lives in Massachusetts, not Indiana.

On our last truly warm day before winter, I took a wire brush to the rust on the exposed parts of the equatorial mount. The rust was mostly confined to the balance-weight shaft, but I brushed off some chipping paint on the post as well, then painted all the exposed metal with anti-rust primer. (Except for the tripod feet, they’re already good as they are.) I’ve been waiting for another warm day to cover that primer with black paint, but since one hasn’t arrived, it looks like my mount has a case of the rust.

That’s a new Telrad, by the way.

I’ve been contemplating building a dob box using Stellafane’s instructions, but I left many of my power tools behind in Indiana and I don’t really have the space to build a box. Or the carpentry skills, really. Anyway, I’m also thinking about buying a custom dob mount instead of building one.

I’ve got a new motor to install (still), but since I don’t do any imaging, it seems like more trouble than it’s worth. What I am going to get done, though, is stripping the gunk out of the focuser and replacing it with … what … lithium, probably.

Backyard Observing

New equipment bins on observing table, Catherine setting up her refractor.

Our last observing session was mostly Saturn, but Catherine also did a lot of double-star sketching with her 90-mm refractor. I’ve been trying to figure out a better backyard workspace, but mostly that means subdividing the observing table for task grouping.

I’m trying to keep the equipment budget low. Managed to get away from NEAF 2017 having only spent $120, and $20 of that was on a t-shirt. The other $100 was for a Celesteron alt-az tripod. I really needed something heavier (more stable) for the 15×7o binos, as well as for the 90-mm Mak that I like to take camping. I’ve been using the PST on a lightweight photo tripod, so this is a definite upgrade for solar observing. It’s a bit of an overkill for our birding scope, but we took it out to the heron rookery at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord yesterday, and it was light enough that I didn’t mind carrying it up and down hills.

I’m working on this summer’s packing lists. More on that next.

 





Observing Sketch

23 02 2017

Recreating Matt’s bino tour from the March 2017 issue of Sky & Telescope:

The “Fertile Crescent” region of Monoceros. 15×70 binos. February 22, 2017. Image: JR





Charioteer’s Cross

6 01 2017

In the November 2016 issue of Sky & Telescope, Matt Wedel wrote about his observations of a crucifom asterism on the Auriga / Lynx border. I took a few minutes last week to sketch the field as seen with small binos (8 × 42s). I was unable to resolve any stars in NGC 2281, of course; it was more of a suggestion than anything when viewed with handhelds. My goal on our next clear night is to return to the view with the 12 × 70s on a tripod.

Sketch of Charioteer's Cross asterism

View of Psi (Ψ) Aurigae through 8 × 42 binoculars, 6.5° field of view. January 1, 2017. Image: JR





Beta Scorpii

17 06 2016

Beta Scorpii, June 26, 2016, Maynard, MA, 8×42 binoculars. Image: JR





Uranus

12 12 2015

Binocular observations of Uranus. November 3rd was actually my 2nd attempt, as 1st attempt was thwarted by scavenging skunk. Cool but not cold, light haze, Metrowest light pollution. Pisces is dim dim dim.

November 3, 2015, Maynard, MA, 8×42 binos. Image: JR





Messier 34

16 11 2014

I was never much of a binocular observer, even though I loved using binoculars in the daytime when I was a kid. I jumped from naked-eye observing straight to a 10-inch reflector as a teenager. Since starting at S&T, I’ve been “backtracking,” trying to view all those things people start with in binos. It gives me something to do when I have just a small patch of sky or time. I’m getting closer to knocking off the Astronomical League’s Bino Messier list, anyway.

November 15, 2014, Maynard, MA, M34. Image: JR