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  1. Hello all! Long time forum lurker here, 1st time poster, with an anecdote that underlines why I have no business owning a telescope and a request to all forum members who are brave enough to share any equally silly / stupid / embarrassing "learning curves" they have (or an unnamed friend may have had!) Whilst I've long been fascinated with the stars, it was only on my 30th birthday that I first looked through a telescope and marvelled at a new perspective on the universe. I was given a 76mm Skywatcher Reflector for my birthday, and spent 2 years looking at the moon and various stars through the supplied 10mm and 25mm eyepieces, sometimes coupled with the 2x Barlow and filters. Most viewing is from my garden at home in Essex, but it always joined me on car trips to my parents place in the middle of nowhere in France for some amazing viewing conditions. Having slowly learned some reference points to get me around the sky, it was after seeing a very grey fuzzy Jupiter through my 76mm, (that left the eye piece quicker than I could swap position to show my wife), that I finally got the “spend more see more bug”. After months of research on here, I took the step of upgrading to a Skywatcher 200PDS on a HEQ5 Pro SynScan in January 2017 order through FLO. The Anecdote: About two days after it had arrived, having read the instructions from cover to cover, the weather was clear enough to set the 200PDS side by side against the 76. I removed the dust cap from the 76 and then tried to do the same from the 200PDS, sitting proudly on the HEQ5. But there was a problem, I couldn't get the dust cap off the 200PDS. After some head scratching, manual re-reading, it then struck me. For two years, I hadn't been removing the dust cap from the 76......I didn't realise that the whole big black piece of plastic, the entire diameter of the telescope, popped out. I had spent two years, and countless hours in awe of photons entering that small removable cap that sat in the middle of the dust cap. How it had never occurred to me that the hole wasn't anywhere near the 3 inches is beyond me. My wife says she has a good idea how. But that's for another forum! Anyhow, having had the 200PDS for a couple of months, dust cap off, I have never been more amazed and enthused. Jupiter at opposition over the weekend was stunning. I’ve signed up to North Essex Astronomical Society and am looking forward to the first opportunity to get up there to talk to people in the know. So, does anyone else care to share so that we all may have a laugh at your expense and hopefully learn something along the way? PS: I have another thing that I have a gut feeling I'm doing really wrong when loading the OTA onto the mount, but that's for another time!
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