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gcraib

Celestron C8 + HEQ5 First light

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So I'm now the proud owner of a C8, but the skies are cloudy!

Got a few bits to go with it, like the 6.3FR and a 17mm EP gonna get a few more bits and pieces later.

I think I might sell the EQ3 and get an EQ5 for use when no power available as it will carry either the mak or the sct.

Does anybody have any storage case suggestions?

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Finally got a break in the cloud to get out with new telescope!  Was spurred on in the vain hope of seeing the supernova in M82, but realistically I would be happy just seeing M82 as I had not found it before.

It was a clear night, reasonable seeing.  Cold and crisp, with a lot of moisture from all the rain. Viewing light polluted skies from back garden in Aberdeen.

This has ended up being quite long so browse to the bottom if you just want a summary.  But if you take the time to read, please enjoy and feedback your thoughts, similar experiences and any answers to the questions posed.

I had assembled the mount and scope earlier in the week to mark out balance points (I use red tape for mak and blue for C8 on dovetail and counterweight shaft) so I already understood the additional weight and brought the kit outside in several trips (because I didn't want to take flimsy cardboard boxes outside and my arms can only carry so much!).

I went ahead and started setting everything up in the dark.  Took a guess at how level the mount was, unfortunately this mount doesn't have a level bubble built in, shame on you skywatcher.  I forgot to fully extend the tripod as its about the same height as the EQ3-2 that I'm used to!  But doing this with the mount on was basically impossible so I had to take the mount off in order to reduce the weight and get the legs extended.  As I was unscrewing the mount it fell off.  Gutted.

The polarscope cover was broken and now my brand new mount has chips and marks all over it.  Because of the weight falling from about a meter I was worried about shock damage to the internal components, electronics and clutches.  The polarscope cover seemed to take most of the impact thought, so unperturbed (ish) I carried on.

As this was the first time using the set-up I had to check polarscope optical alignment to the mount.

Being new to the HEQ5 I did not realise that the declination had to be turned so that the polarscope view is unblocked but this was easy to figure out.

So I centred polaris and rotated the mount, it moved a little so I rotated the RA axis 180 deg and adjusted the polarscope ever so slightly and bam, right in centre.  It stayed there throughout rotating the mount.  Although it was very difficult to gauge how much to adjust the polarscope as polaris was so close to centre (well within the circle).

Next I was going to proper polar align for the observing session, but I decided to skip that step as it was getting late, cold and was worried about the moisture.

So I turn on the power, what's this start from park position?

The mount was no where near park position so I wasn't sure if it was asking to move the mount to park position or if it was asking if it was in park position.  Consulting the manual I found nothing to say either so I just cracked on.  Now forgetting the and no mount wasn't properly polar aligned (polaris was in the centre not the circle) I put the mount into park position and now it asks me to align.  So I check the manual again, right it says 3 star align for first time.  Ok so which stars?  My garden has a lower north horizon and at this point half of orion was just rising over my house behind me.  It suggests Sirius, no chance unless it is picking up x-rays through the granite!

So I flick through the suggestions (which at first seemed totally random, but then I realised it was by mag - hence Sirius first.  changed that to alphabetical order) but now also realising my knowledge of the stars was not as good as I had previously thought.  Sure I know where stuff is roughly (mostly planets and brighter DSO's), but these names were mostly unfamiliar to me I wasn't even sure which constellation some were in!  A constellation designation alongside the name would have been nice.  And the names I did recognise were mostly obstructed so I had to consult my phone with app.

Now here is the next problem, it suggests a star that you might not be all that familiar with and how do you know that's it you are viewing when there are a few similar mag stars next to it?

I struggle a bit with some of the names as they sound so familiar so had never really bothered to learn the names.  Had no need until now!

I wanted to pick some from the plough, but I couldn't remember their names last night! Even dubhe and alkaid that I was familiar and the double in the handle that I forget right now mirzak or similar as my head is full of megrez, muktars and the like.  So with the help of the phone I attempted alignment, but had also forgot to properly align the finderscope.  Had just a quick effort to get going.

So obviously it didn't align properly, when I tested it on Jupiter.  I actually found it difficult to get Jupiter into the EP, even though its so bright and easy in the mak!  But it was just a bit of unfamiliarity with the C8 and its finder.  When I did get Jupiter it was so bright!  Wow, it needed a filter (tbh I should of put on a LP filter at the start but didn't), seeing was not great so I stayed at 25mm but Jupiter was brighter and bigger than I had ever seen it before.  Could not get heaps of detail but it was clear that the extra 3" aperture and 500mm focal length were working well.  On a better night I'll go back to that with a barlow or more power EP.

I used Jupiter to align the finderscope a bit better and then restarted alignment.

Now being in alphabetical order it was a bit easier to browse through.  So I browse to betelguese.  Nice one.  Its in view, bright and distinctive.  So we slew a short distance onto that  And I fine tune the finderscope to the C8, realising to use the finder as a guide and the C8 as the target.  So second star?  Now, here is the thing it doesn't give you a whole heap of options.  I think I went for Regulus as leo was rising in the east, but I haven't spent much time looking at Regulus so it was fairly unfamiliar to me.  But we zapped it or what I thought was it.  At this point I was past caring and close enough was going to be good enough!

So onto the third star and I think we went for Capella (or was that the third alignment attempt?) or maybe back to the plough.

Anyways I did attempt alignment a third time as it was so far out and the results came back a lot better.

Ideally I would of picked Betelguese, Meerkat (or whatever its called in plough handle) and Capella as they are bright, distinctive (more importantly familiar to me) and were in view.

It had suggested Deneb but I couldn't even see Deneb!  It was either not in view or washed out by LP.  I think Vega was rising but also too close to houses and LP.

So to test the alignment I pop Jupiter into the go-to and it slews round.  It was quite amusing to watch it pick the direction to slew in as this seems a bit random.  It lands not too far from Jupiter so I move it slightly and viola!  Tried again with M45, again slight adjustment but tbh its such a big target so who knows where its centred (without looking at co-ords obviously...)

Forgot to say earlier while aligning I had attempted looking for M82 and thought I maybe saw something fuzzy.  Wasn't sure.  But by this time it was almost at zenith so lets have a look!

Pop in M82 and off it trots slewing around to the plough, now pointing up to zenith.  Ok so looking through the finderscope (awkward angle, I'll be getting a bracket asap so I can use the skywatcher RA finder!) and then through the scope, couldn't see it.  I knew the alignment was off slightly so I slewed a bit, then saw fuzziness at the edge of view and then - wow!! Got it! 

Apart from the dull glow of M31 core in the mak, I had not seen a galaxy up to now.  I decided some more contrast was needed to put on the neodymium filter.  Even more wow!  It was possible to pick out roughly) a star or two.  Maybe the supernova?  Or maybe stars in our galaxy?  Decided to keep looking and come back to it.  Now why I didn't slew to M81 I don't know, had a look through the tour and it gave me a few suggestions but I couldn't find anything. 

M1 came up and I've struggled to find that in the past so I gave it a go in LP polluted skies!  I couldn't see anything obvious so slewed around and then I thought hold on, whats that?  I know what M1 should look like, but that's not what I was seeing.  It was the right shape but more like a 'patch' in contrast on the sky. does that sound right?

By this time ice was forming on the ground and I think dew had started to gather on the scope, albeit my trusty dew shield was working well.

Went back to M82 and decided to get the camera out.  Now this meant swapping the visual back so I can get the 2" camera adaptor into the scope.  Figured I might get a nearby star to focus on in live view with enough ISO but struggled.  So went back to Jupiter and used its moons to achieve focus but then I couldn't find M82!  Ok I have a plan.... so I got the 2" diagonal out (to save swapping visual backs again) and put the EP in that to find M82 and try to see how far out focus was.  Way out!  Then the next step in my plan was to save the position, but I couldn't figure out how to do that (in the utility menu?) or at least it was a bit confusing.  So I abandoned that plan and put the camera back on, focusing slightly to allow for the difference I hoped that I would be near enough to see it on live view, but no.

This is ok for nice bright objects but not DSO's, you need accuracy and alignment.  Oh and the focusing mask that I had left in the house.

Although saying that, I'm not sure if you need a focusing mask as the mount does track quite steadily.

So I guess that was it for first light, eventful!

I need more practise with the mount and scope to get familiar, swap the finder out so I can use the skywatcher one.  Maybe a laser finder would be a good idea, especially for alignment.

Can see the 1.25" diagonal getting retired soon, so you don't have to swap out visual back when using 2" gear that I use with the mak.

Looks like I need a new polarscope cover, where do you get these?

Is the mount likely to be ok?  Or should I get it checked out?

In future I'll extend tripod before putting into position!  Obviously better to set-up with a bit of daylight.

The HEQ5 is obviously more involved to set up than the EQ3-2 that I'm used to, hopefully practise will help with that.

I'm glad I never went for any of the EQ6 family!

The kit is so solid.

Didn't get enough time observing but the views I did see were impressive.  Now I'm worried about not using the mak!

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Forgot to add, it is possible to carry the mount back into the house.  I really wasn't going to dissemble everything at that point!

Just took the C8 off, put it in plastic box with all the ancilliaries and accessories for ease of carrying.

Carried the mount back, with tripod and weights attached - carefully!

Ideally you would maybe take the weights off to make it a bit easier but its manageable for an average person going from garden into house.

To put the mount back in its box it needs to be put back to 30deg alt to fit in the polystyrene.  Really was not away to do that.

I'll also be on the lookout for alternative alt adjustment screws.

Put everything back in the house, avoiding the cat and let the condensation do its thing.

The dew wasn't that bad actually, I've seen worse on the mak.

Looking forward to getting storage bits so I can keep it in the garage next to the mak.

I never noticed an issue with cooldown as it took ages to set-up.

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