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No business owning a telescope - Anecdotes


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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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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

I've recounted this a couple of times on the forum before, but probably my biggest one was packing all my scope kit into the car, along with children and camping kit for a holiday in Dorset. I fo

Don't imagine it will get better, I set up recently on a nice clear moonless night to do a bit of imaging and after a short while the focal reducer misted up so took it indoors to demist it, refitted

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Hi Dust Cap, the most interesting thing about this is that if your 200PDS has a big plastic insert like my 200P Flex tube that has two small lids in the big plastic bit see my photo, that one of these will probably come off leaving a circular gap of about 3" (the other won't!) You can use the telescope with the lid in it and just the small revealed hole for viewing brighter objects like Jupiter and the moon or even make a baby solar filter for it and use it to view the sun (remove finderscope first!).

 

I suppose you could say that my faux-pas was not realising that the big plastic tray had any use at all - For my first two months ownership I just thought it was a dust cover - I didn't realise it had practical use!

IMG_3645.JPG

Edited by JOC
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Now that is quite an anecdote, I must say. At least you can say it was an eye opener!

Nothing much drastic with me - odd telescope dropped to the floor because I forgot to hold it while I was undoing mount saddle screws, and such :D - luckily for me that one has a happy ending like your story does - I manage to half catch it with my foot - total damage - one broken ring and a mark on the ota - optics fine!

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It can happen to the best of us, even when we are meant to have some experience under our belts.

 

Mine goes back to 2004, so at the point I already had well over a decade of telescope usage experience, and even more of stargazing thanks to the use of my father’s binoculars prior to that.  I had taken delivery of a very exciting telescope, the LZOS made 115 f/7 triplet refractor having decided to take the plunge into the that black hole (at least for one’s wallet) of preferring lenses to mirrors.

 

The focal length of the telescope is 805mm, but to make the scope a bit more manageable for storage, there is a sliding drawtube at the rear which must be slid out some distance for the feathertouch focuser to be near the focal plane of the telescope.  Sadly in my excited state of wanting to get it out under the stars, I had not really realised how far (perhaps I should have stopped to think about 805mm….) the tube should slide out, so had the scope in the garden, with my state of mind becoming increasingly anxious that there was a serious problem with my scope as nothing would get anywhere near focus.  I even emailed Tom Back, the lens designer in the US to ask what was up!

 

However, after that email I detached the scope from the mount and brought the OTA inside and sat with it on my lap in the lounge.  I sat that fiddling with the scope, pondering the several thousand pounds paid, when I loosened the set screws that held the drawtube and tugged on it, to find it moved far, far further than I had realised (probably 2-3x further than I had positioned it).  I immediately dashed back outside and set up the scope and was blown away by that first view of M42.

 

That was a big mess up on my part!  Tom Back actually emailed back very quickly but I did not discover till the next day as I was enjoying the lens he had designed.

 

I am sure most of us have one these stories in our history.

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I've recounted this a couple of times on the forum before, but probably my biggest one was packing all my scope kit into the car, along with children and camping kit for a holiday in Dorset.

I forget the details, but on what turned out to be the best, clearest night of the holiday, and what remains one of the most transparent skies I've been under in the U.K., I was preparing to unpack and setup my kit from the car, when I carefully placed my keys in the boot and shut the lid. I've still no idea how or why I did it, but I had to wait until the following day to get into the car, and spent an infuriating night looking up at a wonderful sky with my scope safely locked up a few feet away from me!

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@JOC By way of pure luck, I must have tried to remove the one cap that doesn't budge first, otherwise I suspect I would have still been sitting here today wondering why I had no better seeing than my 76!

@vlaiv :icon_biggrin: It sure was! Dropping the OTA is my biggest fear at the moment, which is why I have this horrible hunch that each time I load and unload the OTA I'm doing it all wrong. More to follow!

@DirkSteele Great story :hello2: It's that moment when you realise your mistake. 805mm, 3 inches, logic seems to become meaningless when excitement to use or fear of it being unusable kicks in. Sounds like a stunning scope though, is it your "go to" scope out of that impressive collection?

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Hi Dust Cap

I can't help but smile as I did the exact same thing with my Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ! I started to set it up in the house on a cloudy night to see how everything went together (without reading the manual properly). I took off the small cap on the dust cover to have a quick look through the window and saw a crescent-shaped sky. I thought, "Oh, it'll probably be better on a clearer night" and thought nothing else of it. It was only when I was taking it apart and putting it back in the box that I realised the dust cover came off completely... When it fell off actually! 

I'm glad I am not the only one! :icon_biggrin:

Hayley 

 

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@Dust Cap The 115 is one of more used scopes because it has enough aperture that you can do some decent astronomy but light enough that you don't groan when thinking about setting it up.  Helps it is optically superb as well.  Probably these days my Tak-76 is the most used, but I think that is because I am getting lazy and I can carry it, the mount and tripod in one go.

Edited by DirkSteele
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@Stu - I didn't see that coming. I thought you was going to say that you had left your eyepieces at home or something. But to lock it all cleanly away with the keys, how infuriating :icon_biggrin: Thanks for sharing

@laudropb - Thank you for the welcome! 

@Haylz - :icon_biggrin: That's made me smile thinking that someone else out there had that same moment of "ahhhh!!".......I'd like to think that Galileo spent nights looking into the wrong end of the telescope or had a few blank pages in his notebook with no drawings on having left his dust cap on :iamwithstupid:

Reece

 

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Welcome aboard.

Quote

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!

if you are placing the OTA on the ground and are then trying to lower the mount and tripod down onto it, that would be deemed 'really really wrong'! ;)

Best, Rich

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@RichM63 - :laugh2: Thanks Rich. I do it that way so that I never risk dropping the OTA :wink2:

Now's as good a time as any then - This would probably be better with pictures but in essence, I think there are "theoretically" two options for getting the OTA onto, and off of the mount.

Option A: The black metal dovetail mounting plate which is attached to the tube rings stays attached to the mount head, and at loading, the tube is carefully positioned into the rings, rings closed and ring bolts tightened. Reverse process for removing OTA, leaving the mounting plate and rings attached to mount head (or optionally remove the plate and rings after the OTA is off if you dont want to store it with the plate and rings attached to the mount)

Option B: Leave the rings and dovetail mounting plate attached to the OTA, pick the OTA up and attempt to locate the mounting plate into the mount head recess. Once balanced on the mount head, balance the OTA under one arm whilst using your other hand to slowly tighten the two screws to bite the mounting plate onto the mount head. Reverse to remove. 

Answers on a post card please! (Sits back and waits for options C, D and E!)

Edited by Dust Cap
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4 minutes ago, Paul73 said:

In Stu's position, especially with that sky, who would have sacrificed a car window?

I would have found a handy brick....

Welcome to SGL.

Paul

There is more to the story Paul which I had blanked out of my mind....

I did pay some extortionate amount to the RAC to join and for them to try to break in. They failed, but did succeed in setting the alarm off multiple times, to the delight of the neighbours who were trying to get their young children to sleep.

Had to wait until morning for BMW assist to know the correct way to get into it!

A brick may have been easier but still would not have got me into the boot!

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Hello Dustcap, and welcome to the community, i'm sure you will enjoy your time with us, 

I use option (B) once you have mounted and balanced your scope, mark the dovetail with

a permanent marker, then next time no need to re-balance, if you screw the big knob first,

then tighten the small slip knob, I find it's the easiest way, and you can carry your scope with

the dovetail.

Clear Sky's.

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@Stu - And you know that whether you could have somehow broken window to gain access, a costly RAC membership that got in and didn't wake the neighbours, or BMW miraculously gaining you access on the night, the moment you had it set up, it would have clouded over and rained! :happy8:

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7 minutes ago, Dust Cap said:

@Stu - And you know that whether you could have somehow broken window to gain access, a costly RAC membership that got in and didn't wake the neighbours, or BMW miraculously gaining you access on the night, the moment you had it set up, it would have clouded over and rained! :happy8:

Ain't that the truth!!!

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Thank you @ronl - That's the route I currently go, though I've been thinking more and more that one I have the scope all perfectly balanced, if I marked the OTA as to where the rings should meet the OTA, I could leave the dovetail and rings on the mount head and just load the OTA into and out of the rings each time, which sounds easier to manage compared to locating the dovetail into the mount head and then freeing up a hand to tighten the two bolts that bite the dovetail plate on the mount head. Maybe this one is down to preference rather than a right or wrong way of doing things. 

Unlike leaving a dustcap on for two years....

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28 minutes ago, Dust Cap said:

Thank you @ronl - That's the route I currently go, though I've been thinking more and more that one I have the scope all perfectly balanced, if I marked the OTA as to where the rings should meet the OTA, I could leave the dovetail and rings on the mount head and just load the OTA into and out of the rings each time, which sounds easier to manage compared to locating the dovetail into the mount head and then freeing up a hand to tighten the two bolts that bite the dovetail plate on the mount head. Maybe this one is down to preference rather than a right or wrong way of doing things. 

Unlike leaving a dustcap on for two years....

I find it easier to lift the telescope onto the rings than locate the dovetail. If it is marked for balance it doesn't take much adjusting. 

Some great stories on the thread so far. ?

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Great story Dust Cap :)

I've no real stories to tell, but I will admit that it took me an embarrassingly very long time to find the full moon one of my first nights out with my 250px, and I'd say I spent 5 nights patiently looking for Andromeda before I finally found it.  My first galaxy: I was sooooo chuffed!  Still hunting them 8yrs on.

All worth it in the end :D

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@vitruvian I'm definitely going to try your method next time out as it sounds more comfortable. Out of interest, do you load the OTA into the rings in a "home / parked" position, or some other easier position? 

@niallk Haha thanks for sharing - I remember doing the same with the sun and appropriate filter on the 200PDS and thinking that if I couldn't find the nearest star to us, I had no blooming hope. I tell myself that not being able to use the spotter scope or telrad was the reason why :icon_biggrin:

I'm still yet to even look for Andromeda - On the couple of good nights I've been out this year with the new scope, I find myself keep coming back to the beauty that is Pleiades. 1st time I saw it through the supplied 2 inch 26mm eyepiece, my jaw literally dropped.

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Dust cap, get some BAADER's AstroSolar Safety Film, and put over small hole in the cover of your 76mm Skywatcher Reflector, and you can view the sun. Can do the same with your Skywatcher 200PDS. Have a Skywatcher 200mm dob, and have captured views of solar eclipses, and several years ago transit of Venus. Can also put your mobile phone to eyepiece to image. Also have an ED80 on an EQ5 mount, and used a glass solar filter for solar viewing

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11 hours ago, Dust Cap said:

@vitruvian I'm definitely going to try your method next time out as it sounds more comfortable. Out of interest, do you load the OTA into the rings in a "home / parked" position, or some other easier position? 

I load it horizontally, then I move it to the parked position after. I marked the mount on both axis for the parked position.

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