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First (real) Saturn

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AstroKerr    16

Honeybadger/Hyacinth/Mad Hamster  and I set up the C-8, ETX-60, and the Meade Mak 90 to do a bit of castin' about in the front yard. Rather spur of the moment as we were both otherwise un-busy.  Lot of vapour in the air - up to 12-13 deg off the horizon , lots of turbulence above that - ripply invisible annoyance - but the moon was low in the east so we were hopeful =)  Ahhh, but, and also, it was Homecoming Night, and we live just across the road and such a busy road this evening! Recap - Vapour, Burbly Air, Headlights, School Lights - O! Ooo! Doesn't we loves a challenge!

We caught Antares, Al Niyat I and Al Niyat II low, just above the distant ridgeline - air was calm enough - bam-bam-bam. Not the best, but all fairly clear. Hey! They're not far from that street light - in goes UHC - cool - now they're rainbowy! Checked lens, filter, coffee - all seemed in order. Not sure what's going on there. Slew to the Yeds, Prior and Posterior - not so much rainbow, but definite blue side, red side. Filter out - boring, but more faithful. Focus ripples in and out with the air now. meh.

Skew back to Saik. Nice, clean - we're on the Celestron 8~24 Zoom, on 24. Pop in the TV 20mm Plossl - no big excitement there, but crisper/cleaner (?) yes, plus or minus air - not good air for judgy comparisons. UHC back in - blue side/red side. Scoot to Sabik. same-same. Filter out. 

Ser (HIP 86263) and it's little buddy HIP 86266, which I call Ser's Wart. Hyacinth, whose eyes are better, got Wart (she calls it 266 - bo-ring) focused and clear - I didn't quite - I had a blur there, and headlights going by, and our focuses are diff, so I jumped to the Meade Mak90 on the AutoTracker - and yup, a 90 is not a 203 by any stretch, but I lost that distracting blur that could have been the Wart. And that's fine, I zeroed the little RA finder on that a bit tighter.

Back at the C-8, HoneyBadger has gone up to v Oph & 8mm on the zoom. If you're going to view v Oph - do the zoom, do the mag. It's one of those amazing stars that looks pretty much the same at any mag - a real stable, solid constant of a star. If you defocus - it looks like a donut!

So, she's off for coffee, please line up Saturn, which I do back at 24 on the zoom and sumummabudge! Not Saturn with elliptical blur - but Saturn with a nice, clean, well defined ring! Kick to 8 and just a bit of refocus - and oh goody goody it is much larger! And it's holding clear and colorful and there's bitty Titan and bittier Rhea for sure! Now, may well have been Tethys or Dione - they're both a bit brighter - but Rhea popped into me haid, so I'm claimin' Saturn, Titan and 'Rhea'. This was, for me, almost as epiphanic as seeing Jupiter and moons the first time. Clear ring(s). Some burble, but darn gosh golly!

The whole time I'm "Oi! Oi! Yoooo-hoooo!! Prin-cess!" til she fetchs out. She steps up as I step away "You got it?", she asks. "Yeah. Pretty much."

Well, she twiddles the focus a bit and mumbles some oh my's and doesn't do much for the next three or four minutes except track it manually and hand me her coffee to set down. I pull it up on the Mak90, the the ETX and oh it's a good bit smaller - can still see titan-blob on the 90 and maybe on the 60, but that's prolly imagination on the 60 - I don't think the air was calm enough, and I just had a 26 on that. An X-cel LX 18 on the 90 - then swapped for the TV 20 - okay, TVs do indeed matter - and then we swapped about, tracking, murmuring - another 10 minutes probably.

That was awesome, and it wasn't near the best we'll get from the C-8 or the Newt 8  or even the 120 frac- didn't Barlow (we should have). Tried the UHC again - lovely rainbow if just out of focus - blue and red fringes in focus - have to check that UHC - it's an Astronomik so I doubt it's the problem - I see on the case the label says recommended focal ration f/∞ to f/1.9 ( I didn't know that would matter), 95.5% transmission, UHC-1, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary, I believe. I dunno - maybe it didn't like the 8~24 zoomer? Didn't think to try it on another eyepiece.

Well, GO GET THE IMAGER!! hustle-hurry-scuryy - where'd I put it?! So I grab the solid smartphone adapter, m' Blu Life One with 13mp camera and room for a pony, the TV 20 and do a quick align job in the kitchen, run outside and Honeybadger pops it in and nothing. Some fringes off to one side, obviously the edge of the tube - reset the lens in the diagonal - same - sight on street light - seems the TV 20, Adapter and Cam lens are all aligned - back in scope - repeat maybe 5 time, well, dam now saturn's done fer - right on the ridge...ridge...ridge...gone. 

Always another night =) So we slew over to the annoyingly bright and mostly full moon and goof off after she sticks the filter on. We double check the TV/Adapter/Cam align, pop it in the Diag - same thing, only a very bright curved fringy along one side. Joan dismounts the TV and the phone and hands me the adapter and gets some skewed pix handheld - but better than nothing.

Still can't find the NexImage 5MP  - bah! - so I grab the VX-3000 webcam minus lens and pop it in - definitely needs a filter - but we get a couple more shots - tried to get Fomalhaut, Vega and Altair to register - but this IS a webcam...

Now - tonight was the first night we used the new Orion 1.25" Twist-Tight Dielectric Mirror Star Diagonal instead of the Smushed Taffy looking Meade Diag from the Infinity 80 - go figger - vast vast improvement, and the compression ring is just mad keen. I'd like at least two more to reduce swapping, but first I'm going to try ScopeStuff's claimed 99.9%, 1/10th wave compression band @ $60 - it HAS to be better than the low end Meade/Celes/Orion diags - especially that frippin' rounded Taffy Diag. Have to recheck some EPs.

The TV 20mm - I have to say it is a quality EP - We both agree, prolly get a short set of the plossls for 'reference'.

Tried the Zhumell Z 18mm - not a bad EP! FOV 55, ER 20 - seemed pretty flat to the edges, but not a great night to test it. Not as flat as the TV? Narrower FOV than the X-cel, ~$15 cheaper - more tests.

Tried the Agena Multi Reticle Finder $60 - worth it if you want variety and click-stop alignment. Quality. Nice. 7 brightness levels, which actually come in handy!  http://agenaastro.com/agena-multi-reticle-reflex-finder-with-synta-style-base.html . Dot, Cross, Circle-Cross, Circle-Dot. Would be exceptional value @ $45, but great value as priced.

Tried the Telrad (Temp Taped on) Also Nice! Ugly as heck =) but does a nice job as a finder! Big wide fov.

Not a bad night, got a lot done, tested some stuff.

Saturn was soooo nice!

Clear Skies, Sharp Eyes!

Edited by AstroKerr

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Dave In Vermont    4,928

Just a note about the 8 - 24mm Zoom eyepieces - of any name on them - Celestron, Seben, etc. At the 24mm setting, these have really tight FOV. As a result many people think it would be more appropriate to consider them to be closer to a 21mm low-power setting. This even holds true with the fancier Baader Hyperion 8 - 24mm Zoom.

This quality isn't a defect. It's just nature of the optics when used in this particular format.

Now Back to our Scheduled Program...


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