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New 'Scope Arrives

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My shiny, new 80mm Semi-APO arrived this morning. It was supplied by "Astronomica" and seems to be a clone of the Stellarvue Nighthawk. It seems well built and robust. Crayford focuser is smooth and silky. All I need now is a clear night.

At the moment the weather is sunny, with blue sky (but a stiff breeze). If it keeps up like this I will get out about 9pm tonight and have a look at M44 and Saturn. So if it snows in west central Scotland tonight - blame me (new 'scope curse).

Once I've been out I'll let you know how "Black Beauty" performs.


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Finally got to a site far enough away from Glasgow to have reasonably dark sky (Glen Fruin - 25 miles WNW of City) with the new 'scope at about 9.15pm tonight. I had only had time before going out to ensure the new 'scope was in one piece and that I had a couple of EPs with me (20mm Widescan & 16mm Nagler). These would give me x24 and x30 respectively - so wide field options only.

As this 'scope is meant to be "Grab and Go" I only had my camera tripod with me. I set up the scope with the 20mm EP and pointed roughly at M45 (Pleiades), Easily found it in the 3.5 degree tFOV and settled back to watch. Stars glistened against a dark sky, crisp and sharp points. I switched to the 16mm Nagler (tFOV in this 'scope = 2.7 degrees). M45 filled about 3/4 of the field of view - breathtaking ! My other 'scope (LX90) never can get all of M45 in the EP FOV. Spent 5 minutes just grinning with pleasure at the view.

Moved to M42 - at x30 the Trapezium didn't split, but was clearly "fat" compared to the other stars - hinting at good views with higher magnification. The nebula was just glorious - its full extent easily evident, with "gull wings" spreading out from the core around the Trapezium. Some nebular detail (tendrils of gas and patches of thicker "haze") were easy to pick out. Very different from the more constricted views I am used to.

Popped over to Saturn and M44 - at these low magnifications M44 was the more impressive. A majestic cluster - crisp stellar points against a dark velvet background, with just a sprinkling of feint stars in the background, to hint at the glories still hidden. Loved it.

At this point I realised I was freezing - still in my office clothes (Suit & tie) and the temperature was -5C. The breeze was picking up and my fingers were numb - packed up quickly (2 mins) and jumped in the car. A very brief look through the 'scope - but enough to suggest there was a lot of pleasure waiting for the future.


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