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Littleguy80

Equiniox 80 First Light

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Last night was the first proper session out for my Equinox 80. It's not a true first light as I've had a few very enjoyable white light solar sessions and a brief lunar session on Friday with it. However, it hadn't a chance to properly roam the skies until last night. I started the evening with some Lunar observing in the twilight. I'd intended to use my newly acquired Baader Hyperion Zoom along wide my Baader VIP barlow as a high power zoom. However, I couldn't reach focus with it. I was able to reach focus with the Herschel Wedge so this seemed a little odd. I consoled myself that the only solution will be to get a Nagler zoom ;) My 4mm Ortho became the eyepiece of choice. Brilliantly sharp in the frac. The Apennine Mountains was the first feature to grab my attention. The sharp detailed view was very impressive. I'm not sure if the seeing  was good or I was simply benefiting from using a smaller aperture scope. The 10" dob is much more susceptible to poor seeing. Straight Wall, which is one my favourite Lunar features, was remarkably clear. I worked my way through a few targets from the Lunar 100. The Regiomontanus central peak was new to me and was the highlight of the Lunar targets. I really got a sense of it being a Volcanic peak. 

With the fall or darkness and the sky full of stars, I left the moon for more distant targets. Having read so much about the pin point stars in refractors, I was looking forward to seeing this for myself. A split of the double double gave an excellent demonstration of this. The stars seemed smaller, further away, compared to the dob. I may simply be used to using higher magnifications but it was a noticeably different experience. M13 seemed faint but zooming increased the contrast and made for a satisfying zoom. It's hard not to draw comparisons to the dob, as that's my reference point, but I felt a greater appreciation to what aperture brings to globular clusters. M92 followed and, again, provided some fun as I zoomed in to resolve it more clearly. I've not used a zoom eyepiece before and it was really interesting to see the view change as the magnification and exit pupil changed with the decreasing focal length. It made that relationship feel more intuitive. 

For a more challenging target, I went for the Eskimo nebula. The wide field of view really helped with finding it and then zooming in. The tiny planetary was easily recognisable even at relatively low magnifications. I realised that Mars was sitting low down so I decided to give it a go. I started to really appreciate the ease of just picking the scope up and moving around the garden to follow my observing whims. With the zoom, Mars was recognisable as a tiny little disc. It made me think of seeing Neptune in the dob, aside from the colour of course. The 4mm Ortho made the disc even more obvious. Again, it was noticeable how steady the views were compared to the dob at low elevations. I wasn't seeing lots of detail due to the small size of the disc but what I could see was nice and clean.

From one extreme to the other as I moved close to the zenith to observe M81/M82. The focuser can struggle a little with inward focus under load at these elevations but the locking screw helps. I think this is normal for crayford type focusers from what I've read. The two galaxies looked great and I again enjoyed tuning the magnification with the zoom to get the best view. The Owl Cluster, NGC 457, was ace in the frac. This open cluster seemed to be where the frac really shined with it's pinpoint stars compared to the dob. With that in mind, I carried onto the double cluster, Kemble's cascade and NGC 1502. I tried my APM HDC 20mm on Kemple's cascade. I wasn't sure how well everything would work with the heavy 100 degree eyepiece but I had no issues. The brilliantly sharp 4 degree FOV impressed greatly. 

It was getting late so I decided to view two of my favourite planetaries, M57 and M27, before packing up. I was very pleased with the clarity and contrast on both of these. One thing I didn't try was using a UHC or OIII filter. I'm keen to see how well they work with the small aperture. Despite it being barely above the rooftops, I couldn't resist finishing with Jupiter. A steady view of the gas giant revealed the two main equatorial belts and pin point little moons. 

A very successful first session. I'm very pleased with both the Equinox 80 and the Baader zoom. The pin point stars, steady views at low elevation and shear ease of moving around made it a really fun and relaxed session. It also also made me appreciate what the aperture of the dob gives me with image scale albeit in a bigger, heavier package. I'm very grateful that I'm lucky enough to have both of these great scopes!

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Very nice session with some great targets! Good read

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Good first light Neil, nice write up conveying the variety of objects explored. Quite understandable making comparison to your observing experience with the dob, the report contains clarity in the virtues of each. Look forward to your encounters with filtered observing, as you say two great scopes.    

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54 minutes ago, scarp15 said:

Good first light Neil, nice write up conveying the variety of objects explored. Quite understandable making comparison to your observing experience with the dob, the report contains clarity in the virtues of each. Look forward to your encounters with filtered observing, as you say two great scopes.    

Thanks Iain. As you suggested before I got it, the refractor is showing how useful it is. Not a dob competitor but a very nice companion for it. Thanks once again for all your advices along the way :) 

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Great report. I've read a lot of good reports about equinox scopes and the 80mm is going to make it easy to get out and have a go at most things.

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On ‎13‎/‎05‎/‎2019 at 14:47, Littleguy80 said:

Brilliantly sharp in the frac. The Apennine Mountains was the first feature to grab my attention. The sharp detailed view was very impressive.

Great first light, nice report Neil.

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Good report, thanks. Im wondering why your Baader zoom does not reach focus, I use a Mk3 BZ with my Equinox 80 and it works fine, also works with the dedicated BZ barlow, I am using a WO 2 inch diagonal. 

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1 hour ago, JG777 said:

Good report, thanks. Im wondering why your Baader zoom does not reach focus, I use a Mk3 BZ with my Equinox 80 and it works fine, also works with the dedicated BZ barlow, I am using a WO 2 inch diagonal. 

Thank you. It's only when using it with the Baader VIP barlow that it doesn't reach focus. I suspect it would be fine if I got the dedicated barlow.

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Nice report Neil, wish I had some clear sky, keeps spoiling itself towards dark. Yesterday we had an inch of hail on parts of the garden, thought the windows were coming in.

Alan

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