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Observing and first light report. 26.12.2008


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The proper first light report for the Skywatcher 300p Flextube dob and the Astro fix locator.

I took the 12" flextube out tonight to look at Venus. Got a great view of the phase but didn't spot any darker patches The sky was nice and clear so I decided to give the astro fix a go. Did the calibration routine and then a star calibration but it wasn't putting targets in the fov of the Meade 4000 32 mm

I live in a badly light polluted cul de sac with lots of cars and overhead cables so I thought that the may have benn affecting the Astro Fix sensors

Loaded the scope and all the gear into the car and set off up the Kielder road to a little dark site I spotted a while ago, It's a little farm road with a gate half way along so no through traffic. Got out of the car and one look up told me this was going to be special.

The Milky Way ran across the heavens like a band of light and so many stars were on show I has difficuilty picking out the constellations at first. I spent an hour just panning through the milky way.........amazing. To be honest I could have spent the night just doing that, this 12" under dark sky's is awesome, but I wanted to test the astro fix so I fired up the lappy and got stellarium running, did the calibration thing, and turned the scope to the alt az coordinates for m45......nowhere near. Thoughts of sending it back crossed my mind but I wondered if the car, about 10 feet away was affecting it. I reversed the car 50 yards, re calibrated and this time M45 was in the FOV but not centre so I moved the scope to aldeberen and did a star calibration. Next time M45 filled the EP and more, I now understand what one of the forum members meant when he said that this scope just looks through the gaps! EP.

Great, now for M31, I nearly fell over ! The galaxy more than filled the FOV with a definite core but I didn't spot any dust lanes. Next M1, still a smudge, but a much more discernable smudge than it looked like in the 130p.

Orion was nicely placed so M42 was next and WOW I've never seen so much of the nebula, it was huge, and the trap stars were amazing.

I tried the supplied 25mm and 10mm plossls but they were no match for the Meade 4000 32mm.

So a few good lessons learned tonight, under dark skys, the 12" Flextube is an amazing instrument but I need to get some new EP's, probably orthos, I think a 40, 30 and 10 would do it along with my celestron X-ED barlow. The finder needs to be aligned every time I take the scope out, it just moves for some reason. The Astro Fix performs well if you take the time to calibrate it properly and move the car. I need to get a car charger for the lappy, full battery and it died in an hour.

All in all the best session I've had to date, I now have a set up that barring disasters, I will never have to change and I'm looking forward to more nights like this. I'm going to an open observing session at Kielder observatory on Sunday so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for clear skies and picking up some tips from the old hands.

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