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First light - FC76DC


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Having spent weeks waiting for some clear skies, I managed a brief first light using my FC76DC today on the Scopetech Zero mount. I started off very quickly trying to see if it would come to focus using the Baader Coolwedge/Leica Zoom combo and the answer was frustratingly ‘not quite’. I’ve got an ad out for a CSV tube (the 105mm version) which would get me there so fingers crossed one turns up.

I decided not to use the CQ Extender for solar due to concern over heat levels internally on the elements, and I don’t actually need it to reach required magnifications.

After the sun had set, I switched to Astro mode, replacing the Coolwedge with a BBHS mirror diagonal, adding the CQ Extender and breaking out my new Pentax eyepieces, 3.5mm, 5mm, 7mm and 10mm. This is when I realised that the seeing was, unfortunately pretty awful. The crescent moon looked beautiful, hanging low in the South West. Once I saw how bad the seeing was, I removed the extender and just focused on low and mid powers. The Moon still looked great in the 24mm Panoptic at x24.

I had a try for Jupiter but again it was not taking any power, so I just enjoyed it at x114 with the 5mm XW, seeing the equatorial bands, and watching Callisto appear from behind the planet. I think I did also catch Europa as it slipped in front of the disk as a bright spot against the limb darkening, but this was only quite fleeting.

Two more targets; the Double Cluster was beautiful as ever, those pin point threshold stars were lovely, and M45 also looked fab in the 24mm.

Nights like these challenge your belief in your scopes I find. They won’t take high power and you begin to blame your kit, rather than the seeing conditions.

So, not the start I wanted with this scope but at least it was nice to be out under a clear sky after so long.

I may have a quick look at M42 in a little while, just to see how things are, but I’ll chalk this one up to experience and try again another night.

 

D4EE5A9D-DCB2-4C96-9292-004CC499A773.jpeg

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10 minutes ago, Stu said:

Nights like these challenge your belief in your scopes I find

Couldn't agree more! It can be very disconcerting. Often I'm also battling chimney smoke on top of bad seeing and I'm questioning my scope!

Fabulous setup!

Hope you manage to catch M42, I got a quick glance at it under dark skies and was wowed at what a 3" Tak can show.

Malcolm

 

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Congratulations on first light even though conditions made it a bit underwhelming, I am as sure as the sun rises you'll enjoy the full potential of this scope soon enough and wow! four new XW's is a treat to say the least!.

If my eyes are working well I see a feather touch and a Baader diagonal, you've spared no expense for this little gem.

Edited by Sunshine
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Had a similar feeling when I couldn’t get mine to focus in its first light tonight, assume the adaptor I took off which shortened the optical path was for AP?

Once sorted though I was wowed with what I saw, it’s alien to me seeing such a high mag star without a touch of CA. Being able to split Rigel with hardly any effort with a 3” scope has really impressed me and M42 was truly sublime. I’m really excited for my next session with it. 

I realised how useful the peephole finders on the Scopetech OTAs are mind, was using the ring hinges to line up targets which was hit and miss. I need to find a suitable finder bracket; the tak 6x bracket is reasonably priced which I could use with the Starbase finder but notice you have a small RACI on yours? Think I would like to add a microfocuser too.

 

 

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Well, I’m pleased to say the little chap has rather redeemed himself. I popped out after we finished watching a program at about 10.30 to see Orion striding high above the horizon in nice clear skies so popped the scope out again. We have a garden room which is pretty cool so the scope can stay in there quite happily and not need much, if any cooling.

My observing seat had frozen dew on it already, so I grabbed a towel from the dog’s bed to keep my backside dry. This worked well until the puppy decided to have a game of tug with it!

The seeing had definitely improved and whilst not excellent, was certainly much more amenable to higher powers. I used a variety of eyepieces; 24mm Panoptic for finding/low power, 10mm XW, adding the Zeiss abbé barlow to give me 5mm when needed, plus a couple of BGOs and the 3.4mm Vixen HR.

Starting at Rigel, this split very well with a 9mm BGO and the 10mm XW (x63 and x57). Sigma Orionis was very clear, and with the 10mm XW I picked up the faint fourth component. It was actually easier at x57, becoming very faint at x114. I’ll be interested to see if the 5mm is noticeably better than the barlowed 10mm, could have potentially saved myself some cash!

M42 was stunning I must say. I didn’t have my filters with me but still, the nebulosity was extensive, bat wings and fish mouth very clear. The trap was beautifully resolved even at low power (x24) and remained sharp at x114. No chance of E and F really, though I did check! I also picked up M43, and some faint nebulosity around the Running Man.

NGC2169, the 37 cluster was next, with the little double just resolving in the 10mm, easier with the barlow added.

I hopped around some other favourites. M35 filled the 10mm field of view, whilst M36, 37 and 38 were better than that had any right to be in such a small scope.

M81 and 82 were easily found, slap bang in the middle of the fov after my star hop with the finder. M81 was surprisingly extensive, and M82 showed hints of the central mottling.

I had another look at M45, and caught some nebulosity around the main stars. I confess I’m never totally convinced I’m seeing nebulosity vs either slight misting of the eyepiece or objective, though there was no dew around tonight at all. Whilst in the area, I hopped down to Uranus which was quite easy to identify using SkySafari, and showed a minute disk with the 3.4HR.

Finally I thought I would give M97 and M108 a go. I thought this was going to be a fail, when I picked up a tiny patch of light in averted vision. Once I was sure where it was, I checked SkySafari and the nearby star patterns matched exactly. I checked M108’s position, and was then able to convince myself that I was seeing this right on the edge of visibility with averted vision. The orientation was correct so I’m fairly sure I got it. Not bad getting a mag 10 Galaxy in a 3” scope.

I nearly forgot Beta Mon. I found this fairly easily and the tighter pair was just about splitting in the 24mm Pan, getting clearer in the 10mm. Very nice.

So, a reassuring session which confirmed all is well with the scope, it just needed some reasonable skies!

@IB20 yes, I have a 6x30 RACI fitted using a finder shoe mounted to the tube ring. Works well and suits the portability of the setup.

@Sunshine thanks! Actually I already had the Baader BBHS mirror diagonal and the Feathertouch is off my FC100DC, although I do have another one in order with FLO (could be some time!)

Always nice to confirm the scope is behaving itself! Finally, my Northface gloves worked very well, hands warm and able to use my phone without removing them.

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14 minutes ago, Stu said:

Not bad getting a mag 10 Galaxy in a 3” scope.

Great! I'm almost sure this is possible due to the superb contrast a Tak can demonstrate, and don't forget to pat off your backside as I am sure you may have some puppy hair down there!

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36 minutes ago, Stu said:

Not bad getting a mag 10 Galaxy in a 3” scope.

Excellent observing Stu!

Congrats for a fine session with an excellent telescope.This scope sounds like it will excel on DSO- Meissa nebula?

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40 minutes ago, Stu said:

caught some nebulosity around the main stars

I have no doubt you saw some nebulosity around the stars and I also have no doubt you can see the Pleiades "Bubble" with this telescope from very dark skies. It sounds like this scope might be "the one" for it actually.

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6 minutes ago, Highburymark said:

Excellent report Stu. Will also be a nice white light scope for less than perfect skies I’m sure.

Thanks Mark. Yes, would be great but it won’t quite reach focus as it is. I need a CSV tube to do this but they are hard to find. I guess the alternative is to use a Lunt 1.25” wedge but I like the Coolwedge quality. I could possibly shorten the light path on the Coolwedge but don’t really want to mess around with it when switching between FC76DC and FC100DC.

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I really enjoyed reading your report @Stu, you also mention some new targets I will try for next time I get a clear sky.

If I can't observe myself (the sky teased me last night; cleared whilst out walking but had closed in by the time I got back), it's a great second best to read others enthusing about a session with a Tak :)

Malcolm

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I just managed another quick session this evening, this time using the extender module. The crescent Moon looked fab hanging in the sky, with earthshine very bright as it got darker. I missed Mercury, so had a look at Jupiter. Early on it was fairly washed out, but a little later on the views were much better. It took x161 (6mm Setting on the Nag Zoom) well, and showed nice detail in the equatorial bands and a surprising number visible beyond that.

I subsequently put the LZOS out but of course it has now clouded over 🤪.

2307B331-7DE4-4017-A6EE-6ABC3AFBB682.jpeg

139FA567-96D3-47ED-9BA1-5D327508AC25.jpeg

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The clouds were teasing me last night, tonight you are teasing me @Stu :)

I got the 100DC out but couldn't use more than x74 on the moon, though I did see a little earthshine which looked really nice before it disappeared behind some trees. Jupiter could take no more than x100 at a push though really x74 was probably more realistic and despite gazing at it for about 20 minutes I only got the occasional glimpse of the southern equatorial band (if that's the right term). The thicker northern band was evident but absolutely no detail. Put the scope into the greenhouse while I had tea and of course the clouds had rolled in by the time I went back out again :(

Lovely pic of the moon and your 76 looks great in Q mode!

Malcolm

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3 hours ago, Stu said:

I just managed another quick session this evening, this time using the extender module. The crescent Moon looked fab hanging in the sky, with earthshine very bright as it got darker. I missed Mercury, so had a look at Jupiter. Early on it was fairly washed out, but a little later on the views were much better. It took x161 (6mm Setting on the Nag Zoom) well, and showed nice detail in the equatorial bands and a surprising number visible beyond that.

I subsequently put the LZOS out but of course it has now clouded over 🤪.

2307B331-7DE4-4017-A6EE-6ABC3AFBB682.jpeg

139FA567-96D3-47ED-9BA1-5D327508AC25.jpeg

Is this ever a beautiful looking telescope in that golden light of dusk, those tube rings are eye catching with the gun metal sort of finish they have, a wonderful setup!

Now I must ask where you got those tube rings? I can feel a purchase coming on! one more thing I am awfully curious about is the OTA length as in the first image (night image) you've posted the OTA seems shorter.

Looking at the most recent one I notice a second black joint which seems like a threaded extension has been added? it confuses me a bit lol.

Edited by Sunshine
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1 hour ago, MalcolmM said:

The clouds were teasing me last night, tonight you are teasing me @Stu :)

Sorry about that Malcolm 😉. My turn to be lucky for once! I caught the Moon whilst it was still fairly high so was able to use a bit more power, though still preferred it in the 24mm.

I do agree that the Southern Equatorial Belt looked very pale and less distinct than it can be.

1 hour ago, Sunshine said:

Is this ever a beautiful looking telescope in that golden light of dusk, those tube rings are eye catching with the gun metal sort of finish they have, a wonderful setup!

Now I must ask where you got those tube rings? I can feel a purchase coming on! one more thing I am awfully curious about is the OTA length as in the first image (night image) you've posted the OTA seems shorter.

Looking at the most recent one I notice a second black joint which seems like a threaded extension has been added? it confuses me a bit lol.

Thanks Sunshine! 👍

The rings are More Blue ones from FLO. I copied the idea from others on here including Highburymark and am really impressed with them. They are quite light and compact, suiting the scope very well.

80mm fit the FS60C/FC76DC and 95mm for the FC100

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/tube-rings/more-blue-80mm-tube-mounting-rings.html

You are quite right about the extension being added. The FC76DCU has a tube which unscrews in the middle making it very handy for travelling. You can add something called a CQ Extender in the middle which matches the rest of the scope and is a x1.7 extender, correcting for some other stuff to eg flattening the field as I recall. This take the scope from f7.5/570mm focal length to f12.75/969mm focal length. I think it looks great too!

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/takahashi-extenders/cq-17x-extender-for-fs60cb-and-fc76dcu.html

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I guess this is third light now 😉. Probably should have left the 130mm out as, typically, the skies cleared for a while later on. I spent some more time on Rigel, Sigma Orionis and M42 using the 24mm Pan, 13 Ethos and 12.5mm Morpheus. Really great views I must say. Beautiful resolution of the Trapezium and the widefield of the Ethos took in the bat wings, M43 and hints of the Running Man very nicely. I tried a DGM NPB filter but I think it would be better with lower power; 1mm exit pupil is too small really. There were two faint stars embedded in the nebulosity, one quite clear and the other on the limit with AV. I found it slightly easier in the Ethos, perhaps because of the slight difference in mag. Generally they were pretty evenly matched apart from the wider field, although I did find the edges a bit sharper in the Ethos (am I allowed to say that given the Morpheus’ fearsome following on SGL! 🤣)

Dodging the clouds, I tried for a few other targets but kept getting blocked. Eventually I tried for M1, and found it without too much trouble. Pretty faint I must say, but definitely there. Not seen it for a while, so was good to revisit it. Must get a bigger scope on it again at some point.

All packed in now.

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Great report Stu, did you leave it in f12.75 mode all session? I’m thinking ahead at getting the extender really appeals. Do you find that your mount holds the longer OTA without much fuss?

8 hours ago, Stu said:

 

I do agree that the Southern Equatorial Belt looked very pale and less distinct than it can be.

I had a quick look at Jupiter too last night and assumed the twilight views or seeing was to blame for the lack of SEB. Maybe it was a natural occurrence?!

Being used to an achro, finally being able to see the whole of the planetary disc with no loss of information around the edges was very pleasing. At 95x I could even make out some nice polar region shading. I bumped up the mag to 178x and although it gave quite soft views I think in better seeing it would work superbly well. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the Q extender for Jupiter’s big return in the summer. 

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3 hours ago, IB20 said:

Great report Stu, did you leave it in f12.75 mode all session? I’m thinking ahead at getting the extender really appeals. Do you find that your mount holds the longer OTA without much fuss?

I had a quick look at Jupiter too last night and assumed the twilight views or seeing was to blame for the lack of SEB. Maybe it was a natural occurrence?!

Being used to an achro, finally being able to see the whole of the planetary disc with no loss of information around the edges was very pleasing. At 95x I could even make out some nice polar region shading. I bumped up the mag to 178x and although it gave quite soft views I think in better seeing it would work superbly well. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the Q extender for Jupiter’s big return in the summer. 

Thanks! Yes, I left it in f12.75 mode all evening. The mount seems to cope well, vibrations are present but settle quickly. The one problem I’m having is that the Alt slow motion control gets in the way of the fine focuser when the scope is at certain altitude angles. Not much I can do about that I don’t think unfortunately, unless I swapped the fine focuser to the other side but I prefer focusing on the right and it’s only this mount that it’s a problem with.

With good seeing, the results in the x160 to x180 ish range should actually be pretty good. I was seeing shading in the polar regions and a couple of brighter zones. There was some detail in the NEB, not dramatic by any means but subtle variation. The SEB was definitely very muted and pale.

At some point I should probably check at similar magnifications with and without the extender.

Floaters were my biggest challenge as is to be expected. By looking up before observing I can shift these, and managed to get in a position for quite a while last night when they were out of the way completely for quite a while.

Binoviewers would likely be a good option, but I suspect I need the CSV tube for that.

A3081B1A-158C-4F14-942B-169DC790BA1C.jpeg

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2 minutes ago, Deadlake said:

How much back focus has the 76 got with the FT attached?

Do you still need to use a GPC (or that other corrector you have) when using BV's?

I’ve not managed to get binoviewers to focus with it yet, even with GPC so more experimenting needed.

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Drooling slightly whilst reading this - the 76 DCU is my ultimate “one day” upgrade solution for widefield & grab & go.   Congratulations on your first lights… 

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2 hours ago, Deadlake said:

Would be an ideal setup if you could. Very nice!

There used to be a CSV tube available which was 105mm long va the current CB tube which is 127mm so I’m trying to find one of the shorter ones to give a go. Quite rare though. I guess I could always by a 127mm and get it chopped down.

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