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First Light - Stellarvue SVX140T - 18th February 2023 - Fast Clouds

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If you’ve visited the “What Did the Postman Bring” thread or my “New Forever Scope” thread, you might have noticed that I have within the last few days taken delivery of what appears to be a very nice telescope indeed: a Stellarvue SVX140T 140mm f/6.7 refractor. That thread details the scope’s arrival, inspection (and showing off!) and First Light from the point of view of the equipment. This report will try to adhere to the Observation storyline, though I cannot promise to avoid gushing about the scope too 😊 . Forgive me if I do.

Of course, arrival of a brand new scope more or less guarantees appalling weather, and at the moment of delivery it was bright and sunny. Quite literally as soon as I extracted it from the box about 30 minutes later, deep fog had descended and the forecast suggested it would remain as such for a week. I couldn’t have looked through it that day anyway, as its Losmandy plate had been sent in another package which was due the following day. Sure enough, the low cloud and deep fog stayed all through the next couple of days.

Suddenly yesterday the forecast changed, as did the current weather and it started to look likely that 6pm to 10pm would be reasonably clear. And so it proved.

During late afternoon light I set out my Planet and AZ-EQ6 close in under a tall hedge and tree. There was a brisk and gusty Westerly wind that would normally have discouraged me from a session. Not tonight though, and the location, although completely blocking anything West of the Meridian, was well-protected from the wind. Of course I put in my WO 45 degree erecting prism to have a daytime look around at the obligatory local cattle-feeding tanks etc.


By 7pm it was dark enough and I brought everything else out: Nexus DSC, battery, cables, eyepiece case. I could see that although there were clearish patches, the fast-moving weather meant it was going to be a cloud-dodging evening. In the event it was never perfectly clear, but it was occasionally perfectly obscured. Cloud seemed to magically appear just when I’d chosen a star for Alignment. Eventually I aligned on Castor and Betelgeuse. I did my first Star-Test whilst on Betelgeuse and as mentioned elsewhere I was extremely surprised it was a textbook-perfect test. I later repeated the experience on, of all stars, Sirius with the same result. I’ve read that the test is so sensitive that even superb refractors will fail to some degree. I later went to Suiter’s book to see what it should look like and there it was: exactly as printed, +/- 5 waves defocus, no variation in sharpness or brightness either side. Sorry! Sorry! I’m gushing, I said I wouldn’t!

Anyway, the observing. I hadn’t really had time to plan so I had to go by memory and just a few Usual Suspects. Naturally I went to M42 first. The first thing I noticed was the nebulosity around the Trapezium was better than I was expecting in a 140mm scope. I’ve seen it many times here in my 12”, but this was not disappointing. As I stared at the Trapezium itself, with Delos 6 for 156x, the four main stars were not perfect pinpoints but they were small and reasonably stable. Enough that the E was easily evident and the F definitely appeared unambiguous from time to time.

One thing I’d neglected to remember that whilst Newtonian-observing is mostly standing, a refractor’s eyepiece is at the other end of the tube. I hadn’t got my observing chair out, so:


I visited Sigma Orionis, that nice 4-star system, noting that the faint C star was quite obvious. Moving up to Alnitak (the Eastern-most of the Belt) I did split the tight double but it wasn’t what I’d call razor-clean. I went to Rigel to split that easily enough, the tiny companion well clear of Rigel’s scintillation. Of course, I had to try Sirius, and decided pretty quickly there would be no Pup tonight. I’ve seen it once only, through my 12”. But I did star-test again on Sirius with the same amazing result as before, although somewhat more colourful. Perhaps I should have persisted with more patience and higher magnification, but that was not tonight’s purpose. Besides, every few seconds I’d have to wait for a band of cloud to pass over.

Now I wanted to try wide-field, so I selected my Nagler 31 giving me 30x and a 2.7 degree field. M45 Pleiades was out of the question, behind the sheltering hedge. As I write I notice that the Comet was quite near Bellatrix but I didn’t know at the time. Besides, probably too cloudy. I could see the Beehive naked eye, but it doesn’t appear in the Nexus DSC’s “Common Named” list, and I’d forgotten that Beehive is also M44. So I selected instead the Christmas Tree Cluster, NGC 2264, up East of Betelgeuse. Lovely, beyond lovely! I somehow found in the Nexus DSC unit an Open Cluster not far away that the Nexus’ notes gave a name to, something like Coal Tower Cluster, but looking at charts now I can’t find nearby OCs with similar names. I’ll have to have a look again “in the field” and try to replicated how I found it and remember. Anyway, it was very nice.

Seeing as this scope will excel as a Lunar and Planetary instrument, I decided for a quick go at Mars, up again at 156x, although it was partially obstructed by branches from the tree nearby. I caught some nice detail for no more than a tantalizing second before it was consumed by cloud. Grrrr! And it’s rapidly shrinking at the moment so I’m not sure if I’ll get another decent opportunity in the near future.


I finished off with a quick look at Mizar, always a beauty.

Whilst this was a fairly mundane list of targets, for this session that wasn’t the point. This was about getting used to the scope and as First Lights go amongst my scopes, it was the best I’ve had, not least because a suitable night appeared almost immediately on receiving it. And it served its purpose: I am now comforted that this scope qualifies as an exquisite instrument, and poor sessions down the road will be down to other factors. I look forward now to the Moon rising, and perhaps trying my hand at sketching.

Thanks for sharing my joy, Magnus


Edited by Captain Scarlet
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WOW! I greatly enjoyed that read, I was waiting for your first light with anticipation! it seems you have a superb specimen by your description of first star test on Betelgeuse. I'm happy for you and await your second first light report, I have a feeling we're in for some more gushing in the weeks ahead.

Edited by Sunshine
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