Observing Night – Sept 11, 2013

I did some research during the day and found I needed to train the telescope motors so the AutoStar knew about the telescope it was connected to. So, I did that.  I had hoped to do it during the daylight but did it right before heading outside.

I did the AutoStar alignment and it did seem a little closer but still off.  I tried going back to the Great Globular Cluster (M13) using the GOTO and it was nearby but still not centered.  So, I was tired from this being the fourth observing night, frustrated with the straight through finderscope and my feet even hurt.  So, I decided to call it a night earlier and re-evaluate.

One of my thoughts was maybe the telescope is just old.  To be honest, it is over 14 years old and I had never really used it until now.  Second, maybe my skies are too light polluted.  Third, I didn’t give my eyes a chance to dark adjust.  Lastly, maybe I just needed more aperature.  I was planning that my next step would be to try some simple astrophotography but that seemed fruitless since I didn’t find any to photograph.  Maybe the ETX would be fine for the moon and the planets.  Since I figured out how to polar mount, the mounts should auto-track without the AutoStar which was one of the downsides when pointing the telescope out an open window.

I will need to do some thinking.


Observing Night – Sept 10, 2013

My goal for this night was to work on the precision of my alignment using the AutoStar on the Meade ETX-90EC.  I decided to try a higher powered eyepiece so the center would be a smaller area.  I did the first star and took extra time to center it.  I did the next star and again, took extra time to center it.  As an idea, I went back to the first star using the GOTO and it wasn’t centered.  I had read in the manual that you could sync the object to help on the alignment so I tried that.  I then went back to the second start.  Since this was vertical in the sky, the finderscope was really a pain.  I centered and synced and then went back to the first star.  It wasn’t in the centered again.  This was really getting frustrating and made me think it was one of the problem in finding a galaxy.  I was sure the margin of error couldn’t be that much and I wouldn’t be able to see a galaxy.

My quit time was approaching so I decided to look for a galaxy using the start hopping method.  I looked for a possible galaxy from the Left Turn at Orion book.  I found the originating stars in the finderscope and then moved to the location of the galaxy but saw nothing.  I was getting a more frustrated.  I sat down in the patio chair and did a little thinking.  My first thought was the galaxy was in the northern sky which was also in the direction of Seattle so maybe it was a light pollution issue.  The next was maybe I was missing something in the alignment process that I should research further.  This was my third night out and was getting a little burned out from the lack of relaxing nights after work.

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Observing Night – Sept 9, 2013

For this observing session, I extended the tripod legs to make sure I wouldn’t have the issue with the finderscope being difficult to look through when the telescope was pointed vertically.  The AutoStar alignment went the same but with a different second star.  This time I had come prepared with a couple of targets.  Earlier in the day, I had referred to the Left Turn at Orion book.  This book was very useful because it listed targets for the time of year and seeing conditions.  I like the book because it had sketches of what the target would look like in binoculars, a small 3“ telescope and a large Dobsonian telescope.  The first target was the Great Globular Cluster (M13)

But, before I looked for M13, I remembered reading that Saturn was out earlier in the night.  So, I put that into the AutoStar and off it slewed.  It was near the horizon in the southwest.  The moon was setting and had an orange tint.  Saturn was hard to make out.  I tried different eyepieces but nothing looked that good.  But, then I remembered that object near the horizon would be unstable due to air conditions.  So, I left it.

I entered M13 in the AutoStar and off it slewed.  I had to do some moving around but the “faint fuzzy” did appear.  Admittedly, it wasn’t a great view but I am happy to finally be seeing something in the ETX.

I next tried to find a galaxy listed in Left Turn at Orion but I didn’t have much luck.  I was starting to think made the light pollution was having an effect but also the alignment didn’t seem to be correct.  I would pick a star in the Big Dipper and it would be way off in the eyepiece and finderscope.  So, I planned to spend more time on trying to get a better alignment the next night.

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