Friday, September 09, 2005


I had a really long look at Theophilus last night through the 6" dob. It was sitting right on the sunlit side of the terminator, and the floor was still dark, but the central peaks were all lit up.

I didn't realize it until I started looking at pictures of it today, but the Apollo 11 landing site is just to the north of this crater. I've always struggled to ID it in the eyepiece, but I've got a pretty good feel for the landmarks now.

I don't really remember when I first developed an interest in astronomy. I had a buddy in elementary school & Cub Scouts who had a Tasco refractor, probably a 60 mm. I don't know that I ever actually saw anything other than the moon through it. We looked at the stars at Scout camp some, but not much. (In hindsight, I'm kicking myself for making 2 different trips to Philmont Scout Ranch, which has probably some of the darkest skies I'll ever be under, and not even thinking to look up at night.) Years pass, wives and comets come and go, and in 2000 I wind up in an apartment complex across from a fellow with a telescope. One night he shows me Saturn and Jupiter, and the hook is set. Still, it's not until I land in my current job when Robert hands me a copy of Astronomy magazine and a bootleg of Starry Night do I actually do anything about it. I have a little money, Mars is coming around, and there's a telescope store between work and home. About the same time, Miki loans me her old Meade ETX-90 RA. We looked at Mars through it a couple of times, but I knew I wanted more.

So in September of 03 I bought a Celestron C6-N, a 6" f/5 newtonian reflector on a lightweight equatorial mount. I was hooked. My wallet will never be the same. Accessories soon started showing up--a home-built observing chair, a rolling footlocker, an eyepiece kit... I think the biggest mistake was showing up at Mansfield Dam on Friday nights. Once I looked through Ralph's C11 and Todd's 10" LX200GPS, I caught a serious case of aperture fever.

Actually, it was worse than that. I had Gear Acquisition Syndrome on top of Aperture Fever. There's no cure, you simply have to learn to live with it. I started scouring Astromart looking for a big SCT of my very own. I started getting shakes and chills, so I posted a Want to Buy ad. That's when Tom offered up his 10" LX200 Classic, so Trudy & I drove off to South Texas last summer and picked it up. I sold the 6" Celestron to Robert.

Aperture fever went into remission. I love this telescope. It's big enough to go deep, but portable enough to move by myself. I still have ongoing case of GAS though. I added up how much I've spent building an eyepiece collection over the last two years and came up with a figure that I don't think I should share with my wife, at least not until I buy her an expensive piece of jewelry or furniture, or both.

This spring, Hardin Optical decided to get out of the telescope business. They put a lot of things on sale, and I picked up another 6" newtonian, this time an f/8 on a Dobsonian mount. I didn't need another telescope, but this one has been $99 (!) well spent. It takes about 30 seconds to set it up, most of that being the time required to open the front door and carry it out to the driveway.

And the little ETX-90? I took it in trade for some web design work, so I still have it. It works super with a full-aperture solar filter on it.

I'm starting to think I should rename this post, "The One With All The Links In It."

1 comment:

The Infidel Army said...

I'd recommend buying the wife the couch she wants and NOT telling her the exact amount of money you've spent on your hobby. Besides, she probably doesn't want to know anyway :)