Thursday 10 October 2013

The Old Telescope and The New

Well, I'm a little older than  I was, and as an undeserved reward for this I have been given a new telescope.

It's not an astronomical one, it's a little spotting scope, 20-60x60. Obviously it's primary purpose is as a tool for birdwatching and hopefully some fairly rudimentary photography - maybe I'll snap an egret with my mobile phone through the eyepiece. But it occured to me that I could attempt to use it for astronomical purposes, and as the sky was clear early on last night, I gave it a go.

Sadly, I don't think it is going to be up to much. Even the brighter stars look faint and difficult to focus, the optics I don't think will handle astronomical work. It also feels like your looking through a Smarties tube, very narrow image field, feels like only 60 degrees. The 45 degree eyepiece is very awkward to use. The tripod isn't up to non-terrestrial use either.

I'll evaluate it again when I get a moon to look at, but while birdspotting is going to be fun with it, the night sky not so easy.

Hmmmmm. I daydream of buying a scope sometimes, there's some excellent value kit around. But, as I've said before, I've got an old telescope that lurks at the folk's house, my old Broadhust Clarkson and Fuller 6 inch Reflector. I tried it a couple of years ago, and thought the mirror was much too degraded to be any use. But then, I was looking from a brightly lit street, on a wobbly mounting. I figured it might be worth another try.

And it was. It's fine. I set it up in the back garden, and tried to roughly align it to North. Being left eyed, it took a lot of faffing to get the finder in the right place for me, and the German EQ mount is superheavy, and the hand operated worm gear a total pain. BUT I COULD SEE STARS! And see them clearly too. My 20mm Erfle eyepiece, providing about 60x, showed Deneb, pointlike, with a diffraction cross, and a slight shimmer. But it wasn't distorted as far as I could see. Then, with a very badly aligned finder, I managed to find Albireo, and had my first view of the beautiful, subtley tinted gold and blue double star, easily split even at this low magnification.

I have a working astromoical telescope! Sure, the mirror is probably a bit dirty, and the EQ mount far too heavy. But I have a deep sky and double star scope, that may yet give me great pleasure on clear nights!

The new spotting scope
The old 6 inch reflector

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