Friday, March 25, 2011

Too many scopes / No time / Splitting Doubles

It's been a long, long, time since I bothered to post anything here. If you once followed me and stopped, I wouldn't blame you.

My life continues to be in turmoil, and it seems every step is a new problem, and the Astronomy part of life is no different.

I'm a Travellin' Man

First a little filler background. Last year's NEAF 2010 conference gave me the itch to buy a refractor, since that's what I had wanted from the start. My 8-inch Meade SCT was just too cumbersome to take traveling. So I made the foolish jump into refractors by buying not only one but two: an AstroTech 80ED (carbon fiber body) and the Explore Scientific 102 EDT. Both are great scopes.

If you have read some of my previous entries, you know I travel a lot for my job. Last year especially saw me going up to Boston by way of Rocky Hill, CT, at the beginning of every week, and coming back at the end of every week. This I did all summer long in 2010.

I began to get tired of not being able to get under the stars, so I brought along the AstroTech 80ED (the carbon fiber body). While I had a car, it was a no brainer and I would enjoy using the scope at odd times that I had in Boston or Connecticut.

I also once tried to bring the ES102, but ended up hurting my back trying to get it in the car, because the trunk storage box is too heavy.

Unfortunately, right after summer, I got more bad news that the TaxMan was after me thanks to someone who shall remain anonymous. Right about that time, the LXD-75 mount died, and so I have not had a GOTO mount since then.

Recently, an AT90EDT was listed on Cloudy Nights classifieds, and I had to jump at that.

Too Many Scopes

See the trend? I now have 3 refractors, and the Meade SCT. Yes, I've got the fever. And now, with the 2011 tax season here, plus with all the other financial and tax problems facing me, it is obvious I have too many scopes, and not enough money.

It was decided that it's time to sell the scopes.

However, that was easier said than done. I have posted the AT80ED and the ES102EDT three different times on Cloudy Nights classifieds, and it seems no one wants them for the price I was asking (initially $500 and $1020, respectively). So the price has dropped a number of times now. I hope I can sell the scopes and recoup some money to pay the TaxMan.

Splitting Doubles

As I said, my mount is also busted, so I need some money to fix it. Meanwhile, this year, I resorted to using a 3-way photo head on a medium-duty photo tripod to see if the 80 and the 90 can be used on it. The 80, being so light since it's made of carbon fiber, is no problem. The 90, however, is not so good on it. So I've had to pull out the busted LXD-75 to use it sans GOTO, as a manual GEM. It's not too bad, considering all. I would, though, like to get a real Alt-Az mount and I've been eagerly awaiting a good one for a good price on CN.

Because I must use the mount in manual, I decided that I should go back to trying to learn and identify some things, as an exercise. This led, one night, to chasing double stars.

I really like it! It's a new thrill to a) try to find the star that is reported to be a double star, and b) to actually split it.

I've known about Mizar/Alcor, always a favorite. But the other day, using the book Turn Left At Orion, I was able to find B-Monocerotis. Quite a thrill to be able to split a double.

Tonight, I did the Mizar/Alcor set again (it's easy and I know where it is), but then moved on to splitting Pollux with a 6.9mm eyepiece, barlowed 2x.

Just now, I ran across a great site that is dedicated to splitting doubles: Star-Splitters. The link will take you to the FAQ, where you can see what it's really like to find a star is actually a double-star system, and know how to classify it. About half way down the page you'll find animated images of star samples, which helps to understand what people are talking about when they report that "seeing" was 4.

I have a new found hobby, splitting doubles. I'm so happy to be using my new AT90EDT for a good cause.

So, as I sign off, if there's anyone out there who is interested in buying my AT80ED or the ES102EDT, please give me a shout.

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