By Dave Fuller on 1/23/2013 3:55 PM
I've never cared for the phrase, "You get what you pay for."  It's overly simplistic, and often used as a cheap, backhanded insult to those who cannot afford, I presume, whatever is most expensive - which is perhaps rather foolish anyway.  Being expensive has never meant being "the best" by default.  That's not to say that things that are expensive or bad, but the real question is this, "Is what I am getting worth paying more?"  Now, in my case, I believe there are some things you just don't skimp on: Tires and brakes happen to be two of them.  I figure if my car doesn't move forward due to the engine, that doesn't necessarily put me in danger (in most cases), but being unable to control or stop the vehicle - particularly at high speeds - can be quite life-threatening, and tires are the only thing between me and the road, and brakes are the best way to stop quickly, short of running into an immovable object.

In the world of astronomy, this manifests itself in the respect of, "Oh, you bought a cheap telescope...
By Dave Fuller on 1/18/2013 11:04 PM

Back in the mid 1990's, I did a LOT of reading to determine what the best telescope would be for me.  At the time, I decided an 8" Schmidt Cassegrain would be ideal: It seemed to offer the best blend of portability, ease of use, and options for astrophotography.  Around that same time, I also bought a Ricoh SLR (film - digital didn't exist in that format yet).  My "through the scope" shots were mostly pathetic and a large waste of film - which was not cheap to buy and print that many pictures to get so few results!  The camera wound up getting used piggyback style, and finally only for regular photography... until digital point and shoots came along.  And the scope?  Used less and less for a variety of reasons, and finally sold a few years ago.

But many of us who do visual astronomy also wish to capture and share what we see.  And delving into astrophotography again has never really left me.  I've dabbled with afocal stuff, and given how forgiving the software is on my smartphone (an HTC Inspire), it has made is simple for me to grab decent shots of the Moon and planets.  And the beauty of digital is taking 20 or 30 shots doesn't burn film - so I'd shoot away, find the best 1 or 2 photos, and discard the rest.

None of that is to say that I've forgotten about the real deal: Through the scope astrophotography.  I had looked at the digital offerings out there, and always felt like... 

By Dave Fuller on 1/4/2013 11:01 PM
I don't know if it's a sign of my advancing age, or my remembering better how to withstand colder temps, but 25F with a 16F wind chill tonight didn't seem all that bad.  Maybe it was because I had not been out for much serious observing in so long.  It had been totally cloudy for over 2 weeks, it seemed.  In any case, I finally got to DO some observing.

First, I took out the 10" Dob.  That was more due to slight laziness than anything - or perhaps my desire to get out there and see things in the night sky without having to put something back together.  The 6" f/5 was not on the mount, and it's tripod was being "borrowed" for another project in the basement.  I didn't want to use a 70mm scope, , the 4.5" Tasco was in pieces and the 90mm refractor was sitting on a pipe mount on a slightly-less-than-adequate tripod.  So despite not having used the 10" Dob in... wow - I really don't remember how long - probably sometime since summer? - I picked it up and dragged it out.

First up: Comet C/2012 K5 LINEAR....

The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.