A few thoughts: Spica during day, Orion 20x80's

Aug 29

Written by:
8/29/2014 5:18 PM  RssIcon

Spica during the day? 

Today is the day that the Moon was to be within 2 degrees of Spica in the daytime sky. Cloudy weather and even a bit of rain was the order of most of the day today. But I just went outside a little bit ago, and realized... hey, it's clear! Well, clearish. Not exactly superb transparency by any means. 

Moon points to Spica during the dayBut always being one to try for all things astronomical whenever possible, I hauled out my 6" f/5 scope, as it was the quickest and easiest scope I could get out the door while the Moon was still in between two sets of tall pine trees to my southwest. Found the Moon without too much trouble - much less so than yesterday - and centered it with the finderscope. Focused using a 32mm Plossl, which would give me about a 2 degrees field of view. 

And.... nothing.

I could not see Spica. So I decided that if more magnification darkens the sky background at night, I might as well try that during the day! In went a 25mm eyepiece. Focused on the Moon. No Spica. 16mm eyepiece, recognizing that now I'm down to more difficult to navigate in the daytime sky 1.1 degrees field. Still nothing. 

I looked at the sky again, and realized... yes, it's clear, but it's not truly transparent. Relative humidity is at 83% - that's not conducive to ideal observing conditions to locate a 1st magnitude star during the day. Ah well... I tried!

Giant binoculars

About a week ago, Orion was having a sale on some products. They had a clearance section that I often browse through, but rarely find things that would add to what I currently have in a meaningful way. But then I noticed some 20x80 Astronomy Binoculars that were "2nds" on sale. 

I had the money for them.

Did I have the NEED for them?

IC 4756 at 1.5 degrees field of viewWell, honestly... no. But the large aperture was appealing. And given that I had just recently looked at IC 4756 and NGC 6633 with telescopes - but was unable to see the former in 7x50 binoculars - I was intrigued. Would I be able to see this large (almost 1 degree) open cluster with them? The aperture indicated that I should. And they came with a money back guarantee. What did I have to lose?

Well, I got them earlier this week. I'll do a more in-depth review of them later. But the test was being able to SEE with them. During the day, they were surprisingly sharp. A bit of chromatic aberration could be seen, but it wasn't bad. At night, some softness appears at the edges. Not surprising given the fast focal ratio of the lenses - probably f/4 or so. 

Could I see IC 4756. OH YES. Oh, yes indeed. And NGC 6633. And the Double Cluster. And... oh, I don't want to give it all away before a review. Let's just say that for what I paid for them, they were MORE than worth it. One would be lucky to buy a single lens 80mm refractor for the amount I got effectively TWO telescopes hooked up to each other. 

If you get them though? Don't skimp on the tripod. You'll need one. And not a "heavy duty" one, but a SUPER HEAVY DUTY tripod, capable of holding at least 10 pounds of weight. Yes, they weight 4.7 pounds, but you don't want to put that kind of weight on a tripod designed for 5 pounds. No, you'll need some extra heft in the legs and tripod head for the stresses they will put on it. 

But wow... worth it? I'd say so. 

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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.