Holy crap, did I buy the mother of all telescopes. I have purchased a – get this – 10″ Celestron Reflective Advanced GT telescope. It’s ginormous. 10″ diameter (for those of you who don’t know what the 10″ stands for), with a 1.25″ and 2″ eyepiece adapter, on a German equatorial mount with a GoTo system. BUT, and this is a HUGE BUT, it doesn’t have GPS. I didn’t think that’d be a big deal, but as this is my first major telescope, it’s a lot harder to set up and take down than I thought it would be. With my family helping me out, I finally got it up, balanced, and aligned… in an hour. This telescope isn’t for the faint-hearted. I really wanted something that was easy to set up with the power necessary to find me some awesome Messier objects. Nothing quite explains the awesome feeling of seeing Jupiter’s red spot for the first time, or being able to see and count it’s four Galilean moons, but when you see a perfect globular cluster (M13 methinks) for the first time… wow. Just wow. The first Messier object I saw with my scope was the Ring Nebula, M57, so named because of it’s ring shape. Also, when you’re going to go out and look for an object, especially in the summer, this is a prime target. It’s relatively easy to find (ie: straight up), and the magnitude is a 9. Bright, but not that bright. The telltale sign that you’ve found it is when you have it’s two young blue stars in your finder. If you know your constellations, it’s in Lyra, very close to Vega (which is how I usually find it).
Okay, if it’s night time, and it’s not raining (for you Oregonians… I know your pain, I do), go outside. Look up, and try to find a bright-ass star that’s close to being straight up, but isn’t quite. That is (probably) Vega. Vega is the Northestern point in the Summer Triangle (which is composed of Deneb, Altair, and Vega in the constellations of Cygnus, Lyra, and Aquila… but not in that order). Vega is only 25 light years away (which would take 23-24 days at Warp Factor 6…), so that’s one reason why it’s so bright. When I mentioned magnitude in the paragraph above, a lower magnitude means the star or object is brighter. Vega has a magnitude of 0.03. Wow, not very dim, is it? Compared to 9, yeah, you can see Vega easily with no help whatsoever (a blind man could probably see it). In lieu of my telescope, I’ve been taking my finderscope outside to look at Jupiter and other stars. I can see the four moons with it! But, I can’t see the stripes at all (Jupiter is just a point with smaller points in the finderscope). But it’s amazing what you can see with a low-powered object like the finderscope.
I may buy a pair of celestial binoculars as well (25x100s maybe), which’ll serve to allow me to see many things without taking out my scope. I tried to go up to Mary’s Peak the other night, since it was beautiful in Corvallis, but a dark cloud sat right on top of the mountain, effectively turning out the stars. It was creepy.
Ok, this post got out of control, and now I turned on a movie, so nothing more will probably be said. Nite nite!