Saturday, December 7, 2013

Done! : 490 days, One Scope, Few Posts, and First Light

490 Days, One Scope

For those of you who may have joined us recently, this blog is called One Year One Scope because that was my plan.  You can read all the details here, but the short of it is I wanted to buy/build/find a new telescope in one year.  Well, here it is 490 days (1.34246 years) later and I have something like the better scope I set out to build.

So I missed my one year goal, but considering I moved to Australia in the interim, I'm actually pretty pleased.   It took a while to ship the parts to Australia once I realized I was here long term, building the scope in my apartment was challenging, and works has been a bit crazy.  Progress was definitely slow....But the telescope is done, and after using it for one night, I think it's pretty darn good, with the potential to be a lot better.

Few Posts

Looking back I've not posted anything for eight months.  Terrible, terrible.  Some of that time I had little to report, the scope parts were sitting on a boat, or sitting in a corner and I was otherwise occupied with life.  However, I've been actively building the scope for just about four months.  I could have posted a bunch of work in progress stuff, but my propensity for order held me back...

I had this orderly, and seemingly wonderful, plan for this blog when I started.  Every post would be an organized signpost along the journey, and it started off well.  I figured out what I wanted, listed requirements, figured out a budget, decided to build, worked out some details of the design. You can check it all out on the right hand side there.  It was nice and tidy.

Then things sort of got messy.  I did research, made decisions and  found opportunities to get specific parts before I could write posts detailing the process.  Each time I wanted to post about some new milestone, I thought about all the other stuff I should post about first, so that everything would be a nice, tidy narritive; 'Well, I can't really post about buying the secondary mirror before I post about secondary mirror sizing...'.  So I ended up writing very little.

Now that It's done there are definitely things I am going to share, but if I could have gotten over my desire for orderliness, I could have probably documented a lot more of the process, as it happened, for myself and anyone else who was interested.  Hopefully, I've learned my lesson; A somewhat temporally disorganized post that actually gets posted, is better than the perfectly ordered post that never does

First Light

It's with this lesson in mind, that I'm posting about my first impressions of the telescope even before I've covered what I bought for all the parts, and how I built it.  I will follow up with all that for anyone who's going to start a similar journey (and I really think you should!) but if I keep waiting to get it perfect, it will never come.

That's me and the Telescope

Last night I went out to the yearly ASV Star-Be-Cue party at their dark sky site about 150km north of Melbourne.  I was racing all week to finish the scope up, and I did not complete the assembly until Saturday morning.  The final details took longer than I hoped and I was on the road a bit late, but I arrived by 5:30 and had plenty of time to setup the telescope and wait for darkness.  It was a great night of observing, and I'll definitely post more about it, but here are my first impressions.

The View is AWESOME: There is a lot of fine tuning to do, but the views really blew me away.  The Orion and Tarantula nebulas were incredible, with lots of fine detail visible.  I came back to them several times and I spent a good part of the night just taking them in.  47 Tucanae with the 13mm Nagler was resolved to the core with pinpoint stars.  It was really breathtaking.

The motion is good, but could use work: It moves well, but it takes more force than I would like and it's not balanced in the altitude axis.  Like most scopes, this one will take some tuning.  The design is solid, and I think with some balancing, a couple of minor position changes of the teflon pads and a bit of wax, it will be smoooooth and easy.

The scope is large, but manageable: I opted for the 'Easy Transport' option when I ordered the kit from DobStuff and I'm glad I did.  Since I don't own a car, I use a car share service and this time there were no larger cars available.  Breaking the scope down I was able to pretty easily fit it into the Hyundai i30 hatchback I had reserved.  This is along with my camping gear, food, and my C6 with a surveyor tripod.  The optical tube, even when shortened, can be a bit unwieldy due to the weight of the mirror, but it's actually easier than I had imagined.

Assembly and setup and collimation is pretty easy: It takes maybe 15 minutes to unload and setup the scope.  There are no tools required and almost everything is captive.  There are three bolts that are loose which I'll need to figure out a good way to keep track of, but everything else is large assemblies.  I sprung for a laser collimator since I knew I'd have to do it every time I setup, and it made the job relatively painless.

I'm going to be busy: On the way home I thought of a half dozen changes I want to make right away.  Most are minor and not a reflection on the kit, but rather my build of it or my personal preferences.  I think I can make it through a large portion of them before the next new moon when I hope to take the scope out again.  Visually, It already performs like a champ, but I think these few things will really improve my comfort using the scope.

I'm really looking forward to the first weekend in January when I can take the scope out again.  Until then, Clear Skies to everyone!