On April 4, I received my early birthday presents: A decent pair of Celestron astronomical binoculars with a tripod adapter, a set of Plossl eyepieces, a Celestron NexStar 102SLT refractor telescope, and a Celestron Lithium Phosphate (LiFePO4) PowerTank. Of course the skies didn’t cooperate until, finally, Friday night, but we were out for the evening (watching Casablanca on a big screen at a local university). Saturday was still decent, so I finally got to play with the telescope.
My wife was more impressed with the binoculars than the telescope, I think, because there weren’t any electronics involved and she knows how to use them. 😉
For anyone bemoaning the fact that I’m skipping over the steps of learning the night sky, I’d like to offer a few reasons for going with the computerized (GoTo) system the telescope uses.
First, I’m turning 65 this month and I’ve already found out what it’s like to survive a cardiac arrest. I don’t want to spend too many hours studying how to find things by star hopping.
Second, I’ve already had the experience of having what I’m trying to view slide out of sight before I can drag family members out to see anything. With the GoTo it tracks, so that’s no longer a problem.
Third, I’m wanting to play around with astrophotography, so tracking is important. Without tracking the stars’ apparent motion turns them into light trails within a few seconds. With it, I can get exposures of up to 20 to 30 seconds before other problems interfere (such as field rotation).
Finally, with the light pollution we have here I can only see perhaps two dozen of the brightest stars without a telescope. But once the GoTo has been aligned to 3 of the brightest, it can point itself to anything in its catalog of over 4,000 stars, nebulae, galaxies. Through its 102 mm lens I can then see so much more… and that’s easier and quicker than driving for 45 minutes each way, not to mention loading up the car, setting up the scope, and reversing it for the return home.