Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Observing from Gainesville

Last night, I took the telescope out for the third time to do some observing, and it was mostly a success.

A problem with the condo complex I live in is that trees block a significant portion of the sky, though the area overhead is clear of obstructions. It’s easy now to use the Summer Triangle and its vicinity for Two-Star Alignment plus calibration stars, though you really need a wider variety of stars to get accurate alignment.

Nonetheless, I got a good alignment as soon as Vega and Deneb became visible, and as the sky darkened it was easier to get that alignment. I decided to start the observing with M13, the globular cluster in Hercules, and was kind of stunned that it turned up nearly in the center of the field of view in my 32mm eyepiece. It got better as the night wore on, though the lights of Gainesville make the observing site less than ideal.

My goal was to see Comet 103P/Hartley, but because of battery issues by the time it was coming into view from behind the trees, that was not possible.

Of course, I paid a visit to my old pal M57, the Ring Nebula, and even got some nice higher-power views. I closed off the night with a shot at Jupiter, though it was partially obstructed by the trees.

I was putting a lot of stress on the battery because I was using both outlets: one to run the GoTo system and the other for the anti-dew heating, and after about three hours the battery was starting to show a loss of power. The display lights on the hand controller dimmed, and I could see that the orange “Needs Charging” light was on. When I shut down for the night, I saw that the green “Ready to Use” light was on, but was not as bright.

One symptom of the power loss was that attempted GoTos to M31 and the Double Cluster in Perseus had to be aborted because of a runaway slew. Others online have noted that the GoTo system is very sensitive to the power level, and low battery situations tend to cause these kinds of problems.

I guess the solution is to buy the higher-amp and longer-life battery pack, and use the current one as a backup.

All in all, it was a good night with the telescope, but I definitely need either a different work schedule so I can go to other star events or a new place to live. Still, hauling my stuff up and down the stairs is working wonders on my upper-body strength, though nearing age 50 my body reminds me to take it easy the next day.

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October 7, 2010 - Posted by | Observations with Vinny | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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