Well, I had an interesting experience this evening. We are staying in a hotel, in a red zone area, with lots of lights all over the place. There is a light breeze blowing. The temperature is, I think, in the mid twenties. I have my Meade 60AZ-T, 60 mm by 350 mm focal length scope with 20, 15, 10 mm UO 70 degree eyepieces. I also have 6, 5, 4, and 3.2 mm TMB Planetary eyepieces. All of the eyepieces fit nicely into the telescope case. I have my camera tripod to mount the scope on. We had a grab and go, unplanned situation and this is what I had together that I could just grab.
Going outside around 7:30, I look around and “feel” that I need to stay in the wind shadow of the hotel building. I know that I will not see much, but I want to try anyway. I find a nice electrical box to sit on….under a parking lot light. The base of the light is brickwork with a cap ring of bricks, making a shelf to set eyepieces and things on. I can sit on the electrical box, set up the tripod (which has to have different lengths on the legs to allow one leg to be off the curb while the other two are on grass above the curb. I can reach out and actually touch the light pole while sitting on the electrical box.
Well, if I can see anything at all, it will really be a good story to tell on cloudy nights!
My first object is Jupiter. With the four degree chunk of sky that I can see with the 20 mm eyepiece, Jupiter was not hard to get in the field, even with no finder. My cataracts made Jupiter a complete blur, even though I could see all four moons…I think. I put in the 10 mm eyepiece, still a blur with signs of the two main bands showing up. Went to the 6 mm TMB Planetary….just right! Sitting there, under the light, eyes watering, watching Jupiter slowly move across the field…move it back…watch it move across the field. Eyes coming into and out of focus………Presto! There is the whole Northern Temperate Band for a second! I think I can see signs occasionally of the southern one, but may be wishful thinking. I can see signs occasionally of mottling in the big bands.
I went then to the multiple star, Castor. (For any beginner reading this, stick your fist out at arms length and put Jupiter on the south side of your fist by your pinky finger, then look on the north side of your fist. A little lower than straight across will be the star, Castor. There will be another, brighter star below and to the right of Castor. This is Pollux, the other of the Gemini twins.) With the 20 mm eyepiece, no split. I put in the 10 mm….I can see there are two stars there that are just kissing. I put in the 6 mm TMB Planetary eyepiece….good split between Castor A and B. I pulled out the 3.2 mm TMB eyepiece. The dark space between the two stars is about as wide as the B star disk or maybe a tiny bit bigger. I can definitely see that the two stars are a different color as well as size. The separation between the two stars is listed in the 2013.8 version of the Washington Double Star List is 5 arc-seconds. Most likely, I will be able to see a kissing pair of stars at 2.5 arc-seconds with this scope.
The next object is Orion’s Sword. With the 20 mm eyepiece in this scope, I had no problem finding it in the four degree sky field. The sword actually takes up about two degrees. Even though not much of the nebulosity showed in the Great Orion Nebula, the view was really nice and well framed with the extra field. At the 17.5X magnification, the trapezium was too small for me to really distinguish the fourth star in the trapezium. I put in the 10 mm eyepiece. I could definitely see four stars in the Trapezium…parking lot light, watery eyes, terrestrial scope, etc. Well, an hour has past and my feet and face are getting a little too cold for our circumstances. Time to go in. I think this little scope is going to work out well. I just need to keep its strengths and weaknesses in perspective. It is amazing what you can see under much less than optimum conditions and less than optimum equipment, if you really try.
An adventure with my 60 AZ-T, 60 mm by 350 mm refractor.
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