University Lowbrow Astronomers

The Perfect Scope.

by Joni Gruszczynski
Printed in Reflections: February, 2003.

Word gets around.  “I hear you and Bob are getting a new ’scope.  How did that come about?”  I’m thinking, “Hmmm, how did that come to be?”  After all, we already have three fine telescopes.  One is the perfect starter-portable-GoTo scope.  Its only flaw is that it will find objects that I can’t see - even at the Black Forest Star Party (BFSP)!  Then we have a wonderful Celestron G-5.  Great optics and portable.  I still need more star hopping experience, but... if I can find it, it looks great!  Then the “Space Cannon,” an Orion 10” reflector Monster Dob.  As portable as Bob wants it to be, and I could gaze at nebulas (my favorite objects) all night with it.  But I do have to wait for Bob to set it up - not that he needs much prompting.  However, Bowling has been known to occur on clear nights, phenomena I can’t quite explain.

We were at our second BFSP.  The sky was nearly perfect - a bit of moisture fuzziness.  I was using our GoTo Scope to find everything in its database, and getting Bob to point the “Space Cannon” at Sagittarius.  The Lagoon Nebula was sparkling in the southern sky.  This was Friday, the first official day/night of the BFSP.  I remember the occasion because it was so special - the young people who set up next to us were trying to get their 28” Obsession going.  Doubtful they had ever set one up, but an experienced Dob user stopped by and helped them out.  Helpful people, astronomers.  Bob and Gary were trading views on their Dobs.  It’s always interesting to compare views on the different scopes, and one of the ways we learn more.

Bob decides it’s time for a powder.  He heads for the Port-a-Jons in the dark.  I commandeer the “Space Cannon.”  Then I wander over and check out the views in Gary’s scope.  Bob finally returns, of course with an adventure story.  He met up with someone we camped next to at last year’s BFSP - the owner of a 10” Star Master.  This year, he now had upgraded to a 12.5” Starmaster with Zambuto optics.  Bob was impressed.  Now as he sights in the same object he viewed through the Starmaster, he doesn’t seem as happy with the views through the 10” Orion.  I note this reaction.  Is this a variation of the well-known “aperture fever?”  Well, he will need to be under observation for 24 hours....

Well, within this 24 hour period, we wander over to the Mag One display, just as Peter Smith is taking the display down before dusk.  We talk about the different sizes available.  It seems Zambuto optics are part of this scope line, and it seems very portable for a 12.5”.  We gather information sheets and thanked Peter for his time.  This night we’re treated to a magnificent aurora display and good seeing!

During the next day, Bob and I exchange a few words of discussion concerning the possible acquisition of the 12.5” Mag One scope.  I see this as a logical progression into the next astronomy tool.  And one that makes it possible to move a great light-gathering scope around.  Maybe even I can move this one!  The 10” Orion isn’t light as a feather.  And we haven’t fabricated a cart for it.  The new scope get further discussion after the Star Party, and once I’m convinced it’s suitable for extending our hobby to the next level - we order it.

I’m sure Bob has a different story.  And that’s fine.  Astronomy is a hobby, and like everything else, it’s constantly changing - tools improve, yet the basics remain the same.  The scope that brought us into the hobby still has as niche, but we’ve learned its limits, and still yearn to see more of the deep sky.  We’re learning our limits, our likes, and tailoring our equipment to suit us and inspire us.

You’ll see us at the BFSP this fall with the “New One” and who knows which other scope.

Clear skies.


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