Breaking in My New Scope

by Brian Jepson

After editing href="http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/astronomyhks/">Astronomy Hacks,
I knew I had to get a telescope. I got off to a very false start with
the 4.5
inch Orion Short Tube
, a model that href="http://ttgnet.com/">Bob warned me about. But it was cheap, and it was in stock locally.



Bob warned me about its poor mount and weak optics. I probably could have lived
with the optics, but the mount was very bad. It was jerky and shaky. And
a peek at the Orion catalog showed me that the mount it came
with was their rock-bottom mount.



At Bob's urging, I returned the scope. The folks at href="http://www.birdersnatureview.com/">Birdwatcher's Nature View
were fantastic, giving me 30 days to try the scope out before making up
my mind. I ended up getting the $359 href="http://www.telescope.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=366&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=4&iSubCat=9&iProductID=366">Orion SkyQuest XT8. Unfortunately, the optical tube assembly was damaged in transit. The replacement came about a week ago. A wonderful thing about
buying locally was that the
folks at Birdwatcher's Nature View took care of shipping the return and getting the new one in.



In the first session with the new scope, I didn't have high expectations; the first
time out with my original scope, I'd been unable to find anything without the help of my
friend Daten, and the second time out, I found nothing. But I've
been training. In particular, href="http://stellarium.sourceforge.net/">Stellarium has helped me
get better oriented. I've also been using href="http://www.stargazing.net/astropc/">Cartes du Ciel for star
charts, so when I got home, I woke up my computer, fired up Cartes du
Ciel, and printed the default chart that appeared. Because of the tree cover, there is only a
sliver of sky visible from where I live, but that sliver coincided with the
chart, and turned out to give a perfect view of Cygnus, Lyra, and
Draco's head.



This scope is fantastic, although I do need to add a
Telrad finder, since the default finder is a little annoying. But
(pun intended), the two scopes are like night and day. The XT8 is
really easy to use. In an hour of observing, and with a copy of href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1552093026">Nightwatch to complement the printed chart, my wife and I found: