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Archive category: Equipment

September 23, 2008

Love - who understands it?

Looking at giant Rigel this morning - 40,000 times brighter than our Sun - I found myself pondering two questions: 1. Why do I love double stars so? 2. And why do I love this little 80mm Orion Eon telescope...
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:59 AM
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May 07, 2008

Ethos vs Hyperion

Well, I've had a couple of reasonably clear mornings to begin to appreciate the Ethos. My conclusion: Put me on a lonely island with a dozen telescopes and one eyepiece and I want that eyepiece to be the 13mm Televue...
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:46 AM
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May 03, 2008

Building an eyepiece strategy on exit pupil and 'Ethos'

Well, not just exit pupil, but of the various numbers associated with eyepieces the exit pupil is a good way to set one limit. My new 'Ethos' arrived - the most expensive eyepiece I ever dreamed of purchasing -...
Posted by Greg Stone at 09:50 AM
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April 03, 2008

More observations with 120ST and "Contellation View"

April 3, 2008 - 3:15 am - 5:30 am - T4-5, S3 This was a wonderful, refreshing session, though cold got to my hands once ina while. What I did most of the time was play with the Orion...
Posted by Greg Stone at 04:42 AM
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Winter wear

Notes to myself - At 32 and below I need chemical toe warmers and handwarmers to be comfortable, plus silk glove libers and heated vest. I need hat on top of balaclava plus scarf At 32 - 50 - Silk...
Posted by Greg Stone at 04:37 AM
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April 02, 2008

First impressions - Orion Short Tube 120 refractor

April 2, 2008 - 4:20 am - 6:35 am - 43 degrees, very windy, transparency excellent, seeing average Good. I don't dare say a lot more, except in terms of specific observations and general principles, simply because I've come not...
Posted by Greg Stone at 04:41 AM
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March 24, 2008

Jupiter in the branches of a fast-moving tree

March 23/24 pm/am moonless/moonlight t4/3 s3 Jupiter, Europa, Io, Ganymede and Callisto - all playing a confused game of tag, tangled in the branches of a fast-moving tree - that was my main memory from two excellent observing sessions....
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:13 AM
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March 10, 2008

Extracting the essense - where less is just fine

March 9-10 pm/am T5S2, T5S3 I really can't pin this one down, but I keep getting attracted to the 66mm scope and leaving the 15-inch Obsession sitting idle right beside it. i think there might be two reasons -...
Posted by Greg Stone at 07:09 AM
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March 07, 2008

20 million light years with just 36mm of glass!

I love image stabilized binoculars and have had Canon 15X45s for six years. But I just sold them to someone in Russia and took the money and bought new, 12X36 IS. Why? Weight and bulk, plain and simple. Maybe my...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:52 AM
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Complex and simple in a single package

I've been on a KISS kick - Keep It Simple Stupid. Only it dawned on me this morning - unintentional pun- that you don't have to be simple to be simple - you can use the most complex go to...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:43 AM
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Oh those refractor views - and good seeing to boot!

March 6, 2008, 8 pm - T3S4 Got to put the new (to me) 100mm Orion ED through its paces last night between periods of high clouds. Terrific. On Mars both Bren and I could immediately see Syrtis Major. I...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:31 AM
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February 26, 2008

In search of M1 - what do YOU take into the cave?

Luke Skywalker looks into the dark cave and asks, "What will I find in there?" and Yoda replies, "Only what you take with you." Dom just sent me that quote by email, noting as he did that "Illumination sometimes...
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:24 AM
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February 25, 2008

Fixing a brand new, multiple reticle finder

The patience of amateur astronomers amazes me. It seems to me they put up with a lot of so-so gear from manufacturers and they're continuously coming up with fixes for things that never should have been sold the way they...
Posted by Greg Stone at 07:23 AM
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February 22, 2008

When good isn't good enough - but the seeing is fantastic

I was reading some stuff online yesterday about huge, inexpensive binoculars and it got me thinking about inexpensive refractors. Essentially the author, Ed Zarenski, seemed to be saying that while he would hold onto the large, inexpensive binoculars he was...
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:16 AM
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February 15, 2008

'Voyager' takes on several passengers for a maiden journey

My Astro_Tech Voyager alt-az mount arrived yesterday - this is going to get A LOT of use! This is the rpelacement for the little Ioptron "Cube" - only the Cube is completely automatic and this is completely mnual and cost...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:55 AM
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February 11, 2008

Fare thee well, Cube - farewell high tech

OK - been there, done that, and indeed, I guess I angered the gods. (For why I choose the Ioptron "Smart Cube" as a mount for two small refractors, see this post. Here's why I'm sending it back and going...
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:39 AM
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February 05, 2008

Cube arrived - funny little beast - may prove lovable ;-)

Cube update - 2.6.08 - In post below reviewing my first experience with the Cube I mistakenly said that it kept the date and time after being shut down. It does not, as I found out this morning. So in...
Posted by Greg Stone at 07:43 PM
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February 04, 2008

Why video astronomy? And what the heck is it, really?

February 4 - "When is video not video?" That was a recent question raised on the Yahoo Group. Video Astro, with this post. It's a good question and technically the answer is not at all clear. Essentially there are at...
Posted by Greg Stone at 07:03 AM
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February 02, 2008

Flat tires, one star alignments, and daylight stars

February 2 -morning - First, here's how a flat-tire can enhance your observing experience . . . When I got to a local restaurant yesterday at noon I noticed one rear tire was dangerously flat, the other quite soft. After...
Posted by Greg Stone at 07:20 AM
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February 01, 2008

Grabbed and went . . . three times ;-)

January 31- February 1 - Does that sound obscene to you? I hope not. What I grabbed was my telescope and eyepieces and where I went was to the observing deck to take advantage of some not really predicted clear...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:21 AM
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January 31, 2008

Less is OK, but more is better . . . much better

January 30-31 - Another "double" night - double stars, and observing on both the pm and am sides, but there was also some time for some more images through the AT66 with MallinCam video. My main focus was to test...
Posted by Greg Stone at 07:59 AM
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January 26, 2008

and now, risking the rath of the gods, back to high tech

OK - I've answered my own question, having spent the morning studying alt-az mount alternatives and revisiting the Ioptron SmartStar Cube and reading again the S&T review and reading again the manual - it's the Cube! Why? Because the decent...
Posted by Greg Stone at 01:28 PM
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Is someone sending me a message?

Small? Check out the Astro-Tech AT66 on the left on one of the mounts I rejected. Big? How about the 15-inch Obsession with its currently non-functional Argo-Navis computer control. Just right?Or maybe the 80ED on its ultra-simple, ultra functional UniStar...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:41 AM
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January 19, 2008

First light for the Astro-Tech 66 - very impressive!

January 19, 2008 - AT66 - foreground- next to the Orion 80ED on the observing deck at Driftway Observatory. Maybe I get too enthusiastic too easily. Maybe I'm still able to be surprised and thrilled. Maybe my expectations are overly...
Posted by Greg Stone at 10:42 AM
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January 08, 2008

Fat, dumb, and lucky - uncovering the ghost of a cosmic gem

“No object in the Messier catalog has proven more troublesome, more elusive, more provocative to amateur astronomers . . .” That’s how Stephen James O’Meara, one of the best, if not the best, visual observers alive today describes M74, a...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:42 AM
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January 04, 2008

Staying really warm while it’s really cold

Staying warm while observing is tricky, since it’s an essentially a sedentary activity. However, a few Christmas presents have come to my aid to keep me comfortable and I tried them out last night in 10-12 degree temperatures. They worked...
Posted by Greg Stone at 07:32 AM
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November 26, 2007

Comet Holmes, short refractors and wider video fields

I continue to experiment with wide field possibilities with the video camera. The true fov of view of a camera such as the MallinCam Color Hyper that I use is inherently small because of the size of the CCD chip...
Posted by Greg Stone at 10:39 PM
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November 24, 2007

MallinCam FOV tests

My test equipment: 8-inch Celestron NextStar SE SCT F10 2” WO diagonal Color Hyper MallinCam MFR-3 10mm, 10mm, 5mm extensions Philips PET 1002 10.2-inch DVD player Canon Digital Rebel – screen photographs at 1/6-second with image stabilized lens My target:...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:09 AM
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April 24, 2007

Hyperion Zoom: What I am seeing is not what's advertised

As I have written recently, I love the Hyperion eyepieces and feel the 8-24 zoom is my all-purpose eyepiece of first choice. But the cold truth of what I am seeing is either the AFOV is way off, or the...
Posted by Greg Stone at 01:15 PM
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April 23, 2007

Hyperion zoom - by the numbers - NOT

I've had many kind words to say about the Hyperion Zoom and it is still my eyepiece of first choice. There's simply a lot I like about it. But I really do question the specifications they claim for it. Don't...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:55 AM
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April 22, 2007

Hyperion - defining a new level of affordable quality - at least for me

Hy*pe*ri*on [ hi per ean] - A small moon of Saturn. A titan in Greek mythology. An incredible eyepiece. OK, that’s my definition – and I have to admit I know next to nothing about Greek mythology, a little more...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:42 AM
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April 14, 2007

3.5mm Hyperion , 80 ED, split the Double-Double

You know I like the Hyperion 8-24 zoom. Add to that the 3.5mm, 68-degree Hyperion from Baader Planetarium. I tried it briefly last night on the 8-inch LX90 and found it the most comfortable, high-powered eyepiece I have used....
Posted by Greg Stone at 08:11 AM
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April 10, 2007

Hyperion Zoom update

I've had several more observing sessions with the Hyperion 8-24mm zoon on the 8-inch, F10 LX90 and have the following observations: 1. I'm still infatuated with it - it is my eyepiece of first choice. 2. The numbers on the...
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:36 AM
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April 06, 2007

You gotta be kidding - observing for the blind?

Astronmical observing for the blind? Does that sound like a cruel joke to you? It did to me when I first heard it and before I gave it much thought. Yet a few weeks from now I hope to be...
Posted by Greg Stone at 10:50 AM
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Wider, better, but . . . looking through the new Hyperion Zoom

Bottom line; Testing three zoom eyepieces this morning, it was obvious that if you pay more, you get more – but as is frequently the case with optical quality, what you get isn’t that much more and what you pay...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:15 AM
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April 05, 2007

How fine should we be cutting it?

My friend Clay Cooper has some interesting experiences to report in a recent message: I got a new 2" eyepiece this week - a GSO 30mm Super View ($58). Ordered it from Agena Astro on Monday morning and received it...
Posted by Greg Stone at 07:25 PM
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March 28, 2007

Zooms: Cheap is OK, but wider is better

Does a cheap Celestron zoom eyepiece compare well with one that gets good reviews and sells for two or three times the price? Yes. but a new, wider zooms appeals t me as well. But before going into that, let...
Posted by Greg Stone at 08:28 AM
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March 25, 2007

Seeing (something much different) with two eyes

For years I have squinted through a telescope with one eye open, one eye closed. This never felt right to me. Now I'm discovering how to observeastronomical objects with one eye working with an entirely different image than the other...
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:32 AM
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March 24, 2007

Weather lessons, electronic eyepieces and finding stuff

Preface: A Messier Marathon is an event held near the end of March, the one time of the year when you can actually see all the Messier objects in a single night. There are 110 Messier objects and a...
Posted by Greg Stone at 12:31 PM
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March 23, 2007

Cubs, the moon, M42, Video, Saturn - parents. . . it all adds up

Had a delightful time observing with three Cub Scouts and their mothers the other night. This is a group that began their four-session observing program last fall and is just now finishing up. It's amazing how cloudy nights, holidays, bitter...
Posted by Greg Stone at 03:28 AM
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March 21, 2007

Imagination plus zoom eyepiece equals awesome observing

I've added the final piece to my ideal star-gazing equipment, a Vixen 8mm-24mm zoom eyepiece - and in the process come across a wonderful piece by Chet Raymo that sums up what I think observing should be. But more...
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:39 AM
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March 20, 2007

Update - bargain scope, a bargain, but only. . .

OK, I reviewed this little 70mm F5 Mead refractor earlier. I gave it a fresh try today in daylight as a birding scope. Nope. The optics are simply too poor. Lot of stray light. I won't sell it, however. I'll...
Posted by Greg Stone at 04:41 PM
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March 19, 2007

80 ED vs 102 F5 - And the winner is . . .

. .. the Orion 80mm ED Apochromatic Refractor - but does it matter?. Just as Clay called it in his comments on my earlier post, the 80mm ED outperforms the larger 102mm Celestron. Bottom line: Quality counts. But . ....
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:33 AM
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March 18, 2007

Small, cheap and fast and . . .?

Let me get to the bottom line - I was testing a Celestron 102mm F5 against an Orion ShortTube 80mm F5 for brightness and quality and while I would give the edge - in brightness - to the 102mm, the...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:27 AM
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March 14, 2007

Seeing through clouds? Ya gotta be kidding!

OK, if I didn't have an excellent witness sitting beside me, I would not have believed it myself, but yes, I can now see through solid cloud cover with telescope and video camera! Maybe this is old hat to some,...
Posted by Greg Stone at 03:21 AM
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March 12, 2007

Notes on looking up . . .

Another hour or so beneath the Orion 80 ED on a p-mount has given me more insights into this business of straight through viewing - looking up to see the stars. (See earlier post.) What's more, I just did a...
Posted by Greg Stone at 04:28 AM
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March 10, 2007

Stargazing by looking up - what a strange idea ;-)

Did you ever lie on your back in the warm grass of summer, or perhaps on the face of a dune, or maybe on the rock slab of a mountain, and look at the stars in wonder and amazement? Were...
Posted by Greg Stone at 09:56 AM
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Update - 70mm bargain?

In my report on the 70mm F5 "cheapy" Meade yesterday, I concluded: My general impression of the optics were they were low contrast and it was difficult to achieve really sharp focus. My general impression was accurate - low contrast...
Posted by Greg Stone at 04:24 AM
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March 09, 2007

That little bargain scope? Maybe . . .

A 70mm F5 Meade refractor, two "super Plossl" eyepieces, a 2X barlow, tripod and very functional soft carrying case that holds everything – all for $119? You gotta be kidding. Nope. So I bought it. And now I've tried it....
Posted by Greg Stone at 10:02 AM
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March 08, 2007

Deep sky video with NexStar SE 5

The little Celestron 5-inch (BexStar 5 SE) can deliver a very impressive and colorful view through the Color Hyper MallinCam – but it took me two freezing nights, plus experimentation in daylight in a warm house to get it right....
Posted by Greg Stone at 09:37 PM
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March 03, 2007

Simple scopes, simple joys - and Nova Scorpii too

Nova Scorpii - I put it at about 6.8 this morning - but I was using familiar comparison stars that weren't that good for this purpose. All I'm sure of is that it has dropped significantly from my previous observation...
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:32 AM
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March 01, 2007

Live, from the moon. . .

. . . we bring you Gassendi! A French theologian, mathematician, and astronomer - got to love that combination - he's been dead for about 350 years, but a magnificient crater bearing his name lives on. I like the nickname...
Posted by Greg Stone at 03:58 AM
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February 24, 2007

KISS my eyepieces!

Which means, Keep It Simple Stupid - and that seems like a good rule for eyepieces - at least for me. Hey, I know eyepieces are a sensitive topic among amateur astronomers and people all have their favorites, but after...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:38 AM
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February 22, 2007

LX-90 update -frustration and success

Hey Meade - if you're going to help this little old lady across the universe, tell her first! Ok, got that out of my system! See, as mentioned earlier, when my LX90 came back from Meade with its mechanical guts...
Posted by Greg Stone at 08:46 AM
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February 20, 2007

Two surprises

Arrived home at dusk last night after a less-than-successful puppy expedition that had left us both a bit tense. As I got out of the car, the first thing that caught my eye was a beautiful line up of the...
Posted by Greg Stone at 03:03 AM
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November 11, 2006

UPDATED: Uh oh! Interesting, but ????

11.15.06 - From discussions generated by the MallinCam Yahoo Group I'm pretty sure that the problem lies in the refractor. Either it's hopeless in terms of getting true color, or I have to make serious changes to the camera settings...
Posted by Greg Stone at 09:37 PM
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October 31, 2006

No house burning, but . . .

As I've said before, "The Star Splitter" by Robert Frost is a favorite poem of mine and many amateur astronomers, not only because it captures the wonder of starry nights, but because it captures the obsession – and the pressure...
Posted by Greg Stone at 08:25 PM
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October 27, 2006

Lessons learned from Orion's sword

One of the more enlightening moments I had last year was when a visitor to Driftway Observatory peered into the 15-inch and asked me if the three stars in a row she saw were Orion's Belt. It was a good...
Posted by Greg Stone at 10:53 AM
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October 26, 2006

Two swans and a new "zoom" lens

Hey, the great attraction last night was Comet SWAN – but I did capture the above image of the well-known constellation Cygnus the Swan with my new zoom lens as it (the heavenly swan) plunged into my trees to...
Posted by Greg Stone at 12:15 PM
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October 18, 2006

Now THAT'S a pier!

My idea for a new observing pier was simple – get a metal pipe and sink it in some concrete. Mark Gibson, of ClearVue Optics, however, had better ideas. He took my simplistic approach and fabricated a still simple,...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:49 AM
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Going round and round . . .

I've added this simple North Star disc – 2-feet in diameter – to the Observatory tools. When you face it, you’re also facing north, and it spins gently so you can adjust it to the current positions of the...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:38 AM
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January 23, 2006

Seeing red – hey, that’s a good thing!

January 21, 2006 –4:30 am – 6:35 am - high, thin clouds – 38 – transparency average (in selected locations), seeing average; moon 21 days old, fairly low (38 degrees) in the south, but certainly lighting up the yard...
Posted by Greg Stone at 12:26 PM
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January 20, 2006

Update to the ST-80 mount problem

My big complaint with the Orion ShortTube-80 refractor has been the mount I have it on. (See the previous post.) I just spent an hour or two fooling around with it on one type of binocular mount which didn’t work...
Posted by Greg Stone at 11:13 AM
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Testing ST-80 and 60mm Refractors

January 19, 2006 9:30 pm – 10:30 pm Mostly clear, 35-degrees, conditions average I’m re-examining the equipment inventory and trying to decide what is worth keeping and what would be better sold and the money used for something else. My...
Posted by Greg Stone at 04:42 AM
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December 13, 2005

wow wow! WOW! - or how to get there from here

Saturn's C A GSO full of bees Nagler delivers - at a price Looking for the ultimate wow! 3:15 am, 25-degrees, clear and there’s a wind – but I am already out before I notice it. For a moment...
Posted by Greg Stone at 06:43 PM
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December 12, 2005

A morning romp with the Orion 6XT IntelliScope

Shortcuts for this entry: Finder issues and then there's the vertical stop Not Microsoft The Beehive Eskimo Saturn M35 M3 and M51 Scope facts just for the record Hey Scotty, Give me warp .3! Sorry sir, the best we can...
Posted by Greg Stone at 04:49 PM
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December 04, 2005

Rethinking and refining equipment choices

I’ve had enough experience with visitors at the observatory to now refine my equipment choices and develop a pattern for the sessions. First, I want to make sure each session at the Observatory involves some naked eye observing, some...
Posted by Greg Stone at 11:03 AM
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November 17, 2005

Buying your first scope

Note: This is a handout for a talk/demonstration given at the Westport Library November 17, 2005. As such,it is intended as supplementary notes - not a complete article. Six links to a good observing experience Most telescopes do an adequate...
Posted by Greg Stone at 05:32 AM
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November 03, 2005

Return of the GSOs

I bought the 10mm GSOs from Agena Astro Products for $72 for the pair. Manish Panjwani, who I assume owns the business, had been very helpful with his emails and agreed to take the eyepieces back, less the postage charge....
Posted by Greg Stone at 07:19 PM
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November 01, 2005

More GSOs, bad seeing, and . . .

Well – this morning wasn’t my best observing experience. But I did accomplish my main goal, which was to retest the 10mm GSO SuperViews in a scope with long focal length – the LX90 which is an F10. (Earlier test...
Posted by Greg Stone at 07:48 AM
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August 03, 2005

Success . . . and maturity!

It's been two and a half months since the 15-inch Obsession arrived, but last night it was all worth it. I had four hours of excellent observing despite 4.5 magnitude skies that were not nearly as steady as predicted. Why...
Posted by Greg Stone at 10:52 AM
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May 27, 2005

Of hawks, concrete, and the Driftway Observing Green

An observatory offers protection from the elements, convenience and a real sense of purpose. It also costs big bucks and with an Obsession 15 on order I wasn’t ready to take this major step to permanently house it, so I...
Posted by Greg Stone at 04:49 AM
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May 24, 2005

Laser, laser on the wall . . . mirror

What's that? The view down the tube of the 15-inch during a laser collimation exercise. They call it "collimation." I don't like the word. My tongue gets tangled with my gums when I try to say it.. But what...
Posted by Greg Stone at 04:44 PM
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May 23, 2005

Uh oh! My eyes aren't at the top of my head any more!

Why didn't some one tell me this! I mean, I've been following the discussion on the Obsession Users Group of the 12.5 vs the 15 (not to mention the 18, 20, and 25) and one of my reasons for getting...
Posted by Greg Stone at 03:51 PM
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Get the lead out - ehhhh . . . in

What weighs more - a pound of lead or a pound of sand? Ouch - ok - I'm retreating to the first grade - sorry ;-) What I mean to say, is what weighs more, a tube of fine beach...
Posted by Greg Stone at 01:36 PM
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Obsessed right out of the box!

It’s not like I’ve never owned a telescope before – well, yes it is. Let me try to explain. I’m not a newbie. More than 40 years ago I bought a 4-inch Dynascope. And that was followed by the now...
Posted by Greg Stone at 04:43 AM
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Recent Entries in Rapt in Awe
Love - who understands it?

Ethos vs Hyperion

Building an eyepiece strategy on exit pupil and 'Ethos'

More observations with 120ST and "Contellation View"

Winter wear

First impressions - Orion Short Tube 120 refractor

Jupiter in the branches of a fast-moving tree

Extracting the essense - where less is just fine

20 million light years with just 36mm of glass!

Complex and simple in a single package

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