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Observation Report
His Home, Monday, July 2, 2001

First light

by: Gary Manning

As Randy mentioned rather elegantly, today, July 2nd at 2:05 pm I became the proud father of a 16" Starmaster Dob with GOTO and a Feather touch focuser.

I helped the UPS man bring the packages into the house I checked each one for damage. There was none. I then began the arduous task of unloading each of the boxes. It is a huge understatement to say that this scope was well packed. I'm sure that I've got 100 ft of heavy duty bubble wrap in the now empty boxes.

With all of the major pieces out of their boxes I then began assembling the scope. I attached the altitude bearings to the mirror box and placed the mirror in it's cell. I was really nervous about this last step and had been sweating it for the last week. The instructions explained what I need to do and the procedure was quick and painless and, most important, I did not drop or touch the coated surface. :-)

With these two things out of the way I assembled the scope, placed the mirror box on the rocker box, bolted the trusses in place and installed the upper cage. I had to fiddle with the trusses a bit to get the cage to fit properly. In fact I thought the cage was warped or my trusses were uneven but I found that if I loosen the lower truss bolts a quarter turn I could easily install the cage. I then tightened the lower truss bolts after the upper cage was in place. The mirror cell installed easily.

Rookie mistake #1

With the scope assembled I then found the page in the manual telling me to install a couple parts for the GOTO. Cool! I disassembled the scope and installed the Alt motor, battery, and the two controllers. Time to build the scope again.

Collimation was quick and fairly painless. Since the secondary was not shipped installed I had to spend some time aligning it with a site tube. After that the other steps went quickly. Adjusting the tilt of the secondary was a breeze. The four oversized adjusting screws made very quick work of it. Likewise with adjusting the mirror cell.

At this point it was time for dinner and to be social with the family.

After dinner I disassembled the scope and re-assembled it in the back yard. I did not get the transport handles although I did notice that the rocker box is "transport handle ready".

Rookie Mistake #2

I assembled the scope on a piece of shag carpet on the lawn. The weight of the scope cause the carpet to pucker in two or three places. As I rotated the scope on the Az axis the metal bracket that protects the Az drive wheel caught on the carpet. I disassembled the scope again and moved it 50 feet over to the patio and set it up for the final time.

I did not do a thorough job of collimating the scope but the laser was right on. It probably could have used a little tweaking but it was getting dark and I was getting anxious to see something.

I decided to collimate the Telrad in Vega but I had a problem with the focuser/Paracorr/eyepiece combination, I couldn't get an image to come to focus.

Rookie Mistake #3

I forgot to take the lid off of the mirror box. Wadda dork! Once I did I got a star field pretty quickly and what a beauty it was. The stars were perfect pinpoints of varying intensity. Nothing remarkable but it was certainly a beautiful view. I quickly found Vega and finished collimating the Telrad. Now was time for my first non-stellar object. I swung the scope a bit and got a decent view of M57, one of my favorite objects. I looked pretty good considering I was viewing from my backyard, it was near full moon and the scattered cirrus clouds.

My wife and 12 year old daughter, Jessie came out to visit and I showed them M57. My wife went in but Jessie stayed. I showed her Mars which she enjoyed even though conditions were pretty poor. She wanted to look at the moon. She drove the scope and we both had a look.

Soon after Jessie went in and I disassembled the scope without incident and brought everything inside. I did not try out the DSCs or the GOTOs. That'll have to wait until next time.

I am very happy with the scope. It is very apparent to me that a lot of thought, hard work and intelligence went into the design and manufacture. I had to wait a long time, 11 months from the time I ordered it but I got to tell you it was worth the wait.

Gary Manning

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