Saturday, May 1, 2010

Telescopes and More

Boondock Product: Telescope

Many folks are interested in taking up Astronomy as a hobby.  It can be an addictive and expensive hobby as someone with seven telescopes and two observatories can testify.  But notice that domes do not pack well for travel. 

Their first question is always "what telescope should I buy?.  Well, the answer is much more complicated than that.  What are your other interests?  Will you use it for bird watching?  Do you want to take photographs with the telescope?  Are you going to use it in town or under a dark country sky?

Pretty soon, their eyes glaze over and they walk away. 

So the question really is "What telescope should I buy that I will keep and use for the rest of my life?  Even if I lose interest in Astronomy."

Now that is an easy question to answer.  Buy the Orion Short Tube Refractor telescope know as the ST-80-T.  It has a 80mm objective lens and comes with two eyepieces.  It is only 15 1/2 inches long, but is a real telescope that will show you the rings of Saturn, the craters on the moon, the moons of Jupiter, and a thousand other celestial sights.  The cost is reasonable.  Just over $200 dollars for all this.

But as they say, wait there's more.  This telescope makes a perfect scope for bird watching or wildlife viewing.  People watching is at your own risk.  The two eyepieces give you magnifications of 16X and 40X which is perfectly suited to the scope.  It also has an "correct image diagonal" which means everything is right side up and you can read the writing on distant billboards.

As with all telescopes you need a good mount.  The ST-80-T comes with a tripod adapter that mates to any photography tripod.  Even though it is only 15 1/2 inches long, the beefier the tripod  the better.  This is the tripod I bought for the ST-80-T and it works well.  If you already have a tripod try it first before getting a larger tripod.

If you are going to use the ST-80-T  for astronomy then you should buy a cheap mount. Any inexpensive mount will be able to hold the ST-80-T.

But wait there even more!  You can buy an adapter for your single lens reflex camera and attach it to the ST-80-T and take pictures through it.  Here is a  link to a picture I took through my ST-80-T and my Pentax DSLR. Click on the link.  Elk ST-80 picture  The elk were about 300 yards away and in fading light.  It is amazing what photo processing software can do to bring out an image.  If you look carefully, you can see that the image is soft around the edges.  But for $200 and the versitility of this scope it is a small price to pay. 

For ease of use you might want to buy this universal adapter to match to the T-Ring.  Universal AdapterHowever, the T-Ring will screw onto the focuser.

 And it makes the perfect gift for a kid interested in space!  This is the perfect scope for a eight to tweleve year old interested in astronomy.  Much better than the poor telescopes sold by Costco and other stores.  This is the real thing.

And there is even more in the future!!!  The great thing about the ST-80-T is if you get hooked on astronomy and buy larger scopes in the future you will still use it.  The ST-80-T makes a great finder scope and you can still use for birdwatching and as a camera telephoto.

So there is the telescope.  You will need guidebooks to show your way around the sky.  But my advise is to buy the scope and look at bright stars and the moon.  Play Galileo and discover the universe without a guide.  Don't forget to look at "fuzzy" spots up there with your telescope.  See what you can find.

After that get your guidebooks.  But you will always have the memory of discovery on your own!  When you point that little scope at a bright star that is Jupiter or Saturn you will have a memory to treasure.

1 comment:

Dee Dee said...

Great information! Thank you! I also wanted to thank you for your wonderful article on "hyphenated Americans". Spot on.