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Thread: Well, it's a little late, but I suppose I should "introduce" myself properly

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    Default Well, it's a little late, but I suppose I should "introduce" myself properly



    Hi, all! I've already posted a couple/three times over at the beginner's forum, and have now realized that I should have said hello here first.

    I am 48, a recovering lawyer, and got introduced to astronomy by my best friend when we were both about 12-13 or so, back in the late 70s. We lived on Long Island, about 20-25 miles out from Manhattan, so although our light pollution was bad, it wasn't too bad to be able to starhop. Since he was the product of divorced parents who each wanted to keep him in their good graces, he always was able to get a better telescope than me, while I got mine the old-fashioned way: I earned it.

    I started out with a department store piece of s***, some kind of 60mm on a terrible mount that was advertised by it being 400 power, or somesuch nonsense. I quickly returned it, started saving my paper route money, and bought the original Criterion Dynamax RV-6. This was the same scope that my friend had, so I was already familiar with it.

    This was a real quality scope, a 6-inch motorized EQ reflector, with a standard 6x30 finder, and two Modified Achromatic lenses, the standard 25mm and 9mm. It cost $279. It was advertised in Sky & Telescope and everything! Very impressive.

    I got a lot of good use out of it, although the motor drive died just before the warranty was up (it must have been a year), so I boxed it up and sent it back to Criterion in Connecticut, got a full refund. Hey, I was just a kid, cut me some slack.

    When I got the 6-inch, my friend got a Meade 8" SCT, with wedge and drive. This was a drool-worthy scope. (On a side note, just last month I saw the 80s teen movie "Can't Buy Me Love" for the first time in a lotta years. This is the one where the main dweeb spends his money on a chick instead of the same sweet 8" Meade. What a loser!) It also came with a couple of eyepieces, orthoscopics were the rage back then, but my friend ended up buying a 20mm Plossl and a 32mm Erfle. They both gave incredible views, but the Plossl was really something - the term is tack sharp.

    So, to keep up, after returning the RV-6, I got myself an 8-inch Meade Newtonian - the model escapes me. This was a much better built scope than the Criterion, and I used it until I went off to college. I upgraded the finder to an 8x50, which was just beautiful. I also bought a Plossl to be my pride and joy.

    I'm sure someone will come along and correct me, but back in the day the word collimation simply did not exist. I had never heard of it, and I certainly never did it. The scopes just worked, no adjustments necessary.

    As I'm sure many do, I started off with the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and quickly moved onto the Messier objects. M42 was a joy, as were M57 and M13. Looking at the Pleiades or Andromeda in the finder was marvelous. Loved looking at Albireo. I bought a couple of books on Messier Objects and used them to starhop my way around the universe. Used one of the books so much that I cracked the binder in a couple of places on my favorite objects.

    I had two observing spots - one was off of the back porch of my house, which had great southern exposure. I did my share of observing the sun from the porch - no filters of any kind. I could project an image of the sun from my porch to an interior white wall of the house and look at it that way - the sun would be about 5 feet across! The sunspots were huge! It's a wonder I didn't crack or melt the eyepieces or mirror, but I guess they were built pretty well back then.

    The other observing location was in a fenced in vacant lot that we lived across the street from my house. The town locked up the gates at night, so I wrote to the local town council (when I was 13!) to get that rectified. They built a small gate in the fence especially for me! Lugging the telescope the 200 feet into the vacant lot was pretty tough, and did nothing to build up my muscles, unfortunately.

    We also went to a couple of star parties down at Jones Beach. The light pollution was not as bad there, but I still never saw the Milky Way until I went camping in Cooperstown. We even got on TV once when we were there to view a lunar eclipse. Of course, they shined their bright camera lights on me while I was observing, so I had to be a good actor and pretend to continue observing to make sure I got on TV.

    When I went away to school, I put an ad in Sky & Telescope and sold the scope and all of the astronomical stuff I had accrued over 6 years, including eyepieces, books, charts, etc., to some guy in Tennessee. It was a great deal for me, because I found out that telescopes generally don't depreciate much, so I got back around 75% of what I had spent. I used that for beer money - lasted me quite a while!

    I didn't really do much with astronomy for about 15 years, when I got a bonus at work from a client who was particularly pleased with the work I had done for her. I bought a cheapo 4 1/2 inch EQ reflector with a British name, like Simmons or Sheffield or something, for about $200. I don't really remember where or how I bought it. It was really a piece of cr@p. The EQ mount was really flimsy, and it used .96" eyepieces: it came with Huygens eyepieces. Yikes! I ended up giving it to a nephew after not using for a couple of years. The nephew promptly lost the eyepieces so that it was just a useless metal tube with a mirror in it. Probably for the best with that terrible scope.

    About 4 or 5 years ago, as a result of another bonus, I decided to treat myself and buy myself what I considered to be a "nice" scope. I did some internet research, and found the Meade DS-2130AT, a 5-inch Goto scope for about $400. I kind of felt like I couldn't be without a scope, even if I didn't use it - life without even the prospect of astronomy was not something I wanted. And I didn't use it - much. I had to relearn how to use it every time I used it, which was probably only about a dozen times over the five years, if that.

    One of my other posts on the Beginners Forum is entitled "So, what's, ahem, "new" in the past 30 or so years?" I got a lot of good feedback - red sight finders, goto scopes, ultra-wide field eyepieces that will break the bank, the explosion in dobs, intelliscopes, all sorts of good things. Thanks, all.

    But not one of you mentioned the dreaded Bird-Jones telescope. And that's what I have. And on top of that, it's broken. AUUUUUGGGGHH!!!

    So, now I am looking to get back into astronomy, with a new scope. Although I'm currently unemployed, and at this point I'm just enjoying all the window shopping. But damn if that Apertura AD8 with the tweaker's package isn't DA BOMB! Unfortunately, it looks like I'll have to settle for an Orion Intelliscope XT8i, because here in the capital of light pollution - Manhattan - I am in desperate need of the Intelliscope feature. The Intelliscope-ish workarounds available for Aperturas/Zhumells/etc. don't seem to be quite as easy or anywhere near as cheap as just buying an Intelliscope that has it already installed. I'm just not a smartphone guy, and the whole setting circles/inclinometer thing doesn't have much appeal to me, as nice as the Apertura is.

    So, all in all, it's nice to be back!
    green12, jschr338, fmhill and 6 others like this.

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    Default Re: Well, it's a little late, but I suppose I should "introduce" myself properly

    Hi Jon, welcome to the forum and thanks for a great introduction!

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    Default Re: Well, it's a little late, but I suppose I should "introduce" myself properly

    Hi, and nice to have you aboard.
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    Default Re: Well, it's a little late, but I suppose I should "introduce" myself properly

    Welcome Jon!
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    Default Re: Well, it's a little late, but I suppose I should "introduce" myself properly

    Welcome to the forum.
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    Default Re: Well, it's a little late, but I suppose I should "introduce" myself properly

    Thanks for taking the time to make such a comprehensive introduction!
    Always a pleasure to read them!

    So welcome to the forums then.

    Cheers
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    Default Re: Well, it's a little late, but I suppose I should "introduce" myself properly

    Welcome to the boards
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    Default Re: Well, it's a little late, but I suppose I should "introduce" myself properly

    Welcome to the forums! Thanks for the great intro
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    Default Re: Well, it's a little late, but I suppose I should "introduce" myself properly

    Welcome to the forum! Glad you are back in to astronomy.

    Mike
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    Default Re: Well, it's a little late, but I suppose I should "introduce" myself properly

    Hi Jon and Welcome to the Forum! Good luck on the purchase of your next scope.
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