Wednesday, 27 January 2016

First Light for the "Jason" 60mm/f15.2 refractor.

“I've never owned a telescope, but it's something I'm thinking of looking into.” - George Carlin

Since November of last year it has rained almost everyday in Pembrokeshire, the starry skies have been few and far between.

Needless to say I've had a bit of astronomical "cabin fever"!

There has been the odd clear night, plus several small windows of viewing opportunity, but usually only some ten minutes or so, not enough time to set up the Schmidt C8. 

The skies that have been clear returned poor to average seeing.

The Schmidt did not fair well peering through that most murky of Pembrokeshire gloom.

To beat the poor seeing and the slow setup time of the Schmidt telescope, I decided to buy a smaller aperture telescope, with quicker and easier set up time.

I had my mind set on a long focal length 60mm refractor.

60mm/f15.2 Jason refractor

Within a week of searching I had found a lovely 60mm/f15.2 Jason refractor (Thank You Alan). 

Perfect for the temperamental Pembrokeshire skies.

First Light with the Jason went to Jupiter. The North and South Equatorial Belts  were easily spotted.

Jason 60mm/f15.2 refractor x101 (9mm Ortho)

My 9mm orthoscopic (x101) eyepiece showed pleasing detail even though the seeing was at best AIII.

The thermals from the nearby houses were making Jupiter dance and shimmer a bit, but considering the murky sky, the Jovian giant stood up well.
So far a promising result for the tiny refractor.

Sirius was next on the list. Through the Jason it was a beautiful white Airy disk, with a partial Airy pattern.

With the 9mm ortho eyepiece Sirius was ice white. With the 6mm plossl (x151) eyepiece Sirius hinted at a slight white/brown ochre colour. 

The Pleiades fitted completely within the field of view with the 40mm Kellner (x22) eyepiece.  

The moon looked pin sharp with the 9mm (x101) eyepiece.  

Along the terminator of the almost full moon the crater Pythagoras stood out sharply with plenty of inky blackness beyond the limb.

The evening was cold, the clouds were many,  and the near full moon sky had washed out most of the stars below the second magnitude. 

I had to cut the observing session short, for after only fifteen minutes of observing, in came the clouds and they parked themselves over the county for the remainder of the night..... 

Still, that first fifteen minutes has proved the Jason refractor to be a little champion of a telescope.

I now have a small lightweight scope that I can quickly grab and be outside observing in less than a minute.

Come on clouds clear off, I want to see what this tiny refractor is capable of.....

Clear Skies


Friday, 8 January 2016

Rain, Haiku and Double Stars

60mm/f15 refractor - 2007

So much rain, so much cloud, I thought the blue skies would never return, but they have.

Over the last couple of months I reckon to have only glimpsed the stars on about three evenings.

The Leonids, Geminids and Quadrantids passed me by without  a single meteor spotted!

I'm still waiting to see comet Catalina... oh well.

This deluge of rain has certainly messed up my night time observing, but considering the terrible floods and anguish others have experienced these past weeks, I have nothing to complain about.

This enforced absence of starlight has allowed me to gather some of my 2015 Moon haiku.

Moonbow in the night
arcs the sky of Aberporth
sound of nearby waves.

Now the blue moon shines
only the sound of the sea
better than a dream.

Yellow moon rising
autumn stars shine in sky
we sit holding hands.

Reading by moonlight
watching the total eclipse
candlelight flickers.

Craters on the moon
spied with my telescope lens
clouds pass by below.

Reading by lunar light
watching the dark shadow crawl
eating up the sun.

Cannot sleep tonight
the full moon shines so brightly
lets go outside.

Being that the sun is once again heading north, hopefully the skies will gradually now improve.

No definite plans for observing this month, though it would be nice to spend time with Orion and his companions  before they head too far west.

One thing I will be doing more of this year is hunting out those most accesible of double stars, but not with the Schmidt telescope. I think I will try my luck with a small long focal length refractor.

Back in 1979 my first telescope was a simple 40mm f15 refractor, it revealed some beautiful colour variations in several of the most famous double stars.

Looking at double stars through a long focal length refractor takes some beating.

The amazing illustrations by the french astronomer Lucien Rudaux give an idea of what I saw as a child.

The above illustration is taken from the Larousse Encyclopedia of Astronomy. For a better look at this book click here.

This wonderful book is a must for all lovers of astronomy and astronomical illustrations.

Come on January... give us some clear skies.