Saturn and Comet Macholz
2200 UTC (050204 5pm ): N8GPS set out to cool. Swapped the Celestron 1.25" diagonal with the TV Everbrite 2" from the TV-85 to give it a try with the big scope. Plan for tonight is to observe Saturn to compare views with those last time (with the TV-85); to view M42 with the TV UHC filter; and see what else looks interesting. There are many Mesier objects along the Galactic Equator in the SE, mostly open clusters; many at low declinations but some near zenith. Crab Nebula may be worth a try. Here's the sky at 0000 UTC:
0000 UTC: Inside now waiting for the sky to darken. After much hassle aligning finder scope, I performed GPS Align, and on to Saturn. Had a quick look at M42 sans UHC filter. Very nicely framed in the 17mm LVW (74x). Back to Saturn, switch to 8mm LVW (157.5x). Can make out the Cassini division at moments of settled seeing. Will wait a bit, conditions may improve in a few hours.
0300 UTC: Comet Macholz at last! No sign of tail but the "fuzzy snowball" easily seen over the house. Couldn't see naked eye so I input RA & Dec. Gotta love go-to! Sadly I think Macholz is well past it's prime...
Put UHC filter on diagonal and gave M42 a look. Trapezium seemed better at lower magnification (22 mm and 17mm, 57x and 74x respectively); with 13mm (97x), Trapezium 1D all but disappears. The UHC filter didn't seem to bring out any more detail, but it was too cold (26Â° F) to sit out and swap filters. I'll leave the conclusive testing for the Spring.
0345 UTC: One last look at Saturn - not much improvement even at high elevation near meridian. Poor seeing probably due to the 85% humidity. Titan and Rhea easily viewed, Tethys and Dione less easily seen, Enceladus not visible at all. Packed it up around 0415.
- Much discussion of late with Wayne Gondella about the fabrication of a custom bracket for piggybacking the TV-85 on the NexStar. Taking many measurements and considering different mounting configurations. The mount will be a rail with proper holes for the TV clamshell mount, sitting on two radius blocks approx. 2" tall to allow room for the hand knobs.
- Did inventory of astro gear - quite a bit of stuff has gravitated my way of the years. Need to sell some of the less used stuff, maybe put towards an I-Turret or a new Everbrite diagonal.
- I'm not at all certain this scope is well - the JMI Crayford focuser is not at all smooth, even with tension screw backed off all the way it feels like it is binding. This is the LAST piece of used equipment I am likely to ever buy. There seems to be a haze around bright objects, possible because of those damn fingerprints on the corrector. I don't think I get as crisp focus as I did with the old Super C8+. Can't touch the primary focus knob because the shift is severe. I should take it to High Point Scientific and have them check it out. Bitch, bitch, bitch.