Archive for June 22nd, 2010

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Evolution of the cheap scope

June 22, 2010

How it came to me:

How it looked about a month ago:

How it looks now:

The altitude bearings are PVC endcaps turning on pound-in furniture sliders. The azimuth bearing surface is more pound-in furniture sliders turning on a vinyl record. The whole setup weighs about 20 lbs, and delivers most of the performance of my 6-inch scope in a much more portable package. It’s a keeper.

Many thanks to frequent commenter David DeLano for advice on sealing and painting the wood, discussions on bearing surfaces, and some peel-and-stick Teflon tape that I ended up not using (too slippery, if you can believe that).

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Cheap scope put to good use

June 22, 2010

You’ll recall that Amazon recently had a nice intro-level reflector on closeout for a stupid-awesome price (sadly they’re out now no longer stupidly cheap, just sorta cheap), and that I got one, sold the included tripod, and got to work building a new mount for it. After about three weeks of non-action, I finished the mount today, and took the scope downtown this evening to do some sidewalk astronomy.

It was fun, and funny. To me, this 5″ scope is small. Like, that’s why I got it–because I wanted the biggest scope I could carry around with one hand. But out in the wild, where most people’s only exposure to telescopes is by way of shaky 60mm department store horrors, a solidly mounted five inch scope is but a little lower than the Hubble. People thought it was HUGE. They gravitated, especially kids. We were down at the fountains for an hour and 32 people came by for a look at the waxing gibbous moon. The last person was the 1027th passerby to look through one of my scopes since I started doing sidewalk astronomy in the spring of 2009.

The moon was pretty great, too. And obviously I’m pleased with the scope.

Single 1/60th of a second exposure with a handheld Nikon Coolpix 4500 in macro mode, shooting through an Orion Sirius 32mm Plossl and a Sky-Watcher 130N Newtonian reflector.