Observing report: All-Arizona Star Party 2013

October 9, 2013


Last weekend London and I headed out to Arizona for the All-Arizona Star Party. This was our third such event–we also made it out in 2010 and 2012. London was more excited than usual about the actual stargazing. We took along his Astroscan, 50mm spotting scope, and 7×35 binoculars, and he used them all. He was also curious about the Travel Scope 70 so I tossed it in the car on a whim–this proved to be a fateful decision. As for myself, my back was acting up yesterday so I skipped the XT10 in favor of the Apex 127/SV50 combo, plus 10×50 Nikon bins.

We rolled in just after sunset. As usual, we walked around and said hi to the neighbors. This paid off later on when one guy invited us over for a look through his 14″ StarMaster dob. We looked at the Saturn Nebula (NGC 7009), which was not detailed but visibly blue, and at the Double Cluster (NGCs 869 and 884), which was simply stunning.


The summer Milky Way was standing up straight from the horizon so I set up the Travel Scope 70 and started showing London the Messier objects in Scorpio, Sagittarius, and Scutum. His favorite was the M24 star cloud, which is fine by me, because it’s one of my favorites, too (find it yourself here).

The seeing was not great–lots of twinkling stars. But transparency was good. After London sacked out I got in a good four and a half hours of chasing Herschel 400 objects with the Apex 127, and logged 17 new ones. I also looked at scads of Messiers en route, probably three or four dozen in all.


Now, here’s a weird thing. Maybe it’s partly to do with the skies out there being so good, but every time I looked through the SV50 or TS70 I thought, “Wow, bright!” and every time I looked through the Astroscan or Apex 127, the view seemed disappointingly dim by comparison. Last year when I first started playing with the TS70 I was also blown away by the brightness and crispness of the view (at low mag, anyway). It can’t only be a function of f ratio because the Astroscan is an f/4 and the f/6 TS70 was smoking it. Nor is it anything to do with collimation–the Apex 127 was splitting double stars down to the limit of the seeing, and star-tested practically perfectly, whereas I suspect the TS70 is way out, given how poorly it takes magnification (irritatingly, I didn’t think to just star-test it).

So, I am wondering: is this how one gets to be a refractor guy?

Go home, cactus. You are drunk.

Go home, cactus. You are drunk.

Brief, possibly amusing note — Google turns up the following numbers of hits for these terms:

  • refractoritis – 6040
  • refractor guy – 5300
  • refractor weenie – 296  <– often self-described!


  1. You should compare the TS70 and the APEX127 with a similar exit pupil.

    An 25mm EP in the APEX127 gives you 2.1mm exit pupil.

    An 12.5mm EP in the TS70 gives you 2.2mm exit pupil.

    40mm + APEX = 3.3mm exit pupil

    20mm + TS70 = 3.5mm exit pupil

  2. Tony, that is an excellent idea. I will do that the next time I have the Apex out, and report back.

  3. “So, I am wondering: is this how one gets to be a refractor guy?”

    Short answer: Yes!

  4. […] in the constellation. But I had never tracked its brightness through one of its eclipses until the All-Arizona Star Party this year. The eclipses happen every 2.87 days when the dimmer star of this close binary passes in […]

  5. […] Road airstrip in western Arizona. London and I have been three times now, in 2010, 2012, and 2013 (click on links for my observing reports), and we’ve always had a fantastic time. See the star […]

  6. […] after bringing my XT10 to the AASP in 2010 and 2012, I brought the Apex 127 last year and now an 80mm refractor this year. At this rate, in a couple more years I’ll be down to […]

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