Saturday 29 January 2011

m0xpd Observatory

After many years avoiding the issue, today I finally dipped my toes into the world of amateur astronomy...

I guess it really started a few weeks ago when I got a Planisphere (after seeing it on the one of the BBC Stargazing Live programmes). I was blown away by the beautiful simplicity of the Planisphere, to the extent that it re-awakened my interested in the movement of celestial objects and started an (expensive) avalanche.

What I hope will be the most expensive part of that avalanche hit this morning at Stockport Binocular and Telescope Centre (usual disclaimer).

I went with certain purchases in mind - but ended up buying a rather more "up-market" instrument - an 8 inch Newtonian on a motorized Dobsonian mount. Here she is after the simple assembly process for the "flat-pack" mount that was a credit to the manufacturing quality and the instructions supplied...

I had been advised throughout the "getting ready to buy" phase by my cousin, Alan, who himself is a dealer in telescopes.

This time there's no disclaimer - this is blatant advertising for a family member!

Actually, Alan has quite a lot to answer for...

As well as being part of the temptation into the world of astronomy, Alan was the guy who got me into radio all those years ago (ultimately leading to this Blog). He showed me how to make my first crystal set, he gave me the components I needed and he showed me where to buy more - either at full price from the dark and intimidating shop "Hobbs" on King Street, Luton or from the surplus bins at Surplectronics on Leagrave Road...

Lest anybody think that Alan is associated with only the finer points of my development, he was also at hand for some of the darker moments - he was Best Man at my wedding HI HI.

Thanks Alan!

"First Light" reports and impressions of the Sky-Watcher Skyliner-200P FlexTubeTM AUTO will follow - clouds permitting.

...-.- de m0xpd


Well, we caught 15 minutes-worth of photons...

As the sun set this afternoon, Jupiter was the first object visible through the twilight. We could see Jupiter's weather bands and three of her moons quite distinctly, before any stars were visible to the naked eye. We just learned to drive the motor controls - to the point of turning the tracking "on" - when the clouds came and drew the curtains.

Hopefully that won't be the end for this evening.


  1. I too have been tempted into buying a telescope but after the initial enthusiasm I didn't use it for several years and recently sold it. The trouble is amateur astronomy never lives up to the "wow" factor of those Hubble Space Telescope images. You look at a point of light in the sky and see ... the same point of light only brighter. Saturn's rings are just about visible if you can stop the image jiggling about whenever you bump the eyepiece with your eye. You would never know Jupiter had a red spot if someone handn't told you. And things like variable star cycles happen on a timescale that make even JT65A QSOs seem exciting.

    Have fun. I look forward to reading about your experiences with it.

  2. Nice scope you bought! Next to others, I am using an 8in Newtonian, with a (manual) Dobsonian mount, myself for stargazing.
    Digging deeper into amateur astronomy, you will find many interesting aspects, such as modifying webcams for long exposure astro-photography. I had a lot of fun with a cheap computerised ETX-70 in combination with such a camera (check out the astronomy section of my webpage at http:/

    73, Joachim