The upgrades I purchased for my telescope arrived yesterday. It took me a few hours between yesterday evening and today to get everything put together. Man. This is going to really change my stargazing.
Pictured at the top is my telescope on its new mount. On the floor in front of it is the original tabletop Alt-Az mount. The original mount will be kept, as it does make a nice super portable mount for quick trips where I may need to travel light. The scope is on the new mount (tripod and mount head).
It is now actually three scopes. There is the main telescope. There is the new finder scope, indicated by the red arrow at the top. But in addition to these, there is a third scope build into the mount head. It is a Polar Axis Alignment scope. Looking through the mount head, literally on the head’s Right Ascension pivot point, this scope has cross hairs and a special marker for lining up Polaris, the North Star. Once the North Star is lined up in this scope, the Equatorial movement of the mount, and thus the main telescope, will match the movement of the stars and planets overhead. With this proper alignment, you can keep a star, planet or moon within the view of the main telescope by turning just one knob as the objects track across the sky.
The new finder scope is shown at the top, indicated by a red arrow. It is also shown here.The inset shows the original finder scope that came with the telescope when I bought it. It is pictured roughly in proportional size as compared with the new finder scope. The original required me to step behind the telescope and line my eye up with the butt of the telescope, and look through the ring of the finder scope. A small red LED dot is reflected off a film that covers the ring. Basically, it is like sighting a gun, getting behind the scope and lining it up with a sight up front.
The new finder scope is a 6×30 Correct View Right Angle finder scope. It is basically a small telescope that has cross hairs in it. But beyond that, the eyepiece is at a right angle to the scope itself, sort of like a periscope. This lets me put the eyepiece of the finder scope near the eyepiece of the main telescope. There will be no more walking around behind the scope to line it up, then back to the side to view the object. Now I can just stand in one place, look through the finder and line up the scope, then look through the main telescope without moving.
The things I have listed are cool enough in themselves. But the list of pluses continues. The wide base of the tripod mount makes the mount very stable and jiggle free. The mount head is counter balanced and counter weighted. You might see in the main picture below the front of the telescope on the left side, a large, chrome rod and a big black disk around that rod. That is a counter weight. When the Right Ascension and Declination pivots are unlocked, the scope can be moved, called slewing, with the touch of a finger. Moreover, when you let go of the scope, even with the pivots unlocked, the scope will not move. You know the feeling, you just get something that pivots in place, let go, and its own weight causes it to drop or tilt. Ugh. Well, that won’t happen now.
Additionally, the mount uses a special attachment for connecting the main telescope to the mount, called a dovetail mount. This required me to purchase some mounting rings for the telescope. The rings connect the dovetail mount to the telescope. The dovetail mount then connects to the mount head. The cool thing about that, it is a sort of snap in place thing. I can pull the telescope off the mount in seconds, and remount it to the original mount in seconds, and back again, all quick and easy.
And what I am really drooling over are the Fine Right Ascension and Fine Declination movement controls. These are two rather large knobs that move the scope in tiny increments in a vibration free way. You can only see one of them easily. The Right Ascension knob can be seen just above the Polar Axis Alignment scope portion of the mount head, just above the red arrow.
These knobs are going to make my stargazing more enjoyable than it has been. Once I get an object in the finder scope, these knobs will allow me to keep the object in view as it tracks. No overshooting as I try to move the scope. No jiggling as I try to move the scope. As I said earlier, if I have the mount lined up properly on the Polar Axis, I won’t even have to use both knobs, I will just need to use one of them to keep the object in view. So now, instead of six or eight seconds of clear view and then a fight to get the object back in view, now I will be able to view an object for as long as I like.
Now give me some clear night skies. Lookie, lookie.