My last telescope was a home-built 8" that was a bear to
collimate, and about as difficult to set up in the field as this whole thing
was to assemble! This is also my first Dobsonian telescope, a design that
uses a simple rotating box for a mount. The tube moves up-and-down by the
wheels on the sides riding on teflon pads atop the sides of the mount, and
the whole shebang moves side-to-side by rotating on three teflon pads
between the ground board and the telescope mount's box. Simple and elegant
design, first built by an amateur telescope-builder named John Dobson. Orion
improved the design by adding springs that hold the tube down onto the mount
with enough force to keep the user from bumping it around too easily.
I wasn't sure it would be comfortable to use this telescope, with the
eyepiece so low, but it's at the perfect height to peer into space from a
Unfortunately, the sky was cloudy and
I had to go off to work.
Well, when I came home, the sky
was just starting to clear up a little, so I pulled the 'scope out onto our
patio, right in the middle of well-lit neighborhood, and the moon was nearly
full. Even so, Kij and I had some tremendous views of the moon (duh), which
was in its most dramatic phase: One limb was still partially in shadow, so
ragged mountains outlined that side, while the rest of the surface was
almost painfully bright, rays stretching all the way across the orb.
The detail in a 10" telescope is amazing! So many more craters than I could
see in my 8". Bright white ones, ringed ones, black ones, and so on.
Then I pointed at Jupiter. The monster planet
was vividly orange-brown, with two very clear bands and four moons whose
discs showed that they were clearly moons. Mind you, this detail during a
hazy sky and with the optics still warm, just outside for a few minutes!
I had to show Kij the Orion Nebula, because you don't need a clear night for
that one. WOW! Dust lanes, wide expanses of gas, diamond stars being born at
Then on to Saturn. WOWEE! The mirrors were more
cooled by now, so the image in the eyepiece was growing steadier. We could
see two bands, even the Cassini Division in the rings! Over the next several
minutes, the orb of the planet itself grew more and more distinct from the
ring system until the whole thing looked positively 3D. I love this
As the clouds rolled back in, a quick look at
the supergiant star Betelgeuse, like a 4-pointed golden gem, and then a
double-double star, and then all we could see was the moon again. The clouds
made it easier to look at it, less overbearingly bright.
Ah, I am a happy guy! The best Christmas present ever!