Fun with small things

Saturday, 2 January 2010, 10:20 | Category : Stargazing
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After months and months of putting it off, I finally started reorganizing and cleaning my shop this past week. It’s a 12×30 building, with my power tools, gardening tools, and telescopes stuffed in, along with more other stuff than I imagined. The first thing I did was banish the gardening tools from the shop – not that I don’t love them all, or don’t use them regularly, but it’s amazing how small a 12×30 space gets when you overload it. Something had to go, and the gardening stuff got tagged. As I began sifting through the rest, I “found” a box containing two old, cheap 60mm refractors in pieces that I had bought years ago to use when I talked to kids about telescopes (one is a Saturn by Meade, one is a Jason). I’d never really unpacked it all. When I did, I found several .965 eyepieces, a couple of diagonals, and enough tripod parts to assemble one scope completely. I chose the Meade, and by nightfall last Monday I had a “functional” 60mm refractor. I turned it on the Moon, and saw a reasonable approximation of what I expected, but with considerable fogginess and flair, not to mention a tripod that shook whenever I breathed hard. With other things to do, I packed it back up. Yesterday, while I was again working in the shop, I noticed a .965-to-1.25 diagonal that I’d missed earlier. So last night, I used my Sirius 26mm plossl to look at the just-past-full Moon – and I was taken back to the 12-year-old Harry who spent all those nights in the late-60s looking through his Sears 60mm refractor. Certainly the view was a long, long way from the views I’ve had through the telescopes I’ve owned since then. But there was little sign of the fogginess and flair through the plossl, and while it was obviously a cheap lens, there was some of that sense of wonder that got me hooked on this all those years ago. Now I’m wondering just what I can see through this thing!