atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#4516: When the moon hits your eye, it must be FIRST LIGHT!!!

About those Christmas presents, the ones I didn't mention....

I got underwear and socks, things which any man over the age of 30 is almost always in need of. She got me a new laptop bag, one that's nicer and has more room in it than my old Targus bag, vintage 1998. A few other gewgaws, like the 20-sider candy dish and a kinetic sculpture.

The big one, the one she couldn't pick turned out to be a telescope.

It's a Celestron Powerseeker 127 EQ, a 5-inch Newtonian reflector with a 1,000 mm focal length. Equatorial mount, with fine adjustment screws that can be connected to a motorized drive for automatic tracking, interchangeable objectives, a camera mount, a bunch of other stuff I haven't had the time to dope out yet. This is a beginner's telescope, but it nonetheless can be used as a serious scientific instrument.

Mrs. Fungus had removed it from the box it was shipped in, but not the shipping box it was packed in from the factory. I had to remove that before I saw what it was, and when I saw the actual box, I was utterly gobsmacked.

Part of my complete dumbfoundedness came from knowing what telescopes cost, but she assured me that she got a very good deal on it and told me not to worry. I don't really want to know what she paid for it, regardless, because it's a gift, but even so--

My eyes went wide and stayed wide, and it's a good thing it was the last present opened here in the bunker on Christmas because I immediately began assembling the thing.

Needless to say, I loved it the instant I had it out of the box, and when I went to bed that night, I--like Ralphie clutching his Red Ryder etc--laid me down with visions of what I could do with this telescope. (I did not actually go to bed with it because getting lint and cat hair in the optics--never mind.)

...and of course it's the cloudiest December in a coon's age, and every night the sky was obscured with a thick layer of opaque water vapor.

Until tonight.

Tonight, after we got home from running errands, I immediately lugged the thing out into the front yard and trained it on the moon, and the thing knocked my socks right the hell off my feet. I have never seen the Moon at that kind of magnification; it filled the eyepiece and every crater and rill was laser-frickin'-sharp. When I pulled my eye away from the objective, I noticed that the field of vision in that eye was noticeably darker than the other eye, because the moon is so bright seen through the telescope. Same effect as when you get spots in your eyes after a flashbulb goes off, but to a lesser extent--the brightness of the moon seen through the telescope ruined my night vision.


As I said, I haven't had time to sit down with the thing and learn all the ins and outs. The telescope is not balanced yet, nor have I worked out how to get the latitude set or any of the other finagly things--I haven't even mounted the spotter scope yet, because it has to be aligned--but that time will come soon enough. Tonight it's too frickin' cold outside for me to spend a lot of time stargazing, anyway, particularly since I'm just getting over a cold. I just wanted to try it.

But I can tell right now that I am going to be using this thing a lot. It's powerful enough for me to see the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter; there are other features in the night sky that I've always wanted to get a better look at, and this will do that quite nicely.

In fact, I'm already thinking that if I can get my hands on a decent DSLR for not a lot of money, and get the appropriate adaptors, I could start taking pictures...but there'll be plenty of time to get fancy later on. First I have to learn how to use the thing.

This is going to be fun.

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