Sunday, January 31, 2016

oh no! I broke the astroscan!

A front moved through this afternoon and cleared and cleaned the sky.  In the afternoon we went to a nature preserve in Hayward near the San Mateo bridge and had clear views of all the hills, cities, and bridges all around.  There was snow on Mount Hamilton.  We had a short hail storm at 5:00pm.  Transparency was excellent, and moonrise would not be until late.  Seeing, however, was very poor, with a gusty cold wind blowing. 

I bundled up and took the Astroscan out to the back yard to enjoy some low power sweeping through Canis Minor and Puppis.  The little scope would neither be shaken by the wind nor hurt by the poor seeing.  As I was setting up, however, I couldn't get the focuser to come out, so I decided to pinch the metal tabs and turn the knob when boing! the draw tube went clattering INSIDE the telescope!  It settled with a metallic rippling noise like a spinning coin coming to rest.  Disaster.  How would I tell Carol, who considers this her scope? 

I thought it might be ruined.  But I remembered and article where someone had taken apart his Astroscan to collimate it, so I know it can be done.  I will need to dig it out and read it carefully.  I must fix it; whatever scratch is there should not hurt the view too much.  I remember buying this scope in 1999 or so, and trying in vain to find deep sky objects from my San Jose condo balcony using the star wheel I bought with it.  I did see planets, including Jupiter and its moons, and Mars.  I took it with me to Mendocino mushroom hunting.  Last year, when I knew what I was doing, I had a terrific view of all the North American Nebula with it at Lake San Antonio.  It's a great little scope.  I will fix it.

After putting the wounded Astroscan in the garage I came back out with the 8-inch and scanned as I had planned.  M46, M47, and several miscellaneous open clusters in Pupis, which is such a rich part of the sky.  I remember a swoosh of five stars which were arrayed in an arc in progressively brighter magnifications as if coming toward me.  M44 and M67 in Cancer.  I tried to see NGC 2903 in Leo (Leo, already!?) but could not -- I didn't have any charts since this was a sweeping session.  The wind must have caused so much "rippling" in the sky to scatter away the light.

All in all a good night; I hope Carol will not be too upset at my carelessness.

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