Astronomy…the next Frontier!

I’ve always been interested in astronomy, and have even owned a cheap Dobsonian telescope while living in Oakland (which isn’t the best Dark Sky site around, by any means). Lately I’ve gotten the bug again, and went looking for a decent ‘scope to start up with again (I have no idea what happened to the Oakland Dob).

I came across a 5″ Newtonian reflector for $199, which had great reviews. What I really liked about the product was that half of the cost was donated to education in third world countries. That made up my mind pretty much. So I bought it:

It’s not a bad little scope. It comes on an equatorial mount and uses a dovetail mount, which is kinda modern. I think the degree of coolness that sold me, technologically speaking, was that it was ultra compact, “collapsing” down to 14″, which makes it ideal to throw in the back of the car and head out.

After about 2 weeks I decided I needed an upgrade, so I bought a German equatorial mount: the Celestron AVX, which also sports a dovetail connector! This was a “sidewise” upgrade (not to the ‘scope directly) that opens the door to purchasing a larger OTA (optical tube assembly…a telescope that doesn’t include a mount). I’m already weighing the differences between an 8″, a 9.25″ and a gargantuan 11″ OTA from Celestron. Some of the imagery these massive reflectors can produce is breathtaking.

Besides casual observation, I’m also very interested in extending my photography hobby into astrophotography. To that end, I also bought a CMOS telescope camera:

This attaches where the eyepiece goes and plugs into a computer via USB. Then you capture video frames and stack them together to produce a nice, sharp image of what you’re after. There isn’t much in the way of stacking software for the Mac, but I’m going to keep on looking. More to come.

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