Wednesday, November 17, 2010

First light of my Meade ETX

Finally, the telescope arrived! Meade ETX 90 with manual controls. ( It was very cute!! I liked its shiny dark blue color! But it was new moon that day. I waited eagerly for two days. In the meantime I aligned the viewfinder and studied the operations.

At last the waxing crescent appeared! It was just above the horizon and very faint. I was doubtful whether I could see anything on that thin line of moon. I took the telescope and placed it on the window sill. I brought the moon in the centre of the viewfinder. Then I looked through the eyepiece. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Craters!! Lots of them! The view was spectacular! Resolution was superb! Meade is to be praised for the quality of their optics.

The next evening, I took my telescope to the terrace. Saturn was rising from the east. First I used the 25 mm eyepiece. Wow! The planet with rings! I had only seen that in school text books and science magazines before. Now I am watching it with my eyes! I got chills down my spine! But the planet looked very small. I used higher powers to watch it close. But too much power spoiled the sharpness of the view. I think a medium power like 9mm is perfect for watching these planets. It will be reasonably big and still crispy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Meade ETX telescope!

I wanted a real telescope which would show me things like craters of the moon and rings of Saturn. So I started a big research for the best telescope. Best I mean ..portable, affordable yet powerful. I would regularly read telescope reviews by and etc .The telescope reviews by ‘Scope reviews’ were really superb. I would frequently visit the leading telescope selling sites like Meade,Celestron, Orion telescopes and binoculars etc. (, Orion’s site was very good. There was a section named ‘learning center’. It has got so many astronomy articles and a great star chart. It’s the best star chart I’ve ever seen.( the intense research and detailed studies I finally decided to buy a Meade ETX, because of its ultra portability and superb image quality!! Then I started searching for the best place to buy it. At last I found the website of ‘woodlandhills camera and telescope’. Its in Woodland Hills, CA, USA ( There was a very cool offer for Meade ETX Astro telescope. My uncle Joseph in US helped me to buy it. The basic package consisted of the telescope and a 25mm eyepiece. But I purchased a 9mm plossl eyepiece too. If you want to see the moon in close up, you need a 9mm. I also purchased a Barlow lens and a moon filter. This Barlow lens is a remarkable thing! It literally doubles the power of any eye piece!! So if you have two eyepieces and a barlow lens, its like you possess four eyepieces!

Monday, November 1, 2010

My first telescope

I had a craze for telescopes since I was a kid. I tried a lot of lens combinations salvaged from cheap binoculars and toys. But nothing worked out. But still I enjoyed astronomy very well by finding out new constellations and reading astronomy related articles. Then one day my uncle Francis gifted me a telescope! I was on cloud nine! It was just a toy telescope without a tripod. But for me it was the greatest telescope in the world! I couldn’t wait till it was dark. Then I reached my backyard,holding the telescope in my hand, I pointed it to the moon. The moon was jerking rapidly and I could not see anything. Then I realized that why a tripod is very essential to any telescope. The next day I started making a crude tripod with sticks cut from our garden and some linen threads. The great ‘goto’ mount was ready by the evening. Again I went to the backyard, turned the telescope towards the moon. Cool! The moon did seem bigger than usual but not up to my expectations. I wanted to see the craters in close up but the full moon was well inside the view. I realized that I need a bigger telescope to see the amazing sights like craters of the moon and rings of saturn! There started my search for a real telescope!!

The hobby begins!

Astronomy is a great hobby. It’s a great way to relax and unwind. My fascination with the night sky began when I read an astronomy article in a biweekly, ‘Eureka’, published by ‘Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad’ a Science Movement of Kerala, India. I was in the 9th standard. The article was about the constellation Scorpio. The idea of finding out constellations in the night sky excited me. I read the article again and again and studied the asterism well. And then one clear night I ventured out to see Scorpio. I came to the backyard and looked up. Stars were twinkling through the trees. As I had no idea of how big the constellation would be and so many trees were blocking the view, I couldn’t find out Scorpio. There were no open areas anywhere near my house. So I couldn’t find any of the constellations for a long time. But I would come every night and just gawk at the stars. Then one day I was going on a church picnic. It was midnight. Everybody in the bus was asleep. The bus was crossing a paddy field. I opened the window and looked up. Wow! Up in the sky, the giant Scorpio in its full glory!