|Tonight I had an issue with my telescope. One of the side bearings that the alt movement rocks on was very loose and causing some play in the alt movement. Unfortunately, the nuts that need tightened are located too far down the tube to reach from the top, so I had to take the primary mirror off. I have never done this and was terribly nervous about it. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin my 1 month old, $1000 telescope. The guys at the local astronomy shop helped me disassemble the telescope, tighten up the side bearings and get it all back together again. After that tutorial, I?m much more comfortable doing it myself next time I need to take the scope apart.
Now that I'm back in business, on to some observing. The evening was fair, but not exceptional by any means. Though I could see all 7 stars in the Little Dipper, the seeing was not spectacular. Nonetheless, I wanted to see some objects I have not seen yet. It's always cool to log new objects and tonight I got three:
M64 ? Black Eye Galaxy
This galaxy was great. It's located in Coma Berenices. There was an obvious dark patch under a very bright nucleus and a great deal of hazy fuzz around the perimeter. I am still amazed that I can see detail like dust lanes and spiral arms in objects millions of light years away. I think that I logged it's location in my memory banks, so we'll see if I can recall it by memory for my next observation in darker skies and better seeing conditions.
Alberio ? Double Star
Alberio is the star that marks the head of Cygnus. I always like looking at double stars. I think it's fascinating that something that looks like one point of light is actually two (or more). I understand that these stars are actually different colors, but I didn't notice that. Next time I observe this double star, I will be careful to note if I can see the contrast between the two stars.
Epsilon Lyrae - "Double-Double" Star
In the constellation Lyra, this was a sight to see. Though I had to go all the way up to 300x magnification (using my 5.1mm eyepiece) to see these two doubles split cleanly, they began to split using my 25mm Barlowed to 12mm. If I didn't know that I was looking at a set of double stars that I should be able to split, I wouldn't have pushed the magnification that much. Even at 300 power, I could get both doubles in the view and both were split. One vertically and one horizontally. Perhaps on an evening of better seeing, they would split at less magnification.