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A Telescope To Learn From

A Telescope To Learn From

In 1988, when I was living in Beaverton, Oregon, I purchased a Celestron telescope with an equatorial mount from Orion Telescopes. Back then, there were no digital cameras, at least any that I could afford. Also back then, telescopes didn’t come with an electronics package that helped you align the scope with the night sky and locate stars and other deep space objects by clicking a few buttons. So, the Celestron I got was hard to use and required a long setup process to align it correctly. I lived in an upstairs apartment at the time and that just made it harder to use.  Frustrated after a few years of using this telescope, I sold it.

My Meade TelescopeIn September 2003, I decided to buy a Meade LX 200 GPS 8″ because my research had shown that it’s electonics package was the best at the time. I purchased the scope from OPT online.

Over the years since then I’ve added lots of goodies onto the scope and now my scope can take pretty good astrophotos from my driveway. I just wheel it out on my JMI Wheeley Bar and start using it. The alignment takes less than 5 minutes. It is a pleasure to use and I’ve learned so much about the stars from that little hand controller.

I wasn’t satisfied with the precision of the gears and the focus, so I bought and installed several of Peterson Engineering’s fine upgrade kits (see my equipment list below). That was the scariest experience I ever had – ripping apart my telescope and disassembling key mechanical assemblies. I chronicled some of the upgrade steps in photos:

The Peterson kits are very well documented and come with all the stuff you need to successfully complete the upgrades. I can highly recommend them for older scopes, but I have to warn you that they are difficult to complete, especially the Buck’s Gears.

I do all my observing from the edge of my driveway at night at my home in Everett, WA. I always run my scope in alt-az mode because I’m too lazy to polar align the scope. Even in this mode, the Meade DSI II software and Smart Drive with PEC does a pretty good job of keeping the scope steady during long deep sky exposures.

Here’s a list of my equipment:

My Equipment:

About Chris Disdero

Occupation: Software Engineer; Favorite Languages: C++ C# Objective-C; Favorite Challenge: Connecting complex programs together so that elements of one UI interoperate within the other UI; Passions:
Learning new things. Photography. Electronic Music. Astronomy. Model Railroad Miniatures, Designing web sites; Favorite Getaway: San Juan Island; Personal Motto: “No matter where you go, there you are.”

View all posts by Chris Disdero

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