The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Selecting Your First Telescope

Sky Watch: Keeping an eye above the horizon

 

Credit: AWB (permission obtained).

"Astronomers Without Borders' new telescope provides a fine introduction to observational astronomy."

A grand time was had at the Tehachapi High School Telescope Clinic/Star Party on May 23.

Forty-three people gathered to enjoy telescopes large and small with a partly cloudy sky that was clear enough in just the right places.

A common question was, "What's the best telescope for someone just starting out?"

While this is an easy enough question to address with generalities (as I did in my last column), it's been difficult to answer with specifics – until now.

Back in January, Sky & Telescope magazine issued a test report on a new 5.3-inch (135-mm) Newtonian tabletop telescope. It was designed by Celestron, a stalwart name in amateur telescopes.

However, they produce it strictly for a non-profit organization called Astronomers Without Borders (AWB). Headquartered out of Calabasas, this organization wants to put a good telescope in the hands of anyone who wants one. All profits go to AWB's various outreach programs.

Called the OneSky Reflector, this is a mighty scope in a small package at a budget price. It's a classic (Issac) Newtonian design with a slide-out truss that allows it to collapse for easy and secure transport.

The scope has a tabletop Dobsonian mount that makes for easy use and low cost.

The scope comes with a wide-angle eye piece and a high-power eyepiece, plus an eyepiece to aid alignment It also includes a "red-dot" star finder.

Here's the great part: It only costs two hundred bucks, including shipping! I paid that much for a piece of junk in the early 1970s!

For more information on the OneStar and all of AWB's programs, go to http://www.store.astronomerswithoutborders.org. There you can also find Sky & Telescope's test report.

Now that y'all are armed with this valuable information, I expect to see plenty of new faces at our next THS Telescope Clinic/Star Party, where we can help you get the most out of your new scope. We're planning to hold one each fall (when the weather is good) and one in the spring (when the high school teaches astronomy).

Dryden Becomes Armstrong

The venerable Dryden Flight Research Center was officially renamed to honor the first man to step foot on the moon, Neil Alden Armstrong The Apollo and Gemini Program veteran died last August.

Among many other things, he was instrumental in developing the lunar lander (at extreme risk!). On his Gemini 8 flight, a thruster stuck open, which sent the spacecraft into such a violent spin that Commander Armstrong and Pilot Dave Scott nearly lost consciousness. Such emergencies forged the temperament required for Commander Armstrong to set Eagle down on the Sea of Tranquility with only seconds of fuel left. His exploits earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor.

NASA still wishes to honor Dryden, who was a pioneer of NASA's predecessor organization, the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) The area around the Armstrong Center will be known as the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range.

Almanac

The Summer Solstice officially begins on June 21 at 3:51 a.m. This will be the longest day of the year. Heads up! – there are only 186 shopping days left until Christmas!

Along with the beginning of summer comes the appearance of the summer Milky Way Sagittarius in the south is the center of our galaxy; the summer triangle of Cygnus, Lyra and Aquila rise in the east; Queen Cassiopeia and King Cepheus are in the north.

All abound with star clusters, dust clouds, and bright nebulae With our improving weather, it's time to break out your binoculars and telescopes and scan the wonders of our galaxy.

Jupiter will blaze in the west throughout June with Venus gracing our morning sky in the east Mars and Saturn will be high in our June sky.

Sunrise: 5:39 a.m./Sunset: 8:06 p.m. (June 7)

 
 

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