Phenomenal

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Two nights in a row with clear skies: highly improbable.

Wandering about the garden last night I found a sightline which might allow the 10″ to get a look at Saturn before it set.  The big scope is a lump, and every extra yard I have to carry it from the door is a testament to obsession.

It requires collimation every time it is used, done using a red laser beam to get the light path central from primary mirror to secondary to eyepiece.  It sounds very technical, but just means me crawling about in the dark on the concrete, twiddling the mirror screws at the back of the scope, getting up to check the collimator, finding that I’ve moved the laser past the target, crawling about some more, cursing all the equipment indiscriminately, crawling about twiddling some more …  And finally lined up on the planet, and put in my best 7mm eyepiece, which loves the 10″ scope as eggs love bacon.

All of which was rewarded (as obsession sometimes is) by the view.  Even with Saturn already setting in the murk, with moonlight sloshing about all over the sky, by working my eye hard I could see the Cassini Division, banding on the planet and three of the moons – momentarily, four.   At last it was so low that the atmospheric soup was degrading the image, and I was bent double to the eyepiece.  The Dob, the galloping eyestrain and I went in to bed.

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