Astronomy, in reality, is a hobbies that is a “fit” for a very small segment of the population. Sure, everyone is “interested” when there is a comet streaking across the sky, but all the other times? Not so much 🙂
The hobby requires a lot of patience, a willingness to fumble around in the dark, and for the kind of personality which is more introvert than not…because, let’s face it, no matter how much your partner cares about you, they are not going to stay up with you all night to look at dots of light which looks pretty much like most of the other dots of light.
So, if you are a people person, astronomy is probably not going to be your thing.
However, the IDEA of looking at stars and planets is quite appealing to many. People buy telescopes thinking they will be out looking at stars, then a few years later, they realized they have only used the scope once or twice since they bought it. This is the reason for some of the amazingly incredible telescope deals which pops up periodically on Craigslist!
The RainyDayInterns keep a constant eye out for good ‘scope opportunities, and they have had a pretty good record over the years (ETX-90, B&L Criterion, LX200, Meade 2045, Celestron, misc.). This Meade ETX-60 was acquired recently for what we would typically pay for Chinese takeout for two. At that price, we just couldn’t pass up the chance to add it to our collection.
The cool thing about this telescope is that, once properly initialized, will locate an object in the sky AUTOMATICALLY. Amazing, right???
The main component of any telescope is the optics. No amount of “tech” is going to compensate for poor optics. We know this scope is not going to compare to the Questar in sharpness and contrast, but we also hoped it would at least be scratch and dust free. We were not disappointed.
While there were some surface dust on the scope and the lens, everything internal to the scope checked out clean…no scratches, mold, etc.
The next thing to check is the electronics of the ETX-60. As we had mentioned, one of the reason this scope attracted our attention was its Autostar feature. This “goto” function could be really nice to have for a lot of reasons, if it works.
A cursory check (battery for power, setting date/time, “Easy Align” run through, etc) of the basics showed no problems with either powering up the scope, communicating with it via the hand controller, or the scope moving itself in the various directions. Of course, since we did all this indoors, we have no idea about the correctness of its movements, only that its “alive :-)”
This scope also has an axial port, which when fitted with a T-adapter, will enable a camera to be attached for astrophotography. The silver knob on the left side flips an internal mirror to allow a clear path for the light gathered by the optics to reach the camera instead of being reflected up to the eyepiece for viewing.
When we went to purchase the scope, we didn’t even bother to check it out. After confirming that the scope was basically in good physical condition, we just handed over the money and went our separate ways. The only “blemish” we noticed were some scratches on the tube, but it actually turned out to be something which rubbed right off.
Another “issue” we noticed was the scope should be horizontal when the Dec circle is set to 0º, but it appears to be about 10º off. We knew that it should read 0º when the tube is level, and 90º when it is pointing straight up.
Tried as we might, we couldn’t seem to find a way to loosen the Dec dial to reset it. As it turned out, the Dec knob was just stubborn, and it did eventually yield to brute force. Once we got it to loosen, we were able to realigned things to 0º H, 90º V.
Ready for FirstLight…
After the once-over and a wipe-down, the ETX-60 is now ready for FirstLight 🙂 Unfortunately, the local forecast is cloudy w/occasional showers for the next four days….sigh. Isn’t that always the way???
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