First Road Trip for Big Dob!
7th August 2004
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Approximately 3-4 weeks after getting my new telescope, it was time to take it out of its backyard comfort zone and endure its first road trip to dark skies. The weather was right and the conditions were good for big dob's first outing.

My wife's parents were invited along for the first road trip, they hadn't observed through a telescope before and this was a good chance to show them the sights under a nice dark sky. They came over for dinner, and by the time we would've been able to leave, Jupiter would've already set. So we started our observing session at home, taking in Jupiter in all eyepiece combinations trying to find the best combination of clarity, focus and magnification. The 2 main cloud bands were easily visible, I could see a hint of 4 cloud bands from time to time as seeing conditions fluctuated from good to bad.

roadtrip1.jpg

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Packed and ready to go!

Anyway, Jupiter ticked off the list, dinner ticked off the list, it was time to get packed up and ready to go.

All the kit fit snuggly in the boot of the station wagon, and I used 2 foam packing inserts from the original box to sit the OTA on. Also coming with us was:

Location

Our observing spot for the night was Mangrove Mountain soccer fields, about 25 minutes drive North-West of Gosford. I scouted this location when my son Jacob had to play a soccer game (under 5's) there about a month prior.

It's far enough from any main town to eliminate most sky glow from town lights, and being soccer fields, the horizons were fairly clear except for a few large gum trees scattered about.

Lessons Learned

This was my road trip with my telescope and other gear, so there was a few things found along the way that I will do differently next time..

  • Have a list of what to observe

Because the in-laws were with me, I didn't really have a defined plan of what I wanted to show them. So I pretty much jumped from object to object that I knew the location of by naked eye, wondering what might be interesting to them. Next time, I'll definitely take a list of objects with charts for their position and some facts about the objects as a discussion point.

  • Take a fold-out table

It was kind of annoying having to bend down to get new eye pieces and star charts from the case on the ground. A small fold-out table that I can put things on will definitely make things more convenient.

  • Take notes

Pretty hard to write an observing log 2 weeks later if you didn't take any notes on the night.. A simple list of objects viewed, and in future, more detail about what they looked like, seeing conditions, etc, will help me compare on nights viewing to the next.

Objects Observed

I pretty much remember everything I showed the in-laws, and compiled this list a week or two later.. I might've missed 1 or 2, but I think it's mostly right.

ObjectTypeNotes
Alpha Cent. Dble Star Easily split in all magnifications, and even more so when combined with the ND96 filter
NGC5139 Glob. Cl. Omega Centauri. Wonderful sight, as usual. The 15mm filled the FOV with thousands of tiny points of light
NGC4755 Open Cl. Jewelbox Cluster. Magnificent open cluster near Crux. The "traffic light" trio is the standout
Alpha Crux Dble Star Double star, bottom star of the Southern Cross
NGC3372 Nebula Famous Eta Carinae nebula. Looked awesome as usual, dark lanes visible
NGC3532 Open Cl. Open Cluster to the East of Eta Carinae
IC2602 Open Cl. Open Cluster sometimes called the Southern Pleiades
M4 Glob. Cl. Glob near Antares in Scorpius. It ain't Omega Centauri but it does ok.
M6 Open Cl. Butterly cluster in Scorpius
M7 Open Cl. Open cluster in Scorpius
M8 Nebula Lagoon nebula in Sagittarius, dark lane easily visible
M20 Nebula Trifid nebula in Sagittarius, 3 dark lanes easily visible
47 Tuc Glob.Cl. 2nd best glob in the sky. The core was extremely bright and dense. It was my first time viewing this one, and it won't be my last!
Meteors Meteors I only saw 2, but most of my time was spent in charts and in the finderscope. My mother-in-law saw 5!

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