Monday, February 27, 2006

I need more power, Captain!

I've decided to try out for Messier Marathon... Don't get excited, it's not some feat of human endurance (perhaps in some respects it is!) and I haven't purchased a new set of Reeboks that make me feel suddenly invincible. This Marathon is an exercise that involves viewing all Messier catalogue objects during the course of one evening. In late March, an astronomer with a telescope can view all objects in the Messier catalogue, provided you pull an all-nighter and that they time their viewing of each object just right. Maybe the challenge isn't quite as good with a GOTO telescope like mine, but at least I can say I did it. Just don't report me to the authorities.

In order for me to do that, I have to get a longer lasting power supply for my scope. The one I have now is okay but lasts for about 3-4 hours. A local astronomer gavce me some good advice on building my own battery pack which I may very well do, or I might just cave and buy a Celestron or Orion 12volt 15amp supply, which should (according to my calculations) last about 8 hours with the current drain that my scope produces. Combined with my other power supply, that will be enough to keep me going through total darkness, I think.

Knowing my luck I will have all the gear in place and it will be cloudy...

Anyway, I am taking the scope out tomorrow night after work. Only for a few hours but I want to try a collimation with a Barlow on the LX200, just to see if it makes a difference to the images I'm getting. I hear it does, but I need to find out for myself. It could make the difference with the shoddy photos I have taken to date. I am also trying out the Astroplanner software in the field, whgich enables scope control via a laptop and also lets you know when certain objects are in prime position for viewing.

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