Friday, March 21, 2008

First Light with BT-100

A few days before leaving for India I managed to score a really good deal on a pair of Oberwerk BT-100 astronomical binoculars with a Universal Astronomics Millennium Mount from a local amateur astronomer. I hadn't planned on upgrading my Celestron astronomical binoculars but it was a good deal and it was local so I couldn't pass it up.

The binoculars are very heavy (~26lb) and millennium mount with the 25lb of counterweight are also heavy. The Oberwerk heavy duty surveyor tripod isn't terribly compact either. I set up the binoculars last night just to familiarize myself with the set up and take down procedure.

Tonight, with the Clear Sky Alarm clock predicting clear skies, I prepared for an observing session. Setting up the mount and binoculars are easy, taking only about 10 minutes. Similarly taking everyone down when done was also easy.

I started observing at 8:25 PM. Unfortunately the neighbors were having a party and so their very bright backyard lights were on, pretty much making about half the sky unobservable.

Fortunately there were still a few things to see in the rest of the sky. The light pollution was fairly bad so the limiting magnitude was low. The binoculars accept standard 1.25" telescope eyepieces and came with two sets of eyepieces. I stuck to the default 24.4mm (25x magnification) eyepiece. I have a couple of Televue Panoptics I got with my telescope which I will try out one day.

Orion was fairly high in the sky and so M42 made for a natural starting point. I hopped along the sky catching a view of M41 and was able to observe about 14 bright stars and several dimmer ones in the open cluster. I also made my way to Mars and Saturn and was able to just barely make out the rings (and possibly one moon). I wrapped things up by taking in a view of the Beehive Cluster (M44) of which I could make out about 20 bright stars and many dimmer ones.

Overall, I'm very happy with the set up and am looking forward to many more observing sessions as summer arrives.

Technical Specs: Nikon D3, 24-70 @ 50mm, f/5, ISO 1250.

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