One of the latest hobbies I have started is Astronomy.. Like I need something to keep me up later at night!

It all started in May 2005 when a friend indicated that a local liquidator had some Celestron 80 GTL’s scopes in for a good price. Looking it up on the net the scope was being listed at 400.00 USD. The liquidator had it for less than 250.00 CDN. Not bad for a fully computerized scope! I picked one up got it home, opened the box and saw that the retaining screw for the mount was broken!. Packed it up and took it back the next day and replaced it (all parts were checked). Luckily I didn’t suffer what I sooned learned would be normal for astronomers getting new “glass” and we had a clear night. I set up the scope and went out… Found Jupiter and Saturn and was immediately hooked! I ended up picking up a barlow lense to double the magnification of my eyepieces and a book called Nightwatch by Terrence Dickson. This is an ideal book for budding astronomer and really puts our place in space in prospective. I recommend this highly to any on interested in the sky and it also features some very good sky charts.

Soon after I started reading and learning more, getting more and more hooked as time went on. I found a local telescope dealer and it was not long before I started suffering from “Aperature Fever”, the want for a bigger scope.

I would say after about a month and a half I got my next baby. A Sky Watcher 8″ Reflector mounted on a Sky Watcher HEQ5 mount. A heavy duty equatorial mount that would allow for taking astro photos. I love this scope but it is fairly large and portable in my car but I wouldn’t want to travel with it.

A few months later I went back to my dealer (Sky Vue Telescopes, Calgary) with the intention of getting a smaller travel scope as we occaisinally head off to Hawaii and I would love to take a scope with me out there. I had been researching and showed up at the shop with the intention of picking up a Sky Watcher 5″ Mak Cass Scope. I ended up picking up something completely different and being thrilled with my purchase. I bought a Sky Watcher 80 ED Refractor on a basic Alt Az mount. This scope is a great little travel scope (especially in it’s case). It was purchased before Sky Watcher started recolouring the tubes a champagn colour and selling them as Pro Scopes (adding a corresponding increase in price).

This scope is special as it has ED dispersion glass which focuse the light path and does not create violet fringing around bright objects like achromat refractors do. As well this scope allows you to really push the magnification, although it is a short focal lenght (600mm). It is exceptional for wide field astrophotogtraphy.

I waited a few months and again the fever hit me. Celestron introduced a new scope based on a Schmidt Cassegrain design. It is a little 6″ SCT with Celestron XLT coatings and a CG5 go to mount.. At 1500mm focal length this is a great scope for high magnifications of planets and of deep space objects. Detail and contrast is very good. Well you guessed it I ended up with one of these. Again this is a great little scope and and easy to transport in my car and with the right case could be used for travelling.

Again I soon ended up with a new specialty scope. I have a solar filter for my 80ED but it is called a white light filter. It only displays black sun spots on the sun. In order to see prominences you need an Hydrogen Alpha filter. The problem is H Apha filters are extremely expensive. A few years ago the leader in H Alpha filters introduced a small dedicated H Alpha scope called the Coronado PST (Personal Solar Telescope). This scope shows prominences as well as filaments and sunspots on the sun. Well of course I had to have one of these. So it has been added to the stable. Again is it very small and portable so this can be carried on board an aircraft as carry on (Sorry I don’t trust baggage handlers). The sun appears bright red but you can see filaments and the promineces when the scope is tuned.

The last scope I just picked up is a travel scope. It is a Sky Watcher 80MM Short tube (400mm FL) that came with a table top EQ1 mount and bag. With this little package I can mount the scope on my camera tripod for quick looks at the moon or objects, and get a quick astro fix. It features wide views of all objects, but can not be pushed too much. Ideally this will be my take every where scope. It can also be used as a guide scope for my various rigs.

 I have purchased a few other accessories… including after market focusers for both of my scopes for astrophotography (William Optics). Higher end 2″ diagonals, an eyepiece kit with filters, light pollution filters. I recently purchased both a Televue 9MM Nagler type 6 eyepiece and a Vixen 24 to 8mm zoom eyepiece (purchased for the travel scope but quickly becoming a favorite) as well as a Televue 5X Powermate. Also are a few pairs of binoculars.

For Astrophotography I have my Canon Digital Rebel XT, A Celestron Neximager (for solar system objects) and an Orion Deep Sky Imager for long exposure shots of Deep Sky objects. I hope to post some pictures fairly shortly to my gallery.

 I am still hooked and eagerly await the time and the clear skies to get up and have a look. If you have ever thought about getting a telescope, I encourage you to read a little, buy a pair of binoculars, but don’t just buy a cheap department store scope! Please feel free to email me your comments!