Saturday, July 26, 2003

It's one of those things that could go either way: you know your wife is going to comment on it when you get home, but you're not exactly sure what she's going to say. Is it going to be "That's great, honey!" or is it going to be "Don't you think your time might be better spent doing yard work?" Hard to tell.

After work, I pulled out the tripod and equatorial mount for my all-but-abandoned Meade DS-10 telescope (10" f/4.5 Newtonian Reflector). I very much loved this telescope when I first got it. I worked a summer thinning apples (maybe not the world's worst job, but close) to earn money for it. My dad foolishly told me he would match my earnings dollar for dollar, and the next thing he knew, we had a $600 scope sitting in our living room. It was a tough purchase--Mike Baechler and Mr. Wilson were pushing the Dobsonian mount, but I really thought the equatorial would be better. Also, the Celestron C8 seemed to be everywhere (or at least on the back cover of Sky and Telescope magazine, which was my drug of choice when I was a teenager), but I couldn't even pronounce "Schmidt Cassegrain" in those days, so no way was I buying one.

My poor DS-10 got locked away in a closet during an emotional crisis my sophomore year of college, and I'm afraid I've never once used it since. Couldn't bear to for the longest time, and when I was finally back to the point where I could stand to look at/through it, I had misplaced the eyepiece extender and both eyepieces. So, it's been sitting in my bedroom since 1987, sad and lonely, and unfortunately, gathering dust even though I had the sonotube closed up. Every once in awhile I talk about selling it and buying a new one (a Celestron? much more compact). But I realized today that even though I never, ever use it, I'm really quite attached to the beast.

$50 for a mid-range eyepiece. $18 for a new extender. $35 for a new motor on the tracking system. Even if I have to get the mirrors re-surfaced, it would still be vastly less expensive to clean up the DS-10 than to buy a new one. Yeah, I could buy a lot better telescope now for $700 than I could 20 years ago, but I don't really need one, do I? Nor could I afford one. Anyway, the mount and tripod have been reassembled, and they are now taking up precious room in our garage. I'm going to collimate the mirrors over the weekend, and move forward from there. One more hobby for Catherine to put up with. I guess she's survived my model rocketry--just looking at space instead of trying to fly into it should be a lot easier on her nerves.

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