For those that are keeping track, we’re coming up on my 30th birthday this November – a momentus occasion, apparently. And because of that, it seems as though some fun new toys may be coming my way. I’ll give you a hint: the terms aperture, focal length, and alt-azimuth mount have been thrown around.
In case that wasn’t enough of a hint, I’ll just tell you – I’m getting a telescope, as well as some fun new attachments (filters, lens adapters) for my camera. Specifically, the telescope I’m getting is a Meade ETX-80-TC, and for my camera I’m finally getting an adapter to let me mount any standard 58 mm camera attachment. Some of the other things I’ll finally be getting include a polarizing filter and some of those fun ND grad filters I’ve heard so much about. I may even figure out a way to use my camera with the telescope… but we’ll see.
I’ve had a wish-list of accessories for my digital camera for quite a while – so I knew what sort of stuff I wanted for that.
As for the telescope, that was more recent – born from my recent capture of Jupiter on film, my photos of the lunar eclipse, as well as from a long history of being interested in astronomy from a very young age. I’ve never owned a really “good” telescope – and certainly never one with a proper mount – so I’ve been very limited in what I could see.
When I started thinking about a telescope, I really didn’t know much about the topic – and once it was seriously suggested as a gift for my 30th birthday, I found out how little I really did know!
Being the geek I am, I just had to learn everything about the topic (how else could I make an informed choice?), and thus I spent hours and hours on Wikipedia and other sites learning about focal lengths, apertures, telescope designs, eyepieces, the limits of magnification, and so forth. It might sound funny, but it really is a lot of fun to learn about something truly new!
(Oh, and in case anyone is wondering why I chose the ETX-80 instead of one of it’s bigger – and more sophisticated – brothers, such as the ETX-90, it basically boils down to two things: portability and price. I wanted a portable scope, and for my budget, the ETX-80 was the better buy – especially when you consider the ever-important factor of “leaving room for accessories,” like additional eyepieces, rechargable batteries, and so on.)
So, in short, the next few months should be rather interesting! Stay tuned!