I recently purchased my first telescope, an Orion GoScope 80mm Table Top Refractor, from The Manitoba Museum. I had more or less made my mind up for what I wanted to get as a first time telescope, but the staff at the Museum were great and took the time to talk things through with me and get a feel for what sort of telescope would meet my needs, budget and observing goals.
I was looking mostly for something portable, because I get around by bus or bike. The Orion GoScope was the portable option that fit my budget and the refractor design assured me that the fixed optics would fair better on a bike ride on our bumpy roads than the other designs I was looking at.
I was fortunate that they had a display model I could take home with me that very day instead of having to order one in. After we package up the telescope and I paid for everything, the salesman turned to me with a grin and said, “Now that you’ve bought a telescope, you realize it’s going to rain.”
Sure enough, it has been overcast for the last three nights since I bought my telescope and tonight doesn’t look much better. I am a rather patient person, but there are just some things I can’t wait for and trying out a new “toy” is one of them. I guess I’m still a kid a heart.
Thankfully, I like to think of myself as a creative minded person and that I am not afraid to have a little fun, even if I look foolish. The telescope came with a copy of Starry Night, planetarium software for viewing and learning all about the night sky. I installed the software on my laptop and then placed my laptop at the end of the hallway in my apartment. At the other end I plunked down my telescope.
By pulling up various images of planets or star clusters on the screen, I could view them through my telescope at the other end of the hallway. It was by no means stargazing, but it was a nice way to spend half an hour laughing up a storm with my roommate as we explored the solar system and beyond.
With a little luck, I’ll be able to get out with my telescope under some clear skies some time soon and relate to you just how well the GoScope works. I might also try my hand at some real astrophotography. Until then, here are the results of my hallway sky watching.