My first telescope revisited - after 45 years.

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My first telescope revisited - after 45 years.

Postby Aratus » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:05 pm

I recently bought a second hand version of my very first telescope. The Tasco 4VTE was a Christmas present from my parents back in 1971. It cost them around £16, which is an incredible £220 in today's money. This telescope was a 40mm refractor with a zoom type eyepiece giving magnifications of 25x to 50x. I used it until the early 1980s when the rack and pinion focuser broke, and eventually it was thrown out. I've kept an observing log from the very first observation of the moon on the 28th December 1971 to the present day, and it is fascinating to reproduce the observations from those early days with the same telescope that I originally used.
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The first problem, then and now is the rediculous table-top tripod. 45 years ago with the help of a neighbour I used an old wooden pedestal to get it at a reasonable height. Today I simply fixed it to a collapsed rotary drier!

Looking back at my log in the early 1970s, I spent a lot of time counting the number of stars in the Pleiades, and trying to see all 4 stars of the trapezium in the Orion nebula. I also tried to chase up various star clusters. Ones like the Beehive featured prominently. Plotting stars around Heka (now called Meissa) in Orion was a task I set myself. Also commenting on the colours of stars. Splitting doubles was another thing I triumphantly noted in my log. I was fortunate 45 years ago because Saturn was high up showing its rings in all their glory. Mars was up there too, and in the spring of 1972, Venus and Mercury were well placed. Jupiter was unfavourably placed, and remained unobserved until 1974 when it finally rose above the houses. The moon looks pretty good in this telescope too, with dozens of features recorded with it over the years. My knowledge of the lunar features started with this telescope. I was able to relive the excitement today by looking at the same objects almost to the day 45years ago using the same telescope. Only the planets were not available.

It has brought back good memories. The excitement of finding and seeing objects for the first time. The wonder of it all. My next door neighbour who helped me so much with his enthusiasm. (Sadly he passed away many years ago), but most of all it was this humble instrument that allowed me dare to call myself an amateur astronomer. All quite emotional, but good fun.
I use an 11" Celestron SCT (CPC 1100) on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 500D for imaging.
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Re: My first telescope revisited - after 45 years.

Postby Supercooper » Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:48 pm

Hi there,
I did a similar thing. My telescope, that I'd pestered for, was a Astral Telescope from Prinz optics (Japanese). It had an extending tripod which was just about tall enough. There was a click-stop zoom eyepiece that had four manginfications. 15x 30x 45x and 60x (No option to magnify more). It was a 60mm f10 Achromatic refractor on alt-az mounting. It cost my parents £50, which, as you point out is a lot of money in those days (1976).

Jupiter and Saturn were high enough for a fun Christmas night, looking at the wonders of the winter constellations until 04:00. I could see the moons of Jupiter (Of course!), the tiny, not favourable opposition disc of Mars, and the rings of Saturn! Later on the crescent Moon rising. Very impressive for a 13yo.

However, I knew a good telescope should show you some things... I couldn't see the trapezium, or split Alcor, or find M1 (Surprise surprise). There was no Sirius B and the planets, although nice little discs, were completely devoid of any markings whatsoever. So, I learnt pretty quick that I needed more detail (Bigger object glass).

Within a year had saved up (with parental help) and bought myself an AE 6" f7 Equatorial Newtonian second hand for £100. (A bargain!!!) This one showed detail on the planets at 175x magnification and I was happy...

Since then I have been a staunch advocate of refractors and Maksutov telescopes over 80mm and PARABOLIC Newtonians of 130mm and over (As recommended by my dear aquaintence, Patrick Moore).
Attachments
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Here's the 'Disappointment Machine'!
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Re: My first telescope revisited - after 45 years.

Postby Aratus » Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:00 pm

Its great to hear someone else's experience of their first telescope. If anyone else has a tale to tell please feel free to chip in here with photos and an account.

I have read that for it's size the 4VTE was pretty good, and my experience bears that out. I do admit that the Trapezium in the Orion Nebula was difficult, and I'm not sure I really could see all four stars. In good conditions I could see 3 of the stars for certain. I could see Alcor's companion with reasonable seeing though. Jupiter would show the NEB and SEB belts faintly, but nothing else on the disk. M1 - the Crab Nebula was a none starter, although I tried on many occasions. Looking through my log, I was able to see around 20 'Deep Sky Objects' (a term we never used then!) at one time or another. Mars was only ever referred to as a 'red dot'! I was able to follow the closure of the rings of Saturn throughout the 1970s. The changing phase of Venus was noted, and the occasional appearence of Mercury. I identified dozens of lunar features.

It does sound as if your very first telescope was not quite as good as it might have been for its size. That probably explains why you went to a better one, while I stayed with the 4VTE for a decade. I too eventually went for a 6" Newtonian, but in the early 1990s, but that is another story.

Did any one else use these telescopes, or would like to admit to their particular humble beginnings?
I use an 11" Celestron SCT (CPC 1100) on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 500D for imaging.
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Re: My first telescope revisited - after 45 years.

Postby Supercooper » Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:22 pm

Hello again, Aratus,

I didn't keep an observing log. I did record some observations while I was working toward my O Level Astronomy (Passed in 1979 - Age 15) and have them somewhere!

Personally: I'm afraid I have always looked on the Moon as 'natural light pollution'. I don't think I've spent more than an hour looking at it through a telescope in forty years of observing! Some things just don't excite!

You're right about the telescope being sub-standard. In 2002 I bought an achromatic 60mm f12 lens off ebay and, with the aid of drainpipe, cardboard tubes, Araldite and an old 7mm Kellner eyepiece I cobbled together a refractor that magnified about 120x as I remember, and it's equally 'Blue Peter style' mounting for some students of mine. We could easily see the markings on Jupiter with that and Saturn was fantastic - So clear for a small size telescope! The Astral Telescope must have been rotten optically. :o(

Cheers, Barry
________________________________________________________________________________________
For My FREE Telescope Help Website: http://supercooper.jimdo.com/

Using fab Helios f8 150mm Achromatic Refractor on SkyWatcher EQ5 - enjoing the views!
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Re: My first telescope revisited - after 45 years.

Postby Aratus » Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:08 pm

I was fortunate that the Tasco manual pressed hard on the subject of keeping a log - and I was influenced by that. There was an example sheet at the end of the booklet which became a template for my log keeping for quite a while.

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It's never too late to keep a log, or write things up from the past!

I have been 'on' and 'off' with the moon throughout my life. In the 1970s I did a lot of lunar observing. As I got larger telescopes, less so, because as you say it becomes 'the enemy'! In recent years I've returned to it once more.
I use an 11" Celestron SCT (CPC 1100) on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 500D for imaging.
Aratus
 
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Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:17 pm
Location: East Lincolnshire

My first telescope revisited - after 45 years.

Postby Aratus » Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:17 pm

The Tasco 4VTE - or the 'Asteroid' telescope also came with a couple of posters. One of these was the Rand-McNally Moon Map. This 24" x 24" map was a composite photographic image of the moon, coloured for some reason, green! It was orientated 'north at the top' which was not a problem with the 4TVE which was designed to be used as a terrestrial telescope as well. Although not as sharp as modern examples it was pretty detailed, and was covered in the names of various features. Fortunately the features were arranged alphabetically on the back with a grid reference. As each Apollo mission was announced it was very satifying to look up the location of the landing place on the map. I used the map to help me learn the names of dozen's of craters and mountain ranges. My knowledge of lunar geography today owes much to this boyhood map. It proudly went up on my bedroom wall! Eventually it fell apart along the creases. :( This was due to repeatedly having to turn it over to read the index! I now have a pristene copy which clearly has never been used over the last 45 years!

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This shows the fine detail. It includes the Apollo 15 landing site (Rima Hadley), and the crater they named after me! :D
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I wonder if anyone else has fond memories of this map, or if they used another one?
Do people still use paper 'moon maps'?
I use an 11" Celestron SCT (CPC 1100) on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 500D for imaging.
Aratus
 
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Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:17 pm
Location: East Lincolnshire

My first telescope revisited - after 45 years.

Postby Aratus » Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:37 pm

Continuing my 45 year celebration of astronomy with my first telescope - a 40mm refractor. One problem I encountered back in 1971/2 was 'bedtime'! This meant that by April it wasn't getting really dark before I was called inside. :( One way to get use of the telescope was to observe the sun. Fortunately I had read enough astronomy books to know that you didn't look through a telescope at the sun. (Burnt eyeballs don't work again afterwards! :geek: ) The classic way is to point the telescope at the sun, and project the image of the sun on to a piece of paper. I used to mount the paper on to a clipboard and position it getting the right compromise between image size and brightness. After some experience I created blanks showing the circle of the sun's edge. It was then possible to line that up and draw any sunspots directly on to the paper.

Giving the old 4TVE a try out this afternoon, I was easily able to see the single remaining spot on the sun! In deference to modern technology I photographed the image from the paper!
Image

Sunspots, Venus and the moon kept the hobby going until it got darker in the early evenings again, in October!
I use an 11" Celestron SCT (CPC 1100) on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 500D for imaging.
Aratus
 
Posts: 809
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:17 pm
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