I'm off the hook

by Mike Ruddy

The XT6 was christened Sunday night with some gorgeous views of the Moon, Saturn and Jupiter among others.

My stepson came in the house - "hey, it's clear out" he says casually

Casually! Can you believe it???

I think we let the scope "cool down" for about 30 seconds before enjoying the views from the driveway.

The moon was striking especially with the earthshine at 46X. Wonderfully clear. We played around with several different magnifications and enjoyed some nice views along the terminator. Very striking in this phase. Enough "oohs and aahs" from us to attract a couple of neighbors out for a walk. They had their peeks too.

Next stop, Saturn and Jupiter. Best around 133X. Nice views but we have a fair amount of light pollution on our street... enough to make you long for the dark sites. Still very enjoyable and Max is hooked. I'm sure he's coming to the next Star Party.

Then I spent a little time just hunting around in the sky...without a chart. Kind of like when you just cast a line in because it just *looks* like some fish oughta be there. I'm really impressed by the XT6. It's really a nice scope. I know I've got my heart set on something a little bigger but that didn't stop me from having a great time. I learned that I really have to build a little table to get this scope off the ground. It's just too low for me. It's interesting... you get to playing around and you figure out what you like and don't like. I really missed not having a Telrad. the little 6x30 finder scope is a neck breaker and not that easy to use when you're going for a section of the sky without any stars. And it really wasn't dark enough to star hop. But this little scope gives some great views. We split Castor, snagged a couple of globs, and then I hunted around for some galaxy action but it was just a bit difficult with all the light.

Looking forward to some more clear nights. Next time I'll break out my charts and start in some more "serious" work. I've got a little notebook to begin logging my observations and I plan on doing sketches and keeping a diary of sorts. Man this is great fun.

Looking forward to seeing you out soon!