Pinnacles with a short tube 90

by Jamie Dillon

My boy Liam's Scout troop went to the Pinnacles last weekend. One of our main local attractions, half the core of a 10 million-year old volcano. The other half is down by Tehachapi, yes they're on the San Andreas. Improbable rock spires, caves, all kinds of wildlife.

So knowing how dark that area is, we took along our ST90 from Discovery. It's the same scope as Orion sells, a very handy $200 scope. Next month the Scouts are going to you guessed it, Fremont's Peak, and guess who's teaching the astronomy merit badge.

One of the other fathers brought his 90mm ETX, and several of the kids and adults were eating views like candy. For me, being joined at the hip to an 11" Dobs, it's a whole different ballgame using a widefield refractor. Fun. M13 was a big hit, as was Albireo, also the starfield around gamma Cyg.

I was actually surprised how badly the ETX got its butt kicked in comparisons. In brightness, contrast, detail and just the number of stars showing in the same field, for the same aperture, similar size, much lower price, the ST90 showed to be a far better scope.

After the kids had finally packed in their game of Magic the Gathering and turned off the pinche lights, I had some quality time scanning thru Perseus and Cassiopeia. M103 and the set of 3 bright OC's centered on 663. After some patient looking, at 50x with a 10mm Plossl, I made out Trumpler 1, a gorgeous distant OC in the 11". In one hour segments, the sky was around 7.0 LM, spectacular.