Flintstone Stargazing

December 20, 2007

My Christmas Present

Filed under: astronomy, Equipment — Tags: , — Ed @ 11:20 pm

My Christmas Present

Since we’re headed to my parent’s house for Christmas, we did Christmas here at my house yesterday morning. Betsy, the boys and I had a grand old time, but one thing was missing – my big gift. It wasn’t really a surprise, since I had won an auction on eBay and paid for it myself, but I was still about as excited as I could be about it. It just hadn’t arrived yet. It arrived today. It was shipped in this big green Rubbermaid container. I couldn’t wait to get the lid off.

The box has been opened!
The box has been opened!

This is what I found inside. I was a bit surprised at first since I wasn’t sure what the big black thing was. It turned out to be a dew shield. After digging through the packing peanuts for a bit, this is what I found:

The associated parts and extras
The associated parts and extras

The dew shield had now been assembled (it just velcros together) and you can see my new astrocam on the bottom right – it’s a Meade DSI Color II. I have a Meade DSI Color I, but this one has a bit better resolution, greater sensitivity and built-in cooling. In the box is not only a power adapter, but a 26mm Super Plossl eyepiece and a 7mm TeleVue Nagler Type 6 eyepiece. I didn’t realize at the time of the auction how expensive those are. They go on eBay for over $200. That was a pleasant surprise!

Looking down the barrel
Looking down the barrel

Next out of the crate was the OTA or Optical Tube Assembly. You may have figured out by now that my big gift was a new telescope (with some extras). This is my new scope and here are it’s specs:

Telescope specs
My Telescope Specs

It’s a Meade LXD75 8″ Schmidt-Newtonian. It has a 203mm primary mirror (compared to the 114mm primary in my other scope). This does not collect twice as much light – it collects closer to 3.5 or more times the light of my other scope because the light gathering is proportional to the area, not the diameter and the central obstruction of the secondary mirror is nearly the same size in both. What that means is that I will be able to gather much more light more quickly leading to much deeper and more beautiful deep sky images. It also means I can get greater magnification of things like planets. I cannot wait to see Mars, Saturn and other planets!

The LXD75 Mount
The LXD75 Mount

This is the mount after I had assembled it. The mount is WAY sturdier than my old one (the one with two broken legs) and also is a Go-To mount. This means that instead of moving the scope by hand, I can instead have the motors tell it exactly where to go and what to track.

The Autostar controller
The Autostar Controller

I will use both the Autostar controller (pictured above) as well as a computer interface to my laptop. This will open up lots of new possibilities for photography. I’m hoping to start being able to take some tracked shots of the space station, for example. We’ll see how that goes. As it turns out , Once I had gotten it all assembled, the motors didn’t seem to be engaging and when I opened them up, I found that two of the gears had slipped out of position and were loose. This site proved to be invaluable for figuring out what was wrong, how to fix it and especially how do get the box open without breaking the telescope. A big thanks to Michael L. Weasner. While his post is really about the LXD55, the gearing is the same on both mounts.

My new LXD75 8
My new LXD75 8″ Schmidt-Newtonian

And here’s the assembled telescope! I collimated it – it was actually pretty close to right on and then made sure that the controller and stuff was working well in my living room. Of course it’s pea soup outside tonight so I can’t see anything and since we’re leaving tomorrow for Christmas, it won’t see first light until next week, but I’ll have the camera attached and put up photos as soon as I do. I can’t wait! Merry Christmas to me!

And a Merry Christmas to all of you as well!



  1. Very nice! Can’t wait to see it in action. What’s happening with your old scope? BTW, I need to figure out how to start buying my own presents, too, though Pam and I have started to talk as a couple about buying ourselves joint gifts instead of separate ones (e.g., new carpet, TVs, etc.). Have a safe trip and a Merry Christmas!

    Comment by Scott — December 21, 2007 @ 1:03 am

  2. Sweet! Glad you were able to get that for yourself.

    Comment by alli — December 21, 2007 @ 8:55 am

  3. not that I know anyhting about it, but cool! cant wait to see what it can do.

    Comment by bobw — December 21, 2007 @ 9:41 am

  4. AWESOME!!.You are really going to like the new scope.

    Comment by Andrew — December 21, 2007 @ 11:02 am

  5. ……..oh,and before I forget….MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

    Comment by Andrew — December 21, 2007 @ 11:06 am

  6. So, does this mean no pictures of Mars for a while? Cause isn’t it supposed to be at, like, its brightest level in the last 40 years?

    Comment by DWord — December 24, 2007 @ 9:36 pm

  7. Not really – it’s at its closest for the next maybe 30 years or something, but the difference between now and Friday when I get back (and I’m sure the weather will be great) will be minimal. I expect with the new scope to be able to see the polar ice and some other features on Mars. I’m very excited. Actually, I’ve spent much of my vacation plotting how to best use and set up the scope when I get back. I’m a bit obsessed.

    Comment by Ed — December 25, 2007 @ 11:04 am

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