Flintstone Stargazing

February 15, 2008

Cleaning/Aligning and a Club Meeting

Filed under: astronomy, Equipment — Tags: — Ed @ 11:08 pm

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending my first Barnard Astronomical Society meeting. The BAS is the Chattanooga astronomy club and has a history that goes back to 1923. Last night’s presentation was by a recent graduate of the UTC geology program and she gave a presentation on Saturn’s moon Titan. It was an interesting presentation featuring a lot of imaging from the Cassini.Huygens mission and discussion of the “geological” processes that science is discovering there. The folks in the club were very nice and of course it’s always nice to talk about an obsession with like-minded people, so I really enjoyed myself. I’m looking forward to getting to know the folks there. The meeting broke up at close to 10pm so I didn’t get any scope time last night even though it was really nice out.

Tonight, it’s cloudy and so I thought I would fix a problem with my scope. The corrector plate is the glass in the front of my telescope and when it arrived, it was smeared and (I feared) a bit scratched. Actually, I’m sure the glass is most likely unscratched, but the corrector plate has what are called Ultra-High Transmission Coatings (UHTC) on it which allow the glass to pass quite a bit more light than glass by itself. It is this coating on the corrector plate that I was concerned about. Here is what my corrector plate looked like before clearning:

Corrector Plate Smearing
My smeared corrector plate on my LXD75

I had gotten some feedback online from Cloudy Nights as well as on some Flickr groups about how to clean it. The general consensus was to use the method described here: http://www.arksky.org/asoclean.htm and so I went off and purchased everything except the Photoflow that they recommended. After following the instructions very carefully this was the result:

Cleaned Corrector Plate
My clean corrector plate on my LXD75

I actually took the corrector plate assembly off the front of the scope (which includes the secondary mirror so I was very careful) and cleaned the inside of the plate as well. I did not remove the plate from the outer assembly because it apparently is nearly impossible to get it properly realigned after you do that. I’ve read more than one story of people having to ship the scope back to the factory to get it fixed.  Also, while I was in there, I also took out the primary mirror and gently cleaned it as well.

Overall, I think it worked really well. While there may be some faint scratches on the corrector plate, I believe those predate my ownership of the scope and hope they won’t cause too much trouble. In the end, I think I’ve got a much cleaner telescope that should provide me with even more light gathering capacity and crisp detail than before.

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