JUST FOR FUN!
I arrived about 10:30am. There was a clear blue sky with a slight breeze, promising a day and night of good observing. There were several telescopes set up in the parking lot in front of the store, as can be seen in these two photos:
There were some local amateur astronomers with their personal LX200 (8, 10, 12-inchers) as well as some other telescopes. At the start, there were no ETX models outside, although they were on display inside the store.
Some telescopes had been setup to observe the Sun in white light as well as Hydrogen-Alpha. I noticed some really good ideas for a solar observing setup as shown in these photos:
I especially liked the idea of securing the Thousand Oaks solar filter using some cords.
An interesting setup was the use of binoculars as a finderscope, as shown here:
Two refractors had Hydrogen-Alpha filters attached (one from Daystar and one from Coronado). I felt that the filter from Coronado Filters that was attached to a Televue Pronto presented the better views; there were more prominences and many more details on the surface of the Sun visible with it than with the Daystar. The image was sharper, too. This rapidly taken hand-held photo (afocal with my Ricoh digital camera) does not begin to do justice to the view although you can see some prominences in the upper righthand area of the Sun's limb. To the eye, there were small prominences all along the Sun's limb.
There was also a LX200 10" with an ETX-90 attached as a guiding scope. For the demo, it had a homemade video camera attached displaying the ETX view on a small monitor. In the photo, the system is shown with the Thousand Oaks Solar Filters on both telescopes.
During the afternoon when Bryan from Meade arrived, store models of the ETX-90EC and the ETX-125EC were brought outside for demonstration purposes.
For those people who came by with purchasing in mind, there was no doubt that the two ETX models were the hits. Some people spent hours at the store, looking through the various scopes on display, asking questions, and finally making their decisions. I lost track of how many ETX boxes I saw go out the door, but I think OPT had a good day.
One model that was much requested was the LX90 8-inch. Unfortunately, none were on display. According to Bryan from Meade, the LX90 8-inch will be shipping at the end of November 2000.
I asked Bryan if he knew about any updates to the Autostar software; he said that he was not aware of the current plans.
During the day, the Sun and some sea gulls were the most popular targets for the telescopes on display. However, some of the LX200 telescopes were aimed at Venus and Vega, both of which were beautiful with the nice blue sky background. As evening approached, Venus became the primary target for all the telescopes. I did a "blind" alignment with the Autostar on the ETX-125EC; I pointed it roughly North, accepted both easy align stars as centered, and then did a GOTO Venus. Venus was in the finderscope. I physically rotated the ETX to better position Venus and then did a SYNC on it. For the next hour, Venus tracked nearly perfectly. I was actually surprised at this, but it was an effective demonstration of the Autostar! Later in the evening, Jupiter and Saturn became the prime targets. Since we were located in a shopping center parking lot inside a city, the sky was fairly bright. However, I decided to chance it and did a GOTO M31, the Great Galaxy in Andromeda. Surprisingly it showed up rather nicely and was a good demonstration of the light gathering power of the -125.
Finally, with my voice beginning to fail me, I began saying my goodbyes and left about 9:30pm for the two hour drive back home.
While at the OPT Meade Day, I got to meet some ETX owners who frequent this site. I also got to pass out my ETX site card to some brand new owners of the ETX. Thanks to all who came by.
Email regarding this event:
Subject: OPT Star Party Sent: Sunday, November 19, 2000 22:01:37 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (T. Wesley Erickson) Greetings! It was a pleasure meeting you yesterday at OPT; like most ETX users, I have found a wealth of information on your website. It is clearly a labor of love, and I am sure that there are countless ETX users who have found it to be as valuable as I have! I had originally intended to pick your brain to learn about the AutoStar, but I managed to get sidetracked with questions, and it looked like the attendees kept you busy as well... In any event, thanks for taking the time to come down to Oceanside, and I hope that you enjoyed the evening and met many ETX enthusiasts! We should have got Craig to put up a "Welcome Mike Weasner" banner or something... Best regards, - Wes EricksonMike here: Thanks Wes. It was a fun day and night. It was a great learning experience for me as well hearing the questions from prospective ETX buyers. Plus I enjoyed looking through the bigger scopes as well although the majority of my time was spent at the ETX models.
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