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Last updated: 27 October 2009
Subject:	Star Party Report
Sent:	Friday, October 23, 2009 23:42:33
From:	chris brown (
Tonight, I took my ETX 90 to a Star Party...
Here's how it went.
My Astronomy club holds Star Parties at the local schools, and l was
asked to participate. I grabbed my ETX-90 M with one hand, took my
eyepiece bag and stepladder in the other, and walked to the elementary
school (behind my house) to do my part.
Now this wasn't my first event at this school. I well knew that there
would typically be 200 people there, many young kids waving glowsticks,
a few dogs running around, and lotsa noise!
I chose to go simple this year, bringing only the ETX, and pointing it
at an easy target (the Moon), and not stressing out when the kids got
The other club members brought out a few huge Schmidts (11-12 inches!)
along with some big Newts, and one 1950's refractor. My ETX was the
smallest scope in the bunch, and nobody seemed to notice it. The guy
next to me had a neat 10-inch Meade Starfinder dob, but I did not envy
his telescope choice for a Star Party, the reason to be revealed later
in this story!
I was ready for viewers right away, and at first, I thought a wide view
of the moon would be best, but I decided to go all out instead and use
my 16mm Vixen Erfle (RARE!) with a cheap Celestron Barlow to show some
crater detail at 156x.
The ETX showed great contrast on the crater walls, along with excellent
texture on the open plains, typical for the scope...
The fans went wild!
I was rewarded with endless accolades about sharpness and detail!  I
guess they thought the smallest scope would show the roughest images,
but instead, the viewers would repeat the same phrases over and over
I must have heard "OMG" a hundred times, along with "WOW!", "OH", "No
Way!", "Beautiful", etc, etc...
After a few Star Parties, I found out that most folks typically don't
care about this diffuse nebula, or that star cluster, they appreciate
something closer to home!
Thier constant compliments were quite a rush, and can totally become
Soon,someone said, "Why is your telescope so clear, but that big one
next to you is kinda murky?"
She was referring to the big 10 inch Starfinder next to me.
I replied that the bigger scopes need more time to cool down, before
they started working correctly.
by this time, the Starfinder guy was having his own problems...
I once remember bringing a big Dob to a Star Party. People are endlessly
rubbing against it, and you are endlessly re-aiming it!
And as I was moving people through, (the lines behind the telescopes
were about 12-deep),  and showing the crowd a close-up Moon, I could
hear the Starfinder guy saying over and over, "Don't touch the
Sure enough, the kids kept bumping his scope, and he would have to stop
production to re-aim...
I soon noticed that the smaller kids would grab my ETX's  barlow to get
a better view, and after they said thier first "Woah!", I'd just let
them do it, seeing that it was helping them see, and probably wasn't
affecting the tracking or image.
I started telling parents, "Go ahead, let them touch it, they can't
break it!" You should have seen the look on thier faces!
I eventually found out that one of the other scopes had a wider field
view of the moon, and people said they prefered my close-up view. The
Mighty ETX strikes again!!!
After the crowds cleared, I finally got a chance to look through the big
schmidts, and it appeared to me that they never reached equalibrium. I
have seen some stunning images through a few 8-inch cats in the past,
but the big cats here had stars showing coma, even right on center...
I have to say that the people were great! Very respectful,  polite, and
super grateful to all of us for sharing our telescopes! The school gave
out water, and excellent dohnuts!
After the event was over, the Starfinder guy and I started picking out
targets with our scopes. He went to the Double-Cluster, and it was
excellent! I also went there, and he seemed impressed by the tight
little stars the ETX showed.
He showed me Hershel's Garnet star (He really knew his sky!), so I
showed him T-Lyra!
This went on for awhile, and I thought that I should get a dob like his
one day (f/4.5!), and he wondered how I was able to find the andromeda
galaxy in 15 seconds, with a f/13.8 telescope!
Before we realised, it was getting late, so I just picked up my rig, and
went home.
The ETX really came through for me tonight. it was easy to use, rugged,
and as the night went on, the images (and tracking!) just seemed to
The compliments were constant, and a few folks asked me what the
telescope was, so they could get one for themselves!
A word of warning...This kind of activity can have two outcomes: Total
stress-out, of complete addiction!
Ad for myself, I am addicted!
Chris Brown

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