Last updated: 25 April 2003
Subject:	ETX 105 & Mercury
Sent:	Tuesday, April 22, 2003 00:18:10
From: (Scott Kephart)
I had the opportunity last night to look at mercury through my etx-105.
I spotted mercury at about 8:35 PM local time, at about 11 degrees
altitude. Because it is so low, Mercury is never visible from my
backyard. (I'm surrounded by 2 story houses.) So I had to go to a local
park to find a location with a good view of the western horizon. This is
where I really appreciated the etx - when I got to the park, I had to
walk about a block from the parking lot to a place that had a fair view
to the west. I carried my etx 105, it's 884 tripod, and a small
drummer's throne I sit on when using the scope. The latter was *by far*
the most inconvenient thing I carried - the etx is just amazingly
portable. No way I could have done this in one trip with my 8" lx 200. I
got to the park right after sunset, and was set up long before I could
see Mercury.

Anyway, I got a pretty decent look at mercury. Using a 10.5 mm eyepiece,
I was able to see the 25% illuminated crescent reasonably well. (The
atmosphere wasn't stable, especially that low, so the image was by no
means perfect.)

I think anyone considering an etx vs. a larger scope should consider
this - you can see a lot with an etx, and what you can't see is often
compensated by all the things you will see with your etx that you
*wouldn't* see with a bigger scope because the bigger scope was too much
of a hassle to drag out and set up. I've had my lx 200 scope for about 6
years, and it's pretty portable. (I drive out to a site in Oklahoma with
it all the time.) But this is the first time I've ever actually looked a
Mercury through my own telescope. Getting the lx200 out to the site in
the park wouldn't have been impossible, but it's difficult enough that
I've never done it. I use my etx 105 anywhere from 3 to 5 times a month.
(At best my lx 200 is used once or twice a month, less now that I have
the etx...) The etx is just an enormous amount of fun in a tiny little

Thanks for the great website - there's no doubt my experience with my
etx has been much enhanced because of all the good information you

Scott Kephart
And additional reports:
I noticed someone else who'd written in was skeptical that he could see
the great red spot with an etx. I've observed it with my 105, using a
10.5mm eyepiece. It's difficult to see, mainly because it's so pale
right now. I looked for it right as it crossed the central meridian -
it's a lot easier to see something like this if you know exactly where
to look - that's when I was sure I could see it. A little earlier in the
evening, I looked, and I saw it then - but I wasn't sure until I saw it
cross the central meridian. I could really see the notch in the southern
equatorial belt where the GRS is located. This feature seemed a lot
easier to see than the GRS itself.

That same night I also observed Vesta. I wasn't sure which star was
Vesta, although I guessed it was the brighter of the two. So I looked
back at it a couple of hours later, and sure enough, the brighter of the
two stars had moved visibly - it was Vesta. This definitely made me
appreciate the GOTO capabilities of the ETX - being able to return to
pretty much exactly the same point later on in the evening helped
enormously. (Not to mention that star-hopping in my heavily
light-polluted backyard is pretty much an exercise in frustration.)

If I can manage to be less lazy, I'll send you some of the winter deep
sky objects I've observed with my ETX. I've been pleasantly surprised by
what's actually visible. I'm hoping for my spare time, the new moon, and
good weather to coincide so that I'll have a chance to look around
through the Virgo cluster of galaxies. I've done this many times with my
8", but I'm curious to see what my 105 can manage.

Return to the top of this page.

Go back to the User Observations page.

Go back to my ETX Home Page.

Copyright ©2003 Michael L. Weasner /
Submittals Copyright © 2003 by the Submitter