November 28, 2007

Shopping for Telescopes
   by jhyde

The following excerpt is from an email my brother sent me after I had mentioned that I was interested in purchasing a telescope for my family.

This is what will happen if you do buy that rather expensive reflecting scope:

You'll get a moderately spendy reflecting telescope and take all the parts out of the box. It'll take you about 30 minutes to put all the parts together. Then you'll have this sheet that looks remarkably like a bullseye for a target shooting. You'll scratch your head and you'll know it has something to do with collimating, but you're not sure what and you're definitely not sure how. You decide, eh what harm can be done, let's take her outside. The moon should look good, right? But maybe it looks crappy dead on, or maybe it's a bit smudgy around the edges, but most of the view is crystal sharp. Now you're not old enough to be thinking you've cataracts yet, but some one else might. No worries, let's try and find Jupiter or Saturn. So you eyeball site in Jupitor and then, maybe you've put the sighting scope on and and maybe even earlier that day you even managed to calibrate the sighting scope on say a car or a radio tower. But it turns out Jupitor is leagues smaller than that radio tower, so your sighting scope, which seemed dead on, is actually way out. You start twisting knobs trying to get your bearings and then you realize everything's upside down and you've been twisting the wrong way. Once that's sorted, you resight the scope to get it close, then you carefully, carefully, carefully line up on Jupitor. You've got it right were you want it but the focus is a bit off. You adjust the focus and Jupitor just disappeared because you didn't lock the equatorial and the right ascension in place. You resight Jupitor, set your locks, and then adjust the focus just right. By this time, you've finally got it! So then you go inside to get the kids. It's terribly cold out so they need to put on their coats. You come back out, and Jupitor's gone. Well it turns out the Earth rotates at roughly a 1000mph and so you've got to go resight in Jupitor and then you twist the knobs, but they seem to require extra force. It finally moves freely as the locks give way, oh oops, well anyways you're off to resight in Jupitor. You're ready to be a hero, so you invite the lad over to take a peek through the scope. Straight away he kicks a leg on the tripod, thus the scope is out of whack. This goes on for a bit, until it's late in the night and the kids have to go to bed. You put the telescope away for another day. The next weekend you can't be bothered with it since it's cloudy. The weekend afterwards, you went out of town, then the weekend after that it was cloudy again. It's finally the fourth week that you've had the damn thing and you don't want to bothered out in the cold with the touchy contraption so you feign off like you've got a headache or it's too cold or what have you. By the fifth week, not even the kids are interested in it anymore. What a waste of money.

I felt that rather humorous, so thought I'd share.

Published: November 30, 2007
Editor: stacy

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