Thursday, December 2, 2010

Coronado First Light!

I must have been a very good person because today the skies cleared around lunchtime and I was able to take the Coronado out for first light.  I mounted the scope on a Bogen tripod (one I use with my ETX 90).  The solar finder makes finding the sun easy and a centered solar image in the finder put the sun right in the middle of the field of view.  I plugged in the 12mm Kellner and took a look.

Experienced amateur astronomers know not to expect too much when they look through a scope; they know it takes time and patience to tease out details.  But that was not my experience with the Coronado.  I took one look and could see a huge prominence at the 2 o'clock position on the sun and a large group between the 7 and 8 position.  A tweaked the tuner and they jumped in brightness and detail.  Active area 1130 was clearly visible, with significant amounts of surface detail.

I tried to image with a T-adapter and with a barlow--no luck on getting focus, but I was on a tight schedule, so I stuck the camera up to the eyepiece and took an exposure.  The result (after some cropping and a little enhancement) is below:

So from unpacking to the above in under 5 minutes--not too bad!  The pic does not show all the surface detail visible to the eye, nor the delicate structures visible in the prominence itself.  But for a quick eyepiece shot, it gives you an idea of what this scope can do.

The supplied 12mm kellner works well--and even better with a 2x barlow, which gave superb views.

I didn't want to pack up and return to work--but needs must!

I've owned a lot of scopes and experienced the joy of moving from a 90 mm scope to a 10 inch.  But nothing compares to the experience I had with the PST.  It's hard to put into words what it is like to see the sun as a "living" entity--changing in front off your eyes.  Again--the level of detail I could see was on a par with some of the best PST images you will see on the web--even better, I would say.  This little scope opens up a whole new world of astronomy and I can't wait to do more with it.