My first telescope was a simple 2.5" refractor given to me by my grandparents who bought it with Green Stamps.  It is good enough for lunar observation and is just clear enough to see the rings of Saturn and four of Jupiter's moons.  A nice feature is it's solar filter which has been very useful for watching solar eclipses such as the one on Christmas day 2000 where sunspots were clearly visable appearing from behind the passing moon..

My next telescope is a Meade ETX-90EC that jumped into my arms while I was walking through the  Discovery Store at the airport.  Mom and Dad later contrbuted the AutoStar controller for it which can provide a guided tour of the visible objects.   A remote focuser was a critical addition.

  November 8, 2003 Lunar Eclipse viewed from St. Paul, Minnesota.  This was about 45 minutes after totality.  The photo was taken through my Meade ETX-90EC with my Pentax Ashi 35mm body and Fuji 400 speed film.  The shutter was manual cable release for approx 2 seconds exposure.  This was my first attempt at telescope photography.  Two problems I had were: determining the precise focus, and counterbalancing the extra weight on the telescope.  The reddish hue really shows well on the photograph.

One of the cool things to look for are satellite and spacecraft passes.  The Heaven's Above site has a visible pass predictor for the International Space Station, Mir (catch it while you can), Hubble Space Telescope, and  Iridium Flashes. (links are preset to my location in St. Paul, MN)


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