Watching the moon, planets, stars, clusters and galaxies is pure therapy. It helps you get a grand perspective of life, universe and everything. Problems that seems huge to you become tiny in comparison. You change your focus from yourself to everything out there. Vistas open up. It’s a great tool to help those who are struggling.
I got my first telescope for X-Mas when I was 12. A 60mm f/15 Fujinon refractor. It was a great beginner’s scope that gave me years of enjoyment. My fascination with astronomy started 4 years earlier when my mother pointed to the night sky and said “Do you see those three stars up there? That is Orion’s belt”. I was hooked. I started reading. And calculating. And dreaming of a telescope. My interest rocketed when I got that scope. After a year of attending meetings in the Norwegian Astronomical Society, I became a board member when I was 14. I started attending classes at the university the year after and submerged myself in astronomy, mathematics and physics. Life was exciting and wondrous.
Another wave of wonder came when I bought my compact Meade ETX90 telescope in 1997. The very portable telescope made it possible to watch the night skies wherever I went on vacation.
Then, in 2014 I got a really big scope, the 8 inch Meade LS-8. The telescope is fully automatic - it aligns itself, taking into account the time and place that it acquires from GPS satellites, direction to north acquired via a compass, it adjusts for levelling and takes images of a few stars to finely adjust itself. All this while it talks about what it’s doing :-)
The ETX90 and the much larger LS-8 are of similar design. They use mirrors to make the scopes more compact and portable.
While both Meade telescopes are great for the night skies, they are not great solar telescopes. While they can be used for observing the sun in normal light (using a filter in front of the telescope), they cannot be used for observing the prominences on the Sun’s edge. To see those marvellous explosions on the Sun, you need a refractor (a telescope with only lenses and no mirrors) and a filter that only let through lights at a very specific wavelength - the Hydrogen Alpha wavelength of 6562.8 Angstrom.
In 2019 I took the giant leap and got a truly amazing refractor telescope - the Sky-Watcher Esprit 150ED on a EQ6-R Pro SynScan mount together with a Daystar Hydrogen Alpha Chromosphere filter. The telescope, although it gathers a bit less light than my Meade LS-8, it has far better contrast, shows details of planets better and has a much sturdier mount. With this telescope I can see details of the Sun and I can get into astrophotography like never before. But most importantly, I can help people get new perspectives in life. I use the scope as a primary tool in coaching.
Here is my unboxing video of the Sky-Watcher:
And here is a list of my most important equipment. I do have more eyepieces and lots of filters, but these are the main tools:
|Telescope||Type||Objective dia (mm)||Focal length (mm)||Focal ratio (f/x)|
|Sky-Watcher Espirit||APO refractor||150 ED||1050||7|
|Eyepiece||Type||Size||Focal length (mm)||App. field of view||Eye relief (mm)|
|Russell Optics||5 element Super Plossl||2”||50||52||30|
|Russell Optics||3 element Erfle RKE||2”||41||50|
|Meade Series 4000||5 element Plossl||2”||40||60||28.2|
|Sky-Watcher||3 element Kellner||2”||28||56||20|
|Celestron E-lux||3 element Kellner||2”||26||56||20|
|Meade Series 5000||7 element MWA||2”||21||100||20|
|Baader Planetarium||8 element Hyperion||2”/1¼”||24||68||20|
|Baader Planetarium||8 element Hyperion||2”/1¼”||21||68||20|
|Baader Planetarium||8 element Hyperion||2”/1¼”||8||68||20|
|Meade Series 4000||4 element Super Plossl||1¼”||26||52||18|
|Celestron||4 element Plossl||1¼”||15||50||13|
|TMB SW||6 element Plossl||1¼”||9||58||12|
|Tele Vue||4 element Plossl||1¼”||8||50||6|
|Meade||4 element Super Plossl||1¼”||6.4||52||5|
|Vixen NPL||4 element Plossl||1¼”||4||50||3|
|Seben||6 element Zoom Plossl||1¼”||24-8||60-40||20|
|Sky-Watcher||3 element ED 2X Barlow||2”|
|Celestron X-Cel||3 element 2X Barlow||1¼”|