2015-12-05: FIRST (SOLAR) LIGHT

It doesn't look like much, but above is a Lunt 60mm refractor for looking at the Sun. It's fitted with an internal Doppler pressure tuned etalon (the red section), a Feather Touch focuser (the black section and the red knob), a B1200 blocking filter diagonal (the white right-angled part), and a Celestron 8-24mm zoom ocular. It's all mounted on a Celestron PowerSeeker 127 tripod and head. Got the scope from Agena Astro in Paramount, California, and the tripod from Ebay. Missing is the front mounted Lunt 60mm tilt tuned etalon. It's gotten stuck in traffic somewhere between California and New Mexico. I was going to wait until it got here, but couldn't stand it any longer.

I didn't bother with all of the slow motion controls or the counter balance weights for this run since the only goal was to see if I could see anything and just check to see if the telescope worked at all. I used the mount in more of an alt-az configuration, instead of an equatorial way. You can see it's pointing completely backwards...and then some. It worked plenty good enough for this.

Step one to getting here was to get the scope mounted to the head. The PowerSeeker 127 head is made to have two clamp rings, about 6" diameter, mounted to it that are wrapped around a PowerSeeker compact reflector telescope. All I had on the bottom of the Lunt were three 1/4"-20 holes in a ring about 3" in diameter wrapped around a refractor. It's not the same thing.

I MacGuyver'ed up the idea for a chunk of aluminum to go between the scope and the mount. I don't have the equipment, but at work we have a local guy, Ronnie, that can machine up stuff out of thin air. He took my sloppy drawing, double-checked the measurments, and whipped out my idea in a matter of minutes. It took a day, but probably only really took him minutes.

The three center holes are drilled to allow the bolts to pass through, and the outer two holes are tapped. The counter-sinks around the two central holes are 1/2" diameter. With them being about 1/4" deep, the block being about 1/2" thick, and the 1/2" long 1/4"-20 bolts having a thin washer on them they thread into the holes on the bottom of the scope about three turns. Goldilocks would like it -- it's just right. If they screw in too far they will start running into the telescope tube.

3/4" long 1/4"-20 cap bolts are used to attach the block to the head. The two holes on the mount were already there. They just had to be made a little bigger. I think they were originally 3/16" holes.

I'm able to leave the inter-mount (I like that word...it's kinda like "inter-stage" on a Saturn V rocket) on the scope by cutting a hole to match the block in the first bottom layer of the Lunt case foam. The block is shiny. That's always a good thing.

I poked the two 3/4" mounting bolts and their Allen wrench into the foam of the case when I took it all apart, so they will be handy. Of course at some point, even with them right in front of me, I'll probably forget where I put them.

Above is a drawing of what I saw! OK, it isn't, but I was looking through the scope and fidding with everyting at exactly the same time as this picture was taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite. I saw quite a bit of structure in the area on the left, and saw a lot of plasma trees growing out of the same points as the the activity in the picture on both limbs. Operation confirmed! This is going to be fun.

To redeem my dark side observing soul of yesteryear I went to the mini-star party that the local college (New Mexico Tech) puts on every first Saturday (tonight), and saw Uranus, the double cluster in Perseus, the Andromeda Galaxy, Alberio, The Garnet Star, some satellites, some meteors...

What a good day! Everything worked and I managed not to break anything.