Saturday, 1 August 2009

Scopes and stuff

Hopefully, in a few weeks' time I'll have a new 12 inch scope. My current temporary work contract, due to finish on Friday 7th August, has been extended until September 7th, so I hope it won't be more than four weeks before I can afford to spend £500+.

I have narrowed the choice down to 12" Skywatcher Flex Tube, 12" Meade Lightbridge and 12" Revelation (GSO, same as the Lightbridge). Ideally I would have gone for something like the Orion Optics UK 12 inch but at just under £900 this is out of my price range and, anyway, one of the cheaper ones will do nicely until such time as I can afford a bigger-aperture scope. These days, though, even the cheap scopes are good and I wish they'd been around when I wanted a larger scope ten years ago, then I wouldn't have messed around buying mirrors and then waiting (interminably it seemed!) for the damned scope to get built and then getting problems with the f**king thing! I also considered an Orion (USA) Intelliscope 12" but they are a hideous price, over £1000.

The Island Planetarium at Fort Victoria sells scopes (Meade, Orion USA, et al) so I have gone there in my search. They deal with B, C & F so that narrows the field down but there are still some good choices on offer. Getting it from the Planetarium resolves the issue of someone having to be at home to accept delivery of the thing or the even worse hassle of a visit to the mainland to collect it.

I have considered the Revelation 12 inch Dob, if they still do them (Telescope House do, via the net but whether the wholesalers BC&F do, I don't know), as it's a positively bargainous £550 - and a decent scope too, from the reports I have read - although I have heard that the tube is a bit of a big bugger, weighing in at around 23 kilos, but as the rucksack I lugged round Australia and SE Asia a few months ago was around the same weight, I do not foresee a problem. If I do my back in again, though, there might be an issue but until then...


I am curious as to exactly how many clear nights we really do get here in the climatically-challenged, sea-bound British Isles. Opinion varies slightly on the quantity of clear nights (depending on your geographical location as there's a lot of variety even in this tiny country) although we all agree on one thing - there's NOT NEARLY ENOUGH of them! So I am doing a spreadsheet over the next few years that should give me a clearer (pun not intended!) picture of our local sky conditions here on the Isle of Wight. It's not scientific but should be interesting.