Obsession 18" First Light
at the TAC Messier Marathon 03/07/97
Henry Coe State Park


The original plan was to spend the weekend doing astronomy. It was after all one of the best weekends to do the Messier list. But then my company planned to move some of its buildings that weekend and my personal life was not important. To make things worse I discovered that my new 18" Obsession that has been on order for 3 months was to arrive on Friday.
And then, I set out frantically attempting to move whatever I could for the weekend move into the middle of the week.  Fortunately, I was able to get a couple of key servers moved and keep NIS and DNS all running each night.  I managed to get everything done with the exception of the reconfiguration of 25 UNIX boxes by Friday morning. \
No sleep for a couple of days and around 1:00 on Friday, I had to get out of there.  After all... UPS probably had delivered my new scope and I had to make sure that it wasn't sitting in the middle of the driveway.  I drove home, and was almost in tears when I didn't see a pile of boxes in my driveway... but wait! There they were stacked behind some bushes!  Oh the delight as I rushed behind the bushes and started tearing cardboard.
I opened the garage door and put the scope together as I opened the boxes. I had gone through the process so many times in my mind, laying awake at night thinking how it must be. I was right for the most part. It went together quickly with the exception of the mirror... I would have to read the instructions for that.
Within minutes, I had it put together  in the garage, and I was back to work by 2:15.  I got out at midnight. Still 8 machines not up and running. (No hot ports ... not my fault).  So, I did some delegation and made assignments to cover for me on Saturday.... and I was outa there!
Saturday morning, 10:45 AM.  I was the first to arrive at the site. I didn't get a chance to set the mirror prior to coming. I threw everything in the van and came.  The scope went together fairly well. I had a bit of a problem getting the mirror strap tensioned correctly and getting the secondary adjusted just right.  But these are just things that were "new" to me. Future adjustments were sure to be much easier.

After getting the scope fully assembled, I began to check out the movement. It was so sweet.  Then I inserted the 20mm Nagler that I purchased for the scope.  Argh!!! I knew it would be top heavy and I havn't made any kind of a counter weight.  I mean... I had outdoor carpet, a new step stool, ... accessories that I had been collecting for three months.  And now here I am sitting with no small eyepieces... just a 20mm Nagler and a 12mm Nagler... but wait!  Dave Kreige said that he threw in some kind of counter balance... where is it.  Out came all the papers.. hmmm a little stuff sack and you put buckshot in it.. here was the stuff sack... no buck shot... oh why am I sooo stupid... wait!! I had a $2 ratchet set in the front seat that I had been using for work.  I threw all the sockets in the bag, hung it off the back, removed all the extras from the upper cage assembly, and walla, good balance.
Now it was around 1:30 PM and I was still the only one there.  A couple of regulars showed up within the next hour or so.  We sat around a chatted about the new toys... but didn't do much in the way of checking out the new beastie.
Dusk.. check the collimation... argh it was off!  Just how do you adjust this secondary mirror thingy anyway?   John gave me a hand with my laser collimator and showed me how to tweak the secondary.  (I couldn't figure how to get all of the screws tight). Jim helped get the secondary set just right.
The Sun was down... and I want the first object to be special.  I have always liked M46.  A rich open cluster with a nice bright planetary.  But I couldn't find the beastie.  It wasn't dark enough yet (and I'm sticking to that story for all of you who know that I had never been weaned from the DSC!).
So, I went for the Orion Nebula.  Oh my!  It must be some kind of atmospheric thing cause I had never seen it like this.  There were warm browns, hints of red, and definite blue tints in it.  It was pretty spectacular.  As it continued to get dark, these colors dissappeared and the nebula's structure revealed its inner self to me.  Yes, this was a religious experience.
Throughout the night, I rediscovered the night sky.  I had been using an 8" Celstar and a Pronto for the previous year.  Thehuge jump to 18" of aperature set my soul on fire.  I'm sure that the group got tired of me jumping up and down and calling everyone to come see.  I won't bore you with the list of objects, I didn't bag too many.  And I didn't even attempt to notch off the Messier list that night.  I took my time and relished every new look with my precious new companion.

I saw structure in galaxies that I have never seen before.  I saw galaxies that were never within my view. And, to my suprise, I didn't really need the DSC. The scope performed flawlessly.  Easy to move and use.
This was a special night for me. One for the books.