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The 6" Dob

Vivek Mohan

Vivek and his younger brother Vijay Mohan with their loaner scope.
[Another in our continuing series of articles from borrowers of SJAA loaner scopes. Write about your experiences with an SJAA 'scope! Send your articles to -- Ed.]

It was a clear Friday night, perfect for sky watching. The moon was in its last quarter, a mere silver crescent in the sky. Our family piled into our car and drove to Houge Park, enticed at the prospect of renting a telescope from the SJAA. Upon arriving at the star party, we gazed at the multitude of telescopes, from small 2" telescopes to gigantic 18" dobsonian monsters.

We strolled over to the end of the long line of scopes, and came upon the SJAA representative, who had been waiting for our family. We had reserved a 14" dob, and we saw the huge telescope, painted in a dark shade of brown. Immediately, we thought to ourselves, "No way that's going to fit in our car!" Luckily for us, there was another unreserved scope. It was a 6" dob, the most special of all the loaners the SJAA had. On the cardboard shell of the scope were hundreds of signatures in black marker. Volunteers at SJAA had built this telescope during a all-day telescope making session.

Loaner scope #32 being signed by one of the visitors to the SJAA event at The Tech Museum where it was constructed.
We brought the 6" Dob home, and immediately put it on our deck, searching for familiar stars such as Alberio, Vega, and Deneb. We all were impressed with the telescope's ease of transportability as we expected moving it to be a pain. Over the following days, my family and I got acquainted with the Deep Sky 600 map, and my Mom could find the Andromeda Galaxy at will. As our house is situated on a hill, we had great, unobstructed views of Jupiter, of which we could make out the equatorial belts and the Galilean moons, Saturn, of which we could see the rings and various moons; and the Moon, of which craters, seas, and many other magnificent surface features were visible. My dad's favorite was the Orion Nebula, which we see as a luminous cloud lit up by the stars of the Trapezium.

As the weather grew progressively colder we stayed inside, and looked through the windows, occasionally spotting a cluster of interest and looking at it through the scope. The laser dot-scope (finder scope) made it amazingly easy to focus on objects, and the dob mount was fine to track them, as long as you moved it a fraction of an inch every 5 minutes. One of my favorite things to do was to track moving planes and satellites. My parents, however, preferred to stick with more stationary, astronomical objects. In the end, this scope was one of the best astronomy related things that ever happened to us.

Vivek Mohan and loaner scope #32 - dubbed "The Signature Scope". Vivek is in his observing stance, locating a celestial object through the scope.

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Copyright © 2001 San Jose Astronomical Association
Last updated: July 19, 2007

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