AstronomyMalaysia-M101

Friday, February 16, 2007

My first telescope - Part I

The year was 1985 and the once every 76 years' Comet Halley was fast approaching. I was very exicited about the event and I was absolutely delighted when my dad decided to buy a telescope so that we can see it up close. So I look thru the Astronomy magazine, examining my options and product sepcifications. There were many to choose from. There were names like Parks Optical, Celestron, Orion, Meade. And of course, there weren't any Malaysian made telescopes, so we have to order it and had it shipped from the US.


I was pretty sure that I wanted a reflector, it was a matter of which type and size - Newtonian or Catadioptric. After a week or so I decided to get a Meade Starfinder 826C, an 8 inch F/6 Newtonian reflector. Even back then Meade telescopes seemed like a pretty good product. The telescope comes with 9mm and 24mm eyepieces, worm gear clock drive, 8x25 finder and a German equitorial mount. It weighs in at 75 pounds. The price was only US$1,590, excluding shipping charges. Back then the exchange rate as only 2.56!

In comparison, the Meade 2080 LX5 with Quartz LX Pulse drive will set you back by US$3,600. The Celestron Super C8 Plus was going for US$2,400.
Today's Meade LX90 with goto capability only costs US$1,974. What a major leap in terms of price and capability! And I still have a copy of the good old Astronomy magazine with all the old prices and specifications and putting it next to a recent copy of the same magazine you can see a real difference in terms of technology, pricing, features and functions - amateur astronomy has indeed come a long way in 20 years.

I remember receiving the telescope some where early part of 1986. The shipping documents were lost when we shifted house some years back - and I cannot recall the exact date which we received it. 1986 was an evenful year - it was on 28 January that space shuttle challenger exploded some 72 seconds after take off. And yes, I saw Halley with and M42 as well.
The Meade 826C was not an easy telescope to use - for a 17 year old. And the clock drive as 110 volts and there was no way it could be used with our 240 volt current. To top it off, it was heavy, moving it in and out of the house was difficult. The telescope was mounted in a metal pier rather than tripod. I didn't have a car then so I had to contend with the skies in the front yard in Cheras.
My celestial adventures took a back seat in 1987 when I went to Australia to further my studies. And no, I did not bring the telescope along with me. Since I was the only astronmer in the family, the good old 826C was left untouched for many years. When I came back to Malaysia I was extremely busy with my career, got married along the way, further my studies again for 2 more years, before I had any budget or time to pursue my very first passion .... until recently.

94 comments:

Fattien said...

Omg, this was so cool. So glad that I have own one but I dun have that kind of budget. ^_^

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