Student Life

My First Telescope

Last weekend I ordered an 8 inch Dobsonian from Orion Telescopes and Binoculars for just under $400 which isn’t bad as far as telescopes go. I’ve always wanted one of my own, but it wasn’t until the last couple of months that I looked into one seriously. After all, what is an astronomer without his scope? To my surprise the Dob was delivered by Wednesday afternoon—that is some speedy delivery! The entire thing came in two boxes: one with the optical tube and the other with the mount which required some assembly. Where better to assemble your first telescope than at your local university’s observatory?

Me unboxing the telescope.
Me unboxing the telescope inside the campus observatory.

My friend Dustin, who is an astrophotographer, helped me unbox and collimate the telescope. While we worked on that some of my peers were using the campus observatory to try and detect an exoplanet by transit photometry. Here’s the telescope put together:


Around midnight we moved it outside of the observatory to align the guide scope and try out a few targets. Some of the objects we looked at included Saturn, the Ring Nebula (M57), and the Hercules Globular Cluster (M13). We also looked at several stars such as the famous Double Double in the constellation Lyra.

For the interested reader here are the telescope specs:

Primary mirror diameter: 203 mm
Primary mirror focal length: 1200 mm
Focal ratio: f/5.9
Focuser: 2″ and 1.25″ eyepieces with adapter
Guide scope: EZ Finder II (reflex sight)
Tube dimensions: 46.5” x 9.25”
Total weight: 41 lbs


4 thoughts on “My First Telescope

    1. Yeah, tons! For one, when we observed Saturn we could almost make out its bands. We also saw several of its moons. We could see the different coloration of stars as well. Most stars appear white with our naked eye but with a telescope you can see blues, reds, or oranges. Beyond this we could also resolve some double star systems that normally can’t be resolved with our naked eye (like the Double Double in Lyra).


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