Saturday, March 5, 2016

Our Telescope

My husband and I decided to buy a telescope as a mutual present for Valentine's Day. After significant research and a bit of an odyssey through the Byzantine returns process of telescope companies, we finally received our scope yesterday. We eagerly took it out and set it up, and spent a good part of the evening exploring the night skies.

I've always liked the idea of getting a telescope. I love looking at the stars, and they feel like something a science fiction writer should have. The reality of owning one actually far succeeded my expectations. For one thing, it was much easier to use than I'd expected. With a laser to guide us, we easily found some awe-inspiring sites, including the Orion Nebula and the Pleiades star cluster. We could see Jupiter's bands, as well as its four major moons (Io, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto).
Seeing planets, star clusters, and nebulae with my own eyes through my own telescope was an incredible feeling that left me humbled and awed at the beauty and immensity of the universe. It's an experience I hope we can share with our daughter as she gets older--a fun family activity that involves science! We let her look through the telescope a little, but she goes to bed too early to see much right now.

For anyone who's interested, the telescope we got is a Meade Lightbridge Mini 130. It's a lovely piece of equipment, very easy to set up and use even for beginners. We used the book Nightwatch and a phone app to orient ourselves in the sky at first, and it became easier to recognize constellations as we worked. I had read a bit of the National Geographic's Guide to the Night Sky to help get me started as well.

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