Friday, January 20, 2012

A cure for Zenith neck

Note: The following post was originally posted on January 2, 2012 but I added new information today in the comments as a result of communications with Vic Maris at Stellarvue.

I like the finderscope Meade includes on the LX200, but my neck and back disagree. Not only disagree, they finally rebelled a couple weeks ago while I was zeroing in on the Pleiades almost directly above my head.

So I ordered the Stellarvue F50-2 9x50mm Deluxe Finder scope from Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT) because it has a diagonal with a rotating back, so you can easily look through the eyepiece, whether your telescope is aimed at objects near the horizon or straight up, simply by loosening the rotator locking screw to adjust the eyepiece to the angle you want. All that stops it from rotating a full 360 degrees is my optical tube.

Support staff at OPT said my current Meade mounting rings will work with the Stellarvue finder. They were right, saving that expense. That doesn't happen often.

Also, the Stellarvue finder comes with a 1.25" 23mm eyepiece with reticle, but no illuminator. You have to buy the illuminator seperately... or not.

I have had a Meade 9mm eyepiece with illuminate reticle for a couple of years, but don't use it much due to its narrow true field of view in my telescope. I was happy to find that its illuminator screwed into the new Stellarvue reticle eyepiece and works perfectly.

So now I have two reticle eyepieces with different powers and fields of view that can share an illuminator. And, because the Stellarvue finder accepts other 1.25" eyepieces, I can use its 23mm reticle eyepiece on my telescope as well.

Here are my "first" impressions based on two nights of observations.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Is it bad karma between Windows 7 Professional and my LX200?

This is a follow-up to my post a couple of weeks ago. I was having problems connecting my HP notebook to my Meade LX200 so I could run AstroPlanner and SkyX Professional software.

Well... not really a "problem".... more than a problem: It just wasn't working. I won't repeat all the steps I took to try to find a solution, but you can read about them here: Problem connecting Meade LX200 to a computer

Since the last post, I received the Keyspan USB serial adapter. It works fine on my old computer running Windows XP. But the new adapter doesn't help my problem with my Windows 7 Professional notebook. Three adapters (Keyspan, Meade, Gigaware); no success.

So far I have eliminated the following possible culprits: bad RS232 port on the telescope; bad RS232 cable, bad or incorrectly wired RS232/Serial adapter; and bad USB serial adapter. I doubt my windows 7 notebook has a bad USB port (I tried all three).

That leaves just one possible reason for the problem: Windows 7 Professional does not like something, whether it is the cables, adapters, or telescope.