Sky & Telescope - June 2020 - 32

S&T Test Report

I needed "both hands on the wheel" to
reduce any jerky azimuth motion.
There's another zenith issue to
consider. The balance point for the OTA
makes observing straight up potentially
problematic. The tube's bottom end
barely clears the base of the rocker box
when the tube is balanced to support
a lightweight eyepiece. But if you add
an optical finderscope or heavy ocular (certainly if you add both), you'll
have to rebalance the OTA downward
to compensate for the extra front-end
weight, or else risk the scope slowly
slipping in altitude when aiming at low
objects. Unfortunately, any amount of
downward shift will result in the tube's
bottom end hitting the rocker box when
aiming high overhead.

Lots of Exploring
Most of my observing with the FirstLight took place in my suburban yard
- latitude 49.2°. Although Jupiter
and Saturn, temporarily stuck in the
lowest point of the zodiac, crested a
mere 20° above my south horizon, the
scope delivered pleasing views of them
at 135× to 175×. Examining Jupiter
one especially calm June night, I noted
several dark belts, plus two dusky
festoons stretching diagonally across
the planet's pale Equatorial Zone. The

Great Red Spot was obvious despite its
diminished size. Saturn was superb.
Each ansae in the nearly wide-open
ring system was cut by the dark thread
of Cassini's Division. Saturn's oblate
disc exhibited subtle shading in its
northern hemisphere.
The Moon was a wonderland of
detail. Surveying the lunar crescent
at 50× with the 25-mm SuperPlössl,
I couldn't miss the coal-black craterlets in Mare Crisium. At first quarter,
doubling the magnification allowed
me to trace several fine rilles in the
Triesnecker region. Two nights later, I
had no trouble spotting the sequence
of large-to-small craterlets on the floor
of my favorite crater, Clavius. The
stepped terraces along the inner walls
of Copernicus and Tycho were crisply
delineated. A few evenings ahead of full
Moon, Aristarchus gleamed at 200×.
I detected the tortured terrain in the
adjacent Schrೌter's Valley, plus the
nearby volcanic pimples known as the
Marius Hills. No budding lunaphile will
be disappointed with the appearance of
the Moon in this telescope.
Stepping out from the solar system,
the FirstLight performed well on a variety of double stars. Operating at between
125× and 150×, the scope easily split the
showcase binaries Castor in Gemini,

p Be careful when placing the OTA in the rocker box - the bearings
merely rest on pads located on top of the box's curved upper surface.
Care must also be taken when rotating or sliding the telescope tube
within the tube rings or else the tube can become dislodged from the
rocker box.

32

JUNE 2 02 0 * SK Y & TELESCOPE

Algieba in Leo, Porrima in Virgo, Almach
in Andromeda, and the Double-Double
in Lyra. I enjoyed resolving unequal
tandems, such as Izar in Bೌotes, Rasalgethi in Hercules, Delta Serpentis, and
Kappa Geminorum. Albireo in Cygnus
and 24 Comae Berenices both displayed
colors that were particularly vivid.
Globular cluster M13 in Hercules was
surprisingly bright and partly resolved
at 50×; at 135× it was immensely
satisfying. The Ring Nebula, M57, in
Lyra, was a delightful donut at high
power. The Dumbbell Nebula, M27, in
Vulpecula, resembled a fuzzy apple core,
then morphed to appear as a diffuse,
semi-transparent "planet" when spied
through a UHC narrowband filter.
When away from city lights, I
enjoyed low-power sweeps of the
Milky Way through the scope. The
Veil Nebula in Cygnus was amazingly
distinct with the aid of a UHC filter. At
135×, again filtered, the scope captured
the faint and fragile Crescent Nebula
(NGC 6888), also in Cygnus. Due to
its modest field of view, the SuperPlೌssl
couldn't quite frame the entire Pleiades
Cluster, but the 25-mm ocular showed
the little red and blue double star inside
the gorgeous group. The field-spanning
Andromeda Galaxy boasted parallel
dust lanes and two companion galaxies.

p Two plastic lateral guides, one affixed to the interior of each altitude
bearing, fit inside the curved part of the rocker and slide against it as the
scope is aimed higher or lower. The lateral guides on the author's test unit
arrived too tight; loosening them allowed the bearings to fit properly and
slide more freely. Note the Teflon pad (one of two) under the bearing. The
textured metal strip lining the bearing provides smooth motion.



Sky & Telescope - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sky & Telescope - June 2020

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