Over Labor Day weekend I brought the OneSky along on a family camping trip to the green zone skies of Northern VT. Thanks to the late rising third quarter moon I had lots of time under dark skies gawking at an overwhelming number of stars. It had been a little while since I’ve used the OneSky and I was reminded just how great a scope it is.
Some highlights of the two nights were seeing the Andromeda galaxy stretching beyond the OneSky’s 2.5º max field of view, the Double Cluster, and the brightest, most detailed view of M81 / M82 I’ve had yet. Not to mention the star clouds of the Milky Way arcing across the sky.
Returning home I was disappointed to see my skies appearing gray and washed out but I am slowly becoming re-accustomed to my suburban backyard view of the heavens. I’ve heard of other enthusiasts who only or primarily observe from a dark site and I can certainly see the appeal. The Moon and planets excepted, pretty much every object shows a brighter, more detailed view under a darker sky.
Still, I plan to pursue enjoyment in viewing from wherever I can. At the very least it’s good practice – keeping me mindful of the constellations’ current positions, star hopping to new and familiar targets, and rehearsing the dance of working with the telescope – it all helps me to make the most of the brief opportunities I do get to view under darker skies.
And while this rationale may help to steel myself against the temptation to accept a memory of magnificent skies as a replacement for viewing from my backyard, once outside it doesn’t take long before I am enjoying the views through the eyepiece on their own terms.
Original content copyright 2015 by David Philips. All Rights Reserved. This post may contain links to affiliate sites; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
My OneSky travelscope in action. This photo was taken before adding the shroud described below.
The surest way to improve any telescope’s performance is to get it out under a darker sky. Living in suburban Massachusetts I’d have to drive significant distances to get to skies much darker than the one available from my red zone backyard. The darkest skies I regularly encounter are on family trips to rural areas.
Of course trying to fit a telescope into a car already packed with the whole family and all the associated cargo can be a challenge. Thus begins the search for a more portable telescope or travelscope. To my thinking a travelscope can be any telescope setup that prioritizes volume and/or weight over other concerns such as aperture or mount stability. Every one has their own circumstances and priorities and so travelscopes can look quite different from observer to observer.
As I mentioned in the general review of the AWB OneSky Telescope, my intent when buying the OneSky was to use it primarily as a travelscope. The OneSky appealed to me for its packed aperture to volume ratio and ease of setup.
Finder chart showing Comet Lovejoy’s position on March 8, 2015. Courtesy of Heavens-Above.com
Comet Lovejoy (official designation, C/2014 Q2) is hanging around longer than anticipated but even so my last views of the comet seem sure to come sometime this week. I was out tonight viewing the comet, which has faded to around magnitude 6, and while I could spot it in 8×40 binoculars it took much more effort than it did two weeks ago.
Not only is the brightness fading but its position is becoming less favorable. Cassiopeia is sinking ever lower in the Northern sky putting the comet down in the proverbial atmospheric muck. What’s more is that my backyard isn’t ideal for observing in this direction. I have trees back there. Still, this is one instance where the switch to EDT actually helps, giving me an extra hour to get home and have a shot at observing the comet before it drops below the tree line.
A well designed, compact 5″ telescope and mount for $200? It may sound too good to be true but despite a few caveats this 130mm f/5 reflector is a capable telescope at an outstanding price.
Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) is an organization that offers astronomy outreach programs all over the world. The OneSky telescope is made for Celestron in China and sold in the US by AWB to help fund these programs. My intent in purchasing the OneSky was for use as a travelscope but for now I want to focus on its suitability as a general use telescope.