Now with the eclipse excitement settling down it’s time to return to the night time world! Back at Orion’s Belt for the holiday weekend we have arrived at a critical point in the installation process for the newly acquired 16″ telescope. Time for optical testing which means we have to take an image! I guess technically it’s sort of a first light but I don’t really count it as such because it’s just star testing. However it is kind of a big deal because if we take this image and the stars are totally jacked up either we have to start collimation from scratch which means we have to buy more collimating equipment or in the worst case scenario there is an optical problem which needs repair! After all the scope is shipped from overseas. Who knows what could have happened. There is also the issue of focus, if it can be reached at a point somewhere in the middle of the focuser travel so we can do automated focusing. There are no “spacers” with this system. We had to get the right adaptor with just the right amount of backfocus. Hopefully we did the math right!
To get to this point it took the last 2 months slogging through the installation of the accessory equipment on the scope: the focuser, control system etc. You can see the blow by blow narrative in this page. I think overall it really went fine. Yes there were some issues but with this kind of stuff how can there not be? Mostly I was very anxious and apprehensive due to the huge expense of this equipment, every step of the way worrying about something breaking or malfunctioning. But thankfully no disasters yet and I got through it and learned a bunch in the process!
Looks more like a NASA space probe than a telescope, but then again we are able to “travel” to the far reaches of the Universe with it!
So now the first ever image taken with the RiDK 16″:
What we see are defocused star images but still pretty round all the way from side to side. Yay! We probably don’t have to send it back! The 2 lines in the image are called “column defects” and are present in the ccd sensor. These do occur with the standard “class 2” ccd sensors (class 1 sensors with no defects are generally used for research). The column defects do process out pretty easily with dark frames
Next we rack out the focuser to close to focus position and see it does lie somewhere in the middle of the focus travel.
Conclusion so far anyway is that 1) We are close to decent collimation and 2) We can reach focus pretty easily with room in front and behind. That is a huge relief! Now onward and upward!
Thanks for reading!