visit to Harpoint Observatory
Robert Schäfer, with whom I traveled to the `91 eclipse in Hawaii, has built a fine 50cm telescope and observatory together with his friends Andreas and Christian Kreutzer. This september I had the opportunity to spend a weekend at the observatory.
When I arrived in Harpoint I was astounded about the darkness of the sky, in Vorarlberg (the province where I live in Austria), the population density is much bigger, so the night sky is lit up with stray light from the ground. In the whole village maybe 5 light-bulbs were visible. There was NO street lighting. As a result the Milky way was nicely visible down to the horizon. I used the time until the others arrived to do some binocular observing with my 15x50 CZJ Pentekarem.
When the others arrived, we could start observing right away, because Christian had switched the AC on for the observatory. No cooldown-time delay here!
The telescope is a 50cm Ritchey-Chretien on a so-called New-Austrian-Mount designed by the late Rudolf Pressberger, you can find detailed descriptions of the telescope at the observatory´s website: http://www.harpoint-observatory.com.
Observing with the 50cm scope was a great experience. Since the telescope is primarily used for imaging, There weren´t too many eyepieces available, but a selection of a 12mm T2 and a 20mm T2 Nagler, a 30mm Vixen AV and a 40mm Televue Widefield were definitely good enough for me! (Very impressive pieces of metal and glass, all of them!). With a focal length of 4000mm a 40mm eyepiece gives you 100x, that´s the minimum magnification! Since the mount has a very precise Goto-System, the telescope doesn´t even have a finder scope. Due to the fact that the scope wasn´t properly balanced in declination this evening (about 5kg excess counterweight at the focuser) on some long slews (say from M13 to M8 the target object was sometimes out of the field of view (@ 100x!!), but easily found with a little scanning.
Objects we observed that night included: M13, M57, M27, The Blinking Planetary, M16, M8, NGC281, M33, The Veil Nebula, Cat´s Eye nebula, Saturn, Moon. The view was very impressive and ease of use of the big scope very evident.
This image of M57 is a stack of two images with 38 and 32 seconds exposure time.
This is the result of a single 50sec. exposure of M27.
a very nice image of the Cat´s eye nebula was done with the Hubble Space Telescope