First Light for a homemade telescope

Tube assembly quickly mounted for first light viewing.

A new telescope under the stars

6 Feb, 2003

I temporarily fitted the tube into the tube box, then into the cradle, and took the whole thing outside. It was minus 30 degrees Celsius or colder, but I gave it a shot. Aiming crudely, I found Polaris. The image was boiling, and I realized the scope needed to cool down. I went back inside, then back out again about 30 minutes later. This time, Polaris jumped into crisp view in the eyepiece. It’s a 20mm Plossl, so magnification is not that great. I estimate 57x.

Without a finder it was very hard to aim the scope, but I did manage to find Saturn above the house next door. Orion was not yet in view. Saturn was a crisp, clear disk with rings. I could see the spaces between the disk and the rings themselves. Remarkably bright and clear. No real sign of detail in the rings, though a hint of it in the disk itself. I think with greater magnification, and perhaps a filter to take away some of the brightness, I’ll see great detail on Saturn.

The Pleiades was a beautiful sight.

Before coming inside, I turned the scope toward the. Again, hard to point and aim, but I eventually found it. Absolutely stunning. Just a sea of perfectly crisp, bright stars. Little asterisms through the whole thing. I’ll have to read up about it all. One thin chain seamed to wind away off the top of the field of view (which means to the south). The entire cluster would not fit inside the field of view.

I find the wide exit pupil of the eyepiece just a bit too much. I couldn’t take it all in. Something smaller would have probably been better for me. But still, and all in all, I am very happy with First Light with this scope. It seems perfectly put together and to be working like a charm.

First purchase after completion? A finder scope… Telrad or Rigel Quickfinder. Definitely need something. Or perhaps just rig something myself. I’ll check my parts and see what I’ve got.


Before coming in, I turned the scope toward Orion.

I have left the scope outside. I am going to go out later after Orion has risen. I want to take a look at The Great Nebula.


Took a good look at the sword of Orion, and The Great Nebula. Wow, it was stunning. The trapezium was immediately apparent. I’ve never resolved it into four stars before. Quite amazing. Anyway, it got a bit cold, so I took the scope in. All in all, a wonderful First Light for my new scope. I’ve very happy with its performance, very satisfied with how it turned out. My next step is to paint everything and finish it off properly. Will try to get that done this weekend so that I can show off the finished product.