For almost ten years, I have dreamed of buying a really fine amateur telescope. Well, longer, actually. Almost all of my life. But the last ten years have been a final ensemble of desire which was finally consumated this week. Happy Valentine star-crossed star-gazing lover of the heavens.
Yes. I finally bought one. A very good one. Not super astronomer professional, mind you, but professional amateur. Yes. It is beautiful. I put it together yesterday afternoon and evening. This morning I took it out and gazed at the view across the south California canyon beyond the back yard. Looked at a tree on Mount Soledad, twelve miles west northwest. Stared down into the shopping carts of shoppers coming out of the big warehouse outlet, down in freeway valley (that big canyon outside the back yard).
It has been a long time coming. Every since moving here ten years ago this coming summer, I have dreamt of getting a really fine machine to stargaze and moongaze and planet-gaze with. Just small enough to take apart and carry in the car, out to the desert or mountains, but big enough to do some serious gazing. All put together, it weights almost seventy pounds.
Twenty-four years ago I bought a used job, only weighed about thirty pounds, and was originally sold at Sears Roebuck, I think it was. Bought it from a guy in one of the offices where I was working at the time. He eventually went mad, a year or three after I left there. A couple years later I let the old ‘scope go, shortly before I moved to Tijuana in 1999.
I have often thought I should have kept it.
I have always been a stargazer. For years I have studied, and known the greater landmarks of heaven — at least those in the northern hemisphere. You know them. The usual suspects. The Bear (dipper). Cassiopeia. Orion. Big Dog. Little Dog. Scorpio. Taurus. Pegasus the square. Andromeda. The summer triangle. And others. Only once, in Hawaii, when I had just graduated from high school and the family went there for vacation, only once in my life have I seen the Southern Cross.
When I was twelve and thirteen, I had a rather simple reflector. It was simply mounted on three wooden legs. No mechanism. Only one eyepiece. Very cheap, but tempting. I could just barely pick out the bands on Jupiter, the teeny tiny giant rings on Saturn, and the mountains of the Moon.
At least the telescope I bought twenty years later, at work, was mounted on a real tripod with a real mount with real equatorial workings. But I always kind of thought I had cheated myself again, by taking the cheaper route. That very day it was offered to me, I had gone to a telescope store in Horton Plaza shopping center during my lunch hour, and mentioned that fact after I came back to work. Wham bam thank you ma’am I was offered a much more economical outfit.
Not this time. I have been thinking about it, as I said, pretty much ever since I moved in here. The last year the desire has gotten bigger and bigger in my heart. I researched and day-dreamed. Day-dreamed and researched. Came to a decision as to what I would want — a powerful refractor. Sunday night I bought it on-line from a shop nearby in south California. Monday they shipped it. Yesterday (Tuesday) it arrived.
UPS brown truck.
Now it sits, waiting for sunset.
Supposedly it will be clear tonight.
The rain starts tomorrow. And the next day.
Well, that’s the news.