So I got the telescope from my Uncle Chris, and practiced setting it up in the living room on Thursday night. Uncle Chris also sent a bunch of accessories I don’t need to buy now – a skyglow filter, a tele-extender for eyepiece projection into my camera, and most importantly, a f/6.3 focal reducer! The effect of the focal reducer is twofold: it reduces the effective f/ratio of the telescope, which will allow me to take shorter exposures and get the same amount of light as longer ones (on top of the higher light-gathering power that an additional 3 inches of aperture gets me now), and will also increase the field of view, which will be especially great for the Moon, the Orion Nebula, and other large objects.
So my friend Jared and I took it out to the state park, I figured out how to align and polar align it, and then I aimed it at the Orion Nebula. With just a single 5-second image, I got a decent amount of light! But the stars were kind of oddly shaped, so I tried collimating it. I couldn't quite figure out how to do it, so I didn’t get any more images that night. Also, the moon was almost full, and high in the sky. But look at that FOV!
First light on my new 11-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain!
M42 Orion Nebula, 5s, ISO-3200
Let’s hope another clear night comes soon now!
[Okay I know this is really underwhelming...keep reading!]