First Serious Star-Hop

The trip to Fahnestock was a good excuse to repair my new 12.5″ f/5 Portaball telescope.  I had had a search going on eBay for three years and received it pretty damaged last fall. Repairs included masking off the spalled sections of the mirror and resetting the counterweight with epoxy.

Credit: Howard Fink
Observing station with 12.5” Portaball

I am a longtime Go-To guy, starting with a Meade ETX-125 in 1999. This recent session was my first serious star hop and the Portaball telescope was all I had hoped for. I used Pennington’s Messier Marathon Field Guide for the charts.  An 8″ x 10″ 3X acrylic magnifier let me read the charts, bookmark them, and then look through the eyepiece without using glasses.  The magnifier frosted over by 10pm, but was usable again at 1am.

Messier catalog objects 1,13, 41-45, 51, 57, 81, 82, 92, and 104.

I was certain of locating and observing them, returning to most several times during the night.  A dozen Virgo cluster galaxies were observed but not identified.  I have never seen M42 so wide and detailed, and M43 was obvious.  I searched for the E and F stars of the Trapezium at 160x but was unable to see them.