ASV's Star-be-cue and some lubrication

Last month I went to the ASV’s Star-be-cue. The weather didn’t really play the game, and for most of the evening we were dodging clouds. But star parties are mostly social occasions, and a chance to meet up with other astronomers. They're also a good opportunity to see other people’s equipment and how they use it.

While I was there, I got talking with a couple of people with a saxon Novo 909AZ3. They were watching M42 - the Great Nebula in Orion. Nearby, another group of people were also on M42 but through a saxon 8” Dobsonian. I had a saxon Hyperion 1021EQ3, so it was a great opportunity to compare scopes.

The 909 and the 1021 produced very similar images. Although M42 was visible, it wasn’t very extensive. However, because these are both refractor telescopes, the “trapezium”, those four baby stars in the middle were sharp and bright, clearly separated from each other.

The Dob gave a very different view. M42 was wide and very distinct. You could see wisps of it extending on both sides. The trapezium was there too, but it wasn’t as crisp as the refractors had shown it. Mirrors are never quite as sharp. Overall, for me, the Dobsonian did give a better view (even though I'm a refractor guy), although the scope wouldn’t have fit in my VW Polo. That's the disadvantage of Dobs – they’re big and bulky.

Both owners were pleased with their scopes though, and had a good time comparing. It’s a pity we didn't see more.

One of the things that I did notice about the 909AZ3 though, was that there was no lubrication on the thread on the slow-motion controls. These are the screws that move the mount up and down and left and right when you turn the slow-motion controls. You can see the threads in the photos.

My advice would be to go to a bike shop and get some lithium grease. Just smear a tiny bit on your finger and apply it to the thread. Then wind the controls up and down a few times to spread the grease around. This should make the slow-motion controls feel a lot smoother.