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" Expanding My Observing Horizons"
Two of the features of my new C-8 were an electric drive and driven setting circles. The electric drive moved the scope at the sidereal rate, which meant that once an object was centered in the eyepiece, you didn't have to keep manually moving the scope to keep it centered.
The setting circle for right ascension was also "driven", meaning that it was connected to the drive with a clutch that allowed the circle to be moved independent of the drive. To "set" the circle for an observing session, all you had to do was manually move the scope to a known object, engage the right ascension clutch to engage the drive, and then "set" the circle to the RA coordinates of the known object. You could then "dial" to the next object by manually moving the scope until the proper RA coordinates were indicated, and then re-engage the RA clutch. The new object would probably be in the field of view. This opened up a whole new way to find faint objects, in addition to the optical finder scope and "star hopping".
Observing at a club dark sky site, circa 1988
With these new capabilities, I began to try to observe types of objects that I had never attempted with my old scope: Faint star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies that fall under the general term DEEP SKY OBJECTS. I also began to spend more time observing from darker skies than my suburban patio. Our club had access to a number of dark-sky sites where they held star parties. A number of us started going to these darker sites more often to pursue our interest in the fainter deep sky treasures.
About this time I purchased a set of books that was to have a huge impact on my astronomical observing. It was a three volume set called THE CELESTIAL HAND
BOOK by Robert Burnham. This was at the opposite end of the scale from my trusty old FIELD BOOK OF THE SKIES by Olcott. It was an exhaustive compendium of deep sky objects arranged by constellation, with detailed descriptions of each object as well as its celestial coordinates. This book and my C-8's setting circles, widened my search for objects.
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