User: Steve, USA

Panther made an impression last night

My setup is the Panther holding a Takahashi TSA-120 setup strictly for visual observing.  I have the cabling for the mount power, cable from SkyFi to PC port, and power cable for the dew heater controller all wrapped in cable wrap so it looks pretty clean (and I’m not fighting cables).

I’ve done many of our club “public outreach nights” where we provide views to the public at a local state park that’s also an IDA site.  There’s often between 100 to 400 members of the public wanting to take a peek through scopes after the rangers give their talks, so it tends to be quite busy and often the viewer’s first time looking through a scope.

Last night was different, I went to our club “public night” at a local county park.  While we had some members of the public, there were more observers from the club than from the public.  So many of the people wandering were quite experienced.  Many were as interested in looking AT the scopes and mounts and associated gear as they were in looking THROUGH the scopes.

Steve's full TTS-160 Panther Telescope Mount Setup

Given the different audiences, here are some of the impressions of the Panther that I noticed or were shared with me…

  • That is an engineering work of art!” exclaimed one guy just staring at the Panther.
  • One experienced observer had never seen it before (not many have) and asked how it is controlled.  I showed him the Handpad and a 5-second explanation of how the controls work.  He was touring the terminator of the moon without assistance for a while.  He found it quite easy to use.
  • This “public night” started at 7:30, while the sun didn’t set until after 8:30.  I was able to do a one-star alignment on the moon and have it tracking the moon, showing people views of the moon before the sun had even set!  I don’t like aligning on the moon because I much prefer a point source where I can be sure it is centered when I’m aligning.  With a crescent moon, I just approximate it.  But it was close enough where I periodically just had to re-center Theophilus.  This provided views while many others were still setting up or waiting for it to get dark enough that they could align their mounts.
  • A few experienced observers were very curious about how steady the mount is.  Some seeing how much the mount would move if they tried to wiggle it (gently).  One even repeatedly tapped the diagonal as he was observing.  All were impressed with the robustness of the mount.
  • I set up my Panther with two extension piers, so it looks quite tall.  This also makes it easy for all but the smaller ones to view without any contortions.  For the smaller ones, I have them sit or kneel on my adjustable observing chair while I steady the base and their adult supports them.

My wife said the only thing missing was someone bringing me a drink!  That video really leaves an impression.  🙂


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