I have both my 10” f/5 Dobs and 16″ f/4.5 Dobs here in the Kalahari. I began my rambles with only my 10″ because as a travelling telescope, it is just perfect! Not only does it fit onto the back seat of my car, I can also pick it up, set it up and move it with relative ease.
In March 2017, I found a dark sky base for the fabulous winter skies, so I made the 3,000 kilometre round trip back to Hoedspruit in Limpopo to fetch my 16” f/4.5 Dobsonian. I have constructed a portable sun and sand shelter for it (no sand storms or thunder storms during the winter) that takes me about 5 minutes to slide off and have the scope ready.
I can’t imagine life without my telescopes. I love them. The stars are my home. When I look up at the sky I know where I am in a cosmic sense. It’s not just some abstract romantic idea; it’s something very real to me. When I look through my telescope I have a very real sense of voyaging across the infinite space and time that is our home, seeing things more wonderful than one could think possible. (In exactly the same way we all voyaged with Carl Sagan at the helm of his “spaceship of the imagination”.)
There is little more I enjoy in life than sitting out in the dark observing. Some nights it’s as a cosmic tourist, travelling here and there, oohing and aaahing, visiting old friends in far-flung constellations, making new.
But most times I like to be out there observing in the real sense of the word – looking with intent: always looking for a little more… a little more colour in a pair of double stars, a little more detail in a nebula, a few more resolved stars in a globular, a little more of a spiral arm or dust lane in a galaxy, a little more beauty in an open cluster, a little more understanding of what’s going on up there… as all stargazers know, one can observe an object but you don’t really come to appreciate it until you grasp the immensity of what it is that the eye beholds.
Hard-core science at one end. Beauty at the other. And everything in-between. That’s why I love my telescopes.