Non-Messier List to Observe: Update to Mods on XT10

Well, I guess I lied in a way. Its 2:25a.m. MDT or 08:25 UT on 8/4/2011 and I can't sleep. So I decided to add a simple post to the blog tonight. One of the things I do with the blog from time to time is to check the stats at Site Meter and to see what people who come here are looking for. Some of the most common are mods for an Orion XT10 or XT10i and lists beyond the Messier. So I thought I would review some basic mods to do to the XT10.

I'll start with the mods to the XT10. As I've stated here I added a concept called Scope Totes (find them here) that allow me to carry the XT10 tube from my office to wherever I am going to use it really easily. No more straining the tube for me. You can see it in the picture I included below. I've noticed on Cloudy Nights that some people have found a hardware solution called Strap a Handle for Scope Totes that cost about $10.00 to $20.00 and work just fine. Here is a link to Strap a Handle. I'm still glad I purchased the Scope Totes though but that is just me.

Another modification I made was to buy from The Astronomy Shoppe is their Scope Grips product located here. Some have made their own who have the materials and the machinery to do it, but they replace the spring tension system with a know system that for me, allows me more control over my altitude tension. A major improvement overall for me and one I recommend. Just like other such knobs though, mine will sometimes work lose during a period of observing, so I check them once or twice to keep the tension where I want it.

I also use some counterweights on my XT10. My first counterweights are simple ceramic magnets I got from Lowes and encased in black electrical tape so they wouldn't scratch up the tube. I found they weren't quite enough with some of my heavier eyepieces so I got this magnet holder from Harbor Freight. I put felt on the bottom so not to scratch up the tube and this was an easy counterweight that resolved any altitude balance issues for me. However, this won't work for the XT10i since the magnet will interfere with the intelliscope functions. For this you could add a simple $29.00 mounting rail from Scopestuff and the counterweight you needed. I'll be doing this with my XX14i after I get the Zambuto mirror in it that will weight about 6 to 7lbs less in it (I may first just try to find heavier counterweights to add to the back/replace the current weights in the back, we'll see). If you scroll down in this link you'll see a simple rail system that AdeyG installed on his own using parts from a hardware store. Rather simple solution in my book.

The next mod I did was the Milk Jug washers for the secondary and in the case of the XT10 Classic on the base. Here is a post with a template for the Milk Jug Washers on my blog for th secondary mirror. Works great with Bob's Knobs or any other type of knob system for collimation. Next, I used the same template and put several washers (3 or 4 if I remember right) but you'll have to play with yours on the base to improve the azimuth motion. I got mine to wobble just a bit and for more information on this please visit this fine article on motions for an XT10 Classic. Ebony Star laminate works well for azmuith motions also as do several other products. I also installed a cooling fan on mine.

There are other mods to make to an XT10 Classic but the basic design is such that you can do this with this scope. Go for it but I am not responsible for any modifications you make that mess up your scope. The decision is yours and yours alone to do mods. Again, if you've been around, you've seen images of my XT10 but here it is with these mods.

Non-Messier Objects to view.

My next add are two lists that someone who is done with the Messier list or done for a season can turn to in order to expand what they are viewing. The first list is from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and is their Finest NGC Objects by season. Here is the link. You can get a finder chart for these objects by entering their designation over at Messier 45 which is at this link.

Another great list is the 110 Best of the NGC by SAC. Simply look for the constellations that are up and then go to work. Here is the list sorted by constellation: link. SAC has a book you can download and they do request a small payment for doing so. Here is one link to their book that includes Telrad maps and here is the other link right to the SAC page. Hopefully one works for you. I hope that gives some people some other objects to take a look at.

NGC 7027 a Planetary Nebula in its earliest stages of development on these lists in Cygnus. One worth checking out since it is a very bright PN.

Again, not sure if or when I'll post again but I am going to go and try and get some sleep now. I hope you may have clear skies wherever you are.