Whirlpool Galaxy at some 17 million light years from Earth) was the first
galaxy that I had ever seen for myself beyond the Milky Way.
is this: My brand new LX200GPS
14” f/10 telescope broke. It was getting worse each day over the
6 weeks or so that we had owned it. Two days ago my wife and I threw
caution to the wind, voiding our warrantee, and fixed the thing ourselves.
In a 5 hour electrical/mechanical surgical procedure on the telescope,
we installed “Buc’s Gears from Peterson Engineering” instead of shipping the
whole thing back to
for a month for Meade to fix it. The resulting repairs provided so much
accuracy that not only was I able to find the Whirlpool Galaxy, but I was
able to photograph it for over 3 hours with no manual tracking adjustments.
To me this meant that our repairs had worked beyond our wildest belief.
took a few shots of M3 with a new CCD
camera, I thought that I would try finding my first galaxy. I used
my computerized GOTO to move to a stepping stone star, Alkaid. After
syncing-up I slewed to M51. Nothing was visible with the naked eye,
nor in the finder scopes. So I looked for a while through the main telescope at 100x before I upped the magnification to 210x. I did
slow spiral visual searches around the area where M51 was supposed to be, but I could
see nothing. It was about midnight, so I did one more computerized GOTO
to a black area of the sky (the coordinates of M51) and took a picture at
30 seconds, just to see if anything was there before going to bed. To
my utter amazement there was M51 dead center on the imaging chip. I
was able to find and photograph a Messier object that I could not see visually even
through high power magnification of the telescope. Then I stayed there
to 3:15am playing with the camera. I may never find it again (maybe
it was just my lucky day), so I took 10 pictures at differing exposures and
almost like seeing into heaven.