Drifter Alpha Short Takes

Here in Western Oregon we are in the cloudy part of the year when observing sessions are few and far between. This gives rise to arguably the world's most innovative telescope making scene, but also makes it hard to test prototypes. Still, I've had a few great sessions that taught me a lot.

#1 Dew-Session

One session at Eagle Ridge featured a lot of dew. So much so that I was unwilling to keep attacking the scope with the 12V hair dryer for three hours in order to wait for the Drifter's very first view of M42. I wanted to test the scope without the built-in dew heaters to verify that YES! It is incredibly annoying to keep two secondaries, two tertiaries, and a dozen eyepieces free of dew for any length of time. Binocular telescopes present an extra dew management burden so the Drifter is designed to handle it.

#2 Girl Scouts

The Eugene Astronomical Society hosted an observing session with half a dozen scopes for the local Girl Scouts chapter. We set up the scopes for half an hour, and within 30 seconds the entire sky clouded over. Occasional sucker holes presented themselves for brief glimpses of the moon. About 10 Girl Scouts looked through the Drifter and all were able to merge the 34mm eyepieces fine. This further confirms the fact that minimum pupillary distance of the scope is not the hard limit on successful merging for individuals with small PD. The girls had a good time and I earned an honorary badge.

#3 The Great Orion Nebula

The following observing session provided the Drifter's first view of M42. I spent probably an hour looking at it at various magnification levels. Overall, detail in nebulosity was somewhat more pronounced than the 12.5" monoscope in attendance. The 34mm eyepieces provided a view of the entire sword of Orion with this much nebulosity. This was the first object that benefited from the use of a filtered view in one eye and an unfiltered view in the other. The NPB filter enhanced nebulosity while the unfiltered view provided the stars.

Throughout the night, experienced observers in attendance returned multiple times for extra peeks with both eyes.

Another great area of the sky for the 34mm was Auriga--drifting around the constellation makes discovering the various open clusters feel like a walk through a garden.

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