My whole life I've always had a keen interest in astronomy and owning a proper telescope has always been a desire of mine. Living under the harsh, light polluted skies of Auckland city would prove to be a strong dissuading factor whenever the thought would enter to my mind to commit to a purchase - make no mention of the exorbitant price tags that prevail in the realm of high quality optics. Moving back to the Northland earlier this year finally presented a prime opportunity to follow through as it has some of the darkest night sky you'll find anywhere. I purchased what is effectively an astrophotography beginners package consisting of an Orion ED80T refractor telescope, an Orion Skyview Pro equatorial mount, a myriad of accessories (see complete listing of equipment here) and thusly the journey began.

Being my first telescope I put aside all the photography kit and just focused on visual observation to begin with. The scope and mount were easy enough to setup and use, if a little fidgety. I spent most of my observational time looking at various clusters and planets. Saturn was visible at the time and I was able to resolve its rings quite clearly. Deep sky objects such as galaxies and nebulae were mostly too dim to observe due to the scopes relatively small aperture of 80mm although the brightest DSOs still showed good detail through a 20mm eyepiece.

Through these initial visual-only sessions I would constantly have a problem with GoTo accuracy. I'd tell the scope to slew to a target only to find the object no where in the field of view (using a 20mm eyepiece, my widest available), forcing me to manually slew around nearby space with the hand controller to find it. Part of this problem would be the lack of a reticulated eyepiece making it difficult to center stars accurately during GoTo alignment, but the primary cause would be my first major obstacle: inaccurate polar alignment.