First Light with Orion Skyview Pro 6LT EQ Reflector

This is an excerpt of a report posted to the Cloudy Nights Beginner forum:
[edited Dec. 13, 2005: Changed ‘Refractor’ to ‘Reflector’ in title. Oy. I can’t believe I had this titled as a refractor for over a year. How embarrassing.]
Yesterday, a much anticipated set of boxes arrived in my carport. Packed tightly within were all the parts & pieces to an Orion SkyView Pro 6LT. 150 mm aperature, 1200 mm focal length. This is my first telescope and I thought I’d give you impressions of first-contact and then first light.
I’ve lived in Flagstaff, Arizona for ten years. 7000 ft elevation. Dark skies all around. You’d think someone with an interest in astronomy would be crawling all over the opportunities. Well for a variety of reasons I hadn’t. Until the power went out a couple weeks ago, and our normally light polluted side of town went black. As I lay in the middle of the driveway with my family, mesmerized by the unbelievable glow of the Milky Way, I listened to how excited my 7 yr old daughter was to talk and ask questions about it.
The fever set in.
I went into intense research mode, looking for a telescope that would allow us some flexibility for DSOs, planetary, lunar and solar viewing. I originally had been looking at a Celestron Firstscope 114 EQ. But I also happen to be a hobbyist photographer and I’m bound and determined to get my Canon Digital Rebel involved. After reading a few unfavorable comments about the sturdiness of the mount on that telescope, I started looking for something that would give me some hope of expanding into astrophotography. After doing a lot more reading, and glancing warily at my budget, I decided on the SkyView Pro 6LT. I ordered it with the dual drive.
So the package arrived yesterday, and after our Tuesday night meeting, I started putting it together fairly late. I had downloaded the brochure a few days earlier, so I was all primed for the set up. What a beast. Lord is that mount heavy. (SkyView Pro). Same for the tripod. It’s a bit intimidating at first. But I was feeling really good about the impending sturdiness. It was fun pulling out the parts one by one and asking the kids what they thought each one was for and where they thought it would fit next. Getting the slow-mo knobs on there was more of a pain than I thought it would be. I kept thinking, geeze am I gonna break something? But they just needed some good steady pressure.
Balancing was a snap. There was a pretty wide margin for balance on both axes, so I tried to make sure each was in the middle of it’s comfort zone. Collimation looked good, so everything appeared to have survived shipping nicely.
By now, the tension was mounting. It was really late. And I wanted to get it outside for a dry run. At this stage, I only had a good 30-40 minutes of life left in me, so I didn’t bother with polar alignment or the ensuing setting circle calibration. I just popped in the 25 mm eyepiece, pointed it up at the Milky Way and started scanning to see how tight the stars were. And to my untrained eye, they were perfect, brilliant little points. So ‘first light’ was pretty much a la carte.
As I was getting a feel for the control, I caught a glimpse of the Pleiades rising in the east and swung over for a look. They were perfect. It was so strange to see them splayed open like that. I made a mental note to look into purchasing a 40 mm eyepiece and then switched out the 25 mm for a 10 mm and started exploring. I was excited to notice that almost dead center in the cluster although a bit closer to Alcyone and Maia were a couple stars that were very close to each other. I wondered if they might be a binary or if they are just conveniently aligned. So far my limited googling hasn’t enlightened me whether they are.
After taking turns checking out The Sistas with my wife, I decided to try for Andromeda before heading in. I took a bead off Cassiopeia and saw the smudge. So I tilted the scope over and got it lined up satisfyingly fast. (It felt good to be getting the hang of it.) I put the 25 mm eyepiece back in and started embarrassing myself by yapping about how cool it was. I’m not saying I was seeing dust lanes and details in the our brilliantly lit neck of the woods, but there it was. A big fuzzy disk with a nice nucleus filling the view. And off to the side was M110…or is it NGC 205? Just awesome. That was it. I’m happy and I’m hooked.