Had some more friends over who were kind enough to be interested in the telescope, at least for 20 minutes in the freezing cold. Everyone likes seeing Jupiter even at 48x; you can see the disc, the clouds, and the moons are an exciting bonus. The Orion nebula also works pretty well if it’s clear, the wispy light looks different and alien. The Pleiades seem less impressive, I think because they don’t fit in the viewfinder.
I looked at both the Orion nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy in my cheap binoculars. They look great! The Orion nebula may be more impressive in the binocs than the scope, and while Andromeda still looks like a grey smear to me at least I can see the shape. Also much easier to find in the binocs than with my crappy reflex sight finder doodad.
We looked at Jupiter last night right during a GRS transit and couldn’t see it. I may have seen a circular hole in the southern cloud band, or maybe it was wishful thinking, but nothing red or pink at 48x, 96x, or 160x.
Ordered more gear. A cheap green laser pointer and an Orion SteadyPix Deluxe Camera Mount. The latter is a cheap way to try to take some pictures through the scope; it clamps around the focusser tube and then has a tripod thread. You’re taking pictures through both the camera lens and the eyepiece; not ideal, but expedient. I particularly like how the mount will swing the camera out of the way so it’s easy to look through the eyepiece yourself. I originally was trying to mate my DSLR back directly to the focusser tube but apparently that’s not easy with the 8″ reflector / dobsonian I have, because you can’t get the camera back close enough to focus without extra gear. Also trying to do any sort of astrophotography without a tracking mount is probably hopeless, I just wanted to fool around without making a serious investment.