(In the event that I continue my astronomy hobby in light of recent events, I will be starting a whole new blog completely devoted to my star-gazing activities, which will operate in parallel to this blog. So don't worry if you're getting tired of the spacey posts.)
The extremely complicated telescope is on its way back to the online retailer, because it turned out to be a piece of crap. This is very disappointing, as I did a great deal of online research into the best telescopes to buy and the best way to approach the project of buying a telescope before I took the plunge. It's also disappointing because, as it turns out, shipping a telescope and tripod is very, very expensive. So now I have negative a bunch of money and no telescope.
Among the problems with the apparatus were: (1) the viewfinder mount was improperly installed, and one of the positioning screws didn't move; (2) the azimuthal lock on the tripod was unreliable, so the telescope would go tumbling forward every now and then for no reason and in a very scary manner; (3) the equatorial rotation lock broke, so it was difficult to get the telescope into its "home" position for the purposes of aligning the computer; (4) the motor was supremely unreliable, often not moving when I asked it to, or moving in erratic and useless ways; and (5) the computer couldn't find its ass with both hands, let alone interesting dots in the sky, meaning that I couldn't find anything to look at through the telescope unless I could see it with my own eyes first, rendering the computer completely useless.
I had planned to send the thing back, get a refund, and use the money to buy a more powerful telescope with no pesky computer or automatic controls, but with the cost of shipping we'll have to see how that goes. One thing is for goddamn sure, though. If and when I buy telescope number two, it will be at a brick-and-mortar location within driving distance of where I live.
In lighter news, however, on what turned out to be the telescope's final night in operation I finally managed to get a good look at the Orion Nebula (only because I was able to point the telescope at it with no technological assistance). It was blue and glowy and amorphous and really, really cool.
Further updates will be provided as circumstances warrant.