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  1. M106
    Latest Entry

    i have been waiting for tonight all week, clear skies predicted and virtually no moon, slept all day so i could stay up all night, only to wake to cloud and clearskies changed from green to orange, and red for the rest of the week

    :crybaby2:

    and my pentax adapter just arrived too. sigh...

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    Recent Entries

    Chris’s Backyard Astronomy.  January 2017.

     

    A view beyond Earth’s lifetime

     

    Happy New Year to everyone.  This month I am going to concentrate upon one topic only; something that came to my attention at New Year.  The item in question is described as a QUASAR and makes a year in my life appear extremely insignificant.

     

    Eyewitness report:

     

    “Almost Older Than Time. Would we be able to see it?

     

    On Monday the 2nd of January we gathered in Chris's back garden observatory to spot a tiny pinprick of light that had been travelling 8 billion years, yes that's right 8 BILLION YEARS to reach us!

    Chris had done his homework, mapped out its position and identified a few pointer stars to help us in our search. The bright moon and lovely Venus stayed handily behind the house so a reasonably dark, clear sky helped us in our search.

    Our luck was in, the pointer stars in the shape of a triangle were in the (telescope) field of view and using averted vision I spotted our faint target, impossible to grasp the enormous distance through space and time the photons from this QUASAR had travelled. Once spotted it was easier to see it again as we all took turns to look at this black hole in action; a successful night, thanks Chris.”

    Susan Feist

     

    Quasi Stellar Radio Sources (QUASAR)

     

    The name was adopted originally because such objects were first observed by ‘seeing’ their radio waves and so they were assumed to be stars.  Remember, telescopes are not just available to see things with your own eyes but some are capable of detecting lots of other forms of energy.  The Jodrell Bank telescope near Manchester for example was once the greatest radio telescopes in the world.

     

    Jodrell_Bank_Observatory_MMB_11.jpg

     

    Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope: Image credit mattbuck

     

    Up until the 1960s a multitude of radio wave sources out in the sky were listed and catalogued.  Critical to identifying these objects were to accurately log their precise position and then try and get identification too with a powerful visual telescope.  This proved possible in some cases and as a bonus it was possible to catch the light and determine the spectrum of the object (see my previous column).  Once you have the spectrum you can find out a lot of important information.

     

    However, visual recognition and thus scientific interpretation of some of these QUASARs eluded astronomers.

     

    3C 48

     

    I quote a lot of numbers and acronyms but really it’s not that complicated. QUASAR 3C 48 was the 48th entry in the 3rd Cambridge catalogue of radio sources.  In 1960, using a huge 200 inch telescope, astronomers Sandage, Matthews and Bolton finally pinned this particular radio source to a 16th Magnitude star.

     

    P200_Dome_Open.jpg

     

    Mount Palomar 200-inch telescope. Image credit: Coneslayer at English Wikipedia

     

    A refresher on magnitude

     

    Remember, the magnitude scale works counter-intuitively in reverse. Each step is a change of about 2.5 times in brightness.  For example, to us the full Moon looks about 60,000 times brighter than the bright star Vega. On the other extreme QUASAR 3C 48 is about 10,000 times DIMMER than the dimmest star we can see with the naked eye!

     

    Object

    Magnitude

    Brightness we see on Earth

    The Sun

    - 26

    Midday Sun

    Full Moon

    - 12

    Moonlit sky

    Venus (now)

    - 4

    Bright evening ‘star’ (now)

    Jupiter

    - 2

    Yellowish star like

    Vega (bright star)

    0

    5th brightest star in the sky

    Yildun

    + 4.5

    Star just visible with your eye

    Neptune

    + 8

    Farthest planet appearing reasonably bright in a 10 inch ‘scope

    3C 48 QUASAR

    + 16

    At the limit of a very large amateur ‘scope

     

    Capturing the light from the QUASAR to enable a spectrum to be examined was some feat in those days but they did so.  Sandage though was quoted describing the spectrum as “exceedingly weird”.  What followed was a 3-year period of doubt and false reasoning because the spectrum just could not be interpreted within the range of known objects.

     

    In 1963 two other scientists, Schmidt and Greenstein, re-examined the spectrum of 3C 48 from 1960.  Schmidt had previously examined a spectrum of a similar object (3C 273) and was thus experienced in these matters.  What he immediately concluded was not weird but that object 3C 48 showed a “redshift of 0.37”. So, now we need a recap on redshift.

     

    Hearing an ambulance

     

    Recall the last time you stood by as the ambulance sped towards you and then away from you.  We are all familiar with characteristic change in pitch of the siren.  As it approaches you the pitch gets higher then as it leaves you the pitch gets lower.  The lowering of the pitch as the sound source moves away from us is due to a ‘stretching’ of the wavelength caused by the speed of the ambulance relative to us. This is the Doppler effect and applies to all types of radiation including light.

     

    Redshift_horizontal.png

     

    Normal spectrum above and red-shifted spectrum below.  The tell tale absorption lines are moved to the right.

    Credit: Georg Wiora (Dr. Schorsch) via Wikimedia Commons

     

    So Schmidt was saying that the spectrum of QUASAR 3C 48 told us that it was (and still is) moving away at truly phenomenal speed! As we have discussed before, the painstaking work of Edwin Hubble in the 1920s enabled a connection to be made between the speed that an object is receding and its distance.  On doing the maths 3C 48 was located at 4 BILLION LIGHT YEARS distant.

     

    Ancient photons hit Bishop Monkton

     

    This dramatic distance estimation created disbelief in the astronomical community.  Knowing how bright the object looks to us (Magnitude +16) and also knowing its distance, enables us to quite easily determine its true brightness close up and thus its power.  The calculation for most QUASARs shows they have the luminosity of 10 Trillion (10,000,000,000,000) Suns, easily one of the most energetic objects in the Universe!

     

    As you may imagine this stimulated a decade long argument as to whether the observations were true or were these QUASARS just objects in our own galaxy that demonstrated weird physics?  In more recent times, advancements in technology have enabled astronomers to study ‘normal’ galaxies in the region of these QUASARS and confirm that indeed they are very distant objects.

     

    On the 2nd January 2017 a group of villagers and friends congregated in my humble shed known as the Observatory and eventually, one by one caught a glimpse of light that has taken 8 BILLION years to get here.  I stumbled across a reference to QUASAR 4C 11.69 also known as CTA 102.  It is in the constellation of Pegasus looking west from the village at the moment.

     

    IMG_0288.jpg

     

    The old 9 inch SCT telescope used to spot the QUASAR

     

    This particular QUASAR was originally falsely classed as a magnitude +17 variable star.  Variable stars are quite common but are usually quite regular in their variability.  Not this one!  Recently its magnitude has changed from +17 to nearly +11, which is an increase in brightness of 250 times.  Think about this for a moment.  This is an object that is TWICE the age of the Earth, more than half the age of the entire Universe as we know it and visible in my 9 inch telescope.  Surely this is the most powerful and most distant visible object any of us will witness.

     

    Its brightness currently varies quite substantially on a daily basis so what is it?  CTA 102 was discovered in the early 1960s from its varying radio source but was laughingly thought to be signals from an extra terrestrial intelligence and American folk rock band The Byrds wrote a song about it in 1967 called ‘Younger Than Yesterday’.  It is in fact a giant black hole at the centre of a distant elliptical galaxy and its brightness is determined by what it is currently consuming.  So the recent huge increase in brightness is a burp of cosmic proportions quite possibly as it gulps in stars or even other galaxies.  I write this in the present tense but it is highly likely this object ‘died’ eons ago and no longer exists.

     

    600px-Black_hole_quasar_NASA.jpg

     

    A QUASAR; a disk of stellar material feeding a huge black hole and artist’s depiction of data via NASA’s Spitzer and Chandra telescopes. Credit: Nasa JPL

     

    The village group found it a challenge to observe but with careful attention to excluding all other light sources and using averted vision I believe all present witnessed the 8 BILLION year old photons.  Retiring to the kitchen to consume a well earned cuppa, some of us had another peek about an hour later and it had significantly increased in brightness in that time so obviously it had done similar to us.

     

    What next?

     

    A few days later, from the observatory I captured a star field image to show the QUASAR CTA 102 here in the centre of frame against known reference stars.  This is a stack of 20 x 30 second exposures.

     

    CTA 102s.jpg

     

    QUASAR CTA 102 approximately Magnitude 12. 8th January 2017; Chris Higgins

     

    CTA 102 is now going out of reach. If it is still belching at the same rate in the Autumn we should check back then to see if it has satisfied its hunger.  Feel free to join me. 

     

    Follow my Twitter feed for regular updates on this and new topics from the backyard observatory.

     

    Twitter: @owmuchonomy

    Astrophotos:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/blue5hift/sets

  2. From the beginning of the human race, to nearly only 400 years ago, everything we knew about space would be observed from the naked eye. Then Galileo came up with his telescope, and the world awakened. We learned Saturn had rings. Jupiter had moons. Within just a few years  of that, our entire understanding of the Universe changed. In the next few centuries, telescopes became more complex, of different sizes, lengths, and powers. Hubble is up in space, the ultimate viewing spot. Unhindered by weather, light pollution, or any other inconveniences, it is used by scientists to study the great cosmos.

    hubble_earth_sp01.jpg

    For 26 years now, the HST (Hubble Space Telescope) has been enthralling us with its spectacular images of nebulae, galaxies, and other space phenomena. However, the telescope does more than just take pictures all day for us to enjoy. The HST was a combined NASA(National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and ESA (European Space Agency) project, which went up with tons more scientific instruments than just a powerful camera.


    heic0206a.jpg


    Since being put in orbit, over 4000 astronomers have used it to publish ~13000 scientific papers on various topics. The HST is truly a marvel of civilization. When Hubble went up, it had a flawed mirror, which was sending back blurry images. After a 1993 servicing mission, the flaws were rectified, and from then, it's been taking pictures of all the amazing things we know it for. It's been used to look at other planets, their moons, further galaxies, and nebulae.

    It's been used to find water on planets, moons, and other asteroids. It's been used to map Pluto, the furthest planet from us (now a dwarf planet). NASA's New Horizons mission will rival the HST, but it will take 9 years to get close enough to Pluto to give any challenge to the HST.
    It's been used to calculate the lifespan of the universe, Hubble helped astronomers nail down the age of the universe with an accuracy of about 5 percent. Our Galaxy, the Milky Way is set to collide with the Andromeda Galaxy, speeding towards us at the speed of a bullet. We know this all thanks to Hubble.

    Quote

    "When massive stars reach the end of their lives, they explode in a fiery death known as a supernova. These violent blowouts may leave behind black holes or supercompact neutron stars even as they blow the heavy elements that form in the heart of the star through their galaxy. Hubble has helped scientists to better understand the supernova process." - Space.com

     
     

    Check out the gallery below to see what kinds of amazing pictures the HST has taken over the years, and also check out my original blog over at http://hridaysabir.blogspot.in/ to keep up with the latest topics I write on.

     

    heic0206c.jpg

    heic0503a.jpg

    heic0506a.jpg

    heic0601a.jpg

    heic0602a.jpg

    heic0604a.jpg

    heic0706a.jpg

    heic0707a.jpg

    heic0719a.jpg

    heic0817a.jpg

    heic0910i.jpg

    heic1007a.jpg

    heic1104a.jpg

    heic1107a.jpg

    heic1110a.jpg

    heic1307a.jpg

    heic1509a.jpg

    heic1516a.jpg

    heic1608a.jpg

    opo0511a.jpg

    opo0624a.jpg

    opo9828c.jpg

    potw1345a.jpg

  3. What is the best I can expect to see through my skywatcher 1114p telescope and the best way to see it, i.e how to combine lenses etc

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    So I've recently purchased this little gem. It is so good! Surprisingly showing me Venus and Mars in great detail.

    The scope boasts a 4" aperture with a 400mm focal length(quite short tbh) but gets the job done with messier objects.

    it has this beautiful red finish which I shouldn't include as a feature but it sure does look gorgeous. Unfortunately it has only seen the sky once

    due to the bad weather here :clouds1::clouds2: but the views were worth it.

     Zrh8q3R.jpg

  4. My EQ-2 mount is nearing the end of its useful life. It has suffered a screw shear on the Dec. Slo-Mo controls, and now the handle of the main mount bolt has disintegrated. Although I would like to repair the mount, and keep it in operation, unfortunately, it is getting left behind in my astrophotography journey, and a replacement was due within a year or two. The recent disasters have only highlighted the need for this, and so a replacement is on its way! More next week....

     

    ===========IN MEMORIUM============

                                     EQ-2 (2012-2016).

                            A Wonderful Telescope Mount.

          Who Passed Away While Drift Aligning On The Front

              Path, And Who Will Never See The Stars Again.

                                    WE WILL MISS YOU

  5. Recently I’ve dusted off my old ray tracing code, done some OpenGL reading/refreshing, and implemented real-time ray (and path) tracing on GPU. It turns out the present-day GLSL (OpenGL shading language) is capable enough, and even an integrated Intel graphics has acceptable performance.

    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lAmO1Ghtn0

    screenshot1.jpg

     

    The most important part is the ability to use the hierarchical scene graph (tree); thanks to this, ray tracing’s time complexity is only O(log n) w.r.t. the number of scene objects, as opposed to O(n) for hardware rasterisation (i.e. what today’s GPUs normally do). Even though GLSL doesn’t allow recursion, it’s simple to search the tree iteratively and even without simulating a stack (which would eat up precious GPU registers – I’ve tried that too).

    Now that I feel more confident with OpenGL, GPU acceleration for Stackistry will probably arrive in the not-too-distant future. The quality estimation and the shift-and-add phases should be easiest to port into GLSL. Even if we remain strongly IO-bound (due to all the shuffling of images between RAM and GPU memory), I think a performance boost by a factor of several is possible.

  6. 11 / November 18, 2016 / Home / 1955-2035 JST / Cold & clear / 15x70, 8x42

    I went outside before moonrise to find The Golfputter, and I succeeded. I saw a shooting star pass from south to north just below M31. The last 10 minutes were consumed by a conversation with the next door neighbor, who'd stepped outside for a cigarette.

    CONSTELLATIONS:          And / Ari / Aur / Cas / Cep / Per / Tri

    DEEP SKY OBJECTS:

    Kemble 1 (As/Cam)             -

    M31 (SG/And)                     -

    M33 (SG/Tri)                       Same hazy patch

    M36 (OC/Aur)                     -

    M37 (OC/Aur)                     -

    M38 (OC/Aur)                     -

    M45 (OC/Tau)                    Naked-eye only.   I doubt I'll ever resolve more than two points of light.

    Mel 20 (OC/Per)                 -

    NGC 752 (OC/And)           I liked it! It appears as a widely distributed patch of stars; I pictured them as grains of sand being disturbed by the Golfputter.

    Golfputter (As/And)          First sighting! It's distinct, but unlike Kemble's Cascade, doesn't suffer when viewed through lower magnification. 

  7. After completing my current oil painting blitz, I spent some time today completing 'Spectrometer Mark2' in the 'clean room' or the kitchen as my wife likes to call it.  The primary reason for the redesign is my desire to use either my QHY5v or QHY5-11 as the imaging camera, without dedicating either camera to capturing spectra.  So a modular approach seemed sensible and the ability to experiment with different diffraction gratings was also an objective.  Mark1 was virtually built for 'nowt',  Mark2 has required the expenditure of a few quid mainly on purchasing an extra mounting bracket for the QHY5 (I already had one in my bag of astro bits and bobs).  I made the base from hardwood samples  handed down from my late and great mate Barry Shulver.  The tilt and turn mechanism, for holding the diffraction transmission grating, was fashioned from a camera holder and tripod obtained from everyones favourite country 'Poundland'.

    I used an on-line transmission grating calculator to work out the diffraction angles for different gratings and basic trigonometry to calculate the distance between the gratings and the cameras chips to fit the first order spectrum on the chip.  Hopefully, if I've got it right , it should work ok - so watch this space for my continuing 'Chad Valley' exploits in 'Off World Spectra'!

     

    Spectrometer 2 006.png

    Spectrometer 2 011.png

    Spectrometer 2 013.png

  8. It is a premise of the Galilean principle of relativity that every reference frame behaves mechanically like an enclosed compartment at rest.  As a consequence of this premise it is presumed to be mechanically impossible to discern the motion of any reference frame by observing experiments conducted within that reference frame.  Material objects in flight within an enclosed compartment will manifest a particular velocity that arises from momentum transfer through physical contact with the compartment walls.  Objects in flight outside of the compartment will exhibit essentially the same behavior via contact with the external physical structure of the moving compartment.    However, a sound wave in flight through an enclosed compartment where the air has no wind currents in it will manifest one particular velocity while a sound wave propagating through the still air outside the compartment will manifest some other velocity — in a moving enclosed compartment the contained air’s velocity is the same as the compartment’s velocity and would add to or subtract from the sound wave’s propagation velocity.   There is then a difference in the mechanical behaviors of material objects and sound waves when they are moving through any particular medium based on whether that medium is within or outside of a moving enclosed compartment.  Under certain conditions an observer in a stationary or moving reference frame may not have to apply the principle of addition of velocities from the Galilean or Lorentz transformation equations to the propagating sound wave.  Not every reference frame is an enclosed compartment.

  9. DSLR COOLER FINALLY STARTS TO TAKE SHAPE.

    A couple of months ago a trip to my local tip to drop off some old batteries resulted in me 'liberating' an old mini beer fridge from the clutches of the 'Used Electrical items' skip.  Bringing it home I found out that it worked perfectly, apart from a broken door catch. After a lot of research (links below) I've ripped out the electricals and heat sink and have started constructing a DSLR cooler for my Canon 1100D.  I'll keep you posted on progress.

    http://dslrmodifications.com/rebelmod450d16c.html

    http://www.swashastro.co.uk/peltier_cooler_box.html

    IMG_20160715_204531625.jpg

    IMG_20160715_204847225.jpg

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    cs1cjc
    Latest Entry

    Testing

  10. Igor - it lives.. again.

    Apple have just replaced the MBP's complete circuit board for the failed GPU under the GPU repair scheme. Free to me.. but if it hadn't been covered it would have been at least £800. However my battery snuffed it during the time under the desk so that was replaced too. The Apple bods noted my hard drive was also on the way out - I'd known this for a while.. so I've fixed a replacement myself. In short the screen, keyboard, and case are about all that remain of the original MBP... 

    However I now have a working graphics chip again :D bring on the deconvolution fun again.... and the laptop that means I can now use the telescope in the garden again for astrophotography!

    I'm tempted to switch over to a ODroid based INDI installation, simply because it's less hassle having a completely designated controller. How well Kstars and INDI work.. hmm will have to see.

  11. hi everybody im looking for help bought a c 10 with cg5 advance mount at christmas for daughter with motor board not working it had burned out so i replaced today connected new board up and it burned stright away the chip on the board burned is there anybody that knows what connections go where and has anybody got pictures really need help with this as the first board cost me 190 dollars and as i live in ireland it took some time to recive part  and part very costly thanks regards johnisabelle

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    I guess its going to be another cloudy night. I feel like I haven't used my telescope in ages! Good to be back though after so long. 

    I got some good images of Uranus, The moon, a few star clusters, and Jupiter, but other than that, wasn't that eventful of a night.

    Comment what you saw!

  12. Hello!

    Welcome to the most intuitive guide on beginner astronomy  ever!

    First of all, if you are even the greatest astronomer ever, please show this to beginner astronomers as this may help them get a good start. I will also post in the description a video explaining everything I just said a bit easier. Other than that,  enjoy!

     

    Getting Started

    Welcome to the great hobby of astronomy! First off, I would like to say three things about your new hobby!

    1st: Don't expect what you see in pictures!

    This is a picture taken by NASA using the Hubble telescope of the Orion Nebula:

     

     

    orion-nebula-michael-tompsett.jpg.276263

    Credit: NASA

    And here is a photo that you will see through your telescope:

    imageproxy.php?img=&key=bdf8b2134cef9d8b56cfad2cc3e4a_OrionNebula.jpg.6991f71ad2

     

    It is way down in the lower-center part of the image. My point basically is that you aren't going to see those big beautiful pictures you see on NASA's website. So now search your brain, and think if this is what you want to do. If you aren't as interested, still stay, as you may not have to lose hope yet!

    2nd: Think if you are ready

    The biggest problem you hear in astronomy is that someone got a big 1000 dollar telescope and hated it and stuck it back in his/her closet. So this is probably the most important step. You will be donating a lot to this new hobby, and the time, money, and regret can cost you if you are not careful. I will get into this more in the choosing your first telescope section of this post.

    3rd: Calm down, and remember...

    Do not buy a telescope and fancy camera just so you can take pictures! I hear about this, and always think to myself that these people are losing all the fun that you have while stargazing because they're just trying to take the perfect shot! calm down, as you can get into astrophotography later if you like it.

     

    Now to the main part of beginner astronomy...

     

    Buying Your First Telescope

     

    This is something that worries a lot of people. They always think that if they don't get the best they will die.(I did this as well, but calmed down and got a cheaper telescope. It worked for me until I felt it was time to level up) But to tell you the truth, if you don't dig astronomy, then you will only have spent 800-1000 dollars of well-spent money on nothing.  I included some great choices for beginners on which telescope to get:

    (I am assuming a price range of about 200 dollars)

    Astromaster 70AZ Telescope- $149.95

    Travelscope 70mm Portable Telescope-$ 89.95

    The Celestron Cometron series-$59.95 to $179.95

    60LCM Computerized Telescope-$259.95

    (Note: I am not a representative of Celestron, but rather find Celestron a good start-off point for newbies)

    Now many people want to get a computerized scope, and I find those scopes great AS long as the are not EQ mounts, our equatorial mounts, as these are harder to deal with. I would also not recommend Reflector Telescopes, as these are hard to manage. I would also not recommend Cassegrain Telescopes, as these are hard to manage. Trust me.

    you will only need two eyepieces, which come with all these telescopes

    First Observation Night

    Yay! First observation night has arrived! here are my tips:

    --since you may not know enough about the constellations, make sure you have something to see what is out with. Celestron's SkyPortal app for Ipad and Iphone is a great place to start, as it is easy to use and free.

    --Be prepared for average views depending on air pressure, and always be ready for light pollution if you live in a large city.

    --Note: Always find a spot without streetlights or trees to use, though rooftops are also good if you live in and apartment building

    --Carefully maneuver the telescope

    --Never get angry, as this could cause chaos and ruin your experience

    --As always, have FUN!!!

    Final Note

    Have fun with your newfound skills, and recommend this forum to others!

    Please leave comments about questions!

    happy stargazing,

    MountainSkies

     

  13. Hello again!

    You may have read my other blog posts for beginners on stuff like this as well, and I will soon be taking all my blog posts for beginners and compressing them into a super guide! Other than that, let us begin!

    So, you just got the newest phone, and as an astronomer/astrophotographer/stargazer/sketch artist, want to have an app that shows you what's up that night. But the problem is that there is thousands of apps that show you everything in the night sky. Here are my top ten picks in order, and than after that some honorable mentions:

    1. Celestron SkyPortal-ease of use, hooks up to Celestron Telescope

    2. Star Walk- ease of use, makes life very easy for me

    3. Star Rover- Great app, well made, and has great interface options

    4. Star Tracker Lite- Free, large pictures and fun to look at

    5. Skyview Free- Fun app, very informative, but apps are annoying

    6. StarMap 3d-Great if you have kids, but also shows satellites and the ISS

    7. Skyview Satellite Guide- Best app for finding satellites

    8. Star Chart- Very good for bad eyes

    9. Star and Planet Finder- Good for bad eyes as well, also good for finding planets

    10. Sky map- Very good for smaller stars

    Honorable Mentions

    All Nasa apps

    Stellarium

    SkyX First Light Edition

     

    Thanks for reading and recommend this to others!

    Happy stargazing,

     

    MountainSkies

     

     

  14. Hello!

    Welcome to the most intuitive guide on beginner astronomy  ever!

    First of all, if you are even the greatest astronomer ever, please show this to beginner astronomers as this may help them get a good start. I will also post in the description a video explaining everything I just said a bit easier. Other than that,  enjoy!

     

    Getting Started

    Welcome to the great hobby of astronomy! First off, I would like to say three things about your new hobby!

    1st: Don't expect what you see in pictures!

    This is a picture taken by NASA using the Hubble telescope of the Orion Nebula:

     

     

    orion-nebula-michael-tompsett.jpg.276263

    Credit: NASA

    And here is a photo that you will see through your telescope:

    imageproxy.php?img=&key=bdf8b2134cef9d8b56cfad2cc3e4a_OrionNebula.jpg.6991f71ad2

     

    It is way down in the lower-center part of the image. My point basically is that you aren't going to see those big beautiful pictures you see on NASA's website. So now search your brain, and think if this is what you want to do. If you aren't as interested, still stay, as you may not have to lose hope yet!

    2nd: Think if you are ready

    The biggest problem you hear in astronomy is that someone got a big 1000 dollar telescope and hated it and stuck it back in his/her closet. So this is probably the most important step. You will be donating a lot to this new hobby, and the time, money, and regret can cost you if you are not careful. I will get into this more in the choosing your first telescope section of this post. 

    3rd: Calm down, and remember...

    Do not buy a telescope and fancy camera just so you can take pictures! I hear about this, and always think to myself that these people are losing all the fun that you have while stargazing because they're just trying to take the perfect shot! calm down, as you can get into astrophotography later if you like it.

     

    Now to the main part of beginner astronomy...

     

    Buying Your First Telescope

     

    This is something that worries a lot of people. They always think that if they don't get the best they will die.(I did this as well, but calmed down and got a cheaper telescope. It worked for me until I felt it was time to level up) But to tell you the truth, if you don't dig astronomy, then you will only have spent 800-1000 dollars of well-spent money on nothing.  I included some great choices for beginners on which telescope to get:

    (I am assuming a price range of about 200 dollars)

    Astromaster 70AZ Telescope- $149.95

    Travelscope 70mm Portable Telescope-$ 89.95

    The Celestron Cometron series-$59.95 to $179.95

    60LCM Computerized Telescope-$259.95

    (Note: I am not a representative of Celestron, but rather find Celestron a good start-off point for newbies)

    Now many people want to get a computerized scope, and I find those scopes great AS long as the are not EQ mounts, our equatorial mounts, as these are harder to deal with. I would also not recommend Reflector Telescopes, as these are hard to manage. I would also not recommend Cassegrain Telescopes, as these are hard to manage. Trust me.

    you will only need two eyepieces, which come with all these telescopes

    First Observation Night

    Yay! First observation night has arrived! here are my tips:

    --since you may not know enough about the constellations, make sure you have something to see what is out with. Celestron's SkyPortal app for Ipad and Iphone is a great place to start, as it is easy to use and free.

    --Be prepared for average views depending on air pressure, and always be ready for light pollution if you live in a large city.

    --Note: Always find a spot without streetlights or trees to use, though rooftops are also good if you live in and apartment building

    --Carefully maneuver the telescope

    --Never get angry, as this could cause chaos and ruin your experience

    --As always, have FUN!!!

    Final Note

    Have fun with your newfound skills, and recommend this forum to others!

    Please leave comments about questions!

    happy stargazing,

    MountainSkies

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  15. Been busy working on the mechanical side in preparation for its mot and road trip to have the self leveling system fitted , probably in the first week or two of February, a round trip of around 300 miles which should be enough to blow away the cobwebs! As far as mechanical work goes its looking pretty easy thus far, with just a few minor things needing done. Will be replacing the rear discs and pads at the weekend and perhaps skim the fronts I'll see how they perform on a brake test. Also been busy removing the unnecessary oxygen piping and valves, brackets etc and making some headway inside the "observation area", that sounds good doesn't it !

     

    Also been busy removing all the Emergency Ambulance stickers and logos, nasty stuff the damn adhesive... and the disconnecting the blues and twos as well incase temptation gets in the way.

     

    Had a sparky check out some visible wiring and the mains sockets which don't appear to be working, im hoping the auxilliary batteries are just needing charged up as the invertor unit lights up but not got any output.....

     

    No pics on this update bit will take some for next time round.

     

    Thanks for looking and taking an interest.

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    Rastaman88
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    Thanks for the all the info guys. Santa dropped a late gift of a Nex Image 5,so the game plan as changed.
    One arm never was good for astro-photography, and the reviews for the NexStar are bad. But when I was in Florida,
    I went on a Sky-Safari sponsored MOSI, a guy had a 6inch NexStar with a 3mp camera.The pictures of Saturn was good,
    not great. So I am going with the TwinStar because it has a equatorial mount. Basically I need practice with the
    softwear and camera. I will spend the money I saved and buy a wedge for my Meade.

     

    Thanks

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    Last night I took 35 80 second subs using my camera with a 400mm tele lens mounted next to a 70 x700mm scope on my EQ3 mount on an EQ5 tripod. Quick and dirty aligned using the polar scope, no drift align.

     

    Over 1 hour 7 minutes, the images offset by a total of 32 pixels vertical, 8 pixels horizontal, but almost all the horizontal drift was on the first two images (presumably taking up the backlash). So the real drift was about 32 pixels or 1 pixel every 2 minutes.

     

    Looking at the subs I thought I could spot a few where there was more noticeable movement between subs - then I checked and these 'jumps' were where I had dropped subs because of aeroplane trails, causing nearer to a 2-pixel jump instead of one. There didn't seem to be any of the jumps I would have expected if there was significant periodic error in the worm wheel.

     

    What was most striking is that every single sub showed nice round stars - as would be expected if the camera had strayed less than 0.5 pixels either side of the mean position.

     

    I won't pretend that these results are good enough for long subs, but they do show that an EQ3 mount properly balanced and aligned with a bit of care on a solid tripod is capable of long enough exposures for imaging DSOs.

     

    It also suggests to me that it will be worth me upgrading to autoguiding before upgrading my mount - which is against conventional wisdom. It also lends support to my suspicion that the weakness in the normal EQ3 setup is the aluminium tripod not the mount.

     

    Something I want to try is taking long, unguided, wide field exposures. With a 28mm lens the tracking errors should be under a pixel even at 10 minutes exposure. This should be also be a way to see if there is significant periodic error.

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    Concurrently with the dome assembly, I am cobbling together the potential contents.

     

    Initially, I intend to install my HEQ5+250mm f/4.8 Newtonian on a tripod.

     

    Have tested mount operations successfully indoors with indilib on a RaspberryPi, remotely connected to KStars.

     

    I think indilib (http://www.indilib.org) is brilliant from many points of view.

     

    Also working remotely with RPi/indlib are:

    • Xagyl filter wheel,
    • Atik CCDs (314E, 460EX),
    • DIY focuser drive,
    • GPS module (USB connected).

    The electric focuser drive uses one of those ubiquitous steppers, controlled by an Arduino nano. This is bolted and belt-connected to a Crayford focuser.
    Works well but is an ugly piece of engineering :embarassed: . Think I'll try to make a better package.
     
    All of that is ready to go if I can just get the dome installed without neglecting too much the remaining work on the house :grin: .
     
    I also have some morale-raising works-in-progress:
    • Have bread-boarded an indiduini meteostation; and am really pleased with the result. I have now to design a robust and rainproof container
    • Have ordered the bits for an all-sky camera (RPi NOIR); following the helpful examples set by several SGL members.
    • Have designed and prototyped automation for the dome. This integrates with KStars/INDI and comprises separate Arduino processors with DC motors for dome rotation and shutter control. The shutter-controller is wirelessly (RF24) linked to the indilib, dome driver. Pleasingly it all works on a test-bed. The challenge I now face is to mount it robustly and (fingers-crossed) aesthetically in the (as yet not assembled) dome. I feel I will be paying for the sheet-metal work. :rolleyes:
    • Have designed a pier for my EQ8 mount. Again, to resist corrosion, this has to be of marine-grade (316) stainless-steel. While I intend to weld the thing together I feel it wise to have the bits laser-cut. I am however unsure about where I can get the material.


    This forum, in particular, has given me the inspiration and the nerve to attempt this project. I admire what people have done and am very grateful that they are willing, so generously, to share their experiences.

  16.  

    Hi does anyone have a PDF or CAD file file for the above it must be anti clockwise as it is going on the top plate i have a setting circle already but it has both scales on clockwise and anticlock wise and this can cause some confusion at night under red light, this is the setting circle i have at present as you can see their are two scales on it, and now I realise after 12 months it can be confusing.

     


    post-31880-0-19275800-1406997623_thumb.j

     

     


    Source: Setting circle 8" Skywatcher dobson Anticlockwise