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  1. got my first ever 'close up' glimpse of Orion Nebula this morning :D considering the moon was streaming down and the local car park had both sodium and halogen floods blasting into the sky, and Orion was skimming the horizon, i didnt think i'd see anything more than Orion's belt, but the nebula was there, a hazy white patch in the sky... Wasnt 100% sure at first, but after ruining my vision checking my atlas, yep all the stars matched, spent an hour and a half gradually freezing solid in the hope it would resolve a little better, but it wasnt going to happen 

    cant wait to try again when the moon has gone and i'm out in the sticks; trip to north wales at end of the month is in order i think!

    exciting times for a newbie :D 

     

    • Scope: Star Watcher 200P dob w/ SkyWatcher Super 10mm w/ Moon & Sky Glow Filter
    • Sky: [SW London] 100% Clear, Moon 97%, Light Pollution bad
  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

  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
    Latest Entry

    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

  17. Before I carry on with my 6 SE experiences I just want to thank all of you for reading my ramblings and for your comments and PMs. It is very much appreciated. I finally have some "me" time to continue the story.

     

    The first thing I did when I got my box of goodies home was to unpack everything. A cup of tea came next.

     

    My initial impressions were of a solidly built bit of kit. Without going industrial strength the tripod is sturdy. It is light(ish), but setting it up with legs fully extended and giving it a good "shove" showed that it didn't wobble perceptibly. Granted, the mount may induce more movement but the platform it'll sit on seems good.

     

    The C6 OTA is just stunning. This is my first SCT but I have owned a Mak before (ETX 90) and these physically short catadioptrics, I think, look lovely. The C6 doesn't have the anodised finish the ETX did but the orange paint job looks great. The whole tube has a good weight and a quick twiddle of the focusser felt solid and smooth.

     

    Next out of the box was the mount. Again, a good weighty but not too heavy feel. It's difficult to describe objectively but to me it feels "about right". Slotting the C6 into the dovetail on the mount was easy and I was already feeling comfortable with having gone for the C6 and not the 8" OTA as the weight of everything was manageable. I wouldn't have wanted it to be any heavier, especially as this is, to me, a grab and go set up.

     

    The mount fits into place on the tripod platform really well. There is a centre locating pin and then it's just a matter of rotating the whole assembly until the mount aligns with the fixing bolts in the tripod platform. The platform is cut away in three places which means you can keep a firm grip on the base of the mount as you put it in place. The three sprung captive bolts in the platform find their homes in the base of the mount easily enough with a bit of to and fro wiggling of the mount on the platform. It's all flat and with the OTA pointing down on the mount as it should be at this stage, all very stable. I tighten the three platform to mount bolts a little at a time with frequent jiggles left and right of the mount to ensure everything is square when finally nipped up. Once all in place and tightened, the whole set up feels very solid to me. Certainly moreso than expected. I'm pleased so far.

     

    I knew the mount was going to eat batteries and I'd not managed to get any AAs on the way home so raided our household stash to get up and running. My first objective was simply to mount and align the finder which is of the red dot variety. I've not used a red dot before so was curious to see what it was like.

     

    This is where the first down occurred. I manually swung the OTA to roughly horizontal (you can do this, there is no need to use the Alt drive until aligning) and used the Az drive (you cannot move the mount in Az manually though) to roughly point at a mobile phone mast about a mile away. I'd not done any setup of the goto handset yet, I just switched the mount on and used the up / down and left / right buttons to move the 'scope around. I popped in the star diagonal and standard 25mm eyepiece and centered the top of the mast in the eyepiece. This took a bit of patience while I sighted down the tube and tree / rooftop hopped through the eyepiece to find the mast and work up to the top of it. The 25mm eyepiece gives a magnification of 60x with a field of view of 0.83 degrees-ish (assuming an apparent field of view of the kit eyepiece of 50 degrees here as Googling hasn't turned up a detailed specification) so this took a bit of patience!

     

    The finder bracket was already screwed to the back of the C6 and the red dot finder slides on. Just tighten a couple of philips machine screws to clamp it in place. There are two wheels on the finder to align it - a little like rifle sight adjusters if ever you've used that kind of thing. Sadly, the range of adjustment was not enough to alight the red dot with the aerial mast top I'd centred in the eyepiece. I assumed I'd fitted the finder incorrectly so much removal and refitting followed but still no joy. In the end I decided I'd have to shim the back of the finder mount as even on maximum adjustment the finder was pointing too "high" (i.e. away from the 'scope). My concern was that to do this I'd need to loosen the two screws holding the finder bracket in place and I was worried doing so might disturb something in the C6 tube. I didn't want to assume the threads for these screws were captive no matter how reasonable an assumption that may be. I rigged some shims between the finder and its mount to enable alignment but it was not pretty and certainly not a long term solution.

     

    For a bit of kit costing this much I was very disappointed. The finder, red dot or otherwise, is a critical bit of the setup and I can understand those less handy or ready to give a tweak a go really being put off by this. I did some Googling and found this is a common problem. Or if not common, I didn't have to look too hard to find similar tales of impossible to align finders.

     

    I dropped the shop a line and they could not have dealt with the situation any better. Their recommendation was to shim the back of the finder mount with strips of thin card or plastic, much as I had initially thought of doing. I checked with them it was OK to loosen the finder mount screws and that I'd not be invalidating any warranty by doing so. While the suspicion was the finder mount, without any hesitation the shop arranged for a new finder (without mount) to be sent to me and it arrived within a matter of days. Sadly this didn't fix the problem but at least I'm comfortable with the situation and had the OK from the shop regarding the more permanent solution of shimming the mount. I still think this is poor quality control from Celestron's (manufacturer's) point of view but I wasn't going to let it spoil my fun.

     

    Still being daylight but itching to test the C6 I pointed the 'scope at the bird feeders in the back garden. I'd asked when I bought it if they knew how close it would focus but they didn't. While not being an ideal spotting 'scope I thought it'd be worth a try. I was most impressed when, after much winding of the focus knob (and hoping I'd hit a stop before anything unscrewed completely!) the feeders only some 7 metres away came into focus. Way too high a magnification at 60x to be of practical use but something to bear in mind for when I get that 32mm or 40mm eyepiece! I'm feeling a little happier now so definitely on the way back up.

     

    Completely out of keeping with the first evening of new 'scope ownership the skies were clear that night too! Being early August at the time, I wasn't going to see much in the way of dark skies. Even in winter, being suburban, our back garden suffers from plenty of light pollution and the horizon is poor to three sides. A big reason for wanting kit I could move to darker sites easily. However, I thought a quick test alignment and goto practice was worthwhile so I headed outside to set everything up. My plan was to just look at a couple of my favourite "easy" objects like Epsilon Lyrae and 30 and 31 Cygni.

     

    I carefully levelled the tripod using the supplied (very basic but seems to be adequate) bubble level. Fitting the mount and 'scope (which I'd left on the mount) to the tripod was as straightforward as it had been indoors earlier. I fired up (well, switched on, it was no more dramatic that that I'm afraid) the mount. Initial set up of the goto handset involves entering location and time and date. This was all fairly straightforward as I'd got my lat / long from the phone GPS and just had to remember to enter the date in MM/DD/YYYY format. The time zone is possibly a little confusing in the handset UI as you need to (for the UK) enter GMT and then in the next "screen" select Daylight Savings for BST.

     

    Next up is alignment and I just stuck with the default of SkyAlign where you point the 'scope at three "bright objects" in the sky. Now, to me, bright is a relative term but from our back garden in twilight I felt there was little danger of selecting anything not quite bright enough. The horizon is very poor in our back garden so I couldn't select objects more than about 100 degrees apart. Not ideal but I hoped it'd be good enough. I'd made sure everything else - time, location and levelling - was as accurate as possible. I can't remember which stars I used in the end but I suspect they were Arcturus, Deneb and Vega, or maybe Altair. Either way, I worked through the process and the handset guides you through it well. But on trying to goto the first object I was after, which was back to the first alignment star I'd used, the 'scope shot off in what seemed a totally random direction. Not what I'd expected at all. I tried alignment again but not even close. Disappointment again.

     

    At this point all I wanted to do was look at something as I was running out of time. I manually slewed to Eplsilon Lyrae and hand guided. Even with just the 25mm eyepeice, while I could not separate the doubles of each component, I could make out elongation in each. Not bad. I popped in the 2x barlow and all four stars popped out at me. Optically, I was very pleased with the C6. The 9mm eyepiece split the close doubles even better. I should also say I found the red dot finder really easy to use and still do. Perfectly adequate before fine centering using the 25mm eyepiece.

     

    A day of highs and lows. I'm glad it finished on a high. I was very very impressed with what views I did get. The finder issues could be dealt with although I was unimpressed at the need for hardware tweaks. The goto issues I was pretty sure I could sort with practice and were probably due to my lack of familiarity with the system. I did wonder whether the AA batteries were man enough for the job though, I had read they get used up very quickly. Overall I was on the slightly happy side of neutral but taking encouragement from the excellent views I'd had so far.

     

    I'm going to wrap this post up here. It's gone on a little longer than planned! Next time I'll share what I've done and learned to make this what I now believe the best 'scope I could have chosen given what I was looking for. Thanks for reading :)

  18. goose35
    Latest Entry

    Hello All

     

    Been a while since I last went out, due to cloud and timing of the clear nights, all ways when im on morning shift.
    During this time I’ve done a system swap from my Olympus E-510 to a Canon EOS1100D. got same kit off the bay, 2 zooms and a flash gun.
    Now have to get the old stuff sold.

     

    Saturday 12 September

     

    Got a few hours in last night, Visual only with the 150p on the EQ 3-2, with new motor upgrade.

    • M39 open cluster
    • The perseus double cluster
    • M103 open cluster


    All were stunning especially the double cluster. It amazing how rich Casseopia and perseus region is.

     

    On each of these I gave first light to my new EOS 1100D.
    I was most impressed, I was getting 2 min tracked subs on the mount. I also gave first light to the Baader MPCC mk 3 which was excellent.
    I didn’t do any calibrating frames as I was only giving a few exposures to see how long I could get on the mount and I was expecting clouds.

     

    Im looking forward to giving the whole imaging setup a good run now after those results. I think the target has to be the double cluster.

     

    Im on afternoons this coming week and a week off after that so Im also going to get the camera with the 70-300 lens and do some tracked wide shots on the EQ3-2.

     

    steve

  19. crashtestdummy
    Latest Entry

    I've mentioned a few times that I've recently bought a road bike and have started riding a lot more and I though since I've not got anything astronomical to discuss I would do this instead :)

     

    I bought a nice giant defy 0 bike on the cycle to work scheme and spent an extra £200 swapping the brakes, chainset and front mech so it now has a full ultegra groupset.it's perfectly geared for an unfit ex smoker like me with a 50/34 chainset and 11-32 casette and I can get up most hills despite my heart rate touching 190bpm on the long/steep ones.I added a garmin edge 1000 to my ride just over a month ago and have been logging my rides on strava.one particular hill I cycle I have dropped 3 minutes off it in 2 months so the fitness is coming.
    It's all building up to one event-a 73 mile sportive in october-the wiggle south downs ride.I was originally planning on riding the 42 mile version (there's 3-42/73/100) but my friend graham talked me into the 73.so I talked him into riding it too!!!I've analysed the route and there's one section that could cause problems-a closed road climb up butser hill.this is pretty steep with a 0.3 mile section of 10-18.5% and it's narrow and dirty most if the time.I was pretty sure I could do all the rest of it ok but wasn't sure about this as it was as steep but longer than another climb called crooked walk lane that I had failed on.training needed doing so I've worked my way through the steep roads of portsdown hill near where I live and last week I nailed the dreaded crooked walk lane so I was happy with training.anyway I went out Sunday with a route loaded into my garmin that took me from my house, through some gentle hills and quieter roads and out to another longish hill called old winchester hill.managed this pretty ok and down the other side in preperation to try the butser climb on my sportive route.before the ride I had put both these climbs on the route just to recce them and walk if needed but finding my way at the top of butser hill punching the air with lungs slapping my rib cage the mystic had gone a bit.I'm now looking forward to the event even more now I know I can do the hardest bit and can't wait to do the 100 mile version next year.
    In fact next year has big plans.I want to do at least 5 or 6 of the wiggle 100 milers and the Hampshire hilly hundred too and also cycle round the isle of wight.I was close to trying the Isle of wight recently but I'm not sure I'm ready yet so want to leave it a bit.
    I'm already dreaming of a trip to France to do some hills like alp d'huez or mont ventoux or le lacets de montvernier but think I'm a way off that yet.
    Still happy in my new hobby though.

     

    Anyone on strava let me know your name and I will add you :)

     

    Clear skies Rich