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  1. :icon_eek: Last night/this morning was one of the best observing sessions I've had for a long time. It was my first serious stargazing session since I traded my 10" Dob for a more manageable Celestron 127 Mak and goto mount....and I miss my Dob so much !!! I was set up and waiting by 10pm and it still looked like mid afternoon!!! anyway, as soon as I could see three bright stars I launched into the sky align...(after meticulously leveling the tripod)...failure after failure.....four times I tried, very frustrating...is this common or is it just my ineptitude ? Anyway after realising the eyepieces I had (scope standard) were not very good I settled down after a successful alignment and tried the tour on the handset. Well...the scope pointed every where but where I wanted it to. More understanding needed, I suppose it would help if I read the manual !!!! I pointed the scope in the general direction of Cassiopeia and settled down with the 25mm eyepiece in and just bumbled around observing the open clusters there. This was about 12 midnight....next time I looked at my watch it was 2.45am!!!! Nearly three hours of totally unstructured star gazing in one constellation....what an enjoyable evening I had!!! I am really missing the big aperture of the 10" Dob but the 127 Mak is more manageable, and like they say, a good scope is one that is used.....by for now and clear skies to you all.

  2. And here she is, my new pride and joy! :D

    scope1.jpg

    scope2.jpg

    finderscope.jpg

    focuser.jpg

    logo.jpg

    I love it! :p

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    I'm a beginner starting to make a reflective Dobsonian telescope. Any advice, any common mistakes to look out for?

  3. blog-0220676001357191124.jpgNew Year's Eve 2012, was chilly around 2 degrees C. But the skies were improving and Jupiter was shining through the thin cloud cover.

    I had just picked up a 'Celestron Neximage 5' and was hoping it would clear enough to give it a run.

    I set up the CGEM and put the C9.25 on board. Jupiter was in and out the clouds as I hooked up the Neximage.

    Flashback

    About 2 years ago I was imaging with a pocket digital camera (a Pentax Optio E30). I had surprisingly good results from this non astro camera.

    But eventually I seemed to hit a barrier on improvements. The images were noisy and I couldn't get past a certain level.

    I figured when I upgraded my DSLR to one that shoots video, the better chip would be lower noise and higher quality and would take me to the next level.

    Survey says XX.

    It just didn't turn out that way. The images seemed to have almost no colour and were not even quite as good as those from the $150 Pentax.

    The cost of a real planet camera was out of reach, so I fell away from it. Recently observing Jupiter I decided I needed to try imaging again.

    I decided to try a planet camera instead of messing around with not astro cameras. I still can't justify the money for a high end camera, but saw the Celestron Neximage 5 - a 5 MegaPixel Planet Camera. I reasoned if this can improve my imaging over the other cameras, the next step will be a monochrome cooled camera.

    I'm not expecting brilliant results, but do hope to see an improvement over previous efforts.

    Back to New Year's Eve

    I removed the eyepiece and put the Neximage 5 in its place. On the computer I could see Jupiter a s a large cloud, I refocused and it was just a few turns of the stock focuser to bring Jupiter to focus. Jupiter was still facing in and out of the clouds. I hit the record button quick to at least capture a few frames.

    I changed the resolution up to 2592 x 1944 and Jupiter looked huge on screen. Over the next two hours I captured about 20 video clips of Jupiter.

    I twice put the camera away only to be wowed visually and sparked into taking more video. However, later all the videos turned out to be low resolution.

    I had tried many different resolution settings on-screen but they had all come out at low res!

    Meanwhile back at the scope, I decided to bring out the new 10" Lightbridge. I recently sold my 6" Explore Scientific Refractor and picked up a Lightbridge.

    I used a 5mm 2" Ultima LX eyepiece for 255x on the Lightbridge. The view was excellent, Jupiter was crisp and 5 belts were visible. As far as I could tell there was no GRS or other large features on the nearside of Jupiter. I compared the view in the 10" Lightbridge with the 9.25" SCT. The view looked the same to me, I couldn't really see any difference - I was using 184 x (13mm Ultima 2") in the SCT.

    I decided to look for Comet 2012 K5/Linear. I googled the coordinates and punched them into the CGEM Handcontroller. I slewed there and hunted around for a few minutes. Then just below two faint stars there it was - a small but distinct cloud. I observed it for a few minutes before moving back to Jupiter.

    I tried an OIII filter in the Lightbride to look at The Orion Nebula. The Trapezium almost disappeared, but the nebula eppeared larger and more extended.

  4. blog-0113609001364735018.jpgWell hope tonight is the night ,as last night was spent messing,with the sct 9.25 try in jupiter but shes over the house now and the thermals wee on the wobble ,even with the ir 740 pass filt not much luck.

    so back to tonight set the 127mm EDT cf up with the 80mm guide scope will include a few images ,

    it sits on a cgem head on a astrotec pier

    just have to stick the qhy5 and modded dslr 600d on tonight fore the laptop up phd/ back yard eos and away we go will post my results as and when going to get around 3 hours of data. On some small galaxy

    pat

    blogentry-9980-0-30536500-1364734942_thublogentry-9980-0-18852400-1364734983_thu

  5. I'm not a great fan of summer observing, principally because it stays light for soooooo long! By the time it gets dark, I'm generally too knackered to think about anything but bed.

    Anywho, the passed couple of nights, I have noticed it getting darker a bit earlier and thoughts have been straying back to observing. Remarkable who the sky changes in just a couple of months (well, of course it would, simpleton! I hear you cry and quite correct too).

    Sadly, I have been troubled by thin whispy cloud, so not had the chance to actually fire up any equipment, but at least the observing ache in my bones is returning.....

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    I've had a romantic interest in stargazing for as long as I can remember and have been familiar with the main constellations and naked eye objects for many years. As a teenager I was given a captain's telescope by my grandfather and had used it to view the moon to great effect but it had no mount (or mounting points) so viewing was limited. As a result it would only come out of the cupboard every now and then and generally only when I'd had a few too many and was feeling sentimental ;-) I've been using a cheap pair of 10x50 binos on occasions for a couple of years now and thought it was about time I satisfied my lifelong hankering for an astro-telescope.

    So I spent a few months trawling through the astro forums and googling for advice on a first scope. I originally gave myself four criteria for choosing one:

    1. Inexpensive. Since I wasn't sure whether or not this interest was a flight of fancy I didn't want to spend too much in case the scope ended up just gathering dust. My budget could stretch to around £400 if necessary but I wanted to spend less than £200 if I could get something reasonable for that price.

    2. Quick to set up. I wanted to make it as easy as possible to get the scope up and running each time so I would be likely to use it more often.

    3. Useful. I don't want to quickly hit the limits of the scope and become frustrated with it. Ideally, I want enough of a scope to keep me interested for a year or so, after which I should know if I am an occasional stargazer or a budding astrogeek.

    4. Transportable. A nice to have, I want to be able to take the scope whenever I take the family away camping for the weekend (and with 4 kids there isn't much room in the car!)

    I was aware of the main types of scope as being refractors, reflectors and catadioptrics but had no idea what could be had for a small budget. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the mainstream branded manufacturers all produce small but 'proper' scopes that cost well under £200. I was amazed to find I could even get a computerised cassegrain type for less than £300 or even an 8" reflector - serious tools! If I'd realised this ten years ago when I had no kids and plenty of money I'd have had a field day (and presumably now have no money or kids)!

    One of the main problems I had as a newbie was what am I likely to see through these scopes? Will my eyepiece be filled with the rings of saturn or will I just see a fuzzy coloured star? Will I see the Andromeda galaxy as a blaze of swirling glory or a dim blob? The best advice of course is always to go along to a local society observation session and take a look for yourself but I've never been one for following good advice so I persisted on the internet. After looking at various youtube videos of views seen through different telescopes along with photos placed on forums I came to the conclusion that, ignoring cheap toy scopes, the view does not improve exponentially with the size or cost of a telescope and so I would not be missing any big tricks by choosing a small scope. So I stopped worrying about what I could potentially see and concentrated instead on the recommended starter scopes from people who knew.

    So after resisting the temptation of blowing my budget on the biggest light bucket I could find (an act of self discipline that I'm quite proud of, I have to say) I spent as many hours as my wife would let me reading reviews and pouring through forums.

    There were a number of common recommended scopes covering all types. I quickly dismissed a computerised mount as I wanted to learn the sky for myself, despite being very attracted to the auto-tracking abilities of these mounts. I also dismissed a small refractor since I didn't want to focus on just planetary or DSO viewing and the recommendations seemed to lean towards reflectors as good all-rounders. Instead I narrowed it down to a dobsonian mounted reflector since I loved the simplicity and honesty of both the mount and the scope design and the idea that as much of the cost as possible was going into the optics. Skywatcher dobsonians appeared to be the best value for money and had good reviews and recommendations. The skyliner 200p was very tempting but ultimately too big for storing and transporting easily and almost certainly an unnecessary size for a beginner like me. I was very tempted by the skyliner 150p as it has a small storage footprint and many recommendations as a starter scope provided its within budget.

    I finally settled on the skywatcher heritage 130p as it appeared to meet my original criteria and at £130 (from FLO) was a bargain for a 5" scope. It regularly got good reviews and thumbs up on forums, but what really swung it for me were reports of seasoned astronomers keeping one as part of their extensive collections for use as a grab 'n' go scope. With my sensible hat on it seemed the ideal first scope for me.

    So I ordered one for Christmas along with a Tal 2x barlow to extend the range of the two eyepieces that come with the scope. That was a month ago, and I'll write about the scope and my first months viewing later. For now I'll just say that so far I am very happy with my first scope and sense that I'm beginning to glimpse a whole new world filled with eyepieces, webcams and astro-society meets that a few weeks ago I didn't even know existed.

  6. Renfrewshire Astronomical Society are looking at the possibility of relocating our weekly meeting venue to incorprate a "darker" sky than the light polluted one we have at the Paisley observatory.

    One of the possibilities we are consudering is a place called Lapwig Lodge on the Gleniffer Braes overlooking Paisley.

    The members are going to attend a meeting there this Friday night 27.02.09. Kind of like try before you buy. ;)

    Lapwig Lodge is normally used as a base camp for the scouts.

    We have offered to help out with scouts that wish to attain their astronomy badge with identifying visible constilations and the use of constilations to navigate the night sky.... Wish us luck... :headbang:

  7. I couldn't believe it, I had waited till 10:00 pm and I still didn't have the inky black skies needed to see most of the stars except the brighter ones in each constellations. Deep-sky objects were clearly NOT going to be on the table for this particular night! I will have to take a strong coffee before doing any serious stargazing from now on as spring approaches summer! Since the planets outshone everything else, I decided to concentrate on them.

    Like usual, my first gaze fell on Venus. When the moon is not around, it is still outshining everything else! Once again, its clarity surprised me and I took the picture you see at the bottom. I am quite proud of it!

    412963_10150778919541286_521876285_9878057_1647053400_o.jpgI used my 26 mm Plössl with my 2X Barlow lens which gave me a magnification of 76.9x.

    I then, using the same magnification, took my chances with Mars once more but like the previous night, it offered little. In its defense, it's not because he wasn't picture-friendly but simply because the planet is slowly receding away. My last stop was Saturn and it surely didn't disappoint! Using my Sony point-and-shoot, I caught a short 20 second video file. Once by my computer, I utilized the RegiStax 6 program to stack the individual frames. The result gave me the following! I couldn't be happier!

    318097_10150778897491286_521876285_9877984_327193954_n.jpg

    Tonight, I'm going to stretch the limits of this procedure. If the length of the video file creates better images then we'll see what I can capture by filming the planet for an extensive period of time! This is very tricky because a Dobsonian telescope isn't the most stable when it comes to photography. I should accept my equipment's limitations but then, it's just a "tongue-tied, twisted earth bound misfit" as I am right?

    Isabelle

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    Finally got scope out to work. Missed jupiter by minutes due to cloud.

    Did however, see The Grat Nebula In Andromeda. (Using 25mm standard eyepiece, 10 was ok, I need new eyepieces I think!)

    Then, when that was covered by clouds, dashed down to see The Pleiades which I found in seconds having found it by sight :) Very clear but no colour, too far apart even with 25mm. Maybe I need a 32mm wfov eyepice for that object, def if Im gonna do any astrophotograhy.Hmmm.

    Oh and saw a shooting star. Not bad for a rushed grab at some clear sky and the fact it was my first ever session. Staying up for a bit, BBC reckon its gonna be clear about 1am, yeah right...

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    Stargazing live was brilliant!

    Watching Professor Brian Cox stargazing live found it interesting got me into stargazing :).
  8. So, I finally arrived at my new hometown for grad school. Since it's a much bigger school then I'm used to, I get to try out all kinds of new stuff like going to an observatory!

    Every week my school has public observatory sessions and it is just amazing.

    They have two large telescopes (I think 10 -12 inches) and the giant observatory telescope. I was able to see saturn, vega, and all kinds of celestial objects!! They pointed the big telescope at the moon and I could see the craters within the craters!!

    Just a totally awesome astronomy experience and I'm really lucky to have this opportunity so close. Especially, because I really don't have the funds to buy nice telescopes :)

    Actually being able to see some of the deep space objects or the details of objects in our solar system leaves me breathless.

  9. Well, after struggling for a few years in a fairly light polluted area I have moved to the edge of Dalby Forest just outside Scarborough and the sky's are just magical.

    A shame my neighbour has a security light that is permanently on as soon as a hint of darkness approaches - I offered to buy him a PIR operated one but - it is a touchy subject so best left alone !

    Anyway, just laid a concrete plinth and trimmed some top branches. Clear view to Polaris north and an uninterrupted southern view which is great.

    I have just set up an Astronomy Imaging UK group on Facebook which is a sister group to our Aurora UK group - two groups worth joining ;)

    Hope to post more soon.

    Steve

  10. on the 15th the skies were so clear in Yorkshire. I was so happy because I was staying with my nan and her back garden, (my stargazing sanctuary) is so much better than mine. I was stargazing till about three in the morning, and the skies just got better and better. my brother decided he would come outside at around half eleven, and spot at least 6 shooting stars he said, and possibly a late persied. I was so annoyed because I only saw about 3 average shooting stars. my brother then later decided to rob my binoculars and left me with the paper planisphere, and not the plastic one. I'm sure you all know that paper planispheres don't seem to last long when the dew gets to them. he then got bored and left me the planisphere and my binoculars. i was really pleased about how bright everything and i really wished that i had a new telescope,(it broke, i blame my brother.) all in all it was a great night, minus the whole interruption and missing telescope thing.

  11. Blog 16472

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    Im gonna keep track of what im looking at now, so would be a great help if anyone has things to suggest to look at,

    First night was the moon, one of the first things you see as a kid but has taken me 25years to look at it up closely, but it blew my mind it was amazing, we were left speachless after it but the weirdest thing was we were bent over looking through the scope and you became that mesmirised by the moon that you kind of lost balance a couple of times but was truely spectacular, the moon ROCKS!!

    Then we were looking at just random stars in the sky, it might sound daft but with your naked eye you can see a few but with a scope!!!! proper amazing we came across a few clusters and also a couple of double stars and also a few bright ones so was well happy only thing is now is im gonna have to start learning the names of them all but ready to start learning!!!

    Then the pinnacle came, when i was in primary school years and years ago we were learning about the planets and space etc, when i took a shining to Saturn, i dont know why but it captivated me (i think it was the rings) but its beautiful colour and a very nice sounding name and the rings too, made saturn my favourite planet. I came home from work and took the scope out into my backgarden and spent about 30mins finding Saturn, when i did and it took some focusing in on, it was mindblowing it was all i hoped to see, although it was quite a small image you could clearly see the rings as i straight line through the centre of the planet. i loved it and that night was a big highlight for me.

    Its weird looking up into space, at things like the moon and Saturn, I dont know why i feel very privaliged to look up and see what i seen. I went into work the next day and told a couple of people what i had been upto looking at the stars and so on and they were all quite intreaged. A couple of them even came over after work to have a peek up the scope and they are now hooked, so we are looking for things to look at so any suggestions let me know.

    I have got tomorow night off so im gonna take the laptop with loaded on it with me and spend all night gazing and looking through the scope!!!

  12. Coming home from work it seemed like it would be a clear night and i set up the big scope, only to have heavy clouds roll in. As the EQ5 takes a greater effort then the goto to set up I decided to wait it out, cover was broen enough to polar align so that was a bonus and was quickly and easily achieved I plant to place markers on my lawn (little slabs or something). To act as a hardstanding for the tripod and a ref point for orientation. With this in place polar will rarely be needed at all.

    One difference between thunderchild and suki is the collimation. Suki barely needs touching but Thunderchild has needed a tiny tweak every session. I say needed. I'm sure that to anyone but a perfectionist its collimation drift would be wholly undetectable.

    I decided to have a bit of a play with my P and S camera on the piggyback taking some largely unsuccessful 8 second shots. Had i waited longer i could probably have had a better result... next time i should get some before i pack up.

    With the skies suddenly becoming gloriously clear I decide to have a stroll through the heavens, after taking a look at Mizar and splitting it again i swung around to vega. It was obvious just how much the sky washes out in summer. However i managed to just make out Lyra and was sure i had a glimmering of the milky way to the left of it (stellarium confirms this, its the first time ive actively noticed this!). For the first time i consulted a book as i knew the double double was in lyra, but wasnt sure where. Pinning it down to episilon lyr, i then struggled to spot the target, with the finderscope view significantly more detailed then the sky I struggle to determine that i am viewing the right thing.

    After a while i settled on what i thought was the target and was clearly a binary split under 50x mag. Taking the mag up the double double was brilliantly clear with both binaries in different orientations. I should really have more confidence in my pointing skills! stellarium confirmed the target this morning.

    My book indicated that Hercules was a close neighbour to lyra so my next task was to locate this massive constellation. I finally made out the keystone asterism and began casting about for M13 which i am sure i saw in the early days with suki and was a diffuse smear of light.

    Scanning scanning, OMG. It leaped from the eyepiece at me! The great globular cluster in Hercules was truly great. With a massive number of specks of light in view I must have watched it for a good 30 mins, with each second seeming to note more and more in its densely packed field. I really cannot wait for darker skies if this is what washed out DSOs look like. M13 ticked off my list.

    The question was do i now look for another target while i wait for Jupiter or pack up and get some sleep. A quick check on stellarium cleared that one up for me. It wasn't due to appear over my house for a good hr at least. I decided to try for the Dumbell Nebula as i could set my circles on m13. As the coordinates neared however the control knobs on the mount clashed and i still haven't worked out how to read RA on the opposite side. As I had no other target in mind I decided to pack up rather then ruin the night with fustration.

    A great unexpected session given the truly dire recent weather and very enjoyable.

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    Hello Astro chums..

    Could anyone tell me how many degrees our galaxy has span through since humans began to record star positions..?

    I imagine over say, the last six thousand years or so..:glasses1:

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  13. Blog 12649

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    Well it's sometimes sunny!!

    Newquay - Cornwall

    Clear skies

    Gremmie

  14. rfdesigner
    Latest Entry

    I've been slightly less than perfectly happy with the guiding, finding it hard to beat 4 arc seconds FWHM in my raw subs. So... I've made a new bracket for the RA motor out of 6mm thick 60mmx60mm aluminium angle.. and finally I've got it guiding tonight with the newly secured setup.

    On a 5 minute sub working at 1500mm focal length on 5.4u pixels I'm getting a FWHM of 4.01 pixels, that's 3 arc seconds FWHM. The focussing image (1 second long) was giving 3.3 pixels FWHM, so that suggests the guiding should have been about 1.7arc seconds FWHM or 0.77arc seconds RMS (PHD agrees). I'll have to check the log and see if PEC might be able to make a difference now.

    Not perfect, but certainly a good big step in the right direction, and leaves me with bigger fish to fry, like getting a coma corrector and filter wheel installed.

    Time for a little happy dance!