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All comming together :)

At last, without a doubt, all is comming together, the dome works well, rain yesterday failed to penetrate, the new layout of the OTAs worked well allowing me to see the same view through all three OTAs. The only problem I have is Ascom, installed it yesterday with the hope of using the laptop for guiding but it failed and I had to remove it, not the first time this has happened. I am looking at getting a guiding setup but have been looking at direct guide rather then from laptop because of the Ascom problem, it's a wait and see game. The next part of the setup will be setting the parfocal rings on both 1.25 and 2 inch, hope to save a lot of hassle :) So all in all it's going okay, just have to have a few clear nights :). Jim

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

The Last Few Days :)

What a week it's been, from being deluged with rain to wall to wall sun, I took every opportunity to get work done on the obsy and whatever was required in the garden. During the week I realised that after one night out the obsy needed to be sorted to make more room, this was done the next day I now have a much easier time. The nights have been kind and I have spent every clear night out and have relearnt how to use my cameras, plenty of photos taken but few have made it into an album, being fun finding galaxies again and new ones to boot. A few pieces of equipment I know I need and they are parfocal rings, rings for the SCT and a guidance camera, first already ordered, the rest I have to think about. After a year away it has been good to get back into the swing of things and hope it can only get better, just have to be careful of accidents :) Jim

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

At Last!!

At last, the observatory is almost finished, the only thing to do is reroute all the cables but that will have to wait till clear weather appears again. With the sun out today it was all go and ended with the mount and telescopes back in place, tonight is clear so will be out to see if all works. I was going to get the roof fibreglassed but the weather held this up too much so went and replaced all the wood and waterproofed it, will be interesting to see if all has worked by tomorrow evening when the rain has passed. I downloaded the Polaris beta upgrade a few weeks ago, tonight I will be putting it to the test, looking forward to that. Jim

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Disasters all round :(

Try to get back into observing has not been easy, disasters all round. After setting up the equipment in the observatory I turned my attention to all the flight cases of gear I had not opened in almost a year. Silly me had left a number of items with batteries installed and these had leaked, so the last few weeks have been a recovery effort and that is going well but the worst part was not the cases but the observatory. I don't know what has happened but I have more rain inside than outside, the roof has developed a sieve like appearance!! I have now decided to get the roof GRPd and as soon as the weather gets better it will be done. In the meantime the kitchen table has taken on the appearance of an astronomy store, gear all over the place. So all in all not a good restart but at least I know the problems and can get them sorted, just have to see if my body can be fixed, not as easy :). Jim

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

The Return

Almost nine months has passed since I was last on here, falling down the stairs and breaking my replacement knee put me in hospital. The knee was not so much the problem as what else they found at the hospital, heart, kidney and postrate problems all came along at the same time and I also picked up an infection from the hospital!! So, all in all I was in and out of the place and not expecting to get back to sky watching again, but here I am :hello2: and a lot to learn all over again :). Before the accident I had started redoing the observatory and as I could not get out there it all went to hell, water everywhere and a lot of damage. A couple of weeks ago I got back into it and I now have a dome instead of the flatroof, got it made local, basic dome so I had to cut out the shutter. Almost got it ready, at least it is waterproof so have the telescopes mounted and just have to get the comms sorted, a couple of weeks should do it and back to late nights :). Jim

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Sun 26th Jun 11

The last couple of weeks I have been going to the obsy each morning, opening up and switching everything on. A twofold operation, one is to check that noting is amiss as far as security is concerned and two is to get the equipment working. I leave it then till the evening in the hope of clear skies but till now it has only been a couple of night with clear skies. Sunday looked to be one of the best nights, clear skies all round, the afternoon brought a change, a sea mist was rolling up from the south and standing in the garden it looked like there was a large fire somewhere, the cloud hugged the sea and just rolled up. Went for a meal later and sitting eating all we could see was what looked like rain sweeping past the seafront windows, last time I seen something like that was Snowdon. The mist cleared late in the evening and when it was just dark I set the OTA on the mount, opened the roof and nice clear skies :). Spending the next couples of hours wandering the skies I realised there was more light pollution than usual, it was then I realised the mist had returned, the street lights were being reflected a lot more and the GoTo was getting a little erratic!! So what I thought would be a good nights viewing turned into a bit of a damp squib, still more nights to come :).

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Sun 19th Jun 11

Night started well, a little cloud drifting east so decided to get out and play. Opened the obsy at 2330 hrs and got all ready, done my first star align and lo and behold, the sky filled with clouds. Abandoning the alignment I decided that whatever star was available I would use that as a guide star and play with the webcamss to see how tracking was holding. Using both the Meade LPI and the modded SPC900NC I spent the next hour hopping from gap to gap and checking all types of configurations, also used the Canon 450D on the main scope. Things started changing about 0200 hrs when the clouds started to clear and the moon shone in the clear sky, almost bringing daylight to the garden, it was not really what was wanted for skygazing. To make matters worse I had also been knocking my head off the balance weight again, this was getting to be a bad habit, it was then I decided to get to bed, a nice night but unfruitfull.

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Fri 10th Jun 11

Been a week since I wrote and it has been a busy one, decided to get myself a replacement laptop for the obsy, the orignal was falling over, steam driven!! I decided to get a secondhand one, same type as I am on now, knew it worked all the gear in the obsy so got it nice and cheap on fleabay. Just spent the last few days getting everything working, two mounts, cameras, webcams and extra monitor. So far all is well, remoting from the house went well but something I will keep to a minumum as I would rather be hands on. The great thing is I can now use Stellarium, PHD Guiding and a few other programmes without having to wait ages for something to happen, so a good week so far. Now where is all this clear sky so I can play with my new toys :).

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Fri 3rd Jun 11

What a night, just hope I don't have another like it, if I did not bump into the eyepiece I bumped into the balance weights. At one time I knocked myself so silly I thought about packing it in for the night. Don't know what was going on, know I am getting on but I seemed to act like a bull in a chinashop all the time, no damage to the gear but my head feels like I have done ten rounds in the ring, maybe I should get myself a hard hat!!! I seen some people have been complaining about the how little darkness there is at the moment, maybe they should pray to the creator and ask him to turn the big light out, probably get the same response as from the local councils regarding street lights :D Been playing with the DSLR now, took a few photos of messiers, all different timimgs and settings, just tests, the results have been nothing to write home about :). I now got my SPC900NC fixed, a few wires and a resistor came apart but all good now so will be testing that as well next night out.

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Thu 2nd Jun 11

A lovely clear day, opened the obsy and decided as there were some sunspots I would see what I could do. The sunspots and a blemish :( came out well, they are as follows, 1225,26,27,28 29 and 1231. Jim

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Tue 31st May 11

With a large cloud covering comming from the west I went out last night expecting just an hour or two of gazing, well had to stop after five hours of it, bed was beckoning my tired old bones :). A wonderful night, a bit of cloud which did not affect seeing so it was wonderful to sweep the skies. Found a couple more messiers, each time I used them as a focal point and took in the area round them. Tried out the CV-M50 camera, was good, gave good definition on stars but was not able to use it on planetary so that will have to wait. Still learning about it, loads of DIP switches on the back so time will tell. After a good night I went to bed and slept well :), looking forward to another night, maybe tonight :).

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Sat 28th May 11

My experimentation continues, now that I have the mobile power sorted I decided to get another project I had on the backburner up and running. I seen a camera on eBay last year, a bargin at £20, it is a JAI CV-M50, a mono 1/2" CCD, been lying around since then, had tested it and knew it worked. The only problem I had with it was the power cable, well yesterday I got someone to fix a power/video cable to the plug and tested it with the power pack this morning, a fantastic bit of kit. To see what was on the screen I actually had to bring the brightness down as low as possible and cover the telescope hood to a third. It will be interesting to see what it will be like at night with the brightness fully open, any video will be interesting so watch this space :)

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Fri 27th May 11

With little clear sky the last few nights my thoughts turned to portable power. Although I have been using 12v in the observatory it was a fixed option but now I have decided to use my CG-5GT as a Grab n Go it will need power. I bought a power pack off eBay and modified it by taking the compresser attachment off the back, this allowed it to fit perfectly into a flight case. I had a load of electrical pieces from my sailing days so these have been installed and tested okay. Last night I done a test run, with the mount sitting beside the laptop I put it on Polaris in Stellarium and left it running all night. This morning, switching all off I checked the battery and found it had run down to 50%, next job was to recharge the battery. A solar panel is attached and so far all has gone well, half of what was used is already back, hopefully this will be used for the DSLR as well. Just took the Canon power lead and cut the cig plug off, put a marine plug on and held my breath whilst I threw the power switches, the camera lit up in all the right places and no smoke, success :), a little more for the battery but don't seem a problem.

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Tue 24th May 11

Came out this evening, a nice clear sky and next to no wind, a big difference from last night :). Thanks to Astroboot I was able to get my guider attached with the rings during the day and after an alignment I was able to calibrate everything. After a good look round the sky I attached the guide cam, a Meade LPI and checked if the work I had do so far was okay. I sent the mount to Vega, spot on in the eyepiece, turning round it was with satisfaction I seen Vega on the cam screen on the laptop, great, all was working and after heading in for a coffee it was good to see it was still on station after 20 min. So, what next, well the Canon has to come out soon and have to start putting all the money I spent to good use :) Well back out now and enjoy the rest of the night :).

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Sat 21th May 11

Spent the day playing about in the obsy and garden, worked on the composting in the garden :D, and in the obsy I worked on what to do with my spare mount. Was not able to sell it so I have decided to use it in two ways, the head will be used in the obsy with a camera on it, already tested and both mounts work together in Stellarium at the same time :). The other use will be as a Grab n Go, bought a 12v pack for this at knockdown price so happy there. It's been a clear sky today so looking forward to a good nights viewing later :). Well thats that sorted, clouds snuck upon me, never even got a chance to start up the mount :(, still another day tomorrow :).

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Fri 20th May 11

Setup just after dusk and alignment went well, up to now have added two more Messiers to the list. Been quite an enjoyable night so far, no wind and the temp is nice, the clouds that threathened earlier never got to me so been clear so far :). At the moment I am using the refractor for the Messiers and the SCT for wandering around, just looking and taking it all in, no cameras or webcams, plenty of time later. Right, coffee break over, back out :). Well I got just under another two hours out of the evenings viewing, in the end it was the clouds that got me. A good night was had so can't say I don't see much :).

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Sat 14th May 11

Over the last few months I have found that Stellarium has been so power hungry that I could not get any other programme to work on the obsy laptop whilst it was running, one of the reasons which I did not do much remoting. This week I decided to reinstall XP and see if I could change anything, but no, still the same. After a bit of thought I decided to see if I could run the hub direct from the house, installing the wi-fi on the laptop gave me a spare cable, so putting USB boosters on the cable and connecting the mount to the house laptop was easy but a mightmare getting the USB/Serial to work. The orignal one refused to work but a spare one I had solved the problem. Booting Stellarium on the house laptop and configuring the port I watched in anticipation for the ring to appear, it did, next was to send the mount to a target, again it worked. With a wireless keyboard and mouse and a remote monitor in the observatory I can now remote the house laptop to it and use it for guiding and use the laptop in the observatory for camera work without a problem. It's been raining most of the morning but did not worry as I got a lot done, now for clear skies :)

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Thu 12th May 11

The night started out with rain in the air but turned out okay and so opened up and aligned. It was great to have the 2" barlow, thank you Sy, was a great purchase, the Messiers were wonderful to see and wandering round the sky was a dream. Cloud cover beat me in the end and ended the night on a good note.

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Tue 10th May 11

Been a good day, after making the new solar filter for the Evostar 80 left the mount on solar tracking for the rest of the day, all went well and then closed down for the evening. The local club is having a lecture, off to that and if the clouds stay away will return to the fight :). The night is warm, no breeze so will be staying out as long as possible. Have been going through a list of targets, all Messiers and all going well. With the night as it is I have decided to stay up and hopefully get a first peek at the Andromeda Galaxy for this year.

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Viewing - Thu 05th May 11

Decided to check out my Grab n Go gear and done some sun spotting. This is the first time for using it and it proved simple to setup, no leccy or any cables, just plonked it on the ground and a manual search for the sun. Turned out well for it's simplicity, a Meade Telestar RB60 on an EQ3, end shield off and a solar filter on, only problem is keeping track of the sun, no nipping indoors for a cuppa :) so SWMBO done the catering :). Just looking at the cloud cover on the net, doubt if there will be any clear sky tonight, but we can always live in hope :) As an afterthought, the Grab n Go gear is all secondhand and bought from various sources, recycling at it's best :).

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Viewing - Tue 03th May 11

Not so much gazing at the sky last night, spent most of the time gazing at the handset!! With the wind playing about the last week I spent the time fixing all the cables in the obsy, bundling them neatly and moving them so not in the way during observing. Well whatever I done had a disasterous effect on last nights viewing. Each time I got align done for some reason I lost power to the handset, there was a loose connection and this caused restets. The serial connection seems to be the culprit at the moment but last night I decided to pack up rather than fumble around out there so this morn will be the time to test, shake rattle and roll the handset and see what happens, I will also see about new solar filters for the rest of the OTAs :) Well redone the serial connection, put straps in to keep it together, shook the cables and the handset and all seems well :).

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Viewing - Sun 24th Apr 11

Did not get out last night, too tired after a day with the outlaws, also old bones are giving out :( . Today I decided, a lovely day, done a bit of solar, just a couple of shots and a bit of play with them, here is what I am keeping: Will now keep myself in readiness for this evening, hoping for a clear night :). The evening went well, of course the ISS was part of it, nice and bright, tried to photograph it but a complete failure, too fast on the shutter. I have now put a warning label at the on/off switch on the mount warning me to put the weights on first, less accidents :). The viewing was good, returning to my own way of aligning I was pleased to be able to hit tragets and stay on them for quite a length of time, will start using the webcams next and see how they go on the new scope. Jim

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Viewing - Fri 22th Apr 11

The evening started with a rerun of the previous night, an alignment from the idiots guide. I decided on this course of action to see what was going wrong, needless to say it was again a disaster and by 2330 hrs I decided to return to the old way of point, polar align and 3 star align, straight away I seen results in the handling. I put Saturn in the frame and left it for 30 min and it was still there when I came back. During the day I had a play with a remote timer and had set it up for the evening, plugged it in and away it went, me for a coffee :). All went well for the evening and another obstacle sorted :). Just remembered, earlier in the evening noticed on Stellarium that the ISS was about to rise so got the camera ready with a telephoto lens, watched the ISS move across the sky, a bright light against the now darkening background, up swept the camera, focused and clicked, nothing happened!! Did this a couple of times more but again a dud, have to work on this lol. The ISS came over again later but was in darkness so could only watch it's progress on Stellarium :(. Jim

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Viewing - Thu 21th Apr 11

Last night was a complete disaster, for some reason I decided to follow the instructions in the idiots guide regarding polar alignment, from that moment on it all went to pot. Not one target was achieved within the finder let alone the eyepiece, and to make matters worse light pollution was horrendous. Although I took some photos I am not holding out too much on them being any good :(. I accept that this is all part of package, good nights and bad nights but will plow on and hope to achieve some good results :) Jim

The Sailor

The Sailor

 

Viewing - Wed 20th Apr 11

A lovely day today and was looking forward to tonight but just remembered that we have a group talk at the local library, so have closed the obsy for the moment and will get back to it later :) Well got home from the local group meet and got straight down to stargazing. Had worked out the problem with the camera attached to the refracter earlier so went straight into checking if all was well. Aligned and then set the camera up, got focused and with a list of messiers I set off, a 60 sec shot of each one with just a LPF on, turned out better than expected, each photo was on target. Next step will be to use a Barlow, greater focus and longer exposure. All in all a good night, tired but happy :) All photographs on Facebook, just click on the link in my signature block :). Jim

The Sailor

The Sailor

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