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Showing content with the highest reputation on 07/01/13 in all areas

  1. 2 points
    Readers of my panic buying thread in the Whole Scopes section will recall an expansion of my astro collection to accommodate some winter Sun. SWMBO was determined to briefly escape the dreary British winter and top up the tan, with my feature requests being "clear, south, warm a bonus". After much research, we booked a trip to Cabo (Cape) Verde. CV is located a few hundred miles off the west African coast and being still northern hemisphere (14-16 degrees N) the flights are between 5 and 6 hours from the UK. The latitude means the Sun peaks at a little over 50 degrees altitude at this time of year, so still feels strong on the skin, and daytime temperatures have been 26 or 27C dropping to 19 or 20C at night. The nation is gearing up for increased tourism in the coming years and as such is still developing its infrastructure, but the people are friendly and welcoming and (for now) it's reasonably priced here for a decent standard of accommodation and facilities. Anyhow, for all things astro... the latitude potentially opens up some interesting southern hemisphere viewing, although this is mediated by what scope you bring, the season and the local conditions... I packed a (panic-buy) William Optics Zenithstar 71 for the journey for a few reasons... the wide FOV (f/5.9), portability (on the mini Porta with 1.25" diagonal and EP it tips the scales at 6kg total), and fear of what happen to my beloved SCT I also saw it as a challenge...would I be able to find anything without my trusty GOTO and no experience of star hopping? The OTA and accessories were carried-on the aircraft. I brought a Hyperion Zoom and matching 2.25x Barlow, my ES82 11mm and 32mm plossl. Santa had apparently been listening to my rantings about how the ES68 24mm is impossible to find and instead surprised me with the green-lettered analogue (apparently Santa finds the TV in my collection more pleasing to look at than my ES family...) The season... it's technically winter here, but see above for weather however there has been varying amounts of wind each day with gusts up to 20mph, so late afternoon on the beach can feel a little cool. The wind obviously has implications on stargazing and there's a fair amount of twinkle below about 35-40 degrees altitude. One of the locals I was talking to says the wind eases off in spring and summer. Also, the portion of sky under the celestial equator west of Orion until about Capricorn is a bit barren for a small scope at this time of year, but Vela, Carina and Centaurus roll in the big guns in the early/pre-dawn hours. April would probably be a more restful time Local conditions... playing holiday roulette my 'luck' normally works against me, but to make a refreshing change we've got a balcony (?open but with a roof) with an unobstructed view from South through the West to NNE in Az and from about 5 to 60 degrees in Alt with little in the way of direct light cast. This is where I was viewing from last night, but I will have to grab-and-walk for about 10 minutes to find a secluded (hopefully) dark spot to view horizon peepers from. TBC Every night that we've been here so far it has been clear. Windy, but clear, with the occasional fluffy cloud moving swiftly by. You can't have everything! From the point of view of naked eye viewing, we've watched the Moon move east night by night using Jupiter as a point of reference, and I've pointed out stars not visible from home such as Canopus and Achernar, finger pointed at how Sirius almost looks like a dog from down here, Orion laying on his back, his fuzzy sword (followed by a lesson on star forming regions!) and his bow. Last night I got "you can see a lot of stars here!"... my response being that we'd be able to see a whole lot more if it wasn't full Moon. With regards to light pollution, we managed to see Upsilon Pegasi (mag 4.4) just after astronomical darkness while sitting at a table in front of a (over-lit) beachside bar on our first night here. Needless to say, I used it to illustrate how bad our LP is at home since we can only see that on the best of nights...and that we should move (I'd been earning multiple brownie points for my astronomy lessons up until then...) For telescopic viewing, I have a makeshift target list (follows) and welcome any suggestions of what might be visible with a small 'frac, realistically with Dec of -60 or more northerly... Omega Centauri Centaurus A (pushing my luck maybe!) Eta Carinae nebula (low) Gem cluster Jewel cluster (low) Omicron Velorum cluster I've been surveying for a suitable viewing site for these and the beach looks like the obvious choice with low light (or bust!) So after all the rambling so far, on to practical session 1...
  2. 1 point
    A lovely cluster, probably one of the nicest with long chains of bright stars, along with the smaller finer NGC2158. These are very well worth seeking out. Easy to find, go the same distance from Mu on the other side of Propus at the foot of Gemini. It shows well at x30 and at x80 fills the fov (82 degree ep). To the left of Gemini I found The Medusa Nebula , visually a small planetary near the cluster NGC2395. The planetary is to the rhs of a triangle of stars. At x120 I noted more than one point of light. Nick.
  3. 1 point
    ?????? Surely you're joking, Mr Feynman? Most people find climbing the Pixinsight learning curve a bit like climbing the North Wall of the Eiger in boxing gloves and roller skates. I know I do. I think it's the most inarticulate, autistic and unfathomable software I've ever encountered. I don't say it isn't powerful because it patently is, and it's quite brilliant, especially if you happen to be quite brilliant yourself. But it is a nightmare to understand and has no manual. You need Harry's tutorials etc but Ps is analogous with manual artwork and is written by people who know how to communicate. Both are complicated but Pixinsight is unpardonably obscure. I love it, I use it, but its user interface is a diabolical mess. It could be so much better. Ps has Layers and layers pave the road to heaven. Olly
  4. 1 point
    I arrived in UK 10 years ago, coming from Brazil, where I could enjoy clear nights for months in a row. I was amazed to see so many people sharing my love with astronomy despite so few clear nights in comparison. With time I came to understand that Patrick played a major role inspiring people to look up. I am definitely much less fussy Amateur astronomer than I was when I first arrived at this shores. I consider Patrick an Astronomy Hero.
  5. 1 point
    Lets hope the weather clear up then here is my system I´ve noticed the weather system back home in Scotland is much better. I´ve done about 14 years of Scandinavian winter...... I´ve had enough!
  6. 1 point
    My method of un-dewing my EPs on your heater worked very well i thought :D
  7. 1 point
    Very true! Once you get bitten by the AP bug you will never again have any spare cash!
  8. 1 point
    If you're interested in seeing satellites, Iridium flares are worth looking for. The Iridium network is fifty or so satellites used for global communications and they have (three, I think) large flat panels on the outside. The panels often catch the sun and produce a very bright "flare" across the sky. The Heavens Above website can tell you when they should be visible in your location as far as I recall. James
  9. 1 point
    Do you think that if I ordered a little flat box containing coffee and chocolates from FLO they might send me a free Borg refractor like James' ?
  10. 1 point
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