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Showing content with the highest reputation since 04/06/12 in Blog Entries

  1. Since first posting details of my new set up on the Blogstronomy blog I've been literally inundated by an e mail from a Mrs Trellis of North Wales. Mrs Trellis writes "Dear so-called Top Gear. When are we going to get that lovely Ginger person back on Gardeners' Question Time? P.S. Show us some pictures of your new mount, scope and camera." Who am I to disappoint my fan base?
    17 points
  2. It's a question that comes up regularly, but what is the difference between a Barlow and a telecentric amplifier (TA), otherwise known as a Powermate, ES Focal Extender. Meade Telextender, Bresser SA Barlow, etc? A telecentric amplifier does give a 2x magnification, just like a Barlow but that's where the similarity ends. A Barlow is a negative doublet (Smyth lens) that causes the exiting light rays to diverge and hence deliver the image amplification. If you move the EP further from the Barlow the magnification increases, whilst taking the Barlow nose-piece off and screwing it onto the EP wil
    14 points
  3. My new EQ8 mount is now back from my mate Chris. Chris made a 15cm high pier extension to raise the whole kit and caboodle so that the observatory walls don't get in the way so much. Because the whole mount + cameras/filter wheel/focal reducer + counterweights weighs in at an estimated 82 kg, the pier extension is made from a solid block of 19cm diameter alumunium! With this concentration of mass, gravitational lensing will now swamp the punny effects of 9.25" mirror on the C9.25". One the subject of counterweights, Chris got hold of a Celestron CGEM 7.7kg counterweight and bor
    12 points
  4. Following an inheritance, I've taken the decision to carry out a major upgrade of the set up in my observatory. Gone is my venerable Meade 8" LX200 and in has come a Skywatcher EQ8 mount carrying a 2nd hand C9.25 and my 80ED and my 66mm ED simultaneously. This is all held together using around 40,000 tonnes of ADM Losmandy dovetails and clamps. Added to this is an Atik 460EX Mono CCD camera + a ZWO 8 position filter wheel with a full set of Baader RGB and narrowband filters and I am one very happy bunny. Now comes the hard work. It's going take a LONG time and a lot of work to se
    11 points
  5. I threw an opinion into the mix in the beginners forum the other night and decided I should expand on my reasoning here. Even somewhere as benign as SGL, you still have to remember this IS the internet. That means opinions repeated enough by people with large post counts, gain credence as fact among the rest of the forum. It does not hurt to challenge that, if only to get people thinking, as long as you do it in a reasoned way. So..... What got me thinking was the humble 8" Dob. For instance, I've noticed that the most recommended scope for a beginner is an 8" Dob; 10" if there's a sniff of th
    11 points
  6. This article considers the financial perils of astro-photography, because while a hobby like Astronomy can at times leave you financially challenged, nothing is quite so fiscally ruinous as deciding it would be a jolly good idea to fasten a camera to your telescope. There are many reasons you might consider taking up astrophotography. Perhaps, as your eyesight slowly declines from the hawk like clarity of youth to Mr Magoo myopia in your advancing years, astro-imaging appeals as a way of extending your hobby into pensionerhood. Or it might be that you’re fed up of seeing things like the Androm
    11 points
  7. Three Weeks in the Wilderness Between the 9th to the 22nd of August, I was fortunate to spend almost three weeks camping with my girlfriend in the natural park of Causses du Quercy, France. It is a beautiful area of hidden caves, prehistoric artwork, gorgeous villages, mellow rivers, cool breezes and summer sun, delicious wine, cheese and paté and some of the most precious skies in Europe. I was fortunate enough to take along my 10" Moonshane and head out with my girlfriend to an area known as The Black Triangle. Here, at night, the only light you see is that from the stars and from the Moon
    10 points
  8. Chris’s Backyard Astronomy. January 2017. A view beyond Earth’s lifetime Happy New Year to everyone. This month I am going to concentrate upon one topic only; something that came to my attention at New Year. The item in question is described as a QUASAR and makes a year in my life appear extremely insignificant. Eyewitness report: “Almost Older Than Time. Would we be able to see it? On Monday the 2nd of January we gathered in Chris's back garden observatory to spot a tiny pinprick of light that had been tra
    9 points
  9. This in the first in an undoubtedly infrequent series of ramblings from Michael Morris, unsuccessful amateur astronomer and prog rock fan. I thought I start off with a success story of sorts (lap it up now as there won't be many of these!). A couple of years ago my youngest daughter upgraded her old Windows Vista (spit) laptop to a Macbook. The old laptop sat around nontionently being a laptop for a few months before, in a desparate attempt to stop having to run Windows Vista, decided to start overheating and turning off after five minutes of running. And for three years it sat at on shelf in
    9 points
  10. The Eskimo Nebula - A View from the Arid Lands By Way of Introduction In a manner of speaking, we are born out of the earth, walk on it for a while and finally become part of it when we die and so too with a star. It is born out of the cosmos, wanders it for a while and finally becomes a part of it when it dies. In this way, both a star's existence, like a human life, is a rite of death, a being-towards a something else; a transformation. The physical recycling of life serves as a reminder of our own ultimate fate and likewise that of the Sun; for the star that was once the Eskimo Nebula
    9 points
  11. Recently had some bad personal news so did what I usually do in these circumstances.....I bought a new scope To be precise a Synscan 127mm Maksutov from Rother Valley Optics (no planned advert but have to say great service) At last clear skies tonight so set up my new scope, used 2 star alignment, Regulas and Sirius as my garden is only any good towards the south (street lights everywhere else), really simple, five minutes and up and running. Quick tour using handset for messiers and whipped through M46, M47, M48 and M50, followed by the Christmas tree cluster and the beehive
    8 points
  12. Hi all Been a while since my last entry, so thought it about time to log another! Things are getting a lot busier at work. My area has changed, and I have now taken on Norfolk, along with Bristol and South Wales. I am a Regional Systems Manager for Greene King Pub Co. and look after all the sites IT and till equipment. So, more sites means more meetings and more miles, but I love it - getting out and about, and seeing areas of the country I haven't been too before. The other day I had to drive from Shrewsbury to Sheffield, and the SatNav took me over the Moors near Manchester, and th
    8 points
  13. Since shortly before xmas I've been developing a piece of software to support electronically-assisted astronomy (EAA). Realistically it is still some months away from release, but the main design elements are getting close to being fixed so I think now is a good time to document what I'm doing in the hope that any comments or suggestions might be taken on board before the thing fossilises too much. The tool -- codenamed Jocular -- aims at promoting observation, but getting the most out of the limited number of photons we EAA-ers typically collect for each object we observe. The interface
    8 points
  14. Ok, so the photo isn't a classic but to me it's a masterpiece :-) ...the first time I have ever seen Jupiter through a telescope let alone been able to photograph it. Pretty awesome to be honest considering I've managed to take a photo of a planet over 550million km away and whilst I don't think it'll win any prizes it has made me a happy man!
    8 points
  15. It's been a while since I posted anything here so to rectify that read on to discover why the moon is like Scarlett Johansson and along the way Galileo, Buzz Aldrin, ET and a drunken zombie all get a mention too. Any astronomer with any degree of experience will have a list of things they really want to see. Many, for example will have no doubt fantasised about seeing Betelgeuse going supernova perhaps while they happened to be looking at it. Or it might be watching a comet perform a death plunge into Jupiter and observing the resulting scars in its atmosphere, which would no doubt be an aweso
    8 points
  16. A mini star party with my son tonight. He seemed to enjoy viewing the moon through my little 66mm refractor.
    7 points
  17. Hello there!! Yeah, its been a while since my last blog post. Work and family life have been unbelievably busy these past months – added to that the summer nights being short, things on the astro front have taken a bit of a hiatus. However, the nights are slowly drawing in now, and following our recent holiday to Cornwall I am slowly getting more time to get out under the stars! A couple of weeks ago, we took a family holiday to Cornwall. We stayed on a working farm, on the edge of Bodmin Moor. I had done some homework, and the farm had Bortle 4 skies, compared to my 6 at home in D
    7 points
  18. Just got back from Iceland having enjoyed a few days sploshing about in the geothermal waters, looking at waterfalls and geysers and eating lots of cod. As you can imagine, we were very excited at the prospect of seeing the Aurora Borealis. Unsurprisingly, nights went by under a dense blanket of cloud. Then, on the morning of the last full day of our holiday, the sun came out and so did we. After a full 10 hours traipsing about a glacier and investigating basalt columns on a black beach we returned to our hotel in Reykjavik. Night fell - clunk! One by one all the light pollution came on al
    7 points
  19. A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone! I do hope everyone had a fantastic time over the holidays. Well, Santa has been very kind to me this year, and on Christmas morning I awoke to a huge box in the living room – it had been too big to wrap, and anyway I knew what I was getting lol!! So, I am now the proud owner of a Skywatcher Explorer 150PL. it was ordered from RVO at 4pm on Thursday afternoon, and arrived early on Saturday morning – great service!! I had um’d and ah’d for ages on what OTA to get, and I finally settled on the PL. To me, it seems to be a good compro
    6 points
  20. It finally happened – after waiting two weeks and a day, the clouds parted, and I was greeted with a clear, still and cloudless sky!! Whoop Whoop!! 15 days is a long time to wait! The scope (SW Explorer 150-PL) had been sitting in my dining room since Christmas, and despite a very short outing last week, that lasted about 10 minutes, last night was the first time I used her properly. I popped the tube outside a good hour before I intended to go out to observe, giving it plenty of time to cool down. I then put the mount together – I did this inside, so I could see what I was doing! Once it
    6 points
  21. The aluminium tripods that come with a majority of beginner and mid-range scopes have had a bad name for years as being poorly made, sloppy and people have tried various ways to make them sturdier such as filling the legs with sand, lead shot, or even expanding foam. I just read an account the other day of where a person was fitting steel rebar into the legs to see if it will help… The only problem with these solutions is that you end up with a very heavy cumbersome tripod that is really no better than what it was when the modifications were started. I will show you what I do with thes
    6 points
  22. Toot and I had a wonderful week with Olly and Monique in the Haute Alpes. We enjoyed the magnificent dark skies, the stunning Milky Way, looking through Olly's big Dob and drawing and painting with Monique. We saw for the first time: The Crab Nebula, The Swan Nebula, The Eagle Nebula and all of the Veil Nebula. The Witches Broom was fantastic and through a wideangle eyepiece and Olly's monster of a Dob it appeared almost 3D. We also looked at the Lagoon and Triffid Nebulae before they dropped below the horizon. From our backyard and through my 127mm. refractor, we quite often look at M13
    6 points
  23. Well after what seems like an eternity,ive finally broken through 10mm depth of sagittal on my 22" grind!!!another 2mm or so to go which will hopefully be done by the end of the weekend and its tile tool time.been some clear skies this last week or so and with virgo up well ive missed galaxy hunting but it will be worth it when the beast is ready!!!! Happy days. clear skies Rich
    6 points
  24. This was taken 8th April 2016 from an apartment in Hamilton Island, Australia. The equipment I used was a Samsung Galaxy S5 and an old but good quality pair of binoculars left by the owners. The skies were incredibly dark and we were able to attend a talk by a local astronomer who guided us around what could be seen with the naked eye. I was delighted last year when I used Stellarium last year to look at the view on that date and confirm that I had indeed captured Jupiter and 4 moons!
    5 points
  25. Toot and I had a great time in Norwich last night. Dr Michael Foale CBE gave a talk about his life as an astronaut to a packed audience at the University of East Anglia. What an accomplished, kind and measured man. A couple of hours in his company passed very quickly. He has great interpersonal skills and although we only spoke to him very briefly, both my partner and I felt we had 'met him' rather than just 'heard him' speak. What an exciting, if not at times scary, life and career he has had? Highlights include: a spacewalk to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope's computer fr
    5 points
  26. Source: Sgl - How To Use The Blogs
    5 points
  27. ImPPG has moved to GitHub: http://greatattractor.github.io/imppg/ ImPPG performs Lucy-Richardson deconvolution, unsharp masking, brightness normalization and tone curve adjustment. It can also apply previously specified processing settings to multiple images. All operations are performed using 32-bit floating-point arithmetic. Supported input formats: FITS, BMP, JPEG, PNG, TIFF (most of bit depths and compression methods), TGA and more. Images are processed in grayscale and can be saved as: BMP 8-bit; PNG 8-bit; TIFF 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit floating-point (no compression, LZW- or Z
    5 points
  28. Last night, I stood and watched as my ten year old grandson looked through my old 10x50 binoculars and found for his first time; the Andromeda Galaxy and then the Pleiades. Looking out into space and back in time is and should always be very exciting! He was very pleased with himself. Binoculars are a great way into astronomy for the younger child. Negligible set up and minimal supervision required - wide variety of observeable treats and maximum time taking in the view! Have set him a challenge to find the monthly binocular highlights in my astronomy magazine and am looking forward to his
    5 points
  29. Originally I wrote this article in early January of this year so some bits may be out of date by now but I don’t think it really matters. Also if I were publishing these articles in the order they were originally written this one should be about astro-photography but given the recent comments by Brian Cox around his thoughts on the existence of extra-terrestrial life I thought while it was topical I might as well put forth my musings on the subject. The picture near the end of the article comes from wikipedia so I can’t say how accurate it is but I think it is close enough for the point it's t
    5 points
  30. This is the first of a series of articles I wrote for my local astronomy society (CLASS) newsletter that I thought I'd post here. They are not meant to be a serious attempt to tackle any of the subjects with any sort of authority. I was aiming more for an entertaining series of articles on the kind of trials and tribulations that are common to amateur astronomers. Or as I recently introduced one of my articles "It's the usual mix of pop culture references and dubious facts wrapped around a vaguely astronomical theme" O Andromeda, Andromeda, wherefore art thou Andromeda? One of the first things
    5 points
  31. Sat24 showed a three hour gap in the clouds and gave me enough time to explore day 13 of the moon.... The three named craters in this sketch show along the terminator. The largest crater at the top is Pythagoras, 130km in diameter with steep 5000m cliffs and a double central mountain (although only one showed at the time of the sketch). Oenopides is next with steep terraced cliffs, 68km at its widest point and suffers the same crushed walls as Pythagoras from the walled plain Babbage in the centre. Right at the bottom of the sketch is Markov the smallest crater at 41km in diameter and with 240
    5 points
  32. The Double Cluster - Caldwell 14 The Double Cluster or Caldwell 14 in Perseus is a visual extravaganza and probably one of the most breath-taking sights to be seen in the night sky. On a good night the soft glow from the combined light of the two individual clusters resolve into an awe-inspiring swarm of literally dozens upon dozens of blue and white stars surrounded by just as many unrelated Milky Way stars. The true brilliance of the Double’s stars are dimmed by swaths of heavy galactic dust clouds between ourselves and the two clusters which render their members over four times fainter
    5 points
  33. Measurement of Doubles and a Jovian Moon - Baader Micro Guide Introduction The reason for this rather long blog entry is to highlight what has been possible using simple and relatively inexpensive gear to measure the separation and position angle of a number of double stars and the sizes and distances of various objects within the Solar System. The preliminary goal was fivefold: to further skills in star-hopping and to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of star magnitude. to garner some experience in measuring double stars as accurately as possible. to work out the sizes and
    5 points
  34. Some Doubles in Andromeda Perhaps there are some who think doubles are merely two stars close together and they may be right, just as one may be right in saying great music is only a bundle of notes strung together or that literature is just a large collection of words. But as with most things in life, if you spend time with doubles, hunting them out and learning from them, you come to realise that the grand majority radiate an aesthetic beauty quite unlike anything else. As with any art, there need not be any purpose in splitting stars, just as there need not be any necessary purpose in strol
    5 points
  35. General Plan I've decided to include my general observing plan for the warm summer months ahead because I feel it will not only help direct my own observations and studies but may also help other folk trying to decide what urban wonders they might be able to try for in the following weeks. The listing information includes Messier objects, NGC wonders, and Double Star gems which I think are worth taking a shot at even if the possibility of success isn't 100%. Unless directed otherwise the listing will be set out as follows: Target Name: Constellation; Type; Level of Subjective Difficulty 1 (rel
    5 points
  36. I'm hoping this is my final and hence "Ultimate" generation of all sky cameras. Based on the ASI185MC CMOS astro camera and Fujinon fish-eye lens of 1.4mm focal length and f1.8. Image capture is provided by a Raspberry Pi 3 in conjunction with INDI drivers. This is used with KStars/Ekos client software running on a Linux Mint desktop indoors. Communication is via Wi-Fi. The astro camera is an uncooled version but I have added a Peltier TEC cooler. This cools the camera down to something like -15°C for night sky imaging with longer exposures of around a minute. Daytime imaging is also co
    4 points
  37. Perhaps the open outlook to the east Ensures the leaded panes catch every ray And part explains why on the dullest day My eye is drawn up to the colour feast, After a rubbish couple of months, finally a holiday........a week in the Yorkshire Dales, only a 7.5 hour drive from Kernow but worth it! A little cottage east of Hawes, nothing but sheep and pheasants and yes dark skies. Great food in small pubs with the friendly locals, Abbey ruins visited and gloriously recommended to sooth the soul and switch off the rat race (Easby Abbey nr. Richmond, Jarvaulx Abbey nr. Ripon), honestly
    4 points
  38. Invited by two of our children and grandchildren to meet them, early on Christmas morning, on the beach at Southwold for a swim. Had serious misgivings about this: as I dont do getting up early, I do not have a wet suit and recently have been under the weather. Anyway as my partner does have wet suit and was keen, a few bah-humbugs thrown in my general direction got me out of my 'toastie slumber chariot' before 8:00 UT and by 10:00 we were at the water's edge. There had been a hard frost overnight but by the time we entered the water, the air temperature was a balmy 2 deg C . I managed a
    4 points
  39. I'm starting with an empty area about 10 x 4 metres between sun lounge and observatory in front of living room window and facing roughly south. I have killed off most of the weeds and grass by covering with an old tarpaulin for a year or so. This has also stopped the ground from drying out and making it easier to dig. In addition to providing a path to the observatory, this will provide flowers and shrubs to see from the living room window. Plus a small pond and fountain. The latter is something I have been working on in 3D printing and plan to have something unique. Apart from the pond
    4 points
  40. Every Autumn our local pub organises a charity auction evening. As one of the lots I offer a voucher for 'An evening of Astronomy'. This blog shows the outcome of the last winning bid as posted on the local website, warts and all. Cashing in on photons A short article on an outreach at the Bishop Monkton observatory Sunday the 22nd of October 2017, a week after the annual auction at the Lamb and Flag, the owners of the Astronomy Evening voucher from 2016 made it to the observatory. It may have taken a year to arrange but that’s nothing to the 2.3 million year ol
    4 points
  41. Ask any astronomer what most frustrating thing about the pursuit is, and they will likely give you an answer along the lines of ‘cloud.’ I always quite liked clouds, especially those fluffy ones like on the title credits of the Simpsons (puts on Nerd Hat, straightens bow tie, clears throat “I think you’ll find those are called Cumulus clouds.” Takes off hat, gets back into cupboard under stairs) so, naturally, when I was warned about what a menace they were, I was sceptical. Let me tell you, a menace they are. This weekend’s viewing was defined by my telescope racing to clear spots to try and
    4 points
  42. 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 the
    4 points
  43. I like a bit of recycling and so, after I realised that I had not used my old ETX90 RA for at least two years, I decided to get it out of its fabric carry-case and give it 'the once over'. I have to say that little scope is a robust little beggar and optically as sound as the day my partner Toot purchased it for my fiftieth birthday. The fork mount is definitely passed its sell by date but the OTA is definitely too good to waste sitting on a shelf in a bedroom. So today I decided to remove the OTA from the forks so that I could use the ETX on my recently acquired Star Adventurer equatoria
    4 points
  44. 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
    4 points
  45. There are a couple of things I’d better point out about this article. First off, I have no affiliation with Skywatcher or any other astronomy equipment manufacturer or distributor. While I’m doing disclaimers I should probably also say I have no connection to Argos or Ford either. Secondly, I appreciate that I have ignored a huge number of telescopes of various makes, models and technologies. Guilty as charged, but then this is not a particularly serious or comprehensive buying guide by any means. It is difficult to believe but there are people amongst us that will tell you quite seriously th
    4 points
  46. Here is a picture of Ganymede seen through a 10" scope (NOTE THE PICTURE IS NOT MINE). So here is some evidence that It might be possible... I hope I really will see detail on Ganymede and the other moons. Alas Jupiter is not in the sky so i will have to wait :)
    4 points
  47. There seems to be a definite consensus in these forums that there is a strong positive correlation between new astronomical purchases and less than ideal weather conditions. I am hereby giving due notice and apologies for my splurging of large chunks of cash and inviting the clouds in. After much deliberation, I have decided to birthday treat myself to a full astronomy kit upgrade from my starter 130EQ. I am now sufficiently hooked and certain that this is not a fleeting affair, so have taken the plunge. My goals involve being able to take images as well as doing some proper astrophysics, so a
    4 points
  48. My Quark Chromosphere turned up this morning. Hurrah.
    4 points
  49. I'm no scientist. I'm not even an "ist!" But I do have a problem when they say "Time Travel is not possible" They are wrong!!! Of course it is. How do I know? How is it that I can say this? How is it that I can argue with the greatest minds that have ever lived? Easy... Because I've done it! Yep, you heard me right...I've traveled back in time. Now before I tell you how I did it, let me explain something. I ask questions...of everything...I used to have a wish, and that was to be a physicist. The subject has fascinated me ever since I was a small boy. But alas, I was born without the ability t
    4 points
  50. I thoroughly enjoy sketching at the eyepiece when observing. Not only does taking the time to make a sketch encourage the observation of finer details, it serves as an excellent record of one's observations and is of greater use than a textual description. As the recent poor weather continues, I have been going through some recent observations and picked out some highlights below. I well remember recently working my way through the Herschel 400 open clusters in Cassiopeia. As I moved towards M103, I found that I could just fit 4 lovely clusters, each with their own characteristics, into on
    4 points
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