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Everything posted by KenG

  1. First of all, as a retired designer let me assure fellow members that product design is indeed taught at art colleges. Secondly, if this is a design project set by the college, then time will be limited and the need to acquire information, pressing. Third. If you know nothing about a subject, how do you know what questions to ask? The enquirer is upfront about his/her ignorance and IMO is trying to get an idea of what tangent to go off in. What he/she is looking for is a starting point. So........for what it's worth........... Some people - like myself - simply like looking. The sky's free and with a little bit of easily acquired knowledge becomes a thing of wonder. Other individuals take it more seriously and study and record things like variable stars. They get a buzz out of collecting and comparing data over extended periods of time. Astro photographers aim to acquire images of things they can't see, the eye being very poor at discerning faint detail in nebulae and galaxies. They spend a long time tracking objects with their scopes and an even longer time perfecting the images on their computers. Cosmologists aren't interested in looking at anything. You won't find any mystics on this site. Anybody else want to add to this?
  2. Well, regarding handles........... If you were to simply rivet/bolt a handle to the tube, I reckon there would be a good chance that the tube would deform. A 200mm Newt can be quite heavy and all that weight transferred to one point would not be a good idea - even worse in bigger scopes - so the only way round it would be a handle fixed to a couple of bands/straps around the tube to disperse the load, but then of course, any sort of external permanent strap is going to interfere with adjusting the tube in the mount, so are we talking about a detachable carry-frame? Clutch levers are a pain in the proverbial derriere and because of the aforesaid necessary adjustments for each observing session you never know where the stupid things are hiding. The idea of having some way of detecting them in the dark is a good one and deserves discussion and input from all frustrated newt users.
  3. Sky and Telescope is in-depth, Astronomy Now is approachable, and Sky at Night is tabloid.
  4. The most used and useful accessory I have is a broom handle. I lean on it when looking through the eyepiece and it keeps me rock-steady. Anyone else got weird and wonderful astronomy accessories?
  5. Get a zoom. It'll give you an idea of what your scope will do at different magnifications and will always be useful. Don't rush into compromise eyepieces. I have an f4 scope and I use Vixen LVW's along with a Meade tele-extender. At £200 the Vixens aren't cheap but they're worth every penny as long as you know which ones will work best for you. The whole point of fast scopes is the stunning views they deliver, and for me anyway, magnification is not a priority - I never use more than x130, in fact my favourite eyepiece is the 17mm which yields just x53.
  6. Whilst the instinctive reaction to bad neighbours is "fight fire with fire", that approach usually just makes things worse and you end up digging a hole that you can't get out of. The best approach is to get something spectacular in the eyepiece and then invite the offending person over to have a look. I did this once using the Perseus double cluster and the guy was gob-smacked. Kept on looking through the eyepiece then up at the sky to where it was and repeating " blumming hell!". No trouble after that.
  7. I have two Telrad mounts on my Newtonian and shift the finder between them depending on which way the scopes orientated.
  8. MrsR......... Ease of use, portability, quick set-up, even quicker pack-up.........in one word, "convenience". That new scope will quickly lose it's shine if it's an effort to carry it outside, assemble it, align it, and then when you're cold and tired, disassemble it, carry it all back inside again, and put everything carefully away. Regardless of what type of scope you buy, this should be your most important consideration.
  9. The "non-moon landing" lobby have a similar mind-set to "creationists". Instead of allowing facts/evidence to lead them to a conclusion, they start with the conclusion and rearrange the facts to suit their own beliefs. There's no point in arguing with them, because they've all got closed minds, and really, they just don't want to know.
  10. Nobody has mentioned whisky. Whisky has the ability to distort time and space. When I pour one, time stands still until it's finished. That's why it's called the "water of life".
  11. When I was a student, I found a book about "palmistry", and read enough of it to be able to bluff my way. Can recommend it for party-going. All I had to do was look at the nearest female's hand and say "Hey, you've got a good life line!" and I'd have the attention of every girl in the room. Sorry guys, but it's a better "chat-up" line than "What's your star sign? Leo? Ah! I was looking at M65 last night." I think in that respect, astrologers have the drop on astronomers.
  12. Well, if you decide to visit the North, let me know. I'm equi-distant from Belfast, Donegal Town and Derry, and the sky's as black as the stout.
  13. Yep. I'm in the North. Need any advice/help?
  14. I suggest you stay on this forum for a few weeks and read all the posts before you think about buying anything. You'll pick up a LOT of information about the pro's and con's of various telescopes and hopefully be able to make your own decision about what's best for you. You should also consider buying a few basic books about the hobby. They tend to be a lot less expensive than scopes.
  15. Thanks Chris. I'm going to add to the above post. Here's the one that leaves everybody speechless. Find somewhere that provides a view of the surrounding countryside, go there and on your local map draw a circle representing 4.3 miles with yourself at the centre. There's going to be a feature, radio mast, hill, something you can see from where you're standing that approximates to that distance. That feature, with our 2" Earth orbit, is our nearest companion in space, Proxima Centauri. Go back and fetch the family, give them a choice of several visible landmarks, including our 4.3 ml. one, and ask them how far they think it is to the nearest star. No-one's going to imagine it's as far away as that, and the realisation that the two tiny points of light that are our Sun and Proxima are seperated by that distance, is sobering to say the least. In fact, take a pencil torch with you, turn it on and stick it into the ground pointing upwards. It doesn't matter that it's the middle of the day. I know that to scale the Sun would be much smaller than the small circle of light at everybody's feet, but imagining another pencil torch 4.3 miles away helps everyone to grasp just how far away the stars are.
  16. Thought of using fold-up wind breaks? They're five feet high and about £35 from Argos.
  17. Hi Peter, in your post you asked what makes the hobby interesting. Whilst a telescope will undoubtably give you decent views of the planets, clusters and some nebulae, stars are going to remain as points of light no matter what you look through, so what makes looking at them absorbing is knowing a bit about what you're looking at. For children this will be very important, for after viewing the obvious targets a couple of times, the novelty will quickly fade. I mentioned on another thread that before I use my scope I will have researched the bit of sky I'm going to look at, not necessarily in great depth, but at least I'll have an idea about what's in the eyepiece, and if anyone stops and asks for a look I can tell them what sort of stars they're seeing and how far away they are. To this end, I use the explaination of scale from Burnham's Celestial Handbook. If the radius of our solar system were 3.5 feet, then one light year equals one mile. For your children, take a length of string and a bit of chalk and scribe a circle of that radius on the ground, then shorten the string and scribe another one of radius one inch - that's the Earth's orbit, the centre point is the sun of course. Now look up at the sky - when it's dark that is! - and find the Pleiades (the Seven Sisters), they're easy to spot. On the scale we've just used, they're 410 miles away. That's pretty breath-taking, especially when you measure out 410 miles on a local map and compare it to your 2" chalk circle, so when you go back to the eyepiece, the next view through the scope takes on a different meaning. With a bit of imagination, this can be made into a great game, and then there's individual stars to investigate. Peas are about 1/4" dia., they make a good Earth, so blow up a balloon until it's 21" across and you've got the sun for comparison. Buy a giant balloon on the net, the ones that inflate to 72", and start puffing, and when you've got your breath back, ask your eldest for a tennis ball. Now the tennis ball's the sun and your balloon is Betelgeuse, when it's at it's minimum size that is, for it's a variable and inflates to a third bigger again at regular intervals. For your children it's no longer points of light that all look the same, they have meaning and scale. I could go on giving you examples like this, but you've probably got the message - bring it to life. Astronomy depends equally on knowledge and imagination. A few books, something to look through, and the universe is yours. When I re-read this I realised I'd left off a zero after 41, so it's now corrected.
  18. I have one telescope, and I've had it for about fourteen years now. It does everything I want it to do, and you know why? Because when I bought it, I knew exactly what I wanted. I'd read lots of books, I'd been buying "Sky and Telescope" for a few years as well as "Astronomy Now", I had acquired a working knowledge of astronomy, and on this site, which I've only discovered a few weeks ago, there are constant questions from "newbies" about "what should I buy?" Whatever happened to independent research, which at the end of the day is at the heart of this "hobby", for as others have pointed out on other posts, it is background knowledge which seperates the "peering" from the "seeing". Sure you can buy a scope which will "do the job", but perhaps it's not such a bad idea to know what job it is you want it to do before you buy it, and what I do know, is that eyepieces determine what you see regardless of what sort of scope it is, and the more expensive they are, the better they are. I used a tripod-mounted binocular for years before I invested a lot of money in equipment, and I still use my binocular, and it still gives me satisfaction. The enquiry is about a limited budget, family use and the possibility of a rapid discard. One hundred pounds is going to purchase a bino, tripod and book on binocular observing, which will be enough to get a dubious observer hooked or disinterested. I'm not trying to talk anyone out of buying a scope, just sugggesting a way of minimising outlay whilst they determine whether or not it's a passing phase or a serious interest.
  19. I would agree with Ash. A 15x binocular and a good tripod will be well within your budget, and you'll see things you didn't know existed. From the family's point of view, this set-up is ideal, because objects aren't going to be rapidly drifting out of the field of view, and once lined up on something, everybody will be able to get a look with only minimal correction. The plus point is that the bino can also be used for wildlife.
  20. Hope you enjoy it. Can I suggest the Perseus double cluster as your first target for the 17mm? This view alone will be worth every penny you've spent.
  21. If it's a "spur of the moment" thing, then on my patio, which is brick paving, but if there's a good forecast and I can pre-plan, this is where you'll find me. Google Earth:- 54 35 08.05N 7 25 31.68W . If you enable Street View, zoom in and pan around, you can see that there's a closed off car-park, several very convenient picnic tables for laying my gear out on, and an awful lot of sky. And it's only twenty minutes from my home.
  22. Click on "Stargazers Lounge" in the header, scroll down to equipment reviews, enter, and on page 5 near the bottom there's a comparison of Baader Hyperions and Vixen LVWs by "jahmanson". I don't have any Hyperions, but I do have a couple of the Vixens which are fabulous, so if the Hyperions are as good as the review suggests they're going to be a good buy. My 17mm Vixen is my most used eyepiece.
  23. If you're out just looking, i.e. not observing, then you should see quite a lot. I would pick up at least a couple most nights when I'm doing nothing more than enjoying the view.
  24. I bought an Orion Optics f4 (short tube) Newtonian some fourteen years ago, and it's given me great service. Wonderful for DSO's and pretty good on the planets too, and though I don't do imaging, I should think it would be ideal for this. The important thing for you is that this sort of scope is very portable. The tube is only 80cms long, light weight, and very easy to carry. There's also no problem taking it on the back seat of a car. Setting up in my garden takes about ten minutes, that's carrying all the bits out, aligning the mount, attaching the scope and weights, and eyepiece in. Packing up is just as quick, and with the tripod folded and the tube on end, storage isn't a problem.
  25. Thanks John My original intention was to spend lots on an upgrade, so looks like I'll be sticking to that plan. Appreciate your reply.
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