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The Bat

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    Great Dunmow, Essex
  1. I have the same hand controller for my CG-5 mount. It should definitely work with the powertank. I run mine with a lead that runs from the 6v power output on the powertank into the plug on the controller. That particular lead cost about £2.50 from Maplins. I find my handset goes red if the battery pack or powertank starts to drain. There is no chance that you have run it from the 12v output is there? I have known handsets to be fried doing that. Rachel
  2. Hi AdamI am from Great Dunmow myself. You'd be more than welcome to come and check out North Essex Astronomical Society. We're a friendly and sociable group and hold monthly public stargazing nights at Great Notley Discovery Centre, and lectures at Rivenhall End. We also have access to an observatory near Wakes Colne. You've just missed our latest public stargazing night last night under fabulously clear skies, but the next will be a solar observing afternoon on 23 June. Feel free to come along to any of our public meetings. There is a growing number of members based this side of Braintree. Rachel
  3. Hi all I am one of the aforementioned NEAS crowd, also from Dunmow. Quite a few people showed up at last night's cloudgazing activity - thanks to all that did. We're thinking of changing the arrangement because a handful of hopefuls always turn up, even when it's blanket cloud. We did get a fleeting glimpse of the Moon and handed out some advice to a couple of people who brought telescopes. We're thinking along the lines of stargazing if clear, and a telescope workshop/Q&A if cloudy, and only cancel if it's raining. We just need to consult with the park first to make sure it's agreeable with the staff there. It would save a lot of last minute deliberations as to whether or not we should cancel. Watch this space! I think we are the closest club to Bishops Stortford. We have one or two members as far afield as Stansted and Newport, and a few around Dunmow. Come along to one of our meetings - our next public meeting is on 18th April at Rivenhall End near Witham and the next stargazing will be on the 28th. You'd be most welcome! Rachel
  4. If you have ever tried to observe a planet through a telescope you will have seen that the image is not stable, but wobbles and ripples due to atmospheric turbulence. Periodically, though, the image will stabilise allowing details to be seen. The use of a webcam capitalises on these moments of good seeing. Capturing a video sequence is like taking thousands of single frame images, and in some of those frames, the image will be much clearer than in others. The software referred to above (usually Registax) is capable of sorting frames by quality, based on a reference image picked by the user. The frames are ranked in order, meaning bad frames can easily be discarded. The good frames are then stacked and processed. Stacking increases the signal to noise ratio, bringing out the detail. A single video frame is not much to look at, but by the time hundreds or thousands of frames are stacked together, it produces some amazing results. Rachel
  5. Not very easy to track down, although I have viewed it several times in the past few weeks. I plotted it on a good star chart and used that. I got the co-ordinates from Stellarium. I start at the circlet of Pisces and then go east a bit until I am almost in line with Alpheratz and Algenib. There isn't much easily recognisable stuff in the area to help and the stars I use to find the way are hard to pick out if there's too much LP. Even though I know roughly where it is now, I still often have trouble remembering which point of light it is through the finderscope. For me, it's distinctly non-stellar at 63x, but I usually push the magnification up to 135x at least to see a fuzzy greenish disk. Rachel
  6. Nice picture and the colours look good. Rachel
  7. Well, here is my first attempt at Jupiter this year. I was quite pleased with it. It looks like it has eyes! The GRS was just disappearing as I captured it. Annoyingly it had been right round the front when I began observing but by the time I decided to get the camera out it was rapidly vanishing. This was approx 2200 frames stacked. Thanks for looking. Rachel
  8. You may have trouble focusing on Jupiter if your collimation is out. You may notice as you try to bring it to focus that it always appears to be fuzzy, and always on one side, whichever way you turn the focus knob. I noticed that when I bought my C8 that I could never quite get Saturn in focus and it was always one side that was fuzzy. Alternatively, point the scope at a brightish star (near the zenith ideally) and de-focus it. If the scope is collimated you should see a doughnut shape which should be pretty much round. If it is squashed or the hole is off centre, then your collimation is out. A perfectly collimated scope should show concentric rings on an out of focus star. There will be 3 screws holding the secondary mirror which are located on the central obstruction in the middle of the corrector plate. These may be covered by a cap that you need to flip off (I have to use a small screwdriver to do this). You will need to work out which screw has to be adjusted (if you have the instruction manual, there should be a guide to collimation in there). While centred on an out of focus star at high power you need to tweak the screw very slightly (often 1/8 of a turn or less at a time), re-centring the star after each adjustment. Continue making adjustments until you get the concentric rings. You may have to adjust the other screws in the opposite direction too. It should only require fractions of a turn. My description is not great and I would recommend reading a collimation guide with diagrams which should make it clearer. There are plenty floating around on the internet. Hope that helps a bit. Rachel
  9. I believe the bog standard EQ5 mount is pretty much the same thing as my CG5, in which case it is a non-GOTO mount for which you can buy a motor drive (which is what I have done). If you buy this, then you will not have any GOTO functionality and will have to find everything manually. If at a later date you want to upgrade to GOTO you can buy a Synscan upgrade as another separate accessory. I looked at this option a while back because I am toying with imaging but cannot accommodate a guide scope with my current setup. Whether you can still use the mount manually once you have the Synscan upgrade I'm not sure, but I figured that if you want GOTO from the outset you would have bought a GOTO mount in the first place. So I think what you want is a standard EQ5 plus a motor drive and worry about the Synscan at a later date. ie: First Light Optics - Skywatcher Explorer 200P EQ5 Hope that helps. Rachel I see several people have pitched in since I started typing this reply!
  10. I would recommend the book 'Turn Left at Orion'. It has directions to dozens of objects and will keep you happy for hours. It has realistic diagrams of what you can expect to see too, which is really handy for a beginner. The Pleiades looks fab in my finderscope but in the main scope I can only see a handful of stars because it is so big! Likewise, the Andromeda Galaxy extends so far beyond the FOV that you only see the bright core. Have you spotted the two companion galaxies M32 and M110 yet? If you pan around you should see two smaller smudges, one on either side of the main splodge. Bumping up the magnification will make objects appear dimmer. Good planetary observation requires steady seeing and on a night of poor seeing, higher powers will magnify the wobbles in the atmosphere as well as making the image bigger. You just need to play around with different eyepieces on different nights. Jupiter may look wobbly one night, but on another you may be able to push the power right up and then you will get some great views. The Ring Nebula (and many planetary nebulae) respond quite well to higher powers and if you have a nebula filter that may help too. Rachel
  11. As a fairly slight lady I would struggle with a 12" tube and umpteen kg of base. For the amount of money I spent on my scope, I could have bought a whopping dob, but I would never have been able to set it up by myself. Yes, I know I could have got a smaller dob for much less money, but I think I knew quite early on that I wanted to dabble in some imaging so it was not the choice at the time. That said, if I had endless amounts of cash and one of those scope trollies, I would love a big dob to complement my other scope. Our club has recently acquired a 14" dob, much in need of renovation, but once it's restored I look forward to having the best of both worlds. Rachel
  12. Without wanting to sound too downbeat, a lot of people would say that the mount is more important than the telescope when it comes to deep sky astrophotography. The mounts on those scopes look a bit on the flimsy side. A small scope on a good mount will give better pictures than a big scope on a small mount. At the very least you will need a motor-drive for DSO imaging, which neither of those mounts appears to have. The scopes are fine for visual observing, but if you have the budget for a better mount that is going to be pretty much essential for any astrophotography. The only objects that will show colour to the eye are planets, in general, and you will see different colours of stars - reds, oranges and yellows, for example. Some brighter DSO like the Orion Nebula show traces of colour, but by and large most things look monochrome. Long exposure photography will reveal the colour. Hope that helps. Rachel
  13. It's easy to check if you have dew forming on your scope: shine a light onto the front . If it's on the eyepiece, sometimes that happens if you breathe on it accidentally as you approach the eyepiece. But if you are leaving them uncovered, they may well be suffering a bit of dewing. Tips would be to keep eyepieces covered up any time you are not using them to observe - so yes, cap the top if you are storing them upright in the accessory tray. Also, if you keep them indoors until you are ready to go out and observe, they will be warmer than outside and will stave off the dew that bit longer. An easy fix I use if they get a little misty is to put them indoors for a few minutes just to clear the mist (I've even done that with the scope before now). You can also try using a hairdryer to de-mist but try not to point it directly at the optics; give it a gentle waft from the side. As for the main scope, it will mist up more quickly if you are looking at objects overhead, so I just try not to look at the zenith too much until later on in a session so as not to attract too much dew too early. I thought about dew heaters early on when I got my scope, but in 3.5 years I haven't had enough problems to warrant the expense, but I am rarely out for more than 2-3 hours at a time. If you are doing extended observations and/or imaging, then it might be worth the investment. Rachel
  14. I will second what several others have said. I struggle sometimes to pick out the red spot with my 8". It's not glaringly obvious, and not all that red, and can be difficult for the inexperienced eye. Seeing detail requires some steady seeing conditions and the patience to observe for minutes, waiting to tease out the details. Children expect things just to leap out at them. I have children looking through my scope who claim not to be able to see the 'stripes' on Jupiter (which are pretty obvious), never mind the red spot! Don't forget it's not always visible anyway - Stellarium can be handy to predict when it might be on the right side. For the price, your scope will show you a few decent sights, but if the bug bites, I would save the money for an upgrade rather than buying lots of accessories. If you have a club near you it would be worth finding out if they hold public events as this will give you the chance to look through some bigger telescopes and then you might get lucky with the spot. Good luck. Rachel
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