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Posts posted by Patbloke

  1. I have an AVX mount and my first star shot is always a fair distance out... I always have to do 3 calibration stars before I get successful alignment. I use a 32mm EP to capture the star at first, then fine tune to centre the alignment targets on a crosshair reticule (red light) A great buy by the way!!!

    Don't throw your kit in the sea 🙂 I felt the same the other night, when nothing went right out there in the dark... but the next night it all went lovely and I remembered why this hobby is so great

  2. Oh it appears that I am very lucky in that I do have a pair of Helios Apollos. It's not a gloat (it is) but a few thoughts - I've only ever used the filter threads a couple of times and it's not been something that I found mind blowing at the time so for me it's a 'nice to have' not essential in bins. Also as you are used to a 10 x 50 view, would it not be a good idea to get an available pair of 15 x 70's like a Celestron or Revelation for now so you can see if you like using them? For about £70 you can experience the wonders and then keep a look out on the pre used market.  I found the so called 'budget' bins a lot lighter and easier to handle and a nicely aligned pair are a big step up from the 10 x 50's (can always sell as well)

    I spent ages researching bins a few years ago and read a great review on some expensive Pentax which when I bought and used were very disappointing and felt like light blockers! I took them back next day... You are doing the right thing asking users on this site... I hope the comments you get help for final choices 🙂 


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  3. 13 hours ago, technocat said:

    Thanks for the reply! I also thaught about celestron 15x70 and they are actually available, but ive never used a normal sized binoculars and these are huge! Ill need to have a tripod with me at all times. I just want so,ething i can grab and go. Then again seenig things even closer is also appealing. Why is there never a perfect solution? :)

    I bought a really substantial tripod with a pistol grip head when I got my Apollos and I found it really uncomfortable to use with bins... handheld or monopod supported works for me. 

    Check out BinocularSky website - Stephen Tonkin! loads of tips and reviews 👍

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  4. This site is great for opinions and advice... There are ways to use binoculars that don't put stress on your arms. Nothing better than putting the blanket out laying back it gazing the universe, sitting in the garden chair leaning back and taking it all in. Don't be scared of the 15 x 70's the standard pairs aren't that heavy and the views are great 🙂 

    Sometimes you just have to make the choice... if you keep the equipment in condition you can always sell and upgrade if you feel you need more 


  5. I love binocular viewing... Bins are always great to take travelling, easy set up and use to scan the skies 🙂

    My thoughts - 10 x 50 is a good portable size but 15 x 70 is what I found give the most pleasurable views. Nikon make great cameras and being brand loyal is good, so hopefully the bins would be great if you go that route. I've checked the price and for half that you could get a nice pair of Celestron 15 x 70s which will give more magnification and a wide field of view. As to whether they are available to buy at the moment, I'm not sure.

    I bought a second hand pair of Helios Apollos after much research and for £170 they were perfectly aligned and give great colour and sharp views... I do use a monopod to steady them when sat down.

    I bought a pair of 20 x 60 Pentax bins once in Australia after researching and reading the reviews... but for astro observing they awful, not very good... I took them back next day and replaced them (for the same amount of money) with two pairs of bins... a pair of 15 x 70's Celestron type - and a pair of Bushnell trophy 8 x 42... brilliant decision I got the best of both worlds... so be careful but also good luck

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  6. Hi

    I also use the joystick trigger ball head... but most of the time I use a monopod, sit back in the chair and rest the monopod on the floor  by my feet... It's amazing the stabilising effect it has on my Apollos which are very heavy. I actually prefer the experience far better than using the tripod. Great for travel as well, (not that we can at the moment) 😞

  7. On 21/09/2020 at 10:34, Jiggy 67 said:

    Hi Pat, I'm pretty sure I was tented the other side of you at that star party ........was your missus with you?...apologies if I'm wrong. I too took a break for a few years for various reasons but I've been back for nearly 12 months and loving it all over again??.....enjoy

    Did you have the solar scope? I hadn't got out of my car and I was invited over to look through?

    Yes, it's a different Mrs nowadays... I'm looking forward to many more nights outside, and who knows one day maybe even another Star Party

  8. 10 hours ago, Highburymark said:

    Excellent post! May you have many great sessions to come.
    You might find that you get better views without a paved area - particularly if it’s absorbed a lot of heat during the day. 

    Thanks for that advice... I’m not going to need much encouragement to leave the grass to be fair 🙂 

    Its like a carpet right now 

  9. Dedicated to Nick (cotterless45) who has recently assisted me in getting back behind the eyepiece!


    Starting with a Skywatcher 114p I very quickly got the bug sometime way back when... Amazed at what I could see from as many dark sites as I could visit I was hooked.

    I very quickly moved on to buying great second hand equipment (almost every week) from this forum, eBay and AstroB&S I was even lucky enough to be persuaded with a mate to start a stargazing social club at work and use some of the club funds to buy a 200 Dob and a 200 motorised on an EQ5 and EP's. Unbelievable hunting and viewing continued.

    Then my first Starparty in the Peaks where I had the great fortune to tent up next to Nick... I never used my own little scope that weekend and was given skytours, much banter, vodka and a new insight into the world of the Astro nuts


    I lived in a first floor flat so viewing was always an epic, getting all the equipment down and into the car everytime I wanted to try to observe... Many rubbish nights with cloud, no location etc. solo observing is not always great when it goes bad

    During those years my interest came and went, I got into buying bargains and selling unwanted stuff - I look back at the pictures of great scopes I used to own... 🙂 But in general I found I was only ever using my weapon of choice every time I went out, so everything else was just sat there gathering dust.


    I'm lucky in that since retirement I've travelled a fair bit. I've seen the southern hemisphere several times and in one amazing twist of fate ended up on Mauna Kea Hawaii where through this forum arranged to meet HiloDon and the team... A truly Mind Blowing experience with views we can only dream of based here in the UK. Very difficult to make out the constellations the sky is so full of stars, and almost straight from sunset 🙂 One of the things you realise is that many of the Messier objects are visible there with the naked eye. I've also been to Sark where the stars looks like diamonds so bright against the dark night sky backdrop

    Why this story then?

    Well I wanted to share the feeling of an amatuer observer in that even if you fall off the observing wagon for months or even years, it's just as magical as it was in the beginning when you get back behind the Eye Piece! and people like Nick are always there willing to share their knowledge skills and coffee

    Having just moved to a house with a garden before lock down I made the effort to visit Nick and receive some Astro inspiration! Following my reintroduction - I set up the other night and enjoyed the planets and a few old favorites through the Equinox Pro... The Astro kit I researched for ages on and bought is still amazing gear for which I am really blessed... 

    I think I will have to pave a square of the lawn for a new observing pitch, but how exciting and lucky am I to be Back behind the eyepiece...

    Cheers Nick...








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  10. Inspirational as always Nick...

    That's the first time I can say for definite that I've seen the Mars polar ice cap!

    I loved dropping the Equinox onto the CG5 and going 'Old Skool' just moving the slow motion adjusters, hunting for targets (without a Telrad 🙂 of course) 🙂

    As usual the banter was first class.... The fact I don't usually bother with a finderscope on my own AVX set up was a great source of amusement for you 🙂  Your comparisons that followed (for what seemed like an eternity) were great... Oh Pats doing the tour de France this week - without a bike! Oh Pats going water skiing for his holiday - without a speedboat! and on and on and on..............

    Can't wait to set up at home now and test out to see if the coffee grinder mount gets complaints from my new neighbours? That EQ6-Pro of yours is very quiet until it's gets to the end of the movements.... Nice kit

    Thoroughly great night though Nick as always, thanks for the fun and rather superb views of those Planets again which have certainly got me excited about Astro again


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  11. Twas indeed one of those great nights! Amazed how you remember the targets to write up the reports at 5 in the morning...

    It was definitely a night for Clusters... The EQ6Pro is a cracking addition to your armoury Nick! 

    For everyone - Two things to remember when you plan observing sessions: One - that no matter how much you've spent on Gucci equipment you are totally at the mercy of the seeing Gods! Yes great equipment will maximise your opportunity to see wonderful objects when the seeing is good, but even the highest grade glass can't break through cloud or bad seeing (and we had some top of the range equipment in that session)   Two - is just how quickly it can all change... Last night we had it bright, dark, warm, cold, dry, damp and windy (Yes very windy at times ) ? Trick is have great company with you for those moments of 'not so clear times' The 'social' is as important as the mission! 

    Yes I will invest in a new head torch Nick.... The research begins yet again! It's finding that balance between being so dim as not to blind you on the observing throne, and being bright enough to actually see!

    The Winter is coming!!!!

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  12. 4 minutes ago, David Levi said:

    One important point to note is that you need to check that the cigarette lighter socket is rated to cope with the current drawn by the hairdryer. My one draws 210/12 = 17.5A. The socket on my battery pack is only rated for 10A 

    Nice one... I'll check that out ASAP Thanks

  13. I thought the title to the post was going to be 'Astronomy on Ice?' An idea for a new rival show to the The Sky at Night! a professional (amatuer) astronomer and a minor celebrity view the wonders of the universe whilst skating on a sheet of fake ice? (not that I'm calling myself a minor celebrity or indeed you an Amatuer Nick!)

    It was a great idea to have the two setups running side by side comparing the views (I got lucky in the ice free protected location) The views from the Cannon can be quite delightful and easy on the eye when splitting those tight doubles. Of course the Equinox is a dream to operate and view through but there's a price to pay, these things aren't cheap and from what I now see - seldom available!

    I think my AVX needs a reset, it was slewing way beyond the targets towards the end of the evening and taking some time to hone back in to where it should have pointed in the first place... Other than that I was quite happy I did get some objective dewing up despite having the dew band on! Next time I might have to leave it on full power? is there any risk in using a mini hair dryer on the objective.. and can you buy one with the old car cigar connector already fitted for the power pack?

    Before the Equinox I used to consider Orion a little bland as I've seen the nebula that many times... I am now amazed at the contrast shown using a variety of EP's... Dare I say IT'S something I could spend ages observing now! Beautiful!

    I have to say when sharing an observing session there can't be anything much more enjoyable than challenging splits... That little fist pump moment when the second observer confirms the split as the time on a clock face... I've got faint at 11 o'clock... Boom :-))

    Love it..........




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  14. 5 minutes ago, wookie1965 said:

    I am about to buy a vixen 10mm on this reports review.


    The Vixen 10mm is this little Plossl... It's got some special name but it's not what you would expect!!!


  15. 1 hour ago, Stu said:

    Lovely report Nick, some really good splits there. You must have had some decent seeing, great to get E & F so easily. I assume you caught the 4th star in Sigma Orionis given the other tough ones you got?

    I think Sigma Orionis was definitely a Wow moment Stu... I've seen it before countless times... but the clarity and brightness caught me out and I found it hard to stop viewing it ? almost worth another EP case plaque!!

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  16. This is a brilliant... All the points are 'bang on' but I particularly love the point about not feeling guilty about NOT observing on a clear night... There's been many a time that I've actually selfishly felt relief that the clouds have rolled in! especially if I have other commitments on the night. 

    One further point I would like to add to this great post is - that sometimes a session can not go as well as expected! My advice is get over that feeling of 'I'm packing it in and I'm going to sell everything!! as quick as you can! Just put it down to experience and remember for sure you can guarantee that the next time out it will be the most amazing 'fist pumping' night ever ? 

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  17. I've just woken up after landing back home at 06:30... Great night as always Nick! I'm always amazed at what we see from your place and even more amazed that you remember to write it all up in a report after...

    I'm trying to think what were my highlights from the whole evening - As usual the amount of shared humour is something that should be an essential part of any Astro evening ? The early evening mortar bomb from the neighbour, your little local 'vampire' bat circling at dusk! (it's no fruit bat for sure) The visit from an old mate with his homemade 1950's scope.... great to see him again, although disappointed he never came in his boat.

    As far as what we saw over the session - the binaries are amazing and I really love the challenge of those splits... The joy in first saying I've got it, then you get you turn and compare the directions and colours both giving yourselves a mutual pat on the back if you 'concur' (private joke there) However, our old friend shouting 10 o'clock as soon as he got it kind of ruined the game for a bit.

    For me seeing Orion again and studying the wonders it holds was incredible, I've never seen the nebula as detailed as that before... and Sigma Orionis was crystal clear and tak sharp... delightful! 

    The set up is amazing though... The 120 complimented by that diagonal and various EP's is quite something and I'm lucky to have it. Your mount with that belt drive mod is sooooooooo quiet and smooth! That little 10mm Vixen EP showed just how good it was compared to the fine array of EP's in our collections... a real gem and keeper!! The dew protection worked perfectly and even the use of the right angle finder on alignment proved the £40 well invested... 

    Arghhhhhh that flipping Comet?? The records show it's there but we have to admit an epic fail on finding it! 

    Nah a great night was had and I'll certainly re visit those targets throughout my future observing sessions... you know it's been a long productive night when on the way home you order something from the 'drive through' only to be told we are actually serving breakfast now Sir... and after that wonderful night that's just what I needed ? 

    She's dried out... after working hard all night!!



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  18. I just bought a Neewer camera 90 degree angle finder and a clever amazingly precise attachment of an auction site from a fellow in France... It's a perfect fit!!! I'm delighted and looking forward for clear skies to try it in the field  total cost £40 ish... it'll be money well spent according to my glass knee ?

    Eek forgot to say thanks to Nicko for finding the attachment on the well known auction site... 





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