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About Gfamily

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    N Cheshire
  1. Our Petzls (admittedly bought 3-4 years ago) switch on as red or white depending on what it was showing when it was switched off. It'd be surprised if the designs had moved backwards in that respect.
  2. Congratulations on your new scope - I've heard great things about it. Do you have a t-Mount adapter to allow you to mount your Olympus to the scope? You will need one of those for dSLR imaging. A planisphere is a good idea for identifying your alignment stars - Philips do one with the brighter stars named. The advantage of a planisphere is that it does't affect your dark adaption as much as an app might. It also gives a very clear idea of how stars move across the sky over an evening, and through the year. Speaking of dark adaption, a red light head-torch is fairly essential. For imaging, a Bahtinov Mask will be a great help for getting good focus - you can DIY one yourself, or buy one for £25 or so. It will be a great help if your dSLR has 'Live View' as it makes the initial focussing a lot quicker. Planetary imaging is pretty much out of the question for the next few months with Saturn and Mars lost in the evening skies, and Jupiter not reappearing as a morning object for a while yet. When they reappear though, a cheap webcam and a 1.25" adapter can be bought for under £20, and will give you surprisingly good results - a laptop will be needed.
  3. Bump to this thread - see you at the Mid Cheshire Astro stand!
  4. We've reconsidered and gone back to having our weekly Thursday evening meetings at the Forest Explorers cabin in Delamere Forest. The layout is better. There won't be much observing going on over the summer months of course.
  5. Mid Cheshire Astronomy Group meet in Delamere Forest (near Delamere railway station) on the last Friday of the month, and we have an informal observers group that meet most Thursdays at 8pm at The Tiger's Head, in Norley. We've only just moved to meeting in the pub, which has a reasonably dark car park - so we're not sure how well observing sessions will work. As we move into summer though, there won't be too much observing going on as it's not properly dark at 8pm and we tend to break up at 10 - 10.30 (ish). If we're not observing, we discuss techniques and follow some of the coursework exercises from the Astronomy GCSE. All ages and all levels of experience welcome. If it's clear, there are usually 3 or 4 scopes set up. - if you use the Contact Us form I'll get back to you in person
  6. Hi Steve - I think that's a great choice as a starter telescope - the aperture is enough to show you a lot of the interesting things in the sky, and the mount is an easy one to get started with. I don't know whether you're observing from a really dark sky location, or whether you're an urban observer, but if the latter, having a GOTO scope will make it a lot more satisfying as you're more likely to actually see things for real. Setting up is very easy, and aligning is quite straightforward - You'll need to know your location as latitude and longitude, but if you have SatNav or a smart phone you should be able to get that quite easily. You will need to know the names of some of the brighter stars, because during the align the handset will ask you to choose which stars to use, so you might want to get a planisphere to help so that you can get a good idea of where they are in the sky when you're setting up. The other thing that you'll want to consider from the outset is how to power it. It needs 12V, and although it'll take 8 AA batteries, these have to be Alkalines, from what people have reported, Celestron scopes don't always work very well on rechargeable batteries (their voltage is slightly lower than Alkalines). Replacing the batteries on a regular basis can be expensive. You can get 12v Mains adapters, or (as many people do) you can get a 'leisure battery' - like a car battery, but designed to be allowed to run down. Or, you can get 12V Lithium battery packs that'll allow you to get a full night or two observing from a single charge. You have put your location as the Midlands, so you may well find yourself near one of the local Astronomy Clubs. You can find out about them here I'd thoroughly recommend you go along if you can. In my experience, they're full of very helpful people who will give you lots of advice. Don't worry about the fact you're only just starting, you probably won't be the only newbie there. They should also be able to give you advice on where's good locally to get away from light pollution. Anyway, enjoy your new hobby, whatever you get.
  7. This doesn't meet your aim of having 'something that sits in the tray', because it's a lot heavier than a LiOn battery, but I bought a 40Ah leisure battery online (for about £45 as I recall) and I have adapted a 3-way car 'cigarette lighter' adapter so that I can power the scope and a laptop (and any future dew heater) over several observing sessions without having to worry about 'did I recharge it last time'. I carry it around in an Ikea "Frakta" bag ( and the weight isn't a problem because I'm rarely very distant from the car. Charging is straightforward using a car charger. The advantage of this over a 'jump start' unit is that leisure batteries are designed for long slow discharges rather than the relatively short and relatively shallow discharges you expect with a 'get you home' type device.
  8. I bought a pair for my wife a couple of years ago and we're very pleased with them. We've not been to really dark skies with them, so mainly they've been used for birdwatching, but they are excellent when you really want to look in detail - the 'lock' you get with IS switched on means you can really see fine detail. I took a pair along to the 2013 Peak Star Party, and offered to demonstrate them to anyone who was interested; unfortunately, we were completely rained out that year. I've seen some reviews complain that they 'eat' batteries, but we've not had a problem with this - I think we've got almost 2 years out of 3 sets of Low Discharge NiMhs One thing it's worth noting is that the battery compartment is quite snug, and you may find that some brands of rechargeables get stuck inside. I found this with one set, and I had to prise them out with a screwdriver - I considered trying to 'tap' the batteries out by inertia, but reckoned that shaking an IS stabilised system to get the batteries out would be too risky. My advice would be to check the tightness of the batteries as they go in - if they feel snug as they start to go in, take them out and find another pair of batteries .
  9. There's a lot of intrusion from the surrounding cities - and Peak Star Party (at Shallow Grange) was affected by flood lighting of local quarries. More affected by rain as it happens, but still, the skies can be significantly affected by LP
  10. The Mid Cheshire Astro Soc met last Thursday and had an interesting talk about light pollution from Malc Beesley from Macastro. He's part of the MyDarkSky project, which aims to allow followers to plot their own SQL and NELM measurements on Google Maps, with the hope that it will be a resource for locals and visitors, and also maybe a campaigning tool if a locally dark sky site is threatened. The site is currently offline (it was up for a couple of years, but has been down for the last 12 months), but it is now being re-hosted, and will be available on due course. The maps will look like this, and the hope is for coverage to be national or wider
  11. Once you are familiar with setting up it's not too difficult to link it up to a laptop running stellarium so you can use the laptop to tell it where to point. I assume you got the Serial cable with the Synscan handset (Network type connector at one end and RS232 at the other), it's quite easy to get RS232 - USB adaptors on Ebay that allow you to connect to your computer/laptop. The only gotcha is that not all RS232 - USB adaptors come with drivers for all Operating Systems, do make sure you check before buying.
  12. SIzewise I was thinking rather than performance
  13. Out of interest, and as a complete noob, how do 'typical' imaging CCDs compare with APS-C CCDs as on most dSLRs these days? I know webcams have tiny CCDs, I'm wondering about more 'pro' systems. I could google it, but...
  14. Yay - booked! This time people can try out my IS binoculars - and my new Meade LS8 scope
  15. Oh, forgot to say - make sure you get the same 'Fish & Chip' van back next year; that was a definite highlight.