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Everything posted by dharma66

  1. I’m back!

    Ten years after giving up and selling my 12” SynScan Dobsonian, I’m seriously thinking about giving it another go, with more modestly sized kit…

  2. Hi all, i can understand why you are trying to encourage me to stay with it, and I really appreciate it. But the weather is only one small aspect of the reasons for stopping. The main reason is my change in working pattern, which means for the forseeable future, I won't be able to get any viewing in. The weather hasn't helped though The scope is definitely going I'm afraid.
  3. Ah you see, you're all hardcore, and I'm not. It makes no sense to me at all to have something lying around with the expectation of occasional use. I'm into it, but nothing like that much... also, I'm afraid I've never had any interest at all in the sun. I've had a look through a proper solar scope a few years back when visiting the states - the local astro club was out - and it did nothing for me at all. And anyway, I rarely see daylight, being I the office many, many hours a day. And there's no way I could setup a scope at the office. I work for a massive institution, and would need all kinds of health and safety assessments. i really think the time has come thanks for the words though. im going to stop replying now, otherwise its going to look like I'm trying to get my post count up so I can advertise thanks everyone
  4. Takes me 5 mins to get setup (I have a dob), but even then, I really have zero time. There were maybe a dozen nights in the last 12 months when I even considered it, and only one was clear. One had broken clouds and I got in 10 mins. The others were full cloud cover. in the coming year or two, I don't see me having a dozen nights free...
  5. Appreciate the sentiment, but ice been right through a winter, and had zero chances to get the scope out, if anything, things will be worse this year. Has to go I'm afraid
  6. I was quite active on this forum a couple of years ago, and ended up buying a scope. of course, as soon as I did that, my work patterns changed dramatically. I've now owned it for exactly a year, and used it exactly twice. Once for just ten minutes. It pains me because I've wanted a decent scope for 30 years, but it seems pointless keeping fabulous piece of kit just as an ornament. thanks to everyone who helped me out when I used to hang out. It's a really great forum. dont think I have enough posts to use the classifieds, and won't abuse by saying anything more about what I'm selling. just a thanks for all the prior help.
  7. Definitely going to try to make it. Got the scoe and a tent, and not yet had chance to get either out, so hopefully this'll be a chance! Hopefully not the first!
  8. RIP. I'm so sad. If there is anyone out there who has not read detailed accounts of the moon landings, then you really should. Neil Armstrong was abviously a great hero, but when you know the details, it only makes him more awesome. He stood at the pinnacle on the enormous pyramid that was the NASA moon program. Every stone in that pyramid was valuable, essential even, and everyone of them served their purpose. Neil would be the first to insist he was just one stone amongst millions. But of course, only the truest, most perfect stone is chosen as the capstone.
  9. So there is was last night, gazing up at an amazingly clea sky for the first time since I bought my scope. The stars were barely even twinkling. I've never seen anything like it for years. Unfortunately, my scope was 180 miles away. Oh well.
  10. That's pretty amazing. However, I'm not that swayed by how fast someone else can find these, but how fast I can. With goto, it would be measured in minutes...without it, in weeks. I can absolutely see the fun of the chase for those who have the time and find it fun, but without goto, I wouldn't have bothered ever upgrading from my £150 scope, because without goto, it was just an exercise in frustration, futility and endlessly revisiting the same handful of objects. For me, goto hasn't made astronomy better or worse, it's made it possible. And I suspect the same is true for a great many others.
  11. Thanks for the replies, all. Work life got a bit out of hand for a while, but things are calming down now. Well, it turns out the missus is well up for camping...or at least 'glamping'. So this weekend, after I mentioned it only a couple of times over the last couple of months, she says 'GoOutdoors have a sale on. Are we going to get a tent, then?' Now, I did fancy an Outwell, but when we sat down and thought about it, we decided to spend a little less. We'll be doing most of our camping at star parties, and maybe an odd weekend as a base for walking, and I'm afraid we will definitely be fair weather campers. I don't see the point in trying to stargaze whilst it's tipping down with rain. So we went for something a bit cheaper. We just need a few bits and pieces for cooking and sleeping, and we'll be setup.
  12. My wife is currently very supportive, but then it's been cloudy ever since I've had my scope! I've even mentioned the idea of Star Parties, and now she's out and about looking at camping gear when I'm not around! We'll see if it lasts, but I think she's genuinely keen to give it a go for herself, which is fabuous.
  13. Second hand really makes sense. Check this out. That's exactly the scope you want, plus two extra eyepieces and a cheshire, all for £280. Second hand astro does seem to be good value. I just got a £525 eyepiece for about £325, including shipping and duty by buying second hand from the States. There's a lot of money to be saved in the second hand market.
  14. Looks like nobody uses it, though none of the events in this forum seem to be in the calendar. Back to the trawl
  15. Damo: yes I'm prepared to be blown away. To be fair, I already am blown away. I'm really glad you and a few others suggested that a 13E would be a good move. All I need to decide on is whether I invest in further Ethoi, or go for the 'cheaper' (!) Deloi in a couple of other focal lengths. Russell: slowing in azimuth is fine right round the whole 360 degrees, clockwise and anti. At one point I managed to get the power supply wedged under the base, which made it moan and groan a bit, but other than that it slews fine at all speeds. How come your motherboard blew up!?! Was it in warranty, has it been replaced?
  16. Source: 300p Ethos 13mm 0.5 light report
  17. I can't call it first light, because the viewing was so poor. I ordered the 12" goto skyliner just over a month ago, and it turned up last week, the day before I went to North Wales for a week. I couldn't get a roof rack or box sorted in time, and so the scope stayed behind. As it happens, it mattered not at all, as we had no clear skies at all for the whole week. I also bought a 13mm Ethos from Astro Mart a couple of weeks before going away, and this turned up whilst nobody was around to take it. The post office held it, and I went down to pay the £35 duty and collect it yesterday. That cost £275 + £30 postage + £35 duty = £340, and it really is like new, with all paperwork etc, so I'm quite pleased with that! (Thanks Damo for pointing me to the add!). So, last Thursday the scope arrived, and I had planned on doing a full unboxing and building piece. But I also wanted to make sure that I put it all together and at least checked the optics in daylight before going away for a week, so in the end, I didn't take any photos etc. I just followed the instructions and went from two big boxes to one big scope in about 40 minutes. The build was really easy, with everything fitting nice and snug. I'm still convinced I could have just about managed a 14", because to me, the 12" doesn't seem overly large, and in two pieces, it's a very easy one person carry, even through doorways etc. The heaviest part by far is the base, and this is also the most awkward. It just about fits through the narrow door to it's storage space without having to tilt and manoeuvre, so I guess really it's an ideal size. The first shock putting the scope together was the mirror. 305mm of mirror is astonishingly large to someone used to 4.5"! Not only does it look large, it also looks incredibly vulnerable. I will definitely be investing in a shroud - not just to keep out light, but also to keep out accidentally dropped items (more on this later)! So I put it all together, and pointed the finder scope at an electricity pylon on top of a hill about six miles away, and used this to align. Looking through the 25mm eyepiece, I was quite happy with the eyepiece itself, and very happy with the absolute clarity of the optics. Both mirrors are, as far as I can tell, utterly flawless (in terms of marks and dust - obviously I can't judge the figure by eye!). I then spent a couple of hours collimating. I felt that I got it pretty close. This is my first time collimating anything, as 25 years ago when I had my little Tal, collimation wasn't invented. Ok, it was probably invented, but I'd never heard of it. Finally, I plugged in the electrics and skewed it about a bit. Then it get it's 0.25 light. It was still daylight, but the 3/4 moon was looming large in the southern sky, and it would just have been rude not to. This was about 8PM, so it really was full daylight, but even so, the moon was really a pretty amazing sight. I managed about 30 minutes before the need to pack for hols became truly urgent. Pat had a quick squint, and was pretty amazed. First time she's ever looked through a telescope and she thought the view was incredible. Then it went into its new home for a week until last night. My first impression of both eyepieces was that they were both pretty good. Very short eye relief on the 10mm, meaning I had no option but to remove my glasses, but that's no biggie. I didn't have the Ethos at that point... Yesterday we arrived home having driven through some truly foul weather, with me thinking there was no chance of getting the scope out that night. Being an early riser, I retired at about 9:30, and as I lay reading, I noticed I could see blue sky out of the window. A quick look showed the sky had in fact cleared considerably. Nothing for it. Get up, get dressed, and get the scope out! The sky was not as clear as I'd first hoped, but the drifting cloud presented many opportunities, surely? I had to wait an inordinately long time for a few stars to appear, and it was 10:45 before I could see anything other than bright sky. The sky here is awful. Anyway, it took me about 10 minutes to get the scope out and assembled, and by 10:45 I was able to attempt my first goto alignment. I encountered a couple of difficulties. Firstly, I tried the 'brightest star' method only. I pointed the scope 'roughly' towards what I was pretty sure was arcturus, and the scope told me it was Mars! Thinking the scope would know best, I accepted this and selected Vega as the next alignment point. The scope went off in completely the wrong direction. I aborted and started again. This time it told me Arcturus was Saturn, which I knew for sure wasn't right. Eventually I remembered a few people on SGL having similar issues. The instructions do not mention that the scope should be initialised in the 'parked' position (0 alt, pointing North) for goto setup, only for tracking setup. But, as others have, I tried turning the scope off, and parking it before turning it on. I then pointed it to Arcturus, and selected brightest star, and bingo! It recognised I was pointing to Arcturus. Over to Vega, successful alignment followed by a quick 'goto' to Mizar to check it was right, and we're away! One thing had already become apparent: to 10mm eyepiece is utter garbage. For a while, I had a but of panic because looking through the 10mm during alignment, there were all kinds of aberrations, including coma within just a few degrees of centre! For a minute I thought I had a truly dodgy primary mirror. However, I carried on the alignment, and then, after waiting 10 minutes for the clear patch of sky to be in the right place, 'goto'd ('went to'?) Albireo. Fairly nice field with the 25mm, no massive concerns, but off axis viewing quickly lead to comet tails on stars in the centre of field. Still slightly worried I decided to try the Ethos. Now, trying the Ethos meant removing the 1.25" adapter, and inserting the 2" adapter. It was at this point that the vulnerability of the primary I'd noted earlier almost lead to disaster. I unscrewed one of the retaining screws a bit too far, and it dropped out. As it fell, it caught the back of my hand, and was heading for the primary! I just managed to swipe it away before it disappeared into the lower tube. Instead, it disappeared into the garden, so I'm missing an adapted retaining screw, but rather that than a scratched or chipped primary! The shroud will be ordered in the next few minutes! After a few minutes deep breathing, and convincing myself that one screw would hold the eyepiece firmly enough, I popped in the Ethos. It was immediately apparent that this is a far superior item to either of the supplied eyepieces, as all traces of aberration vanished entirely. The sky was still disturbingly bright, even at almost midnight, but the stars were pin sharp, with two stars of the double showing some nice colour. I basically spent about half an hour on that view, checking out the eyepiece. The width of the field is absolutely staggering, and even with the awful conditions, the star field was really awesome. I'm not sure where they get 15mm of eye relief from though, as I still had to remove my glasses and press right up against the eyepiece itself to get any kind of decent view. Trying to view with glasses on was very dissatisfying, with a small, distant image, compared to the truly immersive effect of getting up close. I had a quick go at detecting the Hercules cluster, but at mag 5.2 (iirc?), I reckon the sky even at that elevation was quite a bit brighter than that. Similarly with M81/82. I definitely don't have a deep sky site as my back garden! So, I'm really looking forwards to getting this thing out to some darkness. The build quality of the scope is really high. So far there's nothing I can point to and think it needs improvement from a mechanical perspective, and from what I've managed to do so far, I've no reason to think the optics are anything other than top notch either. At least on the scope. In reality, I don't now think of myself as having three eyepieces, but one. The Ethos is amazing, but to be honest, I'm not sure yet how I feel about the massive field. It's not a case of just being able to move your eye around, you can actually look into the eyepiece at an angle, and you still can't see the field stop! It feels like looking round a corner! I need to get it to some dark skies to see for sure, but I suspect I would be happy with the slightly lesser field of the Delos. So there you go. I can't call it first light, because I was battling a bright sky with constantly shifting cloud, and with an unsteady atmosphere too. Even Albireo kept twinkling out of view for seconds at a time just from disturbance, but, I couldn't resist getting it out and doing the alignment etc. I reckon now that I know to start from parked, I can have the scope setup and aligned in 15 minutes easily, and that's short enough to justify grabbing a quick hour when the opportunity presents, which is very pleasing. First impressions then are entirely positive - except for the 'ok' 25mm and useless 10mm eps. Proper first light will follow when we have some decent weather! Now. Off to order the shroud...and then to convince the wife to pop down to Go Outdoors...I definitely feel a few star parties on the horizon!
  18. Having not managed to take my scope away last week, tonight is also my first chance. I've had a bit of a day, including spending nearly six hours driving in some of the worst conditions I ever encountered. But I'm sat here now as the sky is darkening, and we suddenly have about 60-70% clear skies! I'm knackered, and was lining up for an early night, but I have e new scope and a new (second hand) eyepiece to try out. The wife's going to think I'm mad when I walk past her to the garage in a few minutes, having told her 10 minutes ago that I was off to bed!
  19. It takes a while to go through all of these threads to try to work out what's on, where and when. I know it would be a pain for someone, but it would be great if there was a sticky that listed all future planned events, givings its name, location and dates, and maybe a link to a thread for it. It could be locked, and only editable by mods, and then people organising events could ask the mods to update the sticky? Ideally as a single-post thread with ust the current state of play? That would have saved me a few hours over the last few weeks...
  20. OpticStar just rang to say they are despatching my scope today! This was ordered in May (I knew it ws out of stock), so it's going to be great to finally have it. It will be delivered tomorrow, and we head off to Abersoch on Friday! I was planning to take the scope, but this would have necessitated buying new roofrack bits to make my rack fit my dads car (its a family trip), but as the scope wasn't despatched, I didn't bother. So now it's a question of whether to rush round like a mad thing tomorrow trying to build the scope and get a roof rack fitted, after doing a full days work and driving back from Knutsford to North Manchester through the rush hour. Even if I try, there might not be enough time. But if I donlt take my luverly new scope to some of the darkest skies in the UK, and it then turns out to be a great week weather wise... Guess it'll be a busy night tomorrow
  21. Yeah, I'd much rather not have a roof rack/box, but then its either use a roof rack, or send the car full of gear by radio control, and leave all the people at home. Unless someone will buy me a bigger car for XMas...
  22. Paul, I Just noticed the edit on your post. Thanks for answering my specific questions. I think you are right about the comfort, even if my wife was not going to be joining me. The only answer I have reservations about, is not using a roof box. We only have a small hatchback, and it's going to have to fit me and my wife, a 12" dob, as well as the rest of my gear, before we even think about changes of clothing and camping gear, so I don't think I'll have any alternative, other than a trailer. I'm not at all keen on the idea of a trailer, as it will mean having a tow bar installed, and then finding somewhere to store it....and realistically, that would probably mean renting a lock-up garage!
  23. The wife just spotted the issue of Camping magazine I surreptitiously purchased yesterday, so I had to come clean about my intentions. In fact, when I described tents you can walk around in, and campsites with toilets and showers, she's really quite up for it! This is good, and means in can continue to look at comfort, rather than minimalism, which if I'm honest, and feeling a bit old and creaky for, now. I spent the entire day yesterday flipping between the Outwell website, ukcamping, and Google Shopping, comparing specs, reviews and prices. I have a couple of Outwell candidates now, and will do the same thing with a few other manufacturers. Once I have half a dozen or so that seem of interest, I'll try to find suppliers with them pitched, so I can take a look. Once I've a couple that I'm really interested in, I may visit eBay, or I may bite the bullet and buy new. Everything on this thread has been really useful, and I'm really gratefull. I'll be continually referring back here throughout my search for camping gear! Many thanks to all!
  24. Many thanks to everyone. I hope you don't mind if I single out astro_baby for special thanks, though, for two excellent posts! The space for transport was a worry, and now is more so having seen a van was needed to cart the kit! I have been looking at 6 berth tents for the two of us. Like I said, my previous camping experience was all wild camping with technical gear from when I used to rock climb in my yoof. We had two people in a two man mountain tent, with rucksacks in the porch area. It was very cosy. But the technical gear is great for its purpose. I used to sleep in just shorts in my 5 season bag at -15C in the highlands! But what I'm looking for now is something quite different, and much more akin to the inventory listed by astro_baby. The camp beds to allow stowage space beneath is a good tip, and will make the missus a lot happier! My other questions pertain to campsites. Even having spent what seems like hundreds of nights in tents, I've never once stayed on a campsite. I'm guessing there must be an etiquette, and the booking forms for sites look complex. I really don't know what counts as an awning or a gazebo, and it seems you often have to pay extra for these. They also seem to quote prices by the berth of the tent, but then also list people in the extras. Do you pay for the tent, then pay the extra for each person staying in it? Some of tents I've been looking at seem utterly enormous compared to the 2man mountain tents I'm used to. Will they all fit in the space allocated? Are some too big? What about the extensions you can buy? Do they count as extras? How big are these tents when packed away? Will I need a trailer? Would a roof rack suffice? I'm starting to wonder if I should not bother trying to get my wife to come along, and instead just stick to a small utility tent for the scope, and a bivvy for me... It would be a shame, but I can see this quickly becoming a seriously major expense...
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