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  1. The new Lunt binoculars seem to be a strong competitor to the BA8 series and even to the Fujis, at a price somewhere between them both. Regrettably they are much worse value for money here in the UK than in America, but that's true of the Fujinons too. http://www.apm-telescopes.de/de/fernglaeser/fernglaeser-90mm-oeffnung/lunt-engineering-16-x-70-magnesium-series-fernglas.html If I didn't already own a Fuji 16x70 (which I could only afford because I found a good price 2nd-hand) I'd think seriously about picking the new Lunt instead - reviews thus far are very promising (http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/490395-lunt-vs-fuji-16x70my-review/)... I just might try to find a way around the dodgy UK/EU vs US price hike.
  2. Baader Astrosolar film is different than mylar, yes. It's better than most solid glass white light filters too. The glass filters are all too often not made to a high enough optical quality so they smudge the image a bit. The thinness of the film, by comparison, makes any potential effect on the image minimal and Baader have perfected a good way of making solar film that results in it just plain being quite a bit better than old "mylar" filters. The only white-light image quality upgrade from Baader Astrosolar film is a Herschel wedge (not useable on all types of scope) and it is only a small upgrade. Add in the cheapness of Astrosolar film and it has a lot going for it. The only downside is that film can potentially be perforated/broken more easily by careless handling than glass would be... but because it's so cheap you can just replace it.
  3. It's no longer very relevant as the OP has made his decision, but I have briefly owned both the Opticron Aspheric 8x40 and the Helios Naturesport 8x40 and I believe they are very, very similar. Perhaps they are made by the same people, or in the same factory, or at least to a very similar spec, in the same way as some other binoculars are (Chinese BA8s for example, found under numerous brand names, or the Orion Vista and the Helios Ultimate HR some years ago). I did not possess them both at the same time (first the Helios, then the Opticron) so I can't be certain they are quite the same but the Helios 8x40s really worked very well. There were relatively minor cosmetic differences/shapes in the rubber armouring but that's all I noticed. 8x40 is a nice specification, I find it considerably more comfortable to use than 10x50s thanks to both the lower magnification and lower weight. That said I don't own an 8x40 any more (both of the ones I had were bought as gifts for other people, I only used them for long enough to know I wasn't giving the recipient a lemon). Instead I use a 10x50 quite a bit and it does work well. The main reason is that it's my own and I had it for a couple of years before I saw these... but 8x40s are still tempting when my arms feel tired! They're a very valid option, I know people fixate on the bigger numbers but 8x40s do work well. What you lose in magnification (nothing catastrophic) you gain in field of view, and then there's the bonus of the ergonomics. They're very good general-purpose binoculars for carrying around given their weight. Why did I change from the Helios to the Opticron for my 2nd purchase? There was simply a blip in the market at the time, the Helios were out of stock in the original shop and prices were higher than they had been before. I took a risk on the similar-looking Opticron and it worked out. (I discussed my original choice of the Helios 8x40 on the Cloudy Nights forum some years ago, for what it's worth)
  4. A high quality, comprehensive and free moon map/observer's guide PDF is available here: http://www.cityastronomy.com/moonbook-mirror.htm
  5. I presume you are referring to the more basic, tracking-only version of the HEQ5? This could be the source of the confusion in the replies so far - people may have assumed you referred to a GOTO mount, which would be expected to use up batteries much more quickly.
  6. Late reply, sorry about that, but I bought a setup from Larry a couple of years ago so he still does sell to the UK.
  7. I'm trying to choose between a couple of observing chairs: the Mey Observing Chair and the StarDust Observing Chair, also sold as the Smart-Seat (not version 2 or 3 of the SmartSeat which are different designs). I'm almost certainly over-thinking it - there's probably not a great deal wrong with either of the two, so I guess I shouldn't fuss so much, but I can't help it given that I'm a pedantic sod and neither choice is cheap. The thing I like most about the StarDust/Smart-Seat is that it has a very sturdy way of setting the seat height. The the 2 inch incremental height choices are good enough, imo, compared to finer height control with the Mey chair and others. Pictures of the seat here However the StarDust/SmartSeat is only sold in America and the shipping cost raises its price a good percentage above the Mey. The potential customs duties etc. could make an even bigger difference. Also the StarDust/Smart-Seat's feet are kind of small, I expect they'd sink into the soil a bit. The Mey Observing Chair looks great. It's an attractive design, it has a big wide "foot" and it's available from FLO in the UK making it a lot cheaper than the StarDust/Smart-Seat. A couple of discussions about it on this forum: http://stargazerslounge.com/showthread.php?t=159674 http://stargazerslounge.com/showthread.php?t=177040 Both chairs weigh about the same (StarDust/Smart-Seat is slightly lighter) and have about the same max and min height range. I occasionally go on holiday with some observing kit. I might like to try taking one of these chairs along with me in future. I like that the StarDust/SmartSeat easily folds pretty flat. With the Mey chair you're stuck with that bend at the base of the chair, though maybe this isn't so inconvenient depending on how extensively the Mey can be dismantled. Regarding build quality, basically both chairs look good. The only thing I'm worried about here is the kind of height locking the Mey uses. I've seen it discussed on this forum and Cloudy Nights that it is sometimes possible, by accident, to release the friction brake on a chair (if it uses that system), causing it to drop you abruptly on the floor. http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/4663172/page/0/view/collapsed/sb/5/o/all/fpart/1/vc/1 http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Number/4498603 Now maybe the owner of such a seat can just choose to be careful when he's using it, but if a friend ever uses the chair the risk would make me worry. I've even seen occasional mentions of friction-brake based chairs ending up not having enough friction to stay still so well after a few years of use. How, exactly, do I release the friction on the Mey chair to move it up and down? The two threads I've linked implied it had something to do with leaning back on the chair (which is exactly what is criticised about the Starbound chair in the US for example, it can happen by accident) whereas the photos of the Mey seem to rather obviously imply that you just operate a handle under the seat which might be perfectly fine (less prone to accidents). The FLO website states that the height adjustment range is 61-86 cm while others have said that "by unscrewing the two small stops on the legs the adjustment range is 39 - 89 cm". What is the reason for these stops to exist? I can only think it's a safety feature, that perhaps the chair is indeed prone to going into free fall if you do the wrong thing (like the Starbound chair in the US) and that the stops are there to prevent you from falling all the way to the ground if that happens. It would explain why 61-86 cm is all FLO quote - let the users remove the stops at their own risk. I'd like to be wrong about that though! I think if the Smart-Seat were sold in the UK I would simply buy that, but given the price differences involved I'm kind of torn. Finally, just a minor point note but it also does seem a shame, to me, that these observing chairs don't offer just a few more inches of height. Even two or three inches would make all the difference for me. http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/4224581/page/0/view/collapsed/sb/5/o/all/fpart/all/vc/1 I'm the same height as "Mike B", who says in the above link I'd be perfectly well served for the scopes I have now, but I have occasional long-term pipe dreams about getting something larger. A lot of the large, absurdly fast dobs available nowadays that are carefully designed to be just-about usable standing (without a ladder) while at the zenith are *just* out of reach with one of these chairs, while something like a Catsperch offers a (sometimes needlessly) huge increase in max possible height for these dobs. In fact if it weren't for the even higher price of a catsperch, and the additional faff involved in assembling one/it being a multi-part chair once you want to move it anywhere, it might be my first choice. Still I guess if the pipe dream ever comes true I can buy at Catsperch then.Well that was certainly a lot of blathering about chairs. To those of you who survived reading it, I'd be grateful for any advice.
  8. I've been reading "Night Has A Thousand Eyes" by Arthur Upgren recently and it discusses the topic a bit. I was wondering whether to quote from the book and then noticed that it's on Google Books anyway: Night Has A Thousand Eyes - Google Books
  9. For "mainly handheld" I don't think 15x magnification would be a good idea. I would suggest that 10x or 8x magnification would be more suitable. Go with 8x40s or 10x50s, depending on ergonomics and on just how much you will be using the bins for astro use vs. daytime use. More astro use recommends towards 10x50 (for most people) while more daytime use leans towards 8x40 (more comfortable to carry around). I can recommend the Opticron Aspheric 8x40s, within your budget.
  10. Excellent timing, thanks very much for posting this. It looks like it gives you 10% off. I bought a couple of Naglers (yes, I know, massive wally for missing the big Televue sale!).
  11. You referred to the possibility of goto and light pollution but you also said that you think that from the city you'll only try to view planets and the moon. You won't need GoTo for that. And when you're at a dark sky site you will have enough darkness to find things manually without even Push-to. So you might want to consider either the plain Flextube version of the 10 inch, or the solid tube version (saving £125 or £230). You mention that space is an issue for storage, but since the scope will (I presume?) stand vertically on its mount when stored do you think it will matter/help to use the Flextube version? Similar question regarding the transportability - the solid tube will still fit across the back seat of pretty much any car. Flextubes don't weigh any less than solid tubes either, on these models at least. I think I read somewhere that the Auto/Goto scopes don't move as smoothly when being manually pointed, but I might be wrong so I hope someone will correct me if so!
  12. 15x is basically too high a magnification to hold by hand steadily. You can get a little use out of them for quick glances at things but they will work far better on a tripod of some kind. The weight is another factor, your arms will tire more quickly with larger binoculars. 10x50 is the size most people recommend as roughly the maximum limit for practical hand-held use. Some even prefer slightly smaller binoculars such as 8x40, despite their lack of punch. For a 10x50 the two most obvious choices are the Nikon Action Extreme (sometimes the "Extreme" is shortened to "EX") and the Pentax PCF WPII. On the Cloudy Nights forum people generally recommend one or the other of these two, for a reasonably priced good quality 10x50. The Nikon has a wider field of view but the edge of that field of view is fuzzy, while the Pentax is pretty much sharp to the edge but has a narrow field of view. My own preference is for a wider field of view, even if the edge of it isn't perfect, but others have the opposite opinion. The only other difference between them, basically, is ergonomics. I can't tell you which one you will find more comfortable to hold, sadly. Binoculars are a bit like shoes - you will have your own preferences and it would be a good idea to try before you buy. Personally I have the Nikon and am happy with it.
  13. Hi again tolcuphoto. I had rather hoped that by now someone knowledgeable would have stepped in and told you if (and to what extent) my suggestions were silly ideas. In the absence of that I'll tell you what I can. Blind leading the blind, etc! At least this post will "bump" your thread back onto the first page which might help get you the responses you need. (To those who know what they're talking about: Please don't be put off telling me I'm wrong for the sake of politeness - I don't mind being told that I'm being a total idiot when I actually am ) I am under the impression that the optical quality of the Skywatchers is the identical, whether they are the Dob-mounted version or the EQ-mounted version. If they are actually a different optical specification - in the case of the difference in focal lengths of the 200mm reflectors - then that's something you need to think about. But the quality itself is the same. One minor thing is that I have no idea at what point one obtains tube rings - the Skywatcher Dobs don't use tube rings to mount as I understand it, whereas the EQ mounted equivalents do. So are the tube rings included with the purchase of a new mount? I'm not sure because the size of the tube ring depends on the size of the telescope. You can fit new focusers to telescopes, but it may need an adapter to fit the already-drilled screw holes your last focuser used. Perhaps there are situations where it's better to drill new holes, I'm not sure. First Light Optics or other vendors might be able to advise you here. Shops that sell 3rd-party focusers must know something about whether and how they can be fitted! Especially for a popular telescope range like the Skywatchers. Considering how cheaply the used 200p is being sold it might perhaps be just as good an option as a new Dobsonian equivalent. Though to my mind there might still be an argument for the convenience and simplicity of the Dob when you want to do visual observing. I suppose it depends, at the time of getting the heavy duty mount for photography, on the amount of money you'd get when you sell the EQ5 vs. whether (and how much) you'd still find the Dob mount useful. You might find the Dob arrangement useful on days you want to just view visually, because it simply weighs less (and is a little bit easier to put onto the mount). You will probably find that you need more eyepieces than the ones that come "stock" with the telescope you buy, so don't worry about what you get with one deal or another. The few eyepieces that are bundled will probably be useful, yes, but you will want some more before too long.
  14. Be careful! 10-ish years ago I made the mistake of thinking "I'd like to take up astronomy as a hobby so I'll buy a telescope". When I got my telescope I didn't properly understand how to use it and didn't know what to point it at in the night sky (or, if I had, how to reliably find the thing I'm looking for). The disappointment dulled my interest in astronomy for a while. I bounced back eventually when I started using binoculars for astronomy instead. They were much more suited to me and have given me a more usable learning curve. Now I'm starting to look at buying a telescope again, because what I've learned in the past decade means I wouldn't have chosen the telescope I chose then, now. So essentially, in hindsight, that first telescope was a waste of money. It's not completely useless but making use of it tends to remind me of my mistake more than anything else. (That said, with the good advice on this forum, even if you buy a telescope too soon the odds of it being the wrong one aren't nearly as high as they were for me, back then, with no internet access) You might be better off in the short to medium term with a pair of 10x50 (or 8x40, depending on ergonomics) binoculars, a planisphere, something like Sky and Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas, and perhaps some good books. Even when you do get a telescope all of that stuff will still be useful. Take a look at this thread: http://stargazerslounge.com/beginners-help-advice/72869-essential-reading-those-who-thinking-about-getting-into-astronomy.html Sorry if this comes across as being patronising, if you know all this and are already bearing it in mind. Something about your post made me worry though - I felt a sense of deja vu!
  15. I'm not all that knowledgeable, at all, so sorry if there's an obvious flaw in my reasoning here. But... Why not just buy the Dobsonian version of the 200p for now, saving quite a lot of money, and keep the money saved as the start of a fund to eventually pay for an EQ6 mount (or whatever) to put the OTA onto. Just use the telescope for visual observation until you can afford to mount it on a "serious" EQ mount. The Dobsonian base might always come in useful, even after you have your imaging setup, for those occasions when you want something relatively portable and simple to use for visual observing. And even if you never use the Dob mount again after you get an EQ6, it costs so little that you haven't really lost much. A safe bet? (perhaps also consider using some of the money saved by buying the Dobsonian-mounted scope to buy some eyepieces) EDIT: Oh dear, what a plonker, immediately after posting this I noticed that the Skywatchers you were looking at were f/5, naturally for astrophotography, while the dob is f/6 (ish). Sorry! EDIT2: Actually, a variation on my first idea, which will probably just turn out to be a different kind of stupid for reasons I again fail to appreciate, would be to spend the amount you were going to spend on an inadequately EQ-mounted 8 inch f/5 Skywatcher on a Dobsonian mounted 10 inch f/4.7 Skywatcher (for visual use now and photography use on an EQ6 later). As was stated in another thread recently, some people appear (as much as I can understand it) to have done well in astrophotography with something along those lines.
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