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JoLo

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Everything posted by JoLo

  1. Try the NASA website, just google the transit of venus 2012 and it will pop up. I have had trouble with the transitofvenus.org as well...it is slick, but not much nuts and bolts information there. The NASA site has tables and tables of ingress and egress times for cities around the world.
  2. Here in the central US I will get about an hour of the transit prior to sunset, then it will rise for my fellow telescope geeks in the UK. Second the motion on the homemade filters using Baader film...I made filters for my 106 and 65 refractors, the finder scopes, and for my camera lenses. I gotta tell you though, the solar funnel is very cool. I put it together for $15 US, including shipping on the Datex projection sheet. The only other items needed is an old EP, a gas funnel you cut to length, and two hose clamps. I put it together in less than 10 minutes (the filters took me about 45 minutes each). With my AT65 and the 10mm Plossl that came with my first Orion Dob, the funnel projects an image of the sun about 4" wide. Great for groups, highly recommended.
  3. I could be wrong, but i don't think the focal length has anything to do with susceptibility to chromic abberation...that is a function of the quality of glass, and whether it is apochromatic or not. I think the faster scopes require a field flattener to get edge to edge pinpoint stars, although i always image with one on my f6/5 106mm APO. The designations APO, semi-APO, ED, etc, are used interchangeably by vendors and serve to confuse the buyer, which i believe is their intent...a confused buyer is one that can be easily led to spend more money. Look for a doublet that uses FPL-53 glass (like the Orion) and is an "ED"; the ES scope is a triplet, but uses inferior glass...so which is better? I dunno, I am confused..... My AT106 is a f6.5 triplet that uses FPL-53; i have never had any color fringing with the scope; images are always better with the flattener, but the difference does not jump right out at you.... I am only a year into this as well, so others may come with sage advice and correct my rantings.
  4. Another trick i have learned is to extract a specific color channel and use the dodge tool in photoshop to enhance the selected color. The procedure is on the Starizona website under the tutorials section...great processing resource by the way, many good printable procedures. I believe it is in their Photoshop workflow tutorial. Basically, you select the red channel of the image and copy it to a new layer over your image. You then use the dodge tool, and it will enhance the channel you have selected, it will work with R, G or B. You must be careful though, it really enhances a specific color....I turn down the "exposure" tab on the dodge tool to about 20%, and often need to turn down the opacity of the layer as well, but it works very nicely if used sparingly. Another option I have been using lately (from Adam Block) is to use the shadows / highlights adjustment, new to CS5 I believe. It has a powerful color correction slider, that really enhances color globally. Again, need to be careful and tone it down. The big advantage of the dodge tool procedure is you paint the enhancement of specific areas of your choosing. joe
  5. Hey Allan, i have had the same issues with my Orion Skyglow. The threads are very tight, and will not work on some EPs and accessories at all. For photography, I use the Astronomik CLS, great filter. The fact that it loads directly in the camera eliminates the thread problem, and i can use it with any lens or scope (except the cheapy Canon kit lenses, which protrude into the camera body). I have the Lumicon as well, but just use it for observing. Joe
  6. Thanks all, especially E_ri_k for letting me chime in on his post. That is reassuring, i had seen many flats posted with obvious arty-facts, but never saw them on mine. I never edit the flats, just RAW convert them as is. They seem to work fine for me, as I sometimes calibrate with and without flats, just to see...they clearly deal with most of the vignetting, so I think I am doing this correctly. As my mom used to say, leave well enough alone sonny. Thanks again. Joe
  7. Since we are talking flats, I am hijacking this great string for my own, selfish reasons. I too have made a light box and use it regularly. It seems to help with uneven illumination, I typically have an exposure of about 1/10 at ISO 800, my typical ISO for imaging at my home. I take them immediately after I finish the light frames, with the same orientation and the same focus. I generally do 10 to 20, depending on how many darks I shoot that night (usually do the same amount of each), and let Maxim do its thang. My problem is I never see dust doughnuts on the flat; the vignetting is there, I aim for the 1/3 to 2/3 histogram rule, but they are generally smooth. I am not that clean, and neither is my equipment...help poor Joe.
  8. Yeah, the book was always out with me when I started out. It really helped me to learn what I would expect to see in the finder, and helped me hone my star hopping skills. I still use it, especially at outreach programs. Sounds like the new version is a real improvement...thanks for the review Rory. Joe
  9. Right on PM. I had an incident over the weekend on another astro blog in which i suggested to a newbie - first telescope, 8" Dob - that he purchase a laser collimator for his scope so he can learn the basics and get close enough for his purposes. I was chided by overzealous practitioners who went on a rant about the technical shortcomings of laser devices, and were suggesting he purchase $400 worth of collimation equipment, he didn't want, need or ask about. He sent me a private PM thanking me for saving him a bunch of $$ - he really had no clue about collimation, only wanted the basics.
  10. I use the shortened leg technique as well; i have also found vibration pads work well. I have a solid alt / az (AT Voyager) but run into the bounce when i have it on the deck in back. On solid ground, no bounce. Joe
  11. Agree about the ISO, i never use 1600, pretty much stick to 800. I finished a very nice M31 this fall (sorry, at work, no pics handy) and did 24 x 5 min exposures, plus 60 x 1 m exposures. The stacked and calibrated 1 min exposure was used as the base image, i used a mask on the overlayed 5 min stack, and managed to tone down the center of the galaxy significantly, even retained some detail. For Andromeda (and Orion) combining short exposures for the core and long ones for the detail is the way to go. I think one hour is a minimum for strong detail in the spiral arms and the dust lanes, although StarGazer's snap is a beauty at 40 minutes, especially for a first go. I think you are right, stretching has reintroduced some noise there, although more data always helps....
  12. Shoes are very serious business; I have a couple of noggin lumps to prove it, when my comments got a little too harsh..... Gonna risk another with the expanding universe / bigger telescope / shoe comparison, can't help myself.
  13. The universe is expanding rapidly...never heard that one for justifying a bigger scope, but it's perfect. May I borrow that one Steve? Hope she doesn't find out about Andromeda moving toward us, and filling half the night sky in 3 billion years.....will take the sails out of my (your) expanding universe justification.
  14. Short of GradientXTerminator (which is the cat's pajamas at removing gradients), I still use a trick from Scott Ireland that works very well on vignetting and minor gradients....if you have PS. 1. Duplicate image 2. Use clone stamp to remove DSO and bright stars on duplicate 3. Use a big Gaussian Blur (75-90) on the duplicate...you want only the uneven illumination showing 4. Return to original image; use edit / apply image; set layer to background and choose the blurred image to apply This does a quick job of getting rid of gradients, like what you have above. Sometimes makes the image a bit dark, so a stretch may be in order afterwards. If you don't have Photoshop.....never mind. Joe
  15. John's advice is on target. Stick with a short focal length refractor to learn the ropes, you won't regret. Sink 60% or more of funding into the mount...the best telescope in the world won't do you any good on a mount that can't handle it. Think of the future, get a mount that may be able to handle a larger scope further down the road....keep in mind, for imaging calculate based on 1/2 to 2/3 of the stated mount capacity. Full capacity is for visual use only. I have two small refractors on a Atlas mount (40 lb capacity). Current setup clocks in just over 20 lbs. Gonna purchase an 8" RC in about a year, and will be at about 25 lbs....bought the Atlas with this game plan in mind. Then again, I may win the lottery and get that Paramount with the 20" RC....here's to dreamin!
  16. Definitely, a 20-30 min soak is in order. Never went the alcohol route, but i have read others who have....didn't hear any shrieks of angst, so must have worked....I would be careful though. Also good advice on the cotton balls....I bought a gigantor bag of them, and use a clean one with each swipe across the mirror. I do vertical swipes across, then horizontal...always use deionized water as the final rinse.
  17. I bought the entire Catseye kit (sight tube, Cheshire, AutoCollimator) and am very happy with it (12" f4.9 Dob). I use the sight tube (or just look down the naked focuser) and the cheshire every time i haul the beast out. With the red reflector triangle they provide it is very easy and intuitive. I use the autocollimator only periodically, 3 to 4 times a year to fine tune the collimation. It is not as intuitive, but I had the hang of it after 2 or 3 uses. Catseye has the Rob Morrow book on collimation...very helpful. I say this because if you are looking into only buying one for future, faster optics, consider Catseye. A bit pricey but worth it, IMO....check out the website, lots of good information.
  18. Beginning of a great adventure! I like to hear that you want to learn the sky yourself and find things on your own. Out under the stars with a scope or binos and a star chart....that's the way to go! I have folks in my astro club that couldn't find a 2nd magnitude star because their GoTo is not cooperating. Don't get me wrong, I have GoTo on my imaging rig and love it, but I sure am glad I learned with a Dob and a star chart first. Good luck, and above all, have fun! Joe
  19. I moved from a 10" solid tube Dob to a 12" truss Dob....great choice on my part, if I may be so bold. I find the 12" easier to move around and transport...the 10" tube was lighter, but bulky to move in and out of cars, etc. For my part, I would not go beyond a 12", don't want to deal with the weight, can't afford an ultralight...... Don't have GoTo or tracking experience with a Dob, but after imaging with Atlas / 4" refractor I do like to return to the simplicity of visual with a big ol fat Dob. I'm a fan of star-hopping with the Dob, so, for me, consideration of GoTo or tracking platforms never entered my mind.
  20. Tom's step wise procedure is what i have followed a couple of times with various scopes. I do avoid cleaning until necessary, but it is quite easy and nothing to fear, as some do. Lesson learned by me...be very careful not to overtighten the retention screws when reinstalling the mirror....if too tight, the mirror shape is warped and astigmatism is introduced. Just tighten enough to hold the mirror in the cell, no more.
  21. Same here Gina, go with the ED80 and learn the AP ropes. Bizbilder is right on, AP is a steep climb, made easier by a short focal length refractor like the ED80. The road to AP Nirvana is strewn with amateurs and their discarded, long focal length monsters....had they gotten their feet wet with a small refractor, they might have been still with us today. AP is the most wonderful hobby, but small steps is the order of the day.
  22. Yeah, another vote for NC actions here.... Lifesavers when you start out, timesavers as you get better with processing. I too don't use them as much as i did, but there are a few i still use routinely, or in combination with other processing I do (Make Stars Smaller, Enhance Star Color, Enhance DSO....). I have also found some other interesting single actions in surfing the web, usually free, keep an eye out for them. I have one that is used to enhance dust lanes in galaxies...it doesn't get me all the way there, but it is a good basis on which to add.
  23. For a newbie with a DSLR you can't beat Jerry Lodriguss' "books"...they are actually DVDs. I believe the website is astropix.com, he has several available, but the intro to DSLR imaging is hard to beat. There are several others out there, but i would start here. Also, search the internet...there are TONS of sites devoted to imaging with lots of good advice. Take it from a fellow newbie (I have been at it for about 8 months) your next purchase after a book or two on imaging, is a book or two on processing. I have found the second half of imaging...once your images are uploaded to your computer...to have a much steeper learning curve. I got the basics of image acquisition down pretty quick..not that i don't have regular disasters and disappointments.....but the processing of astro images is taking me much longer, to get good at it anyway. In this area, i would recommend Adam Block's DVD (Making Every Pixel Count) and Scott Ireland's Photoshop Astronomy. There are many other good ones out there, but i use those two as standard reference, all the time. My advice to a fellow newbie....take your time, learn each step, practice, practice, practice. You want to run out and image 10 things a night.....don't! Practice the basics (alignment, framing, focussing....), start with big, bright objects, don't jump immediately to 10 minute guided subs, etc. You have the right newbie equipment - short focal length refractor, solid mount for that scope, DSLR - take your time and have fun! Good luck, you are embarking on a great adventure! Joe
  24. I own an Orion 12" truss Dob and have been using it for about two years....great scope! It is the intelliscope version, but I never use the handset or the push to....I prefer to star hop and learn my way around myself. I did try it out, but find I can do just as well as the encoders, with a bit of practice. * I have found they need no more collimation that solid tube Dobs, which I owned prior to this...I check collimation each time i set up, and have to tweak the truss Dob no more that the other * Can't answer that one * No, I have never had dewing issues with the primary...the secondary is another story, the Kendrick dew heater for Dob secondaries solved that one.... * As I said above, yes, great scope the XX12i; the optics are clear and sharp, cool down time is minimal, the truss 12" is easier to move around that the 10" solid i used to own...luv my Dob! * For a person not interested in imaging, you just can't beat a big Dob. The limiting factors are how much scope you want to tote around, and how much you want to spend. I added a Rigel Quickfinder to complement the optical finder on the scope, that made a big improvement for me in manual starhopping. The QF puts you on a nearby visual star, the optical gets you on the star chart in the right space, and boom, there it is. Good luck and have fun! Joe
  25. Not shabby at all, good job. If you learn something new, or the light comes on over something that has been frustrating you, it is a good night. Spent many a night getting frustrated over some little bit of AP process, then when it clicks, seems like the last five hours kicking myself was worth it....carry on!
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