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Everything posted by tom714uk

  1. Was very pleased to catch this having only heard about it by accident a couple of days ago here on SGL... Spent about half an hour looking and was not far from giving up (eyes kept fooling me stars were moving - thought I was going out of my mind!) when I finally got it at just after 11 passing from Hydra into Cancer through a narrow V of mag 8-9 stars. Had to check several times as at first I thought it was still my eyes playing tricks on me! Very cool.
  2. Interestingly, that catalogue shows that the 2016 Mercury transit will pass much closer to the centre of the Sun's disc than most. Tom
  3. Thanks for the tip Chris! Not much danger of dark adaptation in my front yard though, I have to say :-) Tom
  4. I won't hold out too much hope for the masking technique, then. Are there any other tried and tested means of detecting colour in these two, I wonder? Thanks, Tom
  5. Bagged Uranus and Neptune last night for the first time (actually I think I spotted Uranus with 10x50s when I was starting out a couple of years ago but I never confirmed it). Both were just perceptible as discs at 200x (Neptune only just) and didn't show any colour, even when defocused - perhaps next time I'll try masking the aperture down as I've heard that can help with colour. Neptune was a lot harder to find. Eventually I located what I was 90% sure was the planet in the grip of a "claw" of stars; I've just been on CalSky and confirmed it - see attached screenshot! Tom
  6. Wow! You ought to do a sketch of the sun round about now. There's a very interesting fragmented-looking group of sunspots on show at the moment. Tom
  7. Thanks for the comments guys, just noticed them. When I said this was my second sketch ever, I didn't mean second astronomical sketch ever - I'd never previously regarded any kind of drawing/painting-related activity whatsoever to be something I could do! Once I gave it a go, though, it wasn't so hard, particularly using the advice most sources give to put in the brightest stars first using an imaginary clock face as a framework. I haven't had the opportunity to do any more since but I will certainly post them on the forum when I do. Tom
  8. Amazing. Thanks for the calculation! As I understand it the environment in a glob is quite hostile for any potential life, but it would be pretty cool to visit... Tom
  9. Also just seen - remarkable sight. Sketched it and result is in sketching forum. Tom
  10. Just done my second ever sketch (first one was a solar active region a couple of days ago and not pretty!) - here is the result... M31 doesn't come out of it very well but the comet looks pretty much like what I saw just now. Tom
  11. That's an amazing image and very different from our usual fare on SGL. Thank you! What's the average absolute separation (in light-years) between the stars we can see in this image? I imagine they must be quite tightly bunched in the core of a glob. Tom
  12. Same here in Northumberland. Couldn't look for long, and it was through trees and a window, but I've finally seen a comet! It was pretty small at 8x but I agree the core was bright and the tail fan-shaped. The upper edge of the tail was brighter than the rest. Tom
  13. I've wanted to see Mercury since starting astronomy 18 months ago and was finally rewarded in the last few days. I'd read all the warnings about it being very rare for it to be visible and very low down when it was. However, various sources had alerted me to the opportunity this month and I was determined to make the most of it. I had a quick go through trees and a bit of cloud from an upstairs window about a week ago, holding binoculars in one hand and a wriggling baby in the other, but had no luck. The 16th was supposed to be the best evening for it but unfortunately was also the first day of my holiday at Center Parcs - I knew that being surrounded by very tall trees wasn't going to be the best way to maximise my chances, so kept an eye on the sky the previous day instead. This time, scanning around through the same window equipped with the same baby/binoculars combination at about 5.45-6pm, I was delighted to see a point of light just above the treetops! Once I'd located it it was clearly visible with the naked eye. Some pleading with the wife (it was the middle of bedtime for two children) got me a few minutes to get the telescope out. My garden and drive had nowhere suitable but I discovered that the middle of the (quiet) road round the corner had an excellent W horizon! So, presenting only a minor hazard to traffic, I got a fix (giving a curious passer-by her first view of the moon in the process) and viewed the planet at 200x. It was (as expected) very indistinct due to the low altitude, and there was also a lot of CA present, but it was clearly a blob rather than a point. I didn't notice a phase in particular (it has to be said I forgot to look for one) but the colour was distinctly light brown-grey. There were hints of darker and brighter patches but the image was too unstable to make anything out clearly. The best view was with the naked eye, however - a beautifully coloured and totally clear sky shading from relative brightness at the horizon to deep blue overhead containing a young moon and this subtle pinprick of light. Somehow it gives a greater impression of our place in the solar system than a view of the planets at night. I think Mercury might be my favourite planet after that view - particularly as seeing it implies a clear sky almost to the horizon, which is a very pretty sight. The 16th was cloudy in the end, trees or no trees, so I was very glad to have got in there early. However, the next night (still at Center Parcs) it was once again clear, and I realised that there was a great W horizon over a lake. So I persuaded my wife and a friend to come out and have a look, which I think they appreciated! Jupiter was also clearly visible from where we were standing so it was an even better show. Big thumbs up from me for Mercury! Tom
  14. I've just picked up Sky & Telescope at WH Smith and the almanac was packaged with it - £3.45 in total! I've had a good look at the almanac and the instructions on the back and it looks great. Thanks for the tip-off! Tom
  15. I have owned the Strathspey 10x50 waterproof and yesterday acquired a nearly new pair of their 15x70s and can definitely recommend both. Collimation was slightly out with the former and somewhat out with the latter, but easy enough to fix. I believe the waterproof model has a slightly wider field of view than the marine, although it's centre not individual focus. Otherwise they are optically the same I think and the waterproof model is cheaper! Tom
  16. Brian Cox's episode of "Wonders of the Universe" on this topic is very good. Tom
  17. This is very interesting, as a pair of 15x70 binoculars is what I am probably looking at getting next, and naturally I was thinking of the Revelations. Is there anywhere I can determine which brands this applies to? If I can stretch to it I would consider the Strathspeys as recommended on your website, but I like handholding, and am prepared to compromise a bit on optical quality to get a lighter pair; however I don't like the idea of actually getting 63mm aperture when I think I'm getting 70! Thanks, Tom
  18. I think the reason this is "news" is that Hubble has just measured M31's proper motion, enabling it to be said with certainty for the first time that it will collide with the Milky Way rather than pass to one side. NASA's website has eight "time-lapse" images, two of which are the ones found in the BBC article. Rather pretty I thought! Tom Sent from my HTC Desire S using Tapatalk 2
  19. Hi Guy, Looks like you might not have a diagonal attached from that photograph. The light path probably won't be long enough to achieve focus without one. Best wishes, Tom Sent from my HTC Desire S using Tapatalk 2
  20. I noticed this while trying the off-axis hole for lunar viewing - suddenly there was lots of dirt visible. I suspect it was on the eyepiece field lens rather than the mirrors, though, as it was clearly in focus in the view. Tom Sent from my HTC Desire S using Tapatalk 2
  21. I think they may have realized the problem and altered the packaging - mine had a white plastic sheet where you describe the cellophane. At least I hope that's all it had! Tom Sent from my HTC Desire S using Tapatalk 2
  22. I think this is what I read about in an interview with the authors of "Turn Left at Orion" a month or two ago. One of them lined up the scope on the galaxy while keeping M13 out of the field of view and - not mentioning M13 - invited the other to take a look, who dutifully said "yes, yes, quite a nice galaxy" or words to that effect. Then the first one casually suggested nudging the scope to the left and was rewarded by an astonished gasp from the other one as M13 appeared. This from a very experienced observer who had obviously seen it many times before - just goes to show that things don't necessarily lose their magic as long as you're not expecting them. Tom
  23. Not literally I hope! Certainly doable though... Tom Sent from my HTC Desire S using Tapatalk 2
  24. So stay up a bit past your bedtime ;-) Tom
  25. No, I checked it out on Stellarium, we'll get about an hour. It finishes at about 4 minutes to 6 iirc and sunrise is at about 5. Exact timing will of course be subject to the black drop effect (think that's right), which I hope to see... Tom
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