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About saac

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  1. Ian, re video, I was thinking rather on the same lines as Helen above. If you go down the serious astro photography route then a lot of the work will be done post processing and the kids will be waiting around for data to download rather than looking through the telescope. I'm guessing though that serious astro photography of DSOs is something that you would work up to over a year or two as you and the kids build on experience. A very easy starting point is to experiment with web cams (either diy modified our commercial astro type web cams) and freeware software like SharpCap and Registax. If I were you, and assuming you have the budget, then I would be tempted to go for Helen' s recommendation of the Atik Infinity or the lodestar - using these connected to a suitable laptop will allow the pupils to slew the scope across the sky and watch some of the brighter DSO's disclose before their eyes on the screen - it's a more inclusive and shared experience. Search for the Atik Infinity thread on the video forum or You Tube. Ok, the images won't be high definition, you need to manage expectations, but they should give a wow response and get the kids hooked. For photography work, I would start off with a DSLR (you may already have a suitable model in school). Cannon work well with a piece of software called Backyard EOS - this allows you to connect the camera to the laptop and control exposures, framing and focusing - again look on You Tube for tutorials. This would allow you to photograph say the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars , the Sun and Sun spots (in white light with suitable filter); as experience builds you can then move onto clusters and DSOs. To connect the camera to the scope you would need to invest in a "T" adaptor - check out FLO and you may also wish a Barlow (power-mate) which is used to magnify planetary images. Re solar filters. I know what you mean about the risk - for school use of course you would need a formal risk assessment but don't let that put you off, it's perfectly manageable especially in conjunction with a camera and laptop. Speak to SSERC if you need help. I use a glass (Orion) filter and have successfully used it through S1 to S6. The Telescope remains under my control when solar work is being done and the filter is inspected before use. Apart from ease of use during daytime classes, a solar filter opens up study of sun spots and the possibility to investigate the rotational period of the sun. Once you are up and running the other piece of equipment I would really recommend is the Star Analyser (about £100) - it's a simple blazed grating that screws into the camera adaptor and it will allow you to take some basic star spectra. It's really easy to use and could be useful in curriculum enrichment if you are following Higher/Adv Higher - it will show the Hydrogen Balmer lines for example of Vega. Lots of information on that available on the spectroscopy forum. Jim
  2. Ian, I would also consider equipment to allow solar observation, even if it is just a white light filter for the ED80. I teach in Fife and have run similar over the past few years. A solar capability has real payback from use in normal class time; was very popular with last year's transit of Mercury and the previous year's eclipse. As far as imaging goes, I guess it really depends on what you want to do and at what level, for school use I would favour the video astronomy route though. Good luck with the club. Jim
  3. University of St Andrews has an active research program using their on site observatories. As a bonus they are also open to the public on a fairly regular basis. Jim
  4. Thanks Sara that's a great tip, and another welcome opportunity to enjoy your amazing photographs. More please. Jim
  5. Re the cost justification. A few years ago I attended a CPD event run by the IoP at Stirling University. One of the guest speakers was from the Culham Fusion Research Centre; in his lecture he commented that we spend (globally) more on mobile phones than is directed towards fusion research. I guess you have got to spend it on something Jim
  6. If you want to look further you need higher energy collisions it's a simple as that. If Europe does not do it then China will; they well recognise that the benefit goes far beyond pushing back the boundaries. I hope it happens but I don't fancy the odds. Jim
  7. Cost is certainly an issue but then again it is in all aspects of astronomy even visual, after all who would not covet one of the big Naglars! At the end of the day whatever side you dabble in you will be contained in your ambitions by what you are prepared to fund - or at least if you are sensible you should be! My own philosophy is that I am in this for the long game, took me a few years to progress beyond a basic web cam on the moon and planets. I'm in no rush, I'm using my DSLR on teh DSOs at the moment but I cannot see me funding a decent CCD camera for at least another 5 years - I just could not justify it financially just as I couldn't justify a Naglar I have the same approach to the technical aspect as well, baby steps along the way; 2 years since I picked up my first decent mount (AZ EQ6 GT) but I'm still not working with guiding, there are other things I want to do well first. The thing is, my first photograph of Andromeda was far from perfect, certainly compared to what other more experienced than me can do. But that is just it, they are more experienced so I'm chilled with that, I know I will get to where I want to get to eventually. The joy I got when I processed my data on Andromeda using the U tube video on how to use PIXInsight was amazing. My free evaluation period on Pixi is now up and I need to save before I can buy a proper licence but again I will get there, baby steps. I'm a great believer in doing what you enjoy with what you can afford, after all this is what I do for fun in my down time, there is no exam - just as well It's a great hobby with something to appeal to different interests, just you, the telescope and the stars, how cool is that? Jim
  8. I never really had any prior interest in photography beyond the usual family photographs etc. I enjoy both visual and AP, just at the foothills of AP at the moment. I enjoy the technical challenge presented by AP and, similar to Olly, I enjoy the kick I get when I pull an image from data I've captured. Seeing my first AP image of Andromeda gave me the same wow moment when I first saw Saturn visually. I guess coming at all of this from an engineering background I don't have any philosophical concerns as to whether what I'm doing is observing or not. It is what it is and I enjoy doing both. Jim
  9. My understanding of both photon and electron has changed fundamentally over the past year alone. I've gone from a position of talking confidently about their nature to now, where at least I know with certainty, that my understating is limited and in error! Small progress, but one nonetheless of which I'm quite proud I think the frustration over naming and models used by Physicists comes from the mistaken belief by the public that science delivers absolutes. The reality of course is more in the realm of temporal truths. I'll admit to a naming convention that does frustrate me though; it frustrates me when common language is used such as colour or flavour in connection with particles or even worse when we anthropomorphise by taking about the life of a muon or "what would we experience in a black hole". This type of playful language I think can lead to deep seated to misconceptions. That said, I am as guilty as any, it's is hard to convey ideas about theses concepts without using language that is familiar. Jim
  10. If you are running Win 10 there is a well documented conflict with the prolific chip-set that is used in some usb/serial adaptors. If you are using Win 10 then I'd thoroughly recommend that you search out one of the FTDI based usb serial adaptors, I believe FLO now stock them. Jim
  11. Just to add to the above, it is possible with some relatively straightforward maths to calculate L1 (Earth/Moon) the point at which the Earth's and Moon's gravitational pull on the Apollo spacecrafts was balanced. If I remember correctly there is even a reference to it in the movie Apollo 13 where they reach the point of "zero g" - although I may have imagined that! Again the spacecraft were obviously not stationary so really I guess this marks the point at which the orbit influences changes (might be wrong there don't quote me on it or plan a journey to the moon on the strength of it) I don't know how to embed YouTube videos so here's a link - ignore the pause video part just go straight to the answer - nobody's watching Point Of Equal Gravitation Between Earth and Moon Jim
  12. Alan I think due to the nature of gravity it is technically always felt (albeit weekly); nowhere in space is completely flat hence gravity has an infinite reach. Perhaps Lagrangian points are close to what you may be thinking about although this implies an object in an orbital situation. The link below is a good starting point. Lagrangian Points Jim
  13. Hi RDBeck welcome to SGL. You have the right idea about starting off sensibly, the urge to empty your wallet will surely follow if you get the astro photography bug. I bought my little ETX 80 when I was in Greenville (work trip) almost 10 years ago now. Its worked perfectly over the years and although it's the most basic scope I have, I really enjoy using it, especially for solar work; used it last year to follow the transit of Mercury. Good to have you on board. Jim
  14. I'm with you on this Alan, I thought all 3 programmes were an absolute delight, a wee gem to lighten the spirit as we shrug off the last of the winter days. I've downloaded all three and they are already being used in class - the section on black holes was really pertinent. I certainly was educated, informed and entertained - BBC's remit well satisfied. I think they did well in changing the format, good to shake things up otherwise there is a danger of stagnation. That said, the after show was missed, maybe budget or scheduling constraints precluded it. I'd like to see them continue with this theme for next year say hosting it in from the observatory sites in Chile or maybe even from LIGO in California. I'm available to carry bags. Jim