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About ian_d

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    Star Forming

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  1. Hi Yeah, it's possible. The focuser is just the standard one that came with the scope (Skywatcher Skyliner 250PX Dob), eyepieces just held in place with a couple of screws. I'm thinking I should try a precision centering adaptor first; then maybe think about getting a better focuser if that doesn't work. Sounds like I'm thinking the right kind of thoughts, anyway! Thank you Ian
  2. Hi Been trying to collimate my 10" Newt of late. Thought I'd nailed it using a Cheshire / sight tube combo, but star test tonight showed a load of asymmetry. Checked collimation again and secondary tilt seemed out; readjusted it to get the primary centre mark on the crosshairs, tweaked primary as usual - but still no good on star test. Went back to the sight tube and noticed that the primary centre mark was off the crosshairs again. I hadn't moved the secondary mirror. I have a suspicion that either the crosshairs in the sight tube aren't actually intersecting at the dead centre of the tube itself; or that the focuser isn't holding the sight tube (or eyepieces) centrally, causing collimation errors. Anyone experienced this kind of problem before? Any hints before I assume I need to replace anything? Thanks! Ian
  3. Well hooray! Managed to get a look at Comet PanSTARRS this evening, with 10x50 binoculars, at about 6.45pm - just before the clouds got in the way. Very nice it was too - looked great against the twilight background, with the tail clearly visible and a pretty bright coma. Glad I caught it this evening, because the weather prospects look rubbish for the next few days. That's the first comet I've seen since 17P/Holmes a few years ago, and the only naked eye one since Hale-Bopp. It's no HB mind - but pretty awesome all the same. :laugh:
  4. Well, must be on a roll! Got about 25mins of clear sky here tonight, and in that time I managed to get my 4" refractor out on the EQ3-2 mount, with my Canon 400D stuck on the end at prime focus. Pointed roughly at the Pleiades, and took some 20s exposures. Cloud came in. Packed up. Uploaded images to computer, did the "false flats" thing, and hey presto! Very poor by most standards, but infinitely better than anything I thought I'd be able to pull off with the time / experience / gear I have. Chromatic aberration in full effect, clearly. But hey, it's a reasonably deep image of a beautiful object. I was pleased, anyway!!
  5. ian_d

    Astro snaps

    My (extremely limited) attempts at photographing what I'm seeing down the eyepiece. I make no claim of greatness here!!
  6. Having attended the excellent BAA Deep Sky Section meeting today, I came away determined / inspired to have a bit of a go at taking some photographs of the sky. I've never really been into the idea too much, and largely assumed it was all a bit too expensive / tricky to be bothered with. But the talks today made me think I should have a go. As luck would have it, clear skies greeted me when I got home, so I grabbed my old Canon 400D, a little tripod, and set about fairly randomly shooting the sky. 15 second exposures. I then tried a trick I'd heard about today - using standard image processing software, I blurred the images to remove the stars, then subtracted this image from the original to eliminate light pollution. I have to say, for a first go, I'm pretty pleased! Managed to get Jupiter in Taurus, and also Cassiopeia. The Pleiades show up nicely in the first, and if you look closely you can see the Andromeda Galaxy in the second. Suspect this might be the thin end of the wedge....!
  7. Looking forward to BAA Deep Sky Section meeting tomorrow

  8. Been getting used to all these clear nights...looks like they've abandoned us for the weekend though :-(

  9. After lots of being involved in public astronomy events this weekend, it was nice to just get out in the back garden with the Dob tonight for an hour or so. Nice conditions - good seeing, no clouds, although maybe not the best transparency. Certainly not a night for faint galaxies with the Moon dominating things. I decided to spend some time exploring the open clusters in Cassiopeia. First up was M103 - first time I've seen this as far as I can remember, and it's well worth a look - nice, compact cluster, marked out by three stars in a triangle and with one star in the centre being a particularly striking red colour. I had a go at sketching this object - will post it here once I've scanned it. Then I just started following my nose around from M103, and found the trio of clusters NGC 663, 659 and 654. NGC 663 the best of these; a nice view at x50 with lots of stars packed into the field. 659 much smaller but conspicuous; 654 not much to speak of! Hunting around further I stumbled across NGC 457, the Owl Cluster. Great wide field object this, and I had a go a drawing it as well. Finally, I turned the scope on Jupiter which looked excellent tonight in the steady air. Bags of disk detail. All in all, not bad for an hour (or so's) work!
  10. After having to postpone our Stargazing Live events from January due to the snow and ice, this weekend saw the rescheduled public sessions in Shurdington on Saturday night, and Nature in Art near Twigworth on Sunday. Our luck was in hugely - Saturday was clear enough (but with some cloudy patches) to be worthwhile, and tonight's session was very clear indeed. Two decent nights on the bounce, coinciding with our public events....what are the odds?! In the interests of simplicity, I used my 4" refractor both nights to show people the Double Cluster in Perseus. This is a fab object in a widefield scope, and I got a decent number of "oooohs" and "aaahs" over the two evenings! We tried to be a bit more organised this year, and we made sure that all the telescopes were pointing at different objects so people got to see a range of things. This seemed to work really well, and got people to stay outside for a decent amount of time too to chat with us all. The ISS passed over on both evenings and was really prominent, so that was another very happy coincidence. We had an excellent turnout on both evenings, which was especially gratifying given how long past the actual BBC shows we ended up doing these events. With any luck, we'll have attracted a few more people to the idea of joining their local astronomical society - and a few of us got to help people get their own telescopes set up and working, which I guess is a real help if you're new to this stuff, got a scope for Christmas, and can't make head or tail of the instruction booklet. Overall, really successful and enjoyable couple of nights.
  11. A bit of a brief observing session this evening - fairly knackered generally, but sky too clear to ignore! Spent a bit of time on the moon, which I wouldn't usually do but it did look pretty special at x50 through the Dob. Blasted my dark adaption though! Then on to Jupiter - some really crisp detail tonight, much better than the other evening. Lots of bands etc in northern hemisphere in particular, Pleiades next, and specifically wanted to see if I could make out the reflection nebula by using an Orion Ultrablock filter. Looked pretty convincing to me - definite signs of nebulosity around the brighter members, and I don't think it was just glare (although hard to tell). Finally had a bit of a go trying to find M108, but the northern skies from my house are pretty washed out - no dice, That was enough for me tonight - hardly a hardcore session, but definitely better than nothing!
  12. Not much to report on the observing front of late...will it be clear for the asteroid on Friday??

    1. Guy Wells

      Guy Wells

      It could well be

  13. Whilst beasting myself on a 10km run this evening in the freezing cold (couldn't feel my toes until after 5km!) I couldn't help but notice the lovely clear sky overhead. So, once suitably refreshed, out I ventured once more with my 6" SCT for a quick look up. Clear it may have been, but steady it was not. Jupiter was a real challenge, even at modest power (x120) - dancing about all over the place, very hard to make out much on the disk other than the two most prominent cloud bands. It was a nicer view at x60, with all four Galilean moons visible (this was at about 2130UT). Given the conditions, pushing the magnification up was obviously not the smart thing to do, so instead I took a look at a few open clusters - ideal for low power viewing, and much less susceptible to wobbly air. The Double Cluster in Perseus was magnificent - such a rich part of the sky anyway, and the two clusters close enough to both be in my field of view at x60. Great. By this time, the combination of cold and sugar crash (from running) was taking its toll, so I went for just one more target - M37 in Auriga. Near the zenith, so well away from the murk, this was terrific. The more I looked, the more I could see - hints of many more fainter stars just beyond the limits of visibility, giving the impression of a cloud of light behind the brighter, resolved stars. Ended up staring at the thing for about 25 minutes, by which time I was in severe danger of falling over in a heap. So in I came! So, when it's clear but the seeing's rubbish, open clusters are a great idea :smiley:
  14. Couldn't resist sharing this here - while I was out the other night (see previous post) I had a go at snapping Jupiter down the eyepiece with my iPhone. Got Europa and Io as a bonus! You had to be there, really..... :smiley:
  15. Just came in from a quick observing session with the Celestron 6" SCT - far from ideal conditions out there tonight, very murky really and a big bank of cloud drove me back indoors after about an hour. But I got some good stuff done. First of all, I was able to confirm that my recent clean of the corrector plate had gone well - nice sharp image, no smudges or other unmentionables. I was also able to get the GOTO all properly aligned and calibrated - last time I tried (admittedly in a real hurry) it was well off, so good to know that's all working as it should be. It is a really good setup, C6 SCT on CG-5 GOTO. Very good performance for the aperture. In terms of actual observing - well, started with the obligatory look at Jupiter which was nice - plenty of detail on the disk, despite poor seeing. Given the rubbish sky I didn't even try any DSOs - just went round a few nice doubles. Eta Cass was great - always worth a look, nice colour contrast and very easy to resolve. Then a couple of new ones for me - Gamma and Lambda Ari. Gamma was very striking - two almost identical stars (in colour and brightness) right next to each other, like a couple of white eyes looking down at you. Lambda Ari much more widely separated, and more colour - both yellowish, with the secondary maybe a little more on the red side. Only a short session, but some new objects for me and confirmation that I hadn't destroyed my optics when I buffed them up a bit. I'll claim that's a success!
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