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Posts posted by scotastro

  1. Collimation is not something to worry about. With the Skywatcher reflectors I have looked at many and most are close to being aligned only needing the smallest adjustment of the primary mirror. Even if you make a complete mess of collimating initilaly it will not take long to get it right. You will not be taking the scope apart after all.

    I use an Orion USA laser collimator (secondhand about £25) which although basic is accurate enough before doing the final star test.

    Skywatcher have just announced a new range of Explorer relectors to replace the current range of 8" to 12". The dobsonians are bound to be change soon too.


  2. My first thought reading your post was I saw the same thing. But comparing it with my observations it does not quite match up.

    4 guests and I saw a slow moving meteor like object (which from past sightings I would put down to space debris. The Start point was slightly further to the left than yours - just below the belt stars of Orion and about 2 minutes earlier. I did not catch the very beginning the guest that picked it up first said it look like a slow moving star which became "brighter than Mars". I picked it about Hydra until it disappeared deep in Leo near Theta Leo (Chertan). I estimated it at +1 mag the whole time.

    Although our sightings are similar my location is 54:43N 4:28W - much further west than you. From my perspective was it moved from almost due south to due east. I would have said it was over Isle of Man to South of Hawick. So it should have been west of you in Kelso.

    It seems odd there were two such objects minutes apart. I am wondering if something was just skimmimg the atmosphere such that I saw it first then by the time it flared again it was out of sight for me but visible to you.

    Whatever was happening it was a great sighting for the guests who are all beginners.


  3. Not sure if you need thgis info but I'll throw it in anyway.

    One issue often misunderstood is the effects of focal length and aperture on the object being viewed..

    For viewing deep sky objects - galaxies nebulae, etc you need aperture not magnification. Most DSOs are big but faint So a short focal length scope f4.5 or f5 is fine. However to view planets you need high magnification (they are bright so smaller aperture is ok) a scope of f6 and above is much better - even up to f11 f12 for Maks and SCTs)


  4. One problem that showed up with the Mak127 on the AZ GOTO mount was the difficulty in getting the object into the FOV using the supplied 25mm EP (60x mag). It was always just outside the field no matter how accurately the mount was set up. Using a 40mm EP (38x) made life much easier as the object was always in the FOV using the GOTO.

    If you are most interested in Moon, planets and double stars and the odd bright DSO the Mak127 is hard to beat, but for faint DSOs you need a bigger aperture such as a Newtonian

    I would agree that the the scope is a bit heavy for the AZ mount. I use mine on an EQ3-2 which is far more stable.


  5. I was out with our guests last night and between us we saw 30 meteors in an hour (7.15 to 8.20pm) before the Moon rose. Don't get excited through the majority were mag 4 to 5, invisible in light pollution. About every 10th was 2nd mag.

    They were everywhere in the sky all coming from the north (obviously) but some went though Cygnus and Pegusas with other through Gemini and Taurus.

    Once the Moon was up it wiped out any chance of seeing all but the bright ones.


  6. Unless you have a customised packaged the only goto version of the 130P is the Synscan AZ GOTO which can be aligned from any position no need to point north. But the mount needs to be absolutely level (using the inbuilt bubble on the mount).

    Is the misalignment error small ie just out side of the field of view or large, as in pointing almost in the opposite direction. The former is usually a time error the latter a date or location error.

    I would suggest double checking everything as it is easy to input the info in the wrong order.

    Try Vega or Capella with another star (as Vega and Capella have similar ALT AZ co-ordinates as they are overhead at some point in the year). The alignment software seems to like stars 60 degrees apart but with different ALT AZ. Try Vega and Albebaran or Betelgeuse.

    Are you using AA batteries - as this type of battery does not like the cold (you said it was very cold) and the little power pack is very exposed.

    Finally, have you tried the other method of alignment

    While not the most accurate goto the Synscan should put an object in the FOV of the 25mm EP everytime.


  7. A variable filter can be separated with one part attached to the bottom of the barlow (assuming it has a threaded end) and the other on the EP. Rotating the EP will alter the brightness.

    A 130P has a 650mm focal length which with the 10mm EP and barlow will only give 130x which will make the planet seem small.

    To view planets well you need a telescope with a long focal length rather than one with a large aperture.


  8. Finally got a minute to read all the posts. As you can imagine since the announcement of the dark Sky Park award the phone has not stopped with calls from the media. Hope you got to see Steve on TV.

    It was a shame I could not stay on site more especially for Saturday night but we had Ian Morison and Steve Lynn staying at the Centre and they wanted to play on the big scope.

    Lesley and Ralph have been reading the posts and are very pleased - I know many of you said the same when you left. You are welcome to return any time.

    Of course, Steve and I will start planning Star Camp #2 for Nov 2010, which includes a dedicated website. Finally, I have to agree Rob's images are brilliant. If any one who took images could PM them to me I will put a gallery on the website.


  9. As a visual deep sky scope the 10" is going to be great. I have owned the 8" for 12 years. Focusing was an issue with the 8" in that the image did wobble a little. Fitting an Orion USA electric focuser from SCS Astro made a huge difference, stars snapped into focus easily.

    You will see lots of posts with people worrying or disappointed by the view of Jupiter. I was out with the local club being filmed by the BBC in advance of the Dark Sky Park announcement Monday. The view of Jupiter through the 8" SCT we were using was horrible and imaging it was even worse. Nothing wrong with the scope, all down to the sky. In comparison the view of deep sky stuff was great.


  10. Even when close Mars still needs about 200x to look decent so for your scope the 5.5mm would be about right. Cannot comment on the Meade 5000 other than the reviews are good.

    Look a getting some coloured filters as these will help bring out the details (I found a neodymium filter works too).

    If you are prepared to stay up, at the moment Mars is displaying the polar cap well.


  11. Hey there is only one place to go and that's Galloway as in Dumfries & Galloway. The 300 square miles of the Galloway Forest are about to get officially recognised Dark Sky Park status. The area around it is equally as good.

    All being well the official announcement will be on 16th Nov. The first such site in UK and Europe too.


    But then I'm biased - I live here.

  12. As there are no other posts on this one I'll give you some pointers.

    Star trails are easily acheived - set the camera to bulb and ASA to 800 and mount it on a tripod. Open the shutter for one or two minutes. Job done.

    Getting images of planets or DSOs is a different matter. The most critical thing for astrophotography if you want stars as nice dots not trails is a very stable motoriesd mount. Neither scope you mentioned has a good enough mount.

    Depending on the type of objects you want to image a reflecting telescope is not that useful if you search around SGL on the image posts you will find many people use small aperture (66 to 80mm) apochromatic refractors. These do come at a much higher price than the scopes you mention. The cheaper achromatic telescopes will give pretty good results for the beginner - a Skywatcher Startravel 80 second hand is about £80.

    Mounting the camera to telescope requires a T mount or 2" eyepiece adaptor.

    As to the equatorial mount the minimum you should get the EQ3-2 with motor drives. Better still is an EQ5 or HEQ5. These can be found at reasoable prices (£150 ish) second hand.

    Imaging nebula is a problem for most DSLRs as they have inbuilt filters blocking the red end of the spectrum. The very light the nebula produces. Nikon and Canon DSLR can have the filters changed (costs about £200) I don't know if this is possible with your Sony.

    Because of the above your camera will be limited to star clusters and galaxies of which there are lots to image. Planetary imaging is more difficult as you need high magnification to get anything like a decent sized disc of the planet.

    An alterantive to an equatorial mount is an Astrotrak

    That covers a lot of what you need to know, unfortunately it is probably not what you wanted to hear.


  13. You did not say the focal length of your scope, I would assume it's 600 to 900mm.

    Using a 17mm EP would give you a lot of magnification and a small field of view for M42 - it is a big object, twice the size of the Moon. If you have a 25mm EP it would give you a better overall view.


  14. I have taken lots of pictures of Aurora from the ground here in Scotland. Auroras can cover a lot of sky so a wide angle lens would be of more use.

    Set for 800ASA as minimum not sure how long an exposure you can get away with since there would be some vibration in the plane. Very bright display requires only a few seconds.

    On the ground I would be shooting for about 20 seconds, longer for a faint display - but that will not work in the air. If Pete is on your flight ask him for advice.

    When are you going?


  15. Sorry Leegsi I'm confused. In you first post you said

    "when Jupiter is in the middle of the cross hairs its off to one side in my view"

    So the finder and scope cannot be accurately aligned otherwise the image in the EP would be in the centre not the edge. The finder is held in place by two plastic screws and a third metal spring loaded fitting. The two screws adjust the finder position.


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