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Everything posted by AstroTux

  1. I did something very similar some time ago, so you may be interested in this http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/162657-a-low-cost-ra-stepper-for-small-telescopes/ . Hope this helps, Alan
  2. Unfortunately none from April 30th to August 14th - that's why we fish in Summer and observe in Winter . Alan
  3. Got back to Shindig in one hit, arriving about 00:20 this morning. Just twelve hours from Lucksall - is this a record !! And the first rain/snow we'd seen in six days was encountered as we crossed Rannoch Moor - as well as a large number of deer in the dark . Many thanks to all those who took part in the organisation of SGLX and especially to Daz as the stand-in Grant. Well done all. SGLX will go down as a one-off. How many star-parties have you been to in the UK when it never rained in five days and we had observing sessions every night? And they even laid on a solar eclipse for us!! The only down-side being that despite it being there, the burger van was closed every night :evil: . It's been good to catch up with you all again, and even to have drunk a tiny bit too much whisky with some of you ( you know who you are ). Just a couple of piccies: Allan was so concerned about not driving on grass he thought he'd try driving on some other substance....... Haydn trying to be fashionably early for the hog roast. I'm not sure this is a dance move Micheal Flately would recognise. All the best folks, and looking forward to next year ( maybe ), Alan
  4. +1 for the Rigel QuickFinder, but I've also fitted a SkyWatcher 9x50 finder 'scope. The Rigel allows quick location of an object and the finder 'scope is extremely useful for its magnified view and the ability to find fainter objects. The finder 'scope is not too difficult to fit once you've got over the fact that you have to drill two holes in the OTA. The seat for the finder 'scope is designed so that it sits parallel with the OTA, so simply place it on the tube, mark the holes and drill carefully ( with the OTA horizontal of course, so that you don't drop swarf all over your mirror ). Hope this helps, Alan
  5. Hi Labman and welcome to SGL. The RDF of the AstroMaster 130 is easily removed. Just unscrew the two screws nearest the OTA ( tube ) at the back and then slide it backwards. I fitted a Rigel QuickFinder and a finding 'scope instead, which makes it much more useable. Hope this helps, Alan
  6. Hi Jim, and welcome from the dark stuff even further North. Alan
  7. Yup!!! :grin: As you can see from my signature, we now live in Shieldaig, Wester Ross. Our back garden has a Bortle Factor around 3, and a NELM of around 5.75/6 - so not bad !! It's a long drive from here to Lucksall, but we'll see you there, all the best, Alan
  8. Booked Wed - Sun, but it'll be a much longer drive this year than last.......... :grin: . Let's hope no-one has to shout "I see a shiny" ( memories of SGL 9 ) See you all there, Alan
  9. I'm not sure ( as I don't know the field of view ), but I would suggest that what you've captured is Perseus to the bottom left and a bit of Andromeda and Triangulum to the right. It would appear to me that you've missed both M31 and M33, so what it is you've captured I'm afraid don't know. Hope this helps, Alan
  10. And here's me just thinking Laniakea was a make of ukulele!! When it turns out the name comes from the University of Hawaii, it's not surprising that it's very similar to Lanikai. This would tend to indicate that the music of the heavens must be played on a uke!!! :evil: :grin: Alan ( with tongue pressed hard into cheek ) :grin:
  11. Not sure yet, if we'll be able to come this year as we're in the process of moving to the NW Highlands of Scotland, and may not have everything sorted by then . Still, if Linda has her way a 1200 mile round trip will be on the cards :grin: .......... If we can't make it, clear skies to everyone, and make sure you've got your dew-shields to hand!!! all the best, Alan
  12. So that's what they mean when they say it's the 'Glorious Twelfth'..................
  13. But don't you need to be remote to get dark skies?? Don't worry, when we're settled in there will be lots of pictures, probably on our own hill-walking website. In the meantime you could always look here http://www.stevecarter.com/ansh/ansh2.htm ............ Yes, it can get quite hairy up there, but when the weather is still it's fantastic. Summer is for fishing!!! :evil: I've fished lochs up there well after midnight during the Summer, but Autumn, Winter and Spring are for observing. Drinking happens all year round!!! :evil: I'll let you know if and when we start to take people in. many thanks for all your good wishes, Alan
  14. As all the legal work is now official, I fell compelled to share my good news. After some time trying to arrange everything, Linda and I are finally going to be moving house from the light polluted skies of Reading, to the wonderful skies of the North West Highlands of Scotland :grin: . We have bought a house in Shieldaig on Loch Shieldaig which itself is on Loch Torridon, 70 miles west of Inverness. We will be moving in around 2 months time ( with luck ). Whilst we will be surrounded by 3500ft mountains there are many places where a good, uninterrupted view of the sky is available so we will be looking forward to clear nights. We will also be able to fulfil our dream of taking the 'scope to the top of the Bealach na Ba ( Britain's highest road, 2053ft ) for a night's observing as it's only 15 minutes drive away . Here are some pictures for you to drool over: Shieldaig village oor new hoose. It's currently being run as a B&B, so we may start taking people in for winter hill-walking and astro-tourism, but haven't decided yet. the view from the front of the house. White-tailed eagles nest on the island. As you can probably guess, all the work involved is why I haven't been posting much recently, but be warned this may change..... Our only fear is that as we will be 600 miles further north, getting to SGL X may present a few problems , but I'm sure we will find a way around them. all the best, Alan
  15. Ordnance Survey. The original map makers. Hope this helps, Alan
  16. GPS fixes for altitude are notoriously unreliable. For this reason good hand-held GPS units for hill-walkers have an integrated barometer. I would trust the OS map more than any GPS. hope this helps, Alan
  17. Arghhhh!! I'd completely forgotten about this as I got rid of the motor some time ago. You're right, the bracket and slo-mo controls mean that the motor has to be placed on the other side of the mount, so you have to use southern hemisphere tracking instead of northern hemisphere. The motor can be ( and probably was originally designed to be ) used with other mounts where it sits on the correct side for its design. Glad you've got it sorted, Alan
  18. Having used the same 'scope for some years, I think I feel your pain :grin: !! When setting the 'scope up, polar alignment is normally the most important thing of all. There is no polar 'scope to use so you have to do it manually. The tripod does not need to be level, but the mount should point directly at the North Celestial Pole in order for the RA to track properly. I've found that the best approach is to set the OTA for a declination of +90° ( pointing straight along the mount ) and then use the latitude adjustment bolts and the bolt under the tripod head so that I can see Polaris dead centre in the eyepiece without moving the OTA relative to the mount. I then tweak this just a little to reposition on the NCP. I normally use a 26mm eyepiece for this as I am familiar with the pattern of stars around Polaris in this eyepiece. A word of warning though, do not trust the DEC setting circle to point you at exactly 90°!! On this mount they are notoriously inaccurate, so you may find that setting the mount up in daylight and using your Mk1 eyeball to find out what the scale reads when you are convinced that the OTA is in line with the mount is the best way of finding out what you should set it to. Once you have your polar alignment correct then it should be a simple matter to get any object ( other than the Moon as it does not move at sidereal rate ) in the eyepiece and then adjust the motor speed so that you can track it. The only other thing I would point out is that the motor uses a simple control circuit that is affected by its drive voltage - PP3 batteries don't tend to like the cold and their output voltage can drop quite considerably, so use a new battery if at all possible. I have to say that I got fed up with the motor drive so I designed and built a new one, documented here http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/162657-a-low-cost-ra-stepper-for-small-telescopes/ . Hope this helps, Alan
  19. Both the Sun and the Moon exert gravitational pulls on the Earth's oceans, but the effect of the tidal bulge is often extremely exaggerated when people discuss the effects of tides. Even when the two pulls are together and produce the spring tide that occurs with a new moon, the actual bulge in mid-Atlantic will only be about 1cm in height. This is obviously not enough to produce the tidal effects that most people see. Tides really only start to occur in shallow waters close to land. If you were to imagine the amount of water that 1cm in mid-Atlantic amounts to, it is quite a large body of fluid. As the wave ( not the water itself ) produced by this bulge moves towards shallower water, then the amount of fluid being displaced has more of a pronounced effect - similar to that of a Tsunami as it approaches land. The movement of this wave around the British coastline is effected by the shape of the coast which exerts a drag, causing the times of high tide to vary enormously as it moves. For example, high tide in Leith ( near Edinburgh ) was at 5:40 this morning, but in Dover it was at 1:42. A difference of nearly 4 hours. Differences in the land and seabed topology all contribute significantly to tide times ( which were originally studied by Sir Isaac Newton using his new-found calculus ) and although the two major factors are the positions of both the Sun and the Moon, over 40 other factors producing sinusoidal effects contribute to the timing of the tides in each particular location. Maybe not very well explained, but I hope this helps, Alan
  20. James, as you know I've had your software sat on my machine for some time, but have not been able to test it until now :sad: !! I think I've learnt that testing astro-software in the field is not like any other software testing, you have to wait until everything is just right before you can begin . Well on Tuesday night the clouds were not around, all my stuff was easily to hand, nothing else needed adjusting or testing, I was in a comfortable environment at home, nobody expected me to do anything else, etc., etc., so I finally got down to it . What can I say? Having tried numerous other capture programmes under Linux, yours is easily the most instinctive to use - just look at the pictures, play with the sliders and away you go. Others such as wxAstrocapture and qastrocam-g2 have all the relevant features scattered under different tabs, which can lead to confusion when being used in a dark environment. I always used to find that I had forgotten to do something leading to the capture of loads of unusable data. No such problems with oaCapture. I was able to get useful data straight away using my SPC900 and the 'little scope' ( AstroMaster 130 ). My first target was Mars and the ability to run at a full 15 frames/sec allowed me to capture lots of information quite quickly, and to perform many runs at different settings - very useful. I then moved on to the full moon and using the focal reducer took just two runs of 600 frames at 10 frames/sec, one of the top half and the other of the bottom half. A quick bit of maths and you can see that I took just 2 minutes of moon data, but it was extremely easy. Then, on to the processing. Thankfully I didn't have to problem of loading .avi files into Registax ( V6.1.0.8 ) as I'd been through this with you and had installed the utVideo codec under Wine. I decided to start with the Lunar work as I was more confident of the results. This was where the work began!! I did not realise that oaCapture produces so much more data than other Linux capture programmes. Loading 600 frames at 640x480 into Registax, then aligning and stacking them took about 30 minutes on an AMD dual-core 64-bit machine running at 2.8GHz. However, more data is better in my mind. Just for you, here is the result - slightly out of focus, very crudely processed, then stitched together using Hugin........... 15th April 2014, 600 frames top half, 600 frames bottom half, SPC900 + 2x focal reducer, Celestron AstroMaster 130 As you can see I need to improve my astro-photography skills, but I'm quite happy with this as it was the result of a test. I just need to remember to use my cornflake packet Bhatinov mask next time. As I'm typing this my other system is chuntering away processing the Mars data, so hopefully something good may come out. Anyway, many thanks James for an excellently useable application. This is going to be my capture programme from now on. The only improvement I can suggest is support for the SPC900 LX mod . All the best, and keep up the good work, Alan
  21. Joseki, I had a similar problem to you when using James's oacapture, and found that Registax would not recognize the .avi files being produced. After some discussion with him I installed the utvideo codec http://umezawa.dyndns.info/archive/utvideo/utvideo-13.3.1-win.exe under XP and Registax was happy. I then thought I would try and take this a bit further, so I installed the same drivers under Wine on Linux Mint, a Ubuntu derivative. Simply download the driver using the link, then click on it so that the Wine Programme Installer can run it and you're good to go. To my surprise Registax V6 ( also installed under Wine ) would now quite happily open the .avi files and allow me to process them. hope this helps, Alan
  22. When you say not too far north, how far are you thinking? Crianlarich and Tyndrum are only 50 miles from you, 1 hr by car, and Strathfillan ( where both are ) is a very wide glen with some excellent dark skies if the weather is right. Between the two is a wee car park at Dalrigh that gives good views over Beinn Dubhchriag and Beinn Oss. Further down the same track ( which is the old route of the A82 ) is a bridge over the river called the Fionn Drochart and that is very dark. I know 'cos I've used it!!! There are also two good campsites and several B&Bs. Glencoe and Rannoch Moor are less than 100 miles from you and the car park at the Kingshouse Hotel ( just as you enter Glencoe ) is probably very good if you can ignore the lights from the hotel. There are plenty of places around there that get very dark if you take the car slightly away from the A82 ( the Glencoe Ski Centre road and Glen Etive are two contenders ). Fort William is 100 miles from you ( 2 hrs by car ) but just around the corner is Glen Nevis where few people live, and Cow Hill blocks the lights from Fort William. If you want to show the other half some hills, just take them there . Another 20 minutes up the road is Spean Bridge, but if you turn down to Gairlochy ( on the Caledonian Canal ) and then go round the corner to Loch Affric the skies are really dark. As you go further North the possibilities become endless - Loch Garry, Glen Shiel, etc. but the treat I'm saving myself for is taking the 'scope to the top of the Bealach Na Ba, the Applecross Road from Kishorn. This is the road that is often blocked by snow in winter and the summit car park is at 2000 ft. The only light pollution is from Broadford on the Isle of Skye many miles away. If you go any further North than this you're getting into my favourite part of Scotland, so don't tell anyone about it . Hope this helps, but don't go during the summer as there won't be any astro-dark skies, Alan
  23. Another huge thanks to Daz for his organizational skills, and to his 'support crew' ( Mrs Daz, Grant, et al. ). Although the weather didn't play ball. we had a great time catching up with old friends ( you know who you are ) and meeting new ones. Will have to bring a larger selection of different malts for next year and see who can make the trip along the 'top shelf'. I would also like to add a thank you to the staff at Lucksall. They keep the site in great condition and their friendly attitude makes it stand out against others I have used ( and could mention, but won't ). Some have said that there are better sites for dark skies, but Lucksall is such a good site even when the skies aren't clear, and is so accessible that it's ideal for this event. If anyone wears a T-shirt at SGL X with the logo "It's gonna clear in half an hour", can we have permission to shoot them please :grin: ?? I have to say that I quite enjoyed the 'Highland Spring Water', but my vision was somewhat impaired the next morning. Where else could you have a conversation that brings together 18" dobs, bricklaying and 'Lady Cake'??? See you all next year, with luck. Looking forward to SGL X even though we're not fans of the Wookie onesie :shocked: . Alan
  24. I've put together a 'rough and ready' background of the Lucksall campsite for use in Stellarium. If you wish to use it please download the attached .zip file and then extract its contents into a separate folder within your Stellarium backgrounds folder. You should then be good to go. The compass points in the .ini file may be a little bit out, but if they are I'm sure some nice person will correct and post them :grin: . lucksall.zip I know this is a bit late as we've only two nights left, but the Wifi has been difficult to get. Hope this helps, Alan
  25. Nagarajan, don't worry about pin 19 ( ADC6 ), it is an extra piece of circuitry that I put into the original design so that I could also implement battery monitoring using the A to D converter module. ADC6 can only be used as an analogue input pin to the A to D converter and is only available with the TQFP package, the DIL ATMega8 does not feature this pin. To use it will require two resistors configured as a voltage divider on the power input stage, but as I have not got around to implementing the code it is currently redundant. hope this helps, Alan
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