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Everything posted by Qualia

  1. Not too sure, Jules but maybe something like a I 90mm Mak or C5 for quick views and traveling would be an idea . I imagine size would be fine even for a photo tripod, views would be sharp at 125x, or so and cool down would be pretty much a non issue with those size scopes. An APO or triplet would also be really nice but I'm not convinced it would be a very good idea. Sure, the scope's ergonomics, quality and wide-field views would be stunning and great for grab n go, but they aren't particularly light and in my own case, I only feel comfortable with the TV 76 on something like an AZ4. The other problem is that these small scopes run out of light quite quickly on account of their aperture, so wide fields are fine but resolving detail becomes tricky. If you're into doing a bit of serious planetary or Lunar observing, you may get frustrated with a scope less that 4". All scopes are a compromise but I tend to agree with Stu. I'd personally set my sights on something like an ED 120 or a 6" to 10" newt/dob. It may take some time getting one of these scopes at a suitable price, but within reason, once purchased you'll know you have a scope 'for life'.
  2. Lovely sketches and thank you for sharing them with us. A useful link to identify what moons of Saturn may be possible for a give night can be found here. Look forward to seeing more sketches, CC
  3. I have the 10mm and 14mm Delos and they really are gorgeous eyepieces. They're like using widefield orthos, with all the quality, sharpness and resolution but spread across 72º rather than a mere 40º field of view. Plug into that generous eye relief and a tasty ergonomic feel and you really can't go wrong A couple of years back I wrote a short review of the 10mm which you may find of interest. Even after all this time the opinion and sentiments have not changed. However, it's not all good news, for as noted in that review the Delos does carry its own draw backs: "There is one significant problem with an eyepiece like the Delos. Once used you cannot ever go back to the night before you owned one, because you were a different person then, and like Alice, you’ve gone through a looking glass and have entered a new world of visual wonder, opened up a celestial window onto the universe from which you can never return."
  4. It's a great idea and I really look forward to the 1st edition I feel there's no need to make it too complicated for yourself. You know, like levels of difficulty, for I imagine not all the objects recommended would have been seen before hand? If it does come together, time and weather permitting in September, I'd gladly share my reports and sketches for comparison etc. +1 for what Stu has also mentioned. I think it would be nice to see if you and Nick could get a tasty list together for all of us interested to work on
  5. Sounds like you had a good birthday, Shaun and I'm so glad to hear about your brother. That really is tip-top news and worth carrying on the celebrations for a little while longer In a peculiar way, I have a little bit of you all the way over here. I mean I have all those good vibes and care you've given the Lunt I use, so I've raised a glass to you in person and sent you and your family the best wishes I can. May the force be with you and your bro, Shaun and Happy Birthday
  6. I really don't appreciate it but thank you so much for your kind support and warm words. It's encourage like this that not only makes one want to do and be better but what makes SGL such a lovely place. Thank you again - - - - Luke, Spain is such a vast country - I think it's about x5 bigger than England (not the UK) the distance from east to west similar to London to Prague - and is the second most mountainous in Europe. Under such conditions, the weather can be significantly different from one region to another but on average I think Spain has about twice as many clear days than the UK. However, the northwest of Spain will probably be very similar to what you guys experience. I've been living the past year down in Valencia/Alicante about an hour from the coast and I've found it to be quite a muggy place. The days can be extremly clear but as they cool a misty cloud often builds up ruining the evenings. Surprisingly, along with February, I've found July and August to be the worst months for this.
  7. If possible my own plan is to simply strengthen my knowledge of the night sky. Nothing profound, but the general idea is to simply remember the names a few more of the brighter stars, to pick out the constellations with ease and be able to point my scope at a section of sky and find a few more of the night sky wonders without the need of a star atlas. To be honest, I think my dependency on the maps have softened my brain a little and in time I would just like to swoop and dive around the skies without relying on it so much.
  8. Hiya Bish, I sometimes use a Baader Microguide and you can find a little write up here which you may find useful. They're not that easy to use on an undriven mount but knowing a few numbers before hand, you do get an idea of size of objects, estimated separation and position angle of double and the such. Drop me a PM if you need any extra info
  9. Brilliant report and sessions, Stu. Amazing stuff. I think I'm going to print out your list and use it myself when the Moon settles down a little.
  10. By all accounts, Spain has suffered one of the worst summers in last twenty years or so. There's been a lot of cloud, general mugginess, storms and for many regions, uncomfortable fluctuations in temperatures. Thankfully, under such frustating circumstances I haven't been here that much over the past two months. However, arriving in Spain near the beginning of this week things are beginning to look up; clear blue skies day and night and a reasonable temperature at this time of year. The Sun has been putting on a rather spectacular display and never two days are the same. It's amazing to think that around a million Earths would fit into this relatively small disc seen in the eyepiece and that just one of those seemingly tenuous prominences would engulf and drown our planet much as an ocean wave does a tiny pebble on the beach. Using a small 12.5mm ortho eyepiece giving about 0.8 TFOV, you begin to get the idea that the Sun really is travelling over 200km a second; a brief look, quick sketch with chalk or pencil, nudge the alt-az mount and back again. The sketch was made with chalks and a brown pencil on black paper. I took a photo, downloaded it and blackened the background:
  11. For general DSO observing I use Delos 14mm & 10mm. These offer 2.8mm and 2mm, 0.8º and 0.5º TFOV respectively. If I want to power them up I use a TeleVue x2 Barlow. Having used them for a number of years, I can also see the virtue in getting something like a 13mm Ethos and then for higher powers perhaps an 8mm Delos or 7mm XW. Expensive, but these type of things should last a very long time. As James suggests, Baader's Genuine Orthos are also cracking eyepieces. I have managed to build a set over the years and with the 10" love using the higher powers on planetary, lunar and double stars. They obviously have a number of draw backs (eye-relief, small field of view) but this is amply made up with sheer quality of image. For lower powers, I use a 19mm & 24mm Panoptic. These are also lovely eyepieces and have a nice wide field but I feel if you don't mid swopping between 1.25" and 2" eyepieces, something like a 20mm Nagler would suit a 10" more. With all that said, you really don't need more than a couiple of choice eyepiece. Something like a 14mm and 10mm with a TV Barlow have done me proud for a good number of years and I still haven't exhausted their possibilities nor pleasure.
  12. Not really aimed at a 10" in particular but I have found the following to be the best way to snare those subtle DSOs. i) Get yourself a decent star map. I find Star Atlas by Sky and Telescope indispensable. It's not that expensive, it's a piece of art in itself and it is extremely useful. ii) It might not be necessary, but if you haven't got one, upgrade to a bigger view finder. I have found that Skywatcher's 9x50mm is the business and it ought to be the right angled correct image one. It will deliver stars down to about magnitude 8, even if you're in a LP area, meaning you’ll be able to see every star plotted on the Sky Atlas and when you move amongst those stars, your left is left and your up is up. iii) A Telrad or Rigel finder will be a big help. In non-LP areas, position the bullseye, or the other two rings in the proper place against the stars and you’re more or less done. If you're out a little you can work out where you are by the three ringed cirlces giving you varying degrees of the sky you're looking at. You can make a plastic Telrad overlay for the Star Atlas or just print one of the free Telrad maps on the net. The only negative point about the Telrad is that it can’t deliver more stars than your eyes alone can see, so if you're in an LP area, they really do speed up your finding, really do help to judge where you are, but it must be used in conjunction with the findercope. iv) A low magnification EP is often handy for finding DSOs. The low mag EP should offer you sufficient sky to manage along with your star map and it will hopefully pick out or hint at what you're hunting. I typically use something like a 72º 14mm with the 10" for this job but you may prefer something with a tad more focal length, something around the 20mm range. v) Sketches are often overlooked, but they ought to be viewed from time to time. NASA photos or those produced here are not going to help you. You need to check out the sketches. These are generally produced by patient observers who are trying their best to get the EP image about right, so the little drawings should give you a very good idea of what the DSO will more or less look like in your eyepiece. vi) A decent visual astro book like Turn Left at Orion or my own favourite, The Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders might be worth your time. Both explain what are some of the more important objects worth going for in a particular season. They'll explain how you get there (more or less assuming you're in a dark area, so if not, keep your wits about you). Both will explain how you move your finderscope (non-correct image for Turn Left, correct image for the Illustrated) to star-hop to the given DSO and both will offer a little 'positive' sketch of what the thing looks like in a normal scope 4" to 8". vii) If you can master patience you'll be a master of yourself and the night sky will be a good teacher. She'll teach patience and careful watchfulness; she'll teach industry and care and above all the night sky teaches entire trust. To gain patience and to be coincentrated, just as Steve suggests, a drummer's stool or simply ironing chair is an absolute must. viii) There are some little tricks you can learn to find yourself about. For example, find the plough in Ursa Major and look for Merek and Dubhe, the distance and angle between these two is one step. Now count that distance, in that direction another 5 steps and bingo, you'll be with Polaris. Now go back to the Plough and find its end star, Alkaid. Take a jump and dive from her and the next brightest star will be Arcturus and from there shot to Spica, and so on. Learning the big stars and diving quickly between them makes hunting stuff easier. ix) I have found my most used eyepieces for a 10" f5 are a widefield 20mm, 14mm, 10mm and 7mm. There's no need to be blowing loads; scan the secondhand market for two decent eyepieces and a Barlow or Powermate, and you're pretty much sorted. x) Zen/Philosophical like attitude. Those stars and DSOs are not going anywhere quick, they won't desert you and they're not playing about. So, if you don't succeed one night, no worries. Don't be down hearted, you've probably already discovered something new about yourself, your equipment, the sky, and those stars and DSOs will be back to give you another chance tomorrow.
  13. Cracking weather now in Spain Looks like the muggy summer skies are easing off just a little.
  14. I've done a fair bit of solar observing and binocular work but no grand sessions this month. To be honest, August hasn't been than great weather wise. Not in Spain where I live, in the UK where I visited family for a good number of weeks, or on holiday in Italy. There was quite a lot of muggy, cloudy weather which has upset this summer a fair bit.
  15. Good to be back. I promise to reply to all posts etc over the next day or so. I hope everyone had a good August :-)

    1. Show previous comments  6 more
    2. Qualia


      Thank you all for your kind words. It really is nice to be back and to see such warm and tender folk. Thank you :-)

    3. Pig


      Welcome back Mr Gough

    4. Piero


      A warm welcome back, Rob! :)

  16. Another lovely report, Piero and should be an inspiration to many. Great to hear you had a good time in Italy. By sheer coincident, I was just a little south from you in Rome for almost two weeks this August but needless to say the trip was about really necessary family time, so didn't do any observing .
  17. Cracking report, Piero and thank you for sharing it. Although I've been a little busy recently, I've also had the time to do a bit of observing, the only let down it seems it that the skies really get decent around full Moon time. Oh well, such is life .
  18. Mars is a fascinating planet to observe but nothing is given in astronomy, especially when it comes to viewing Mars. Jupiter is about three times the size of Mars and to see Jupiter with a significant amount of detail, we need around 160x to 200x magnification which means that to get a similar view of Mars, we’ll need an outrageous 600x. As impressive as that sounds, we are never going to get the kind of viewing quality that can allow for this type of power. 99% of Earth’s atmosphere lies in a layer about 30km thick and you’re at the bottom of it looking up. Adding to this problem is the fact that most atmospheric disturbances take place in the first 15km or so from where you stand, exactly where Mars’ own light is being refracted by air cells causing shimmering in the eyepiece. If you view from an urban surrounding although light pollution isn’t going to affect your image quality too much, warm air coming from buildings and mixing with the cold night will also help to warp the image. So a compromise is needed. In terms of aperture, I feel that Mars begins to get interesting around 6” in a reflecting type of telescope and around 5” in a good refracting telescope. In terms of power, we’ll need 200x to 250x to start tweaking some significant Martian detail which still means seeing conditions will have to be very good. As such, Mars is not a particularly giving planet. The best time to observe Mars is when it is at opposition. This occurs once every two years when Mars is opposite the Sun relative to our own orbit and is virtually 100% illuminated and at its largest apparent diameter for that given apparition. I think this will occur around the end of May 2016. At the moment, the planet will more than likely be a ‘disappointing’ sight due to its low altitude – frustrating a clear view of the planet - and its small apparent size. Nevertheless, it’s certainly worth observing, practicing the eye on such a subtle object and tracking its growing apparent magnitude as the months drip by. If you’re interested there’s a thread with some possibly useful information about Mars here.
  19. For general DSO viewing, I feel you don't need more than three eyepieces. For my 10" f5, for example, I generally observe and sketch with wide field (72º) eyepieces offering around 50x, 90x and 125x. Coupled to a decent Barlow (or Powermate), you've then got 50x, 90x, 100x, 125x, 180x and 250x which should suffice for most clusters, galaxies, nebulae, and general lunar and planetary work. If it took your fancy, for white light solar viewing the 50x will also be ideal and all you'll need is Baader's Visual Solar Film from First Light Optics which is extremely effective and cheap. If you decide later to really get into planetary and lunar observation, you will probably find that it helps to have a good run of high power eyepieces. Depending on the evening, seeing conditions etc, even the difference of just 1mm in focal length - about 10% to 15% difference of magnification - can be surprising. But the good news is the eyepieces themselves do not need to be widefields, so you can buy cheaper Orthos and there's no hurry to build the collection all at once. Again, by way of example, in my own case if I fancy doing a bit of concentrated planetary, lunar or 'getting-in-there' observing of a deep sky object, I use 5mm, 6mm, 7mm, 9mm and 12mm Orthos. There's certainly no need to go spending loads of money to get decent eyepieces and on this account your best bet is to scan the secondhand market. Nevertheless, extracting budget from the equation and purely looking at some of the the most popular eyepiece options available the following get rave reviews time and time again: Tele Vue Pentax Explore Scientific ES68, 80 and 100 Meade 5000 UWA William Optics UWAN's Vixen SLV Skywatcher Nirvanas Orthoscopic like Baader's Genuine X-Cels LXs BSTs I cannot comment on most of these eyepieces mentioned but at the end of the day, I feel it makes more sense to not buy a load of eyepieces but instead, save for two really cracking, quality glass eyepieces with a magnification around 90x and 125x, a decent low power eyepiece and Barlow that will hopefully last you many years.
  20. Hiya Sam, A Newtonian reflector of around 8 or 10 inches on a Dobsonian mount is in my opinion the ideal visual scope to own. Such instruments balance the compromises between budget, investigating the night sky and just as importantly, not being too big to handle or store. As such, for me, a 10" Dob is the perfect balance between price, aperture and portability. I have had a 10” truss Dob for the last three years or so and I have not even begun to master all that it has to offer. That said they aren't without draw backs. A 10" scope tends to be fast, so will be more demanding on cheaper eyepieces, collimation will be needed and lastly, if you ever want to upgrade from a 10", it's going to big . John has posted some cracking information on size and weight here which is worth checking out. I’d also advise you to have a look in person at the type of scope you’re interested in before purchase. Pictures can often be deceiving, so perhaps getting in contact with a local astronomy club and going along to a star party would be a good idea.
  21. Hiya Craig, You could measure it directly by timing the transit of a star across the full field of view. Here is a little guide on how to go about it. The general acceptance of the RACI’s field of view is somewhere between 5 to 5.6 degrees but it is worth pointing out that the often quoted FOV and actual FOV aren't always the same thing, so maybe 5.6 in theory means 5.1 in practice.
  22. Piero, the listing information below includes Messier objects, NGC wonders, and Double Star gems which I think are well worth taking a shot at even if the possibility of success isn't always going to be 100%. I apologise if I've repeated much of what you're already aiming for but I figured I'd give a possible Summer List that's easy to cut, paste and print Unless directed otherwise the listing will be set out as follows: Target Name; Constellation; Type of Object; Level of Subjective Difficulty 1 (relatively easy) to 4 (very difficult). The Messier List M 13: Hercules Globular Cluster 1 M 92: Hercules Globular Cluster 2 - 3 M 29: Cygnus Open Cluster 2 M 39: Cygnus Open Cluster 3 - 4 M 5: Serpens Globular Cluster 2 M 16: Serpens Open Cluster 1 M 10: Ophiuchus Globular Cluster 2 M 12: Ophiuchus Globular Cluster 2 M 19: Ophiuchus Globular Cluster 2 M 62: Ophiuchus Globular Cluster 2 - 3 M 107: Ophiuchus Globular Cluster 2 - 3 M 57: Lyra Planetary Nebula 1 M 56: Lyra Globular Cluster 3 - 4 M 27: Vulpecula Planetary Nebula 2 - 3 M 71: Sagitta Globular Cluster 4 M 8: Sagittarius Galactic Nebula 1 M 17: Sagittarius Galactic Nebula 1 M 20: Sagittarius Galactic Nebula 3 M 21: Sagittarius Open Cluster 3 M 23: Sagittarius Open Cluster 2 - 3 M 22: Sagittarius Globular Cluster 3 - 4 M 25: Sagittarius Open Cluster 2 - 3 M 28: Sagittarius Globular Cluster 3 - 4 M 54: Sagittarius Globular Cluster 4 M 55: Sagittarius Globular Cluster 3 - 4 M 11: Scutum Open Cluster 1 M 4: Scorpius Globular Cluster 2 M 80: Scorpius Globular Cluster 3 M 6: Scorpius Open Cluster 1 - 2 M 7: Scorpius Open Cluster 1 - 2 A Few New General Catalogue (NGC) Wonders NGC 6235: Orphiuchus Globular Cluster 4 NGC 6572: Orphiuchus Planetary Nebula 2 - 3 NGC 6910: Cygnus Open Cluster 2 NGC 6866: Cygnus Open Cluster 3 - 4 NGC 6819 Cygnus Open Cluster 2 - 3 NGC 6826 Cygnus Planetary Nebula 1 - 2 NGC 6834 Cygnus Open Cluster 3 - 4 NGC 6830 Vulpecula Open Cluster 3 - 4 NGC 6823 Vulpecula Open Cluster 2 - 3 NGC 6302 Scorpius Planetary Nebular 1 - 2 NGC 6543 Draco Planetary Nebular 3 - 4 Pretty Double Stars I guess these doubles won't all be possible with a 60mm. I really don't know but it would be interesting to see how you get along Kappa Herculis (k Her) Hercules Alpha Herculis (α Her) Hercules Alpha Scorpii (α Sco) Scorpius Beta Scorpii (β Sco) Scorpius Beta Cygni (β Cyg) Cygnus 61 Cygni Cygnus Epsilon Lyrae (ε Lyr) Lyra Zeta Ursae Majoris (ζ UMa) Ursa Major Alpha Ursae Minoris (α UMi) Ursa Major Alpha Canis Venaticorum (α CVn) Canes Venatici Epsilon Boötis (ε Boo) Bootes Mu Boötis (μ Boo) Bootes Gamma Delphini (γ Del) Delphinus Good luck
  23. All things considered, that's brilliant going, John. I've been in the UK this week and appreciate that it hasn't been the easiest of times to do a serious bit of observing. Top marks and I look forward to another report soon
  24. Not so much as tips, but just a quick message to say I hope you have a great first night and light It'll be a good idea to align the scope and finder in the day time and practice aiming and focusing. Fixed objects are easier to find during the day and don't drift out of view. A little practice at this and you'll be well prepared before you first light. Another good idea is to get hold of a decent star atlas and download Stellarium to check out what some of the constellations and brighter stars will be when you're out. An hour or so before observing, leave the scope out to cool to air temperature and wrap up warm. It is summer, but the UK nights do get cold. As you start observing, you'll probably notice just how many annoying lights, or trees or buildings or clouds there are around you: there's always something conspiring against the astronomer and his/her pleasure of the night sky Depending on the hour, on your very first night it might be nice just to turn your scope towards Venus and Jupiter, the Moon and a bit later, Saturn; other worlds of great beauty and mystery all within the reach of your scope Take your time and let us know how your first light went
  25. Just as the other members have suggested, many people - myself included - store their scopes in garages, sheds, lock ups without a worry but dust can be a big problem, so plastic shower caps or something similar for both ends to protect your scope from dust, moisture, and bugs is a good idea. Within reason, temperatures shouldn't hurt your scope either but do let it cool down or warm up to the outside air temperature an hour or so before observing. I store my own truss dob in a room which during the summer reaches quite unpleasant temperatures and I have yet to note any ill affect. Carrying around your scope, or vibrations from car trips out to dark sites won't damage your scope either, but you will need to collimate it from time to time to draw from the scope its maximum potential. I collimate before every session. There are plenty of threads on SGL on collimation and Shane has probably written the single best guide for this; you can find it here. The base of your scope will more than likely be made from some kind of wood, so, again, no worries but keep it dry and clean and wipe it down from time to time. Finally, mirror cleaning. By cleaning the mirror one is putting unnecessary wear and tear on the delicate and expensive coatings. It follows that the best policy to follow is one of care. The rule being - do no harm and you can't really do any harm to the optics if you don't clean them. My advice, then, is to try and not clean the telescope's optics unless it is really necessary. Instead of washing the mirrors, use a large bulb blower to blow off any obvious debris, pollen, insects, after each night's session. In a few years, if the primary starts to sprout its very own ecosystem, then it might be worth a tender wash, but only if it affects the contrast and quality of image.
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