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Everything posted by Astro_Baby

  1. Hi All, Hope your well. Just a quickie to say the site is backup. Domain expired but we didn’t get a notification and were blindsided. Apologies to all you collimators out there. www.astro-baby.com Mel
  2. Same for me.....I have to be mobile as I live in a flat so when its clear and I am free its a treat. I dont want to spend 2 hours packing and unpacking plus an hour in the car each way and then get to see nothing much. if I lived in the country with a large backyard I would do it different.
  3. You should read my comments on this topic as related to my Maksutov. The focal length will be increased but its marginal, especially as regards viewing. The light path reduction by vignetting can easily be tested. Take a look here http://www.astro-baby.com/reviews/Skymax 180/Skymax 180 Review.htm the light path test is described about halfway down the page. image shift can be a massive pain at high powers and like others I find the strictly theoretical issues about FL and light cone clipping are as nothing compared to the stability of focusing. A wobbly or irritating scope to use is annoying no matter how short its light path might be ............? peace out
  4. Wait till you get in a solid sized field with the right conditions before being sure about not having a problem with dew
  5. Just so people are aware it is available - went offline for a while while changing hosts etc. http://www.astro-baby.com/collimation/astro babys collimation guide.htm
  6. Thanks everyone - some of you may know I had some pretty serious health issues and the organic issues led to severe depression. Its pretty depressing after all when you suddenly realise you can't hardly get up a flight of stairs or get out of a chair Anyway I am back on my feet again now but astro has taken a back seat as I try and get myself back into shape - I have been doing a lot of bushcraft, hiking, walking etc out in the wilds of the UK (well as wild as Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire can get) plus some serious walking in Crete and Kefalonia. I do feel the interest in astro coming back but I am something of a butterfly (some would say meddler, dilettante or simply intellectual waster ) so other things take my fancy and I can't ever spend too long on any one single hobby plus the UK weather seems to have been atrocious for ages - anyway with that said I am going to do a makeover on my site and start adding some new articles that were planned before my health collapsed. Anyway - thanks everyone and I will try and post up a bit more often. Mel
  7. Hi all just a quicky to let you all know that my website is back up which contains the famous/infamous collimation guide and other useful resources. Took eye off the ball for a while and our host has messed us about so now with new providers. Polar Aligning the SkyWatcher HEQ5/Orion Sirius Mount A comprehensive tutorial on setting up the polar scope / finder for the popular HEQ5 mount. Invaluable as a guide to this topic which can be very confusing. The set-up process can also be used with the EQ6 mount and Orion equivalents.Using an EQ Mount - Simple Polar Alignment for BeginnersYou just bought your new telescope with an equatorial mount. Polar alignment seems awkward. This quick and easy guide will get you Polar aligned and enjoying the benefits of an equatorial mount quickly.Collimation Guide for Newtonian Reflector TelescopesA simple to follow guide on collimation for Newtonian telescopes. Illustrated with dozens of pictures. A simlpe step by step guide.Rebuilding the SkyWatcher HEQ5/Orion Sirius MountA comprehensive guide to stripping down, cleaning and rebuilding the popular Synta/SkyWatcher HEQ5 equatorial mount. Rebuilding the SkyWatcher EQ6/Orion Atlas MountA comprehensive guide to stripping down, cleaning and rebuilding the popular Synta/SkyWatcher EQ6 equatorial mount. Tuning up the Skywatcher/Orion Basic 1.25" FocuserA simple step by step guide to improving the focuser on the popular Skywatcher 130 and SkyHawk telescopes. Cleaning and Center Spotting Telescope MirrorsA simple step by step guide to cleaning and center spotting Newtonian reflecting telescope errors. Many Thanks and Clear Skies Mel
  8. My first serious scope was a 4.5" Tasco Refelector back in the day when Tasco made some decent hardware (I am talking early 70s here - stranegely I found an actual pic of it a few weeks back while having a clear out but have misplaced it again - it may have been 5" and not 4.5" - anyway I digress). It was a sweet thing with its .965 eyepieces and worked well and at the time was something of a treat. Bought for me by a would be boyfriend. It lasted sometime but eventually I was blessed(?) with kids and it got stored and then damaged and then wrecked. When I came back to the hobby after half a lifetime I bought a skywatcher 130 which was a very sweet little scope but it was bought only a kind of tester to see if I would stick with the hobby. Once I knew I would I splashed out and bought a Skywatcher 200 on an HEQ5 mount. Then I went into spend spend spend on more scopes (TAL 100, Skymax 180) and eyepieces (Pentax XWs via most every other EP manufactured) and then I reached where I have been for two/three years - lost interest in the hobby and moved on to other stuff. I still tinker about but I think its fair to say the thrill has gone - a succession of bad weather and bad health have killed it for me. Who knows - I may yet take it back up again but I am so busy with other stuff astro doesnt really get much of a look in anymore. Last thing I did was to build a new field power supply at the start of this year but so far its never been further than the front door. I did howevere reach a balance where I felt I had everything I could reasonably own
  9. That top nut is a perisher to shift. I have only ever managed it once on an EQ6. I have no idea why its so hard to shift - perhaps they use some kind of glue on it or maybe just put it on under massive pressure. Theres not much to be gained from removing it to be honest. As to your knackered hex screw you might find if you ram a cross head screw driver in you may be able to extract it. Hope thats of some small help.
  10. Well quite a few things have been discovered by amateur astronomers of late - some exoplanets, comets, meteors etc. The hit on Jupiter from Hale Bopp (?) fragments was imaged by an amateur as far as I recall and missed by the professionals. Don't forget the big boys in the Atacama and at Mt Wilson, Palomar etc are focusing (pardon the pun) on really distant stuff with highly specialised gear. They arent often looking at the local neighbourhood. Its a bit like being a good neighbour - the MoD with their submarines, jets and tanks wont take much notice of a beer can lobbed onto someones lawn, they wont even be aware of it, but you as a local neighbour might pick it up. A lot of good science is done by amateurs - only yesterday there was an article on R4 about a guy in the 1930s who kept a super detailed log of wildlife on a spit of land in Dorset - the data is invaluable now because of its accuracy it will now allow latter day entymologists to assess population declines (and increases) of various butterflies and to be able to estimate what the key factors may be in some species declines. Don't forget Pasteur never held a medical degree - thats how much of an impact an amateur can have if they spot something at the right time. Shoulders of giants and all that.... For me though I am just a dilettante - i meddle with stuff - electronics, astronomy, music, writing, chemistry, rocketry etc etc so for me its just 'seeing the sights' - I don't imagine I will ever discover anything new and don't even try to I like to be out in the cold night with a clear sky, drinking my hot choc, listening to Bach seeing the sights. Thats it really.
  11. Could it be slop in your focuser causing this ? I found the best collimation solution I ever invested in was a solid focuser. Whats the focuser on the scope like Do the eyepieces lock with a compression ring type or just a side screw ? Do the eyepieces fit snugly or with loads of slop Does the focuser rack in and out without slop ?
  12. I used to have a lot of aggro like the OP describes. I found the problem was two fold. 1/ The scope is not perfectly round which can be a headache which cant be fixed really. THose Russians with their TAL scoipes machined from a length of gun barrel probably never have this issue. 2/ The felt that Skywatcher use on the inside of the rings is not very nice, its not slippy (which under normal circumstances is a good thing) but worse its sometimes peels back under damp conditions and create a sticky pad for the scope to get stuck on. My solution was the classic hoop round the scope as a retaining ring and then just loosen the main rings off...theres a link to my solution above. Its actually very simple. You put a third ring on which is only attached to the scope NOT the mount. You keep this one tight all the time to the tube. It rests on the forward most ring thats attached to the mount. That way you can can slacken the rings that secure the scope to the mount without any fear of the scope slipping down through the rings and onto the ground. I still use a little bit of tension on the mounting rings to stop the scope rotating of its own accord when heavy EPs are fitted. You also need to use a good pinch of sense when manipulating a scope so that you don't inadvertently release so much tension that the rings open up and the scope just falls out. I also refelted the main rings with a really nice bit of felt that was glued down with a product call 'Serious Glue' (yes really) and believe me when stuff is stuck with that it aint ever coming apart again - no more kinks in the felts on my tube rings for sure. I did also try using a Heath Robinson ball race gimmick between the securing ring and the main ring to reduce friction further and found it was just a pain, with the weight of the finder and an eyepiece the scope just slips round way too readily and the ball race gubbins kept getting jammed against the small gaps in the securing ring. You don't have to have such an engineered solution, as already said some people use a tapestry hoop or do it with a giant jubilee clip and hosepipe.
  13. Glad its all looking good with the EPs. The 180 is a cracking scope which makes almost any EP work pretty well. I have found with mine that some ultra wides can be badly...... behaved the worst I have seen with mine was the ES 30mm 82' which produces vignetting but also a 'ring of fire' round the edge of the EP which is very distracting. From memory the exit portal on mine is 25mm. I rarely use widefields on it and prefer orthos in the main. I have never tried the Pentax XW30 in it so cant say how that would perform. Sounds like you are having great success with the scope though which is good to hear. If the weather and my availability were to ever to come together again I could tell you how a great many EPs sat here gathering dust perform on it
  14. Problem with the Pentax XW is they are probably as rare as hens teeth. Sorry but as far as I know I bought the last new one in the UK some time ago. Its been used once only and was rather nice but unfortunately I cant say more than that not having used it much. It was vert flat in the field and had very good correction at F5 and was also very comfy to use. Thats about the limit of what I could say - it was hardly an exhaustive test
  15. Probably Orion for me - it was the first one I ever learnt from my Dad plus its also got so much in it - Betelgeuse , Rigel and M42 plus smaller nebula - theres quite a bit to se in such a compact area.
  16. If its any help heres a link to my own experiences with the scope. Theres much nonsense talked about the 180 but my own view is its one hell of a scope and Neil English agrees with me that its like having a 7" APO. Its not without its vices but its a kick ass bit of kit. Save my fingers from typing it all out again and read my article here http://www.astro-baby.com/reviews/Skymax%20180/Skymax%20180%20Review.htm Mel
  17. Thursday night looked sparkling clear from Redhill - I was thinking of going but alas went down with some kind of bug - now its the weekend and I am fine but the blumming weather has clouded over. Its really done my head in - the last two years I have hardly used any of the scopes. I have been through the 'sell it off' phase but am now in the 'cant be bothered' phase. Maybe a star party might get my interest back or just one good clear night before we are into summer again.
  18. iapa - I don't use my Mac for much in astronomy. It makes Stellarium run really well though. No lags and it really loads superfast. My Mac is mostly used for video editing, photo editing and boring stuff like database design and spreadsheeting. Because of the vast cost of updating Fireworks for web editing I have a dual boot Mac so the web design stuff is done under Fireworks on Windows but everything else is Mac based. I don't use computers much in astro, I only do visual so there is not much call for a computer in the field for me and to be honest because I spend most of my working day sat in front of one I have no real desire to use my relax time looking at one.
  19. Well I am hoping Abromovich takes up astro and offers me Chelsea in exchange - on second thoughts I'll take cash only
  20. Last thing I bought was a Pentax 30mm XW and the clouds that came in the blumming things box were enormous so bad that most of the clouds and the bad luck charm were still there a year later, then the weather got even worse - in the last two years (it might even be three) I have been out not once - oh hang about I think I did but it clouded over or it was too cold or having got the kit unpacked I simply couldn't be bothered to use any of it (maybe not that last one - I may have made that up). So for me it would be the Pentax XW30 and the ES 30mm 82' which also never got used - both still sat there glaring at me accusingly.
  21. My advice would be NEVER upgrade software from Apple - Apple are terrors for releasing hardware showing how powerful it all is and then 90 days later issuing new software which will slow your hardware down to convince you to upgrade. They learnt this habit from MS I am sure because the older MACs never suffered from this. Those were the days when we were all dancing under rainbows emitted from Steves rear porthole Unless you have a very real need to upgrade to bug fix or take advantage of a new feature I would always say leave well alone - this is especially true of iPhones and iPads where your options to go back are almost non existent. And....just the same as MS don't be a pioneer with the latest - its the pioneers who get the arrows in their backs. Wait and let others trail blaze. I am still near traumatised from the XP SP2 fiasco where people who let their PC make the decision on upgrading to SP2 found one day all of their data had disappeared as SP2 release 1 had a nasty 'smash your disk to bits, destroy your data and wipe your lifes work out' sub routine I got off light as my machines were never configged to do autoupdates but plenty of my sub contractors at the time weren't so lucky and the disaster it caused was seriously unfunny. People seem to have forgotten that episode now but its stayed with me as a salutary reminder NEVER to let anyone (especially Uncle Bill or the Apple Evil Empire) have control of upgrades to your machine and remember there very little kudos having the latest in a world where whatever you have will be superseded even before you have finished reading the upgrade notes but theres plenty of laughter from the cruelly experienced at the kid crying by the side of the road with a mashed up machine and their life in tatters courtesy of an ill advised upgrade.
  22. You'll soon get the hang of it. I am an old Mac user having cut my teeth on an original '84 Mac back when PCs users thought even a mouse was amazing. Moved up to Mac IIcx when they were e beast (6 grand as I recall for a fully loaded one) and ended up with a G3 - round that time Apple lost the plot and my internet work needed faster and better so I got dragged over to a PC and been using them for a long time. Long enough to think system crashes, half hour load times, inability to render in something quicker than geologic times scales was normal. My last PC finally went to Silicon heaven a few months ago and I decided to bite the bullet and go back to Apple. Bought the top end iMac, 27" tube with max config, max memory, fusion drive etc and WOW what a difference it makes to photo editing and video - massive speed mean rendering even complex stuff takes like 10 seconds. I have the ability on it to run Windows either on separate boot or as a session under the Macs OS. Its totally brilliant - boots in 7 seconds. You will soon get used to the Macs ways of doing things and see that Wozniak was right all along and that Bills been blowing smoke all these years The old PC was about to hit the skip when I managed to get it working again, rebuilt it from the top so it ran fine, reloaded with a fresh copy of XP and Office and it was shipped off to Romania recently along with a set of software, screen, spare keyboards and mice etc where it will be used to to give children far less lucky than mine a start with computers at a school there.
  23. A thought occurs to me in all of this - sorry I should have mentioned it earlier but I am pretty well done in right now..... A powerful optical finder can be a nightmare for a novice. They will pick up things you couldn't see with naked eyes and as a result that can make navigation even harder. Its very rough if you are navigating on a few stars by your own eyeballs and then look through a finder and find the whole FOV is alive with stars. Thats why before I had GoTo I had a red dot. It makes life a bit easier to navigate around. Truthfully I still struggled and in the end upgraded to GoTo. A RACI might be a mare on a dob if you are pushing the scope around - another dob owner should comment here really. With GoTo the RACI is best for me - less craning of the neck and I use the finder todo the GoTo alignment. So long as its accurately aligned to the main scope it makes accurate alignment a doddle - no more guessing of the star is centred. Put it on the cross hairs and thats as accurate as you can get. It makes GoTo set up a lot faster and if I am just cruising a star field using the motors RACI becomes more intuitive and easier as I m at the same position as I am to the eyepiece. With a dob a RACI might only be half an answer and a red dot might be a better solution. Another dob owner should advise I think.
  24. Hi Psilocybe, The ES finder wasn't around when I was shopping but the straight through ES looks amazingly similar to the finder that was on a Meade APO I tried out and I suspect they are identical. The finder was ok if not exceptional but the 5000 was horrid. I did at one time pair my Stellarvue up with Baader Skysurfer V but found after a while the Skysurfer just wasn't being used so I ditched it. The Altair Astro finder on their scopes is reckoned to be good by people who have tested them out (thats their 9x50 RACI) but I haven't ever used one. If you want a red dot AND a RACI and don't want to drill extra holes in the scope Scopestuff do an adapter that allows two finders off of one shoe. Heres how my old set-up looked with the Stellarvue mounting (small pic).... and also how it looked with the lower profile Scopestuff supplied finder rings (large pic). The SV mounting kit is very much better made but I found it quite wobbly because of its over long stalk which is probably sensible on a frac but I found it was too far away from the scope body on my newt. The Scopestuff rings are a bit cheaper made (and cheaper to buy) but I found they worked better overall.
  25. Tani san did in fact retire a few years ago - I always thought the venerable Tani was the maker of Circle T - I seem to recall seeing a web article of him polishing lenses up so assumed he made the whole thing. Maybe not. I thought BGOs were discontinued because Tani retired and therefore the source of glass dried up - ditto the UO VTs.
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