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Everything posted by M110

  1. Sorry for not replying sooner - but yes, it's definitely not the right weather this weekend! Happy to keep the option open for the weekends you suggest - just got to wait and see what happens. Hopefully get it in before the end of 2020.
  2. Following giles' links above I came across a "Dark Skies Pocket Guide" (here) produced by the Exmoor National Park which actively encourages astronomy and gives specific examples of suitable sites - one of which is the Haddon Hill site @cheddar-man suggested. I think that sorts the permission question. @gilesco I'll keep the 13/14th Nov free with the intention of heading up to Dartmoor (weather permitting) but if I get another opportunity I might try out the Exmoor site as well. I'm hoping that longer term I can get out to remote locations fairly regularly to escape the light pollution of Exeter.
  3. Haddon Hill does look interesting, certainly a lot more sheltered than the site on Dartmoor we were considering and roughly equal travel time for me. I've checked the National Trust and it's not one of their car parks (despite those donation boxes) so I would guess its an Exmoor National Park Authority owned one. @gilesco have you contacted them already? If not, I can send them an email. I'd be happy to head to either site assuming Exmoor didn't mind us being there.
  4. Excellent, looks like that's the spot. Thanks for doing a recce!
  5. That looks like a reasonable location. I'll do some research as well to see if any others come up, but if not that looks like it would do the trick. I'll also mark the 13/14th on my calendar - just have to arrange the weather conditions now!
  6. That email from the National Park Authority is promising. As long as no one falls asleep in their car all should be fine! According to the light pollution map I've just looked at, the darkest skies accessible by road are NE of Postbridge on the B3212. There's several car parks to choose from on that road, unfortunately they are all right next to the road so if there's any passing traffic it would pose a problem. I agree, any trip up there would need to be worth it. I'd be doing a mixture of visual observing and light imaging - I see from your images that you're much further down the astrophotography path than I am! In my case, a weeknight would unfortunately restrict the time I had available due to work commitments. I'd still be willing to go, but would probably only manage a few hours. but if we could arrange clear skies for a Friday or Saturday night I'd definitely be up for an extended session lasting all night perhaps.
  7. I'd also be interested to hear from anyone who's been active up on Dartmoor. I'm hoping to get out there for some dark skies as living in central Exeter is not ideal! Maybe we could get a band of us together for an observing session? My experience with the National Park authority is that they are very tolerant of night time use of Dartmoor. I've hiked and wild camped overnight a few times up there and they are one of the few places in the country where they allow wild camping and actually produce a map showing where this is allowed (which covers a large part of the national park). I don't imagine they'd take issue with it being used for astronomy.
  8. Thank you all for the feedback @Tommohawk thanks for the tip regarding PIPP, I hadn't realised it had that functionality. I've gone back and taken the best 20% of frames from all my usable runs and combined them into a single AVI which I've processed the same as previously. Here's the result, which I think is marginally sharper than previously. I've also flipped the image to give the correct orientation as I realised I had it upside down!
  9. The last time I had a go imaging Mars was more than 10 years ago (with decidedly poor results)! Since then, I had a long break from astronomy and since returning to the hobby have focused almost entirely on visual observing (my ASI120MC-S camera has been used a total of twice in the two years I've owned it). Anyway, I decided I had to have another go at Mars given the current opposition and here's my first attempt at processing data from last night's run. I'm immensely chuffed as this is by far the best planetary image I've taken (although still far shy of some of the incredible ones I see here on SGL). Taken around 1am last night, through the C8, with Celestron X-Cel 2x barlow, with the ASI120MC-S. Best 20% of 10000 frames stacked in AS3! and wavelets applied in Registax. Also tweaked the histogram a bit in Registax to adjust the brightness. No other processing so far, although I'm hoping to use this data to learn more about the processing side of things as I have no idea what the majority of options in both AS3! or Registax actually do! I also still have quite a bit more data to process (this is from 1 of 8x 10000 frame runs that I captured) so may be able to improve it further. I loosely followed @JamesF 's guide to processing here: https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/184821-beginners-guide-to-stacking-planetary-images-with-autostakkert2/ If anyone has any ideas on anything else I should do processing wise or links to other good tutorials I'd be grateful.
  10. So having only recently returned to astronomy after a long break, I have been doing solely visual up until now. I just received me ZWO ASI 120MC-S and put it to work on the moon last night. All images taken through my Celestron C8 with f/6.3 focal reducer attached (which I forgot to remove - oops!) from a 3000 frame avi captured in SharpCap before being stacked in AutoStakkert and wavelets applied in Registax. I'm pretty pleased with the detail visible for my first attempt, however there appears to be a strange background pattern (see zoomed crop image). Does anyone know what is causing this? It's not visible in the original avi files so I'm guessing I've used an incorrect setting somewhere during the stacking process?
  11. Did you definitely have the dec axis rotated the correct way to begin with? (i.e. with the two silver marks aligned). I accidentally started with the saddle backwards last night and exactly what you described happened to me.
  12. Echoing the above, I've got one that was fixed with sticky pads about 8 years ago and still stuck solid!
  13. Thanks for the advice everyone. Done this and light is coming through through the spots. I've also removed the whole mirror cell from the telescope body as suggested (only a few screws - didn't realise it was that easy!) and had a closer look. The spots are definitely where the coating has degraded. As the general consensus seems to be that it's not bad enough at present to impact the telescopes performance then I'll hold off on recoating for the time being. There is a fair amount of other crud that I reckon would clean off, so I'll have a go at that. The telescope will be remaining in storage for the time being anyway, as I just haven't got room for it in my house as well as my main setup. I've thought about selling a few times, but I know if I got rid of it I'd regret it at some point!
  14. Hi all, I still own an approximately 10 year old Skywatcher 300p dobsonian that has been sat in a rather damp shed for the past 5 years or so, and the mirror seems not to have taken this too well! The yellow bits in the image show what appears to be the silver mirror coating having been "eaten through". I have done some research and found that companies such as Orion Optics offer mirror re-coating services. Can anyone more knowledgeable than me confirm whether this is what this mirror needs?
  15. M110


    Hello and welcome glad you have finally joined the dark side!
  16. Since getting back into the hobby about 6 months ago, I have been using a SW 102mm mak on an EQ3-2 mount - and have been very happy with the performance of this little package on everything I have thrown at it. But you know how it is, aperture and equipment fever bites and soon grand plans are being made.... Hence in the last couple of weeks my main setup has morphed into the following... The old: EQ6 mount - the old black version which I've had since 2007. For the last 4 years or so (when my astronomy break began) it's been sat around going rusty in my parents shed. Fortunately the rust is just cosmetic and the mount still functions perfectly. I've now reclaimed it and pressed it back into service. The new to me: Celestron C8 SCT which I picked up recently on eBay. I have been trying to estimate it's age and I think it was probably made around 2005 or soon after. Dark grey tube, XLT coatings. Optics are in excellent condition and it performed really well this evening. I've just been out with this new setup for around 2 hours of testing and observing and so far I am extremely pleased. Stars are tight and sharp, the extra aperture is immediately noticeable and the moon was stunning (especially in my new ES 14mm 82 degree eyepiece - thank you Santa!). I am currently keeping the 102 mak and EQ3 combo as a grab and go kit but may look to rationalise to just the one scope in the future. Sorry for all the clouds that all of this will inevitably bring!
  17. Just got in for a break in my first proper observing session using my new EP's - Vixen SLV 20mm and 10mm. Wow. What a noticeable improvement over the old Celestron plossl's I've had for years. Much improved sharpness and finer details than I've ever seen visible on the moon tonight. Maybe I've caught the "quality" eyepiece bug and I'll soon be spending fortunes on Ethos-es etc... Just added an ES 82 14mm to the Christmas list... Anyways, back out before the mak dews over!
  18. Very nice - I've just been observing this as well myself! Looking mighty fine in my new Vixen 10mm SLV
  19. Definitely depends on the target at Moonshane says above, however the maximum I have so far used with my limted aperture of 102mm is 200x. This was using my 6mm EP on the moon and double stars.
  20. I'll second the mak suggestion. I have the smaller Skymax 102 and have used it on quite a few doubles over the last few sessions and been impressed with the views considering its a small aperture instrument. I've not found a double so far that I haven't enjoyed the view of.
  21. Thank you all for the advice - I am already doing what I can regarding dark skies and will be heading out of town to a darker site this evening for some observing hopefully I had thought about filters but didn't realise there were ones for visual observation as well as imaging - I will put a UHC filter on the 'to buy' list. Clear skies, Alex
  22. So, I am currently very constrained by storage space and so larger apertures are basically out of the question for the time being. I have been thinking about ways to get the most out of the aperture that I do have - I am using a Skymax 102, which meets the space requirement brilliantly but there's not a huge amount of aperture to play with. Especially as this is my only telescope currently and is used for observing all types of targets including DSO's (I know that's not it's forte but we make do with what we have). One idea is to invest in a dielectric diagonal - RVO have an Altair one for £65 that claims 99% reflectivity, which should be about 4% above that of the stock Skywatcher one I am currently using. Can anyone comment on whether this difference is actually noticeable for visual observing? Are there any other items or tricks that would help maximise the light gathering ability of a small aperture instrument?
  23. One of mine that I remember fondly was seeing a supernova in another galaxy. It happened at one of the SGL star parties (SGL 4 I think). It was in a faint magnitude 13-point-something galaxy and after a long manual search with a 12inch dob a few of us (@John, @Andrew* and a few others if I remember correctly) tracked it down. I remember it clearly even though it must have been over 8 years ago now. The galaxy was a the faint smudge you'd expect but with a 'star' on one limb, clearly brighter than the core of the galaxy itself. It absolutely staggered me to think about just what I was looking at. Still the only supernova I've ever seen.
  24. M110


    Hi all, Thought I'd post in the Welcome forum to say hi as it's been years since I was last on the site. I kind of drifted away from the hobby but have now returned I still own some of my old astro equipment: Skywatcher 12" Skyliner dob (with a steadily corroding mirror ), and a Skymax 150 mak on an old black non-goto EQ6. Unfortunately it is stored in my parent's shed and I now live 150 miles away with nowhere to store equipment that large! So I have recently purchased a Skmax 102 mak and an old AZ4 mount which I have had great fun observing the moon and Saturn with a couple of times in the last week or so. Looking forward to learning my way around the skies again - I am sure it will all come flooding back! I now live in Exeter, Devon and teach science in a local secondary school including A-level physics Anyway, good to be back and nice to meet you all (again!) Alex
  25. Both M5 and M15 are fairly bright and I've had reasonable success with them with small scopes before. regards, Alex
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