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fiftyonedegreesnorth

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  1. North Somerset have been turning of the street lights from midnight to 5am for about 10 months (but with BST it is now 1am and they don't come back on in the morning!). This is great as I'm convinced they recently replaced the nearby streetlights with 400W HPS as I can read a book at night in the garden (good for star atlas, poor for stars!). Bob Mizon of the Campaign for Dark Skys (CfDS) recently gave a talk at one of our Astrosoc meetings and presented evidence that crime in areas where the street lights have been turned off has actually FALLEN. It turns out that burglars need light to creap around your property - and a torch on a dark night really stands out! http://www.britastro.org/dark-skies/misconceptions.html?8O#crime We have become so use to artifical lighting that we feel lost without it. It is proper lighting that is required; of the right quantity and in the right place - the ground. God said let there be light - and there was; and it was good. Then my neighbour went to B&Q and said I want a light - and they bought a 500W Security floodlight - and it was a disaster!
  2. I have been reading that dew needs to be controlled when bringing your scope in from a nights observing - I religiously put on the cap to the primary mirror tube and the fabric shower cap over the secondary housing (as came with the SW flextube) but this still leaves a large air gap infront of the secondary - albeit enclosed, but the secondary is still fairly open. I store the scope in a dry clean garage so the temperature/humidity is similar to outside, but was wondering if I should try to encase the secondary to protect it more? I was thinking of using a "tupperware" type container 125x125x150d and cutting slots in the top to match the cross members, so it can slide up over the mirror and be held in place by the clip on lid (I could even put a silica gel pack in there to help control moisture?) - or am I being over protective??? WRT the primary - I've heard that some have used a circle of plain cardboard on thin strips/ribbon which they lower into the primary tube so it sits about 5cm above the mirror to reduce the air gap and protect it from dust - again, is this OTT??? Comments very much appreciated. Cheers, Richard.
  3. Great choice of scope - I to have the 250PX (flextube version) - not had it long and only had about 4 decent nights to use it, but so far I'm very happy. As I'm 6' tall I found I needed to raise it off the ground to make observing more comfortable so I bought a water butt stand (£15) and with a slight mod to stop the feet sliding on the top now raises it 300mm off the floor for easy standing observation (a chair would be an alternative - I might get an adjustable shooting stick for simple transportation at about £25) If yours has the straight-through finder scope (as mine does) you may find this challenging to use at first - so as mentioned earlier a right-angled finder or a telrad may be a future investment. As I'm still new to telescope observing, when I look through the finder scope (8x50) I see far more stars than with the naked eye and then struggle to be sure that what I'm pointing at is what I think I am! So I might go the Telrad route soon (about £40). Regarding eyepieces (EPs) I agree with PreludeToADream's comment that the 10mm EP (x120 magnification) is dissapointing (I wear glasses and find looking through it like looking down a "soda straw"). The 25mm is fine for geneal observing (giving x48) and so Im looking to replace the 10 with possibly the 8mm Hyperion 68 (£100)- which gives x150 but with a similar field-of-view as the 10mm plossl. I might go for the Badder 8-24 MKIII click-zoom (£190) or as a kit with a 2,25x barlow (£250) as this will give me a wide range of magnificartion in one EP (I know this may not be as good an image as "prime" EPs but for my level of observing I believe it will be just fine! - check out some other threads for comments). As the scope is "fast" at f/4,7-5 then you will read many reports that it needs good quality EPs=expensive. Whilst this may preclude some cheaper EPs there are many reasonably priced ones out there (what I've found is that even with the Hyperion you get softness around the edges of the view - centre in focus; edges not and vice-versa, but as they give a fairly wide field of view I will simply move the scope so the edge items are then in the centre if I want to look at them!). I was very lucky to be able to try out some other EPs before spending money - so how about joining your local astronomical society to meet likeminded people, some of whom are only too happy to help. Good luck Richard.
  4. I've got the SW 250px flextube dob and like most of the comments in this thread, found that as I'm 6' was constantly stooping to the eyepiece - and as for using the straight through finder - I nearly did myself a nasty . Why they dont come with RA finders as standard I don't know (looking at the SW website it looks like they now do!). Anyway, rant over. I started looking for a "platform" but found nothing suitable, then saw a picture of the local raft race and saw barrels being used - lightbulb moment - get a barrel and cut it down. Started looking for barrels and saw water butts - 500W PIR "security" floodlight moment - butt stand! 300mm high, 500mm diameter and designed to support 100's Kg (rain water is quite heavy!) The base of the dob is 520 diameter (actually a bit less - had to redo setting circle strip as 5mins too long ), so it does overhang a bit, but the dips in the stand accommodate the 3 feet quite well. However, due to deep grooves on the stand top I had to cut a board to sit in the middle of the stand to stop the base/feet simply sliding across the top and risking it falling off! at about £15 for the stand (the wood was what I had languishing in the garage - in the "might come in handy one day" pile!). A couple of foam strips are currently being used to wedge around the feet to hold it tighter until I replace the wood top with one with notches cut out to closer match the feet. Works a treat - eyepiece now at comfortable height for most things and even the finder is semi-usable. Job done! [i have a pic but don't know how to upload it - if I paste it in here I get an error message!]
  5. Having only had my scope a few weeks, this has been the first real chance of trying it out, so like you I've been out the past 3 nights. Bless the council for turning of the street lights at 1:20am - I had about 30 mins of DARK dark before being forced to retire to bed - at one point I think I fell asleep standing by my scope when I was just looking at the wonderful star fields (manual dobsonian and a lack of experience = not very good yet at finding specific things!) Enjoy whilst the clouds are on holiday!
  6. Hi and welcome - I spent many a happy night out with my binos before taking the plunge and getting a scope - went big - 10" flex-tube dob - really enjoying it. Might get bino viewer to re-create the dual eye experience that I do miss a bit!
  7. Thanks Steve (and all the others for the very helpful and kind comments). I'd never heard of a Wixey before, but after a quick search I can see the advantage. The app on the mobile can be set to red display, but if the screen times out the unlock screen is normal white! I will have to tap up the wealth of knowledge of DOB owners about making my own setting circle. Cheers Rich.
  8. Hi and welcome to the forum Rozencrates - Im fairly new here myself, but there are many very knowledgable people here who Im sure will be in touch very soon! Cheers.
  9. After months of looking and reading, talking to others and checking out what people say on the forum, I've committed myself to a purchase! I hope to take delivery of a SW 250PX Flextube DOB later this week! This has been a long awaited purchase as I couldn't decide on what I REALLY wanted a scope for - looking or imaging? For others in a similar predicament below is a summary of my thoughts: a) I wanted to be able to set up in my garden but also wanted to transport the set up to darker surroundings. So whilst the DOB is fairly heavy, it travels in two parts and is quick to set up and start using. With a scope+mount+polar align, etc, I really had to ask myself "will I want to set it all up if there is slight cloud or I only have an hour or so available?" A wise person once said "the best scope is one that you will use the most". Whilst imaging would be great, I've seen others doing this and I'm not sure if I want to sit around for 2-3hours while the various subs are taken, then take an hour or more to process it. I want to LOOK at the wonders of the universe! I might go this route in a couple of years with another scope, as what they have produced is stunning and hats off to all imagers! c) My knowledge of the stars is still young, so GoTo would be useful; however, the additional cost at present prevented this. So Im looking to strap my mobile phone to the guide scope and once aligned use either google skymap or starchart (other apps are available ) to find objects - or at least point me in the neighbourhood. For now, just being able to look further than my trusty 10x50 binos will be enough. The only concern I have is tracking - but this is part of the fun (or so Im told!) d) Aperture - 10" - well this was what caused most of the delay - I stated looking at 127 SC, but was informed that for planets this is great, but not so good for Deep Space Objects (DSO), I then looked at 6", then 8", then got carried away with the %age more light grabbing than the previous size. In the end I decided that 10" was the biggest scope I would be able to manage on my own. e) Price - DOBs are really good value for aperture per £ and with little to go wrong I don't mind my children (5-15 years) using it - I wont become too protective over it f) Fun - I want to enjoy my hobby - now all I need is for the rain to stop, the clouds to go away and the night to come! I hope this wasn't too rambling, and is of use to others who are still deliberating. Cheers and clear skys to all Rich.
  10. Many thanks for the reply and summing up my situation so well! The appeal of the 127 is reasonable performance and portability - I could easily transport it to darker sky areas for a better DSO search - although how often I don't know. I've seen the PDS200+HEQ5 set up and grab-and-go it isn't, but I know that I will be dissapointed if I can't see many of the DSO in much detail that I've seen thro' the other scopes. I'd better get saving! Cheers and thanks again for the advice.
  11. Signed it! I was talking with a friend who does quite a lot of imaging and one interesting thing he mentioned about street lighting was that the new fad of LED street lights is creating a problem for him - he can't filter them out! Good quality optics and flat glass to street lights is what should be used, LED lights are too direct and cause too much glare for motorists and us. People at my astronomy group meet with the local council's street lighting people and they changed a number of lights to flat glass type in the road near our observatory - what a difference and what a great council . Then someone trimmed all the trees along the road and now 3 or 4 more lights need to be changed!
  12. Hi all, checking in for the first time. Been reading a number of the threads and I'm very impressed with the variety of advice given and balanced opinions on equipment (especially to Goto or not to GoTo!). I still haven't taken the plunge and purchased a scope yet but luckily since I became a member of the Bristol Astronomical Society I have been along to 2 star parties to help out and have had the chance to use a variety of scopes – even having a 8” Meade LX90 GoTo to look after for 2-weeks – unfortunately with only 2 clear nights during that time I didn’t get to use it as much as hoped. I’m helping out at a solar observation day soon so I’m looking forward to my first view of the Sun through a PST (or solarmax if lucky). I really recommend joining a society in your area as they are a great source of knowledge with great people and hands-on opportunities – equipment not people that is! Having had the chance to use scopes with Alt-Az, Eq and GoTo, I’m still inclined to go with a GoTo so I can spend more time looking at rather than looking for objects. Eventually I think I will go for a Skywatcher 200PDS on a HEQ5 Pro GoTo as I would like to get into imaging and someone I know uses this set up as well very successfully. Meanwhile I am looking at the SW Skymax 127AZ GoTo as a grab & go but with a reasonable aperture. My main problem with purchasing anything technical is “analysis paralysis” by the time I’ve evaluated the best option, I’ve missed the deals or a new piece of kit comes out and I don’t move forward! What are your opinions on the Skymax 127AZ GoTo as a first scope? Anyway, enough waffle, great forum and I look forward to any comments. Cheers and clear skys
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