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SteveNickolls

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SteveNickolls last won the day on December 11 2018

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About SteveNickolls

  • Rank
    Sub Dwarf

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Nottingham UK

About Me

Hi, I've been interested in space and astronomy for as long as I can remember. My first memory is of my Dad pointing out what must have been one of the early satellites sometime in the very late 1950's. For years I had a large poster with the solar system on my bedroom wall (poor demoted Pluto and there are so many more moons about nowadays!). I can recall staying up late at Butlin's Pwllheli 1967 to watch my first Sky at Night in their big tv room. Only in recent years have I had the money to indulge more in astronomy and I have found with observing that I prefer the simplicity and comfort afforded by binoculars and for imaging wide field work with DSLR and lenses.

Living in a suburb light pollution is an issue close to my heart. On the darkest night the limiting sky value for around here is around Magnitude 5.0, Bortle Scale 6, which I have verified using Samir Kharusi's JPEG method and using a recently acquired SQM-L meter. I have done a lot of work estimating the local Sky Glow and optimal sub-exposure times for my different set ups involving the Craig Stark method along with others, a very rewarding topic.

I have now had several very interesting and enjoyable years learning about and being able to detect meteors by the GRAVES radar signal. Overall meteor detection has been the most rewarding part of astronomy I have had the pleasure to participate in and can wholeheartedly recommend it to others.

Observing I tend to use my binoculars as the benefit of two old eyes is welcomed along with the very rapid set up time involved which allows maximum viewing sessions that our rather poor British weather does its best to take from us.

Since April 2017 I have been using my SkyWatcher Star Adventurer mount to develop my imaging skills which began with a SynScan Alt-Az mount. With the use of an Astronomik Ha filter I have been able to steadily increase exposure times of nebulae. I have two DSLR's, a Canon 600D and a modified 700D. Most of my imaging is done at f/2 using 85 mm and 135 mm lenses and Astronomik clip in 12nm Ha  filter. I have press ganged an old, under-used Celestron CG-5 Go-To mount ("Lazarus") to also use with my cameras and a 500 mm f/4.9 achromat 102mm SkyWatcher StarTravel telescope. The guiding results from the CG-5 have been very good and more than sufficient for imaging at up to 500 mm FL. 

For this season I have laid a concrete pad in the garden to locate the CG-5 mount on which has accelerated set up time. I have also obtained an iPolar device to improve polar alignment, a very useful piece of kit indeed. Finally I have purchased a Prima Luce Labs Eagle Core mini-pc to rationalise the amount of long spaghetti wires in use and decrease the set up and take down times. The Eagle Core allows control over wi-fi and Ethernet cable and control by devices including Android tablets and Windows laptop.

For imaging I use Deep Sky Stacker and StarTools. Much improvement in the final image can be had from skilled use of the StarTools software and one of the joys of imaging is to be able to revisit old images to rework them with an improved capability with the software.

Interests outside astronomy include gardening and exploring ancestry. In the recent past a lot of time has been spent renovating a property.

I am now busily retired.

I have a cat, a dear wife and two kids (all paid for).

Cheers,
Steve

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