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Everything posted by Jim-a

  1. Jon - my kids always like the ring nebula (M57)... which should be south west ish early in the evening at the moment - its in the constellation Lyra roughly half way between the bottom two stars of the 'diamond'. It should look like a small smoke ring - my kids are always impressed that its the remnants of an exploded star.
  2. Ben - I got a sheet of thin black foam from the Range in Reading town centre to make a shield for the Telrad - 50p - should do the trick
  3. I did the inside of a cheap (<£3) led headlamp with a combination of nail varnish and a couple of layers of red acetate I 'liberated' from some 3d glasses one of the kids got in a magazine. Works pretty well - the lamp has 3 brightness levels and the combination of the varnish and acetate means the lowest setting is nice and dim for map viewing, while the highest setting is good enough to stop you tripping over things while moving around
  4. Im very jealous - I was out until about 2 this morning - but really hampered by patches of misty fog, high humidity and a dewed secondary
  5. I think the generally accepted advice is to stick with the stock EP's that came with the scope at first - spend a few nights with it under the stars before going down the upgrade route - that way you'll have got a taste for the different types of object you can see and that will guide your next purchases - be in widefield for galaxies etc, or something specialist for planetary viewing etc. EP's aside though, you'll want to get a cheshire (or laser) for collimating and I'd recommend a telrad.
  6. thanks for sharing this Ronnie. Its fascinating to watch the structure start to 'pop out' of the page.
  7. One tip I found useful for making the secondary much easier to adjust is to round off the ends of the three adjusting screws with a file and then cut out two circular 'washers' from a plastic milk bottle and put them in between the screws and the back of the secondary holder. That way, when you turn the screws they adjust the angle but don't catch and tend to try and rotate the whole secondary holder.
  8. Ben - looks good, what software did you use?
  9. So we had our first meetup last night. It worked really well. In total,12 people came along and I think it's fair to say everyone enjoyed the evening. When we arrived at the pub, the sky was covered in cloud, although we could just see Jupiter trying to shine through. The landlord had given us the snug for the evening and had helpfully put a fan heater in there in case we needed to warm up after being outside. After about an hour or so of astro related chat and looking through some really nice planetary pictures that one of the guys (Steve - not sure if he's a member on here) had brought along, we agreed that it looked like the cloud was thinning a bit and that we'd set some scopes up. The Landlord had switched the floodlight on the pub patio off & with three scopes set up we all shared views of Jupiter, the Pleiades and the double cluster through gaps in the clouds - but the best bit for me were the conversations happening around the scopes - Alan (AstroTux on here) showing us his home-made motor controller boards for his Celestron, sharing observing experiences with Ben (Bendiddley on here) and generally chatting about astronomy huddled around some scopes in a pub garden. (There were a few photo's taken on the evening, so I'll share those when I get them.) With the clouds rolling back in we packed up and then headed back into the snug to warm up and continue the conversations. All in all it was a great night and we'll definitely be doing it again! PS - We're hoping that AstroPub type meetups start springing up all over the place (its so easy to organise and the format seems to work really well) so we're gathering email addresses and postcodes here and over the next few weeks will hopefully be able to put some potential organisers in touch with potential attendees.
  10. Tom - i can definitely recommend having a go at sketching Jupiter - it forces you to spend a lot of time at the eyepiece and you will almost certainly tease more details out. Plus as you spend longer on it, you are more likely to get more short periods of calm seeing when suddenly even more detail (colour variations in the bands, ripples on the edges of the bands) jumps out at you.
  11. thats stunning - would love to hear more about the technique you use
  12. thanks guys. I'll definitely be sketching more - I'm realising that what you 'see' at the eyepiece isn't just a combination of scope+eyepiece+atmosphere+LP, but also how practiced you are at picking out the detail - the act of sketching the other night 'forced' me to spend longer on the subject and now I'm a little bit more practiced than I would have been without the sketch! Any good resources you know of for hints / tips / techniques etc?
  13. I've just bought a second hand 32mm Panaview and I'm really happy with it. Its feels very comfortable to look through and is not as fussy on eye positioning as the Xcel I have - yes it gets softer towards the outer part of the field, but maybe I'm not enough of a connoisseur yet (having never looked through a really premium wide field eyepiece + coma corrector combo) for it to matter too much.
  14. Thats brilliant AstroTux, look forward to meeting you both on Tuesday
  15. There was quite a gap between the shadow hitting the edge and Io appearing - guess must have been the relative position of the sun and where it was casting the shadow? My sketch at a similar time to coterless's show same positioning
  16. While watching Io transit Jupiter earlier I thought I'd try my hand at a sketch for the first time. Quite surprised at how sketching it really helped me concentrate at the eyepiece and try and tease the details out.
  17. Thanks for the best wishes guys! I'll be sure to do a little write up of the evening and share how we got on. A fair few people have ticked the 'interested in organising an event' box on the sign up form, so hopefuly we'll be able to get a few more similar things hapenning in different parts of the country.
  18. Right - we have a venue and date for our first (experimental) meet up! Its will be at the Castle Inn in Hurst (near Reading) from 8.00pm on Tuesday 6th November (looks like it may be clear as well!) Further details are here Really looking forward to it - and maybe see some of you there
  19. its not that heavy - I think you'd be ok. The only issue might be that the telrad base will prevent you from being able to slide the tube rings up much further (in the pic above, you cant see it, but there is about 1cm clearance between the top tube ring and the base of the telrad) to balance the scope if you ever decide to buy any of the heavier eyepieces.
  20. I was using a borrowed Skywatcher 114 before I bought my Lightbridge - the LB came with a telrad base so I've just cable tied the new base to the 114 to give you a feel for what it looks like.
  21. fantastic Astrosurf - we're building a mailing list here - if you get people to sign up then we'll let you know how we get on with the one we're planning to hold near Reading. We'll also try and match up people interested by location.
  22. Given that we'll pick country pubs for the darkness, I'm guessing most people will be driving... so I'm not sure that will be a big problem, but with you on the difficulty of setting up / taking down after a few beers - happened to me when we had friends round for drinks etc and it was clear and everyone wanted to have a look at the stars...
  23. The postman arrived today with a new 18mm Celestron Xcel-LX from the folks at FLO (thanks for the quick turnaround guys) and a 32mm Panaview which I bought secondhand from ABS. Unbelievably there was a 30 min gap in the clouds earlier so I got to try them out (very briefly) on the same day they arrived (I understand from most posts on here that is a very rare occurrence). So first thoughts - and bear in mind I had no more than about 10 mins with each eyepiece, the scope wouldn't have been fully cooled and it was about 6.30 so not fully dark - are... Panaview - nice heavy well-built feel to it - was really pleased that I can now get the double cluster properly in view (with my previous lowest power I kind of had to choose which of the clusters to look at). Comfortable viewing and the colours (albireo anyway) looked great - didnt get chance to look at any DSO's though so can't comment there. Celestron Xcel-LX - first impressions were not so good (although to be fair I think it may grow on me). I'd read that the rubber eyecup is notorious for coming away and needing to be reglued and this one is no exception as the rubber was clearly pulling away as you take the end cap off - I know its not a premium eyepiece, but it was £70 and for the sake of a few drops of a better glue - grrr. Anyway the view was nice, colours good, couldn't quite split epsilon lyrae with it on its own - but could with it barlowed. However I found the eye positioning really fussy - any slight movement and I lost the edges of the view - I eventually found a way to rest my eye against the rubber that worked - I'm hoping that I just get used to it over time. Far from a proper review I know, but thought I'd share first impressions
  24. thanks for the heads-up Ben .. I think Mike is going to go out and scout some pubs this week ! Duns - good call on golf clubs - hadn't really thought in that direction, but could fit the bill - thanks!
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