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DirkSteele last won the day on August 4

DirkSteele had the most liked content!

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About DirkSteele

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    Brown Dwarf

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    Astronomy has been a part of my life since I was 3 years old, so I have been looking up for about 30 years, and using telescopes for about 25 years. My education followed a similar path and I left University having studied Physics and Astrophysics at both Undergrad and Masters level. I was also a founder member of the University Astronomy society and held the position of president in my last year of undergrad and continued on as treasurer in my masters year. My interest now is primarily visual astronomy.

    I currently own 7 telescopes, and the list clearly shows that I am a refractor man. The pride and joy of the collection is a 7" Triplet Apo (f/7) from APM in Germany, as well as 2 smaller Triplets (TMB 115 f/7 and the APM TMB 105 f/6.2 which is my primary travel scope). I also own three ultra portable Takahashi fluorite doublet Apos, the FS-60 CB & FS-60Q,as well as the FC-76 for those times when the 105 is a bit too large to take with me. Rounding out the collection is my oldest scope, the Celestron Nexstar 11 GPS.

    As well as writing reviews and other astro-related content for my own site, Alpha-Lyrae.co.uk, I have also begun contributing content to Astronomy Now magazine, with my first equipment review appearing in January 2018 issue.

    I love to cook (and eat!), and also collect retro video games, though prices recently have gone through the roof, so that has taken a bit of a back seat.
  • Location
    London, UK
  1. I have seen this table before. What is crucially missed off it was that the ratings were based on a specific observing latitude. Anyone who has been quite far south will know clusters like M6 and M7 are visible naked eye and would be V Easy. There are also a few messier objects missing. But generally it points you in the right direction.
  2. if you are seeing the shadow of the secondary mirror and spider vanes using the 10mm and 20mm eyepieces with that scope, you are far away from the focus point. If you are getting a good detailed view of the Moon withe plenty of craters and other surface detail visible, I would suggest first aiming at the Moon, focusing, and then moving to Mars or Jupiter as they are pretty much all at infinity as far as your scope is concerned so the focus would at most require just modest tweaking, If the Moon is not visible, try using a bright star and make sure it is as small as possible in the eyepiece when focusing and then move on to one of the planets. If you are moving the focus wheel along its entire travel distance and the scope is still not coming to focus, I would ask if the scope requires an extension tube between the focuser and eyepiece? If it does, it would be included as part of the equipment that came with it. It will just be an empty tube with the same diameter as the eyepieces. Dont forget Mars is currently 63 million kilometers away and Jupiter is more than 700 million currently, so they will appear very small in the scope. I have seen some of my friends who had not used a scope before adjust the focus so the planets appear large, but all they had done was move the image well away from focus and expand the disc that is seen.
  3. A tricky one for sure. Just on the astronomy journalism thing, I do not think a qualification in journalism is a necessity. In fact I read so much inaccurate nonsense from "science" journalists who don't have a qualification in the relevant subject, that I would argue at least, that the background in science is what should be valued. If you are able to source some work in this space, be aware that almost certainly will be freelance, paid per article, and the compensation is not high. I have written some equipment reviews for Astronomy Now and for 2,000 words and 4-6 photos, it might be £300-350 in pay. I write because I enjoy it, not because of the money. As for other jobs, I know someone who did get a job at the Royal Observatory Greenwich holding a BSc in Physics + Astronomy, as a public engagement astronomer so a higher degree is not always needed. I am not sure how many other venues around the country may also have such positions.
  4. Are you sure they are not already saturated? Perhaps warm them in the oven and see if they change to different colour when dry.
  5. Thanks. Just been lucky to be on some great beaches which have presented the photo op.
  6. There are over 1,100 known Open Clusters in the Milky Way (and a lot more hidden by dust). There are around 100 just in Cassiopeia which is a high amount considering its is only 25th by area. I set myself the observing challenge to view every single cluster brighter than magnitude +12 in a single session. I compiled the list using Sky Safari 5 Pro data which made it a more manageable 44. However, I did run across some which should have made the cut but have an unknown magnitude. The report is on the link below: http://alpha-lyrae.co.uk/2020/09/16/observing-all-open-clusters-in-cassiopeia-brighter-than-mag-12-part-1/ I have split into two reports as it is quite long. There is a link at the end of part one which takes you to the second. It was a rather enjoyable challenge and I viewed several new to me DSOs, many of which I will return to in the future. Quite a busy part of the sky. This is just Open Clusters to 12th magnitude. Benefit of being on the arms of the Milky Way! Feedback always appreciated. Hope you enjoy the read, and maybe have a go yourself.
  7. Apparently I take a lot of photos on holiday I then don't bother processing. Taken in 2015, but only processed in the last couple of weeks (thanks to no vacation abroad due to Covid). The Milky Way setting over Benguerra Island in Mozambique. Almost all dinners are served on the beach and that night the staff set up all the tables in line and I thought it would make a good shot. I ran back to the villa and grabbed my camera. Composite of two images. Foreground was a 2 sec exposure at ISO 800. The nightsky was 25 seconds at ISO5000. I actually think I pushed the ISO too much on this holiday and have only used 3200 ever since, as it came out a bit grainy. Using an un-modified Canon 70D and Canon 14mm L lens at f/2.8 (effective 22mm due to crop sensor).
  8. Perhaps I have observed something that is not real, but it seems to be that the results of the competition swing from "artistic" one year, and then "proper" astro-images the next, and back to artisitc after that. This is year for art I guess. However, it does seem that to stand out these days, something unusual needs be part of an image to stand out.
  9. Still working my way through some of the night sky photos I took while on vacation on Benguerra Island in Mozambique last year. A borderline Bortle Class 1 sky means it was amazing for stargazing (and I made use of it a lot with my Tak FC-76) but also allowed for some great compositions like this. This is one of the 12 Villas in the &Beyond resort. Shot with unmodified Canon 70D using. A 14mm lens at f/2.8. The foreground was a 2 second exposure at ISO800 and the sky was 25 seconds at ISO3200. Processed in Lightroom and blended with a layer mask in Photoshop.
  10. Excellent. My wife's parents own a place not far from the eclipse path so think I know where I will be!
  11. That is a very attractive scope. And quite the performer from what I have read. Enjoy!
  12. Wow, a lot of yummy glass there @garryblueboy Your TMB 115 is even older than mine (no 142).
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