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About jambouk

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  1. This one is supposed to work with your camera and allows exposures up to nearly 100 hours (the sensor will have melted by then). Yes, select bulb mode on the camera and then programme your settings into the intervalometer handset. James
  2. It's always worthwhile getting together with others at star parties and the like and getting direct help from them and picking up tips. The one thing which is worthwhile is to type out a flow diagram of your setup routine, like a check lick. Print it out and get it laminated, or just print several copies so when it gets damp by the end of the night it doesn't matter. Have fun, it looks like a lovely mount, and keep asking the questions. James
  3. Yes, once you've got a suitable polar alignment, you will need to do a star alignement else you won't be able to GOTO anything. I'm sorry if I'm going over the basics which you know but others may be reading this: - polar alignment allows you to track objects in the night sky, - star alignment teaches the mount/telescope where things are in the night sky at that moment in time (that you do the star alignment); it then remembers this and the internal software will allow you to GOTO any target in the database. Clearly the better your polar alignment, the better your tracking will be. The better your star alignment is [and potentially the more stars you do an alignment on] the better your GOTO accuracy will be. There are very many caveats to the last sentence, but I won't go there for now. James
  4. Lots lof lovely detail and contrast in these images. The Straight Wall looks very good. I also love the wrinkle ridges. Really nice captures. James
  5. Just point the body of the mount to Polaris by eye, adjust the altitude of the mount to roughly your latitude, then look through the polar scope and Polaris should be there, then centre Polaris (if you want a very rough and ready polar alignment, just put Polaris anywhere near the centre of the polar scope reticle. If you want a really tight alignment, you'll have to make sure the polar scope is perfectly aligned with the RA axis of your mount and then polar align (but this is advanced stuff).
  6. The British Astronomical Association (BAA) is holding a one-day meeting in Eastbourne on Saturday 29th April titled "Planets in our solar system and beyond". The lineup of talks and speakers is impressive so I've booked myself a place: Dr John Rogers - "Jupiter” Mr Michael Foulkes – "Amateur observations of Saturn" Prof David Rothery – "Mercury: new insights into the Sun's closest planet" Dr Guillem Anglada Escude - "Proxima b, planets around red dwarfs and the search for life beyond the Solar System" Dr Eamonn Kerins - "Exoplanet science in the era of many worlds" For more information and to book a place: James
  7. Several questions, sorry. 1. is there a way to trickle charge multiple batteries from one trickle charging unit (where a 240v mains supply is available)? 2. is there a way to trickle charge multiple batteries from one trickle charging unit (where there is only access to a solar panel and no mains feed)? 3. in the situations above (1 and 2) does it matter that there is a combination of battery types (wet lead-acid and deep cycle gel batteries)? 4. can anyone recommend a weatherproof solar panel to drive this potential setup? 5. can anyone recommend a trickle charger to run off a solar panel to charge multiple 12v batteries? Batteries currently: 2 x wet lead-acid batteries (50-60 amp hour each); but these could go in time. 2 x gel deep cycle batteries (80 amp hour); very old and again could go in time. 2 x gel deep cycle batteries (110 amp hour); eventually will end up with just these at the observatory. Background: We have an observatory with no mains power. The mount runs at 24v, lighting at 12v. We are looking for solutions to trickle charge the batteries on site, and avoid the need of someone having to lug the 110 amp hour batteries away each time the observatory is used. The smaller batteries are being used as these are easier to carry, but the goal would be to end up with just the two large deep cycle batteries for the mount, and maybe one or two of the other batteries for lighting or to provide a 12v feed to someone who may bring a scope and save them bring power too. We don't want to explore wind power for the time being. Thanks for any replies.
  8. Well it took me an hour; you haven't had the bill yet
  9. Peter, thank you; have you used this software? Is it suitable for night-time astrophotography? James
  10. A member of my local astronomical society has a Pentax K50 and wants to get a live feed from the camera onto his laptop as he finds it difficult to see anything on the small screen on the camera (as we all do). I know nothing about Pentax cameras and was wondering if anyone out there can offer some free solution for him. I use the Canon Utility software which comes with the Canon cameras, but is there a free Pentax version which can be used easily for night-time astrophotography? I suspect APT could do this but he'd have to pay for it and we are looking for a free solution if possible. I'll send him the link to this thread so he will be watching. He is using a 150mm refractor on an NEQ6 in a lovely homemade observatory. Thanks for any help. James
  11. Have a read of the answer I posted here recently about a similar topic: James
  12. I have only ever owned Skywatcher mounts, so there may be slight nuisances in my answers which are wrong, but I am sure others won't be shy in correcting my errors - this is the joy of such a large and diverse forum like this. 1) Why is there a necessity to ensure the mount is facing the correct direction when setting up the scope? The right ascension (RA) axis of your mount needs to be aligned with the axis around which the Earth rotates - this is called polar aligning... In essence, you need to look through the polar scope and point it at Polaris (image attached). You don't have to polar align your scope but if you don't, it won't track celestial objects well, or at all. Some pedants (any boy there are plenty around in the world of astronomy) will say polar alignment is an all or nothing technique - one has the mount polar aligned or not, but in my version of reality there is a continuum. It is possible to be "roughly" polar aligned, or "very tightly" polar aligned, or not at all polar aligned. As you get your polar alignment tighter and tighter, the tracking accuracy of your mount gets better and better. If you just want to do a spot of visual observing of say the Moon and are happy to keep using the handset to make corrections, then you might be content with a very rough and ready polar alignment; if you want to achieve 5 minute unguided astrophotography exposures with a telescope with a focal length of 5000m then you need the tightest possible polar alignment. As is probably obvious, the tighter one wants the polar alignment, the more time it takes. I'd start about at the bottom of the ladder; get used to a rough and ready alignment and take little steps to get this tighter and tighter. So, your mount needs to point north so you can essentially look through the polar scope and align it on Polaris (actually on the North Celestial Pole (BCP), but that is a lecture for another day). 2) I’ve heard similar comments made with regard to members permanent piers in their observatories, again, what is being referred to here and how would you ensure a circular steel pier IS facing a correct direction? To be honest, I would get to grips with the equatorial mount before worrying about a pier. However, generally the pier itself is just a column sticking out of the ground, perpendicular to the polar axis of the Earth. It doesn't matter which way the pier is facing, but the bits at the top of the pier, depending on what sort of pier you buy or make, need to allow the mount you subsequently attach to it points north. 3) Does the peg on the tripod Base plate need to be directly over one of the legs or is it fine where it is positioned? (In between two legs) The peg just needs to be at the north side of the tripod so that when you put the mount head on the tripod the polar scope is pointing towards the north. Some people move the peg (if the peg can be moved) to position it over one leg so that you always know to put this leg pointing towards the north. The other consideration is that if the peg is currently between two legs, when the scope is in the home position (see image) you will have a leg pointing due south and this may annoy you when trying to look through the polar scope to polar align the mount. Home position = weights down, scope up. You want the telescope roughly pointing in the same direction as the RA axis (polar axis), and you want the weights pointing straight down. Don't worry for now if when you look through the telescope you can't see Polaris in the field of view, especially if you have a scope with a long focal length. 4) Is there anything I should do during daylight hours other than align the (finderscope) in preparation for the alignment process? Yes, align the axis of your polar scope to the RA axis of the mount... I wrote a bit about this elsewhere on SLG: 5) Do I need to update my mount with the latest firmware (?) Software upgrade or can I assume as I bought it 3 weeks ago it will come up to date? Even though you only got the kit 3 weeks ago, it might have been sitting in a warehouse in a box for 3 years during which time several firmware updates may have been released. There will be an option in the handset where it tells you what versions you have; the Skywatcher handset gives "version information" and there is information about: - handset hardware (not updateable unless you buy a new handset) - handset firmware (this is updatable) - database (this is updateable but seldom is updated) - motor controller firmware (this will only display if you have the handset connected to the mount, and is updateable) The Celestron site appears to be here, so you'll have to see what versions of the firmware you have and compare that: Some firmware updates are useful, others generate new problems. Again, I would suggest for now that you just use what you've got and worry about this down the line. 6) HOW do I update my firmware software? See my answer to 5. I'd put this to the low priority list for now. 7) How accurate does the declination need to be? Can I work off the (slightly crude) scale on the mong or should I be looking at getting a digital spirit level for accuracy? This is where you need to start thinking about the celestial sphere and why aligning the RA axis of your mount to the polar axis of the Earth makes an equatorial mount special. I'd recommend reading the first few chapters of this book: When you are polar aligning, you will adjust the altitude of the mount to get it all perfectly aligned. If you want a rough and ready polar alignment, just set the pointer on the scale to your local latitude, this will be sufficient for the rough and ready polar alignment for now, but you need to appreciate that your tracking won't be great. 8) With vibration in mind, until I sort out a permanent pier my scope will be on the tripod in the observatory, should I allow the tripod legs to stand on the soft flooring foam tiles or should it be on the wooden floor of the shed? Unless you are going to do a very tight polar alignment and aim to do astrophotography, I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about vibration for now, personally. 9) Do I need to worry about leaving my spanking new scope and mount exposed to the elements, all be it under a waterproof bike cover in the obs and secure? Slightly nervous 😐 Two main things here: a. I wouldn't leave the scope exposed to any moisture. b. security is the bigger issue - will anything get stolen, and if so have you taken ample measures to appease the insurance company that you complied with the small print, else they won't pay out in the event of a claim. I have left my mount outside for prolonged periods in the garden under a couple of layers of water proof coverings without problem. James sgl support.pdf
  13. Right, give me a few minutes to put together an answer to [some] of these questions. What you also need to consider, is that: there are various ways to do even the simplest of tasks in practical astronomy, though there are individuals who believe their way is the only way, and will criticise what anyone else does / suggests - so don't worry if someone comes along and says this advice is a pile of... whilst watching someone who knows what they are doing to set up an equatorial it can look very simple (and fundamentally is), but there are countless little steps and the whole process requires a bit of understanding about the celestial sphere, so if this takes a few weeks to get your head around, don't worry, that is normal, even for bright people. many of us with jobs and other commitments don't have the energy to set up every clear night, that is OK; it is just a hobby after all, do it when you want to do it and don't feel guilty if you don't do it. I am sure, however, that if I had an observatory [and a pier] I would use my telescopes more. Right, back in 10 with some answers. James
  14. I am pretty slick with a Skywatcher Handset, but I am struggling to work out the problem / solution. Are you in contact with any local club / society who might be able to help you: I hope you get it sorted. James