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Everything posted by jonathan

  1. Quick piece of advice for you - keep a local copy of all of the text and photos that you upload or write to the blog, keep it organised so that if the blog is ever lost then you can re-upload the information somewhere again. If the website offers a local download backup option then use that as well. Local backup is king, cloud storage should only ever be considered temporary or transient (online services come and go, and can change at the drop of a hat).
  2. This year's showing of The Snowman still haunting you eh? *slow reprise of The Snowman tune plays, pan out*
  3. You may find that it'll give some unwanted thermal currents if you have to turn it up to combat the freezing cold. My advice: become an expert on dew forecasting (takes experience!) and if it looks really bad, just stay indoors or use something less susceptible to dew. I find there's nothing more frustrating than being totally dewed out after having put in a load of effort to setup etc and not really get to see anything.
  4. With a thick layer of sleet / slush over everything that has then frozen solid and remained so for the past few days, I've only been venturing out during daylight hours. The society domes are hybernating at the moment, they live in the forest and when it's freezing like this it can be dangerous just trying to drive to them, let alone try to open the sliding roof hatch or turn the dome top half. Typically the flat concrete area they sit on is wet and freezes over like a pond quite easily, making it even deadlier. No thanks, I'll wait for some slightly less freezing conditions before going up
  5. We've had a few good clear spells recently but they've been accompanied by a thick layer of impenetrable ice over the ground, so I haven't been very keen to go out there in the dark (plus it's bloody cold!) A few minutes from the bathroom window is as much as I've had recently.
  6. Something that I've seen happen quite often is a retailer or intermediary supplier will take a part off a stock item and send that out to the customer as a 'spare part', then either continue to cannibalise that same stock item or send it back to the manufacturer as faulty. This works quite well for the customer as it means they don't have the hassle of losing their product for a while or organising shipment of it, and their problem gets sorted out quite quickly (in the case of something that's easy to replace). I think one could get a bit too hung up on the whole 'acceptability' thing...
  7. Don't sweat it too much, I doubt any of us could claim to have got their first telescope / equipment purchase 100% correct! Each person's expectations and ultimate requirements are going to be slightly different, in time only you will know what's the best kit for you. A wise person once said (along these lines) - don't worry about perfection, just do it and if necessary do it badly, it might turn out better than you expect.
  8. OTA = Optical Tube Assembly, I think. If I were you I'd look at the AZ3 one, the number usually refers to the weight carrying capacity so to my mind 3 > 1, and I know from experience that an EQ1 is rather weedy even with a lightweight refractor such as the ST80 (a short tube refractor). As a beginner the AZ3 might be easier for you to get your head around as well, although I've never actually used one myself.
  9. I'm confident that I cured a dodgy HEQ5 SynScan handset via a firmware update, if it's a newer one then it should be relatively painless (no need for a '90s PC and Win98!) Just be sure to read the instructions several times before you start and get the correct firmware for your handset, if you're at all unsure then ask more questions here, someone should know. FYI mine was a v3 handset, in my case the motor control board in the HEQ5 appears to be faulty as well but I tested the handset on an NEQ6 Pro and it worked fine with that after a firmware update (requires a different cable though).
  10. If the scopes you're looking at are essentially the same then you might be interested more in what equipment, fittings, and things like cases come supplied with them. I have the Altair Astro Wave 102, a very nice refractor that came with a good rotatable dual speed focuser, 2" to 1.25" converter (all of it has brass collars), and an excellent custom fitted hard case. I also bought the matching finder scope with diagonal and illuminated eyepiece, an expensive but nice-to-have luxury. As you mention travel then a strong case should be high on the list, if it has custom fitted foam for the sco
  11. This should be emphasised, safety is paramount when observing the sun. I've seen people use the Baader solar film on those small holes in the objective cover, should be fine so long as you take care of it (perhaps add a ring of thick card on the back side too to help prevent scratches). I followed the Baader guide and made solar filters for my binoculars using thick white paper/card and PVA glue.
  12. I'd go with the collimation or dew thing. I had a very similar looking effect from my DSLR and zoom lens, couldn't find the cause but I can only think that it had to be either collimation (which I'm never going to be able to sort out) or some fine dew that I couldn't even see (maybe on the CCD?) It was a bitterly cold night when I did mine, perhaps it could also just be down to the electrical characteristics of the camera sensor not being able to function correctly at that temperature with bright point light sources?
  13. I'd second (or are we on 3rd now?) a good quality small refractor (spend around £1k on some decent glass), enjoy the small but perfectly crisp visuals it gives and learn the ropes of astrophotography with a less expensive mount. If you're already toying with the idea of spending about £1,400 on an 8SE then I think you should easily be able to afford a high quality refractor (between 60mm and 102mm) on a medium sized EQ driven mount, with or without goto (if Skywatcher then look for the mounts with 'Pro' in the title, they usually have better gearing).
  14. Having missed the Transition of Venus (clouded out) and only just caught the last few moments of the Transition of Mercury (was that 2020? I forget now), I was very pleased to have caught some great views of Mars as it came by. The sun woke up a little late for the party, however I did manage to get the solar scope out a few times for the recent sunspot clusters and other things, plus despite lockdowns I managed to repair said solar scope by replacing the small blue filter, which was provided free of charge by Lunt. I have heard others comment on the poor seeing conditions and weather of re
  15. I don't think I could ever stick to that one, but I'll give it a damn good try! List of excuses so far this year: Too windy Too icy Too cloudy Too rainy I think in fairness to myself those are actually not bad excuses.
  16. If it's a small tabletop one then it can be lifted up to a comfortable eye level with books or crates etc.
  17. I would say for nebulas you'll probably want the largest reflecting telescope (popularly found on Dobsonian mounts, but can also sit on an Equatorial or Alt/Az mount) that you can afford. A refractor telescope (traditional type with glass lenses) will give sharper more contrasty views, which is not really what you want when looking for a faint grey misty patch, you may lose them against the black sky. Maksutov and Schmitt-Cassegrain telescopes probably give a slightly dimmer view than reflecting telescopes, and while you may be able to see some nebulosity I think you'd need to spend
  18. I have parents who are now in their 70s and they enjoy the occasional look through my telescopes, I know sometimes they can struggle with dark adaptation so dimmer objects might be out of reach (I think we all envy young eyes as we get older!) Unless there's someone available to lift and carry, then I think realistically a full tripod and mount setup might be a bit much to ask of your mother to setup by herself, although I wouldn't rule out a small dobsonian, either the Heritage 150P, or if you think she can handle it (probably best moved in two parts) the Skyliner 200P. Perhaps one of t
  19. Knowing what I know now, I would not buy an 8SE with a view to using it as-is, I would either look to buy the 6SE (which comes on the same mount as 8SE, so is much more stable and suffers less from vibrations) or ditch the SE mount and buy an HEQ5 Pro or AZ5 equivalent, that is the minimum mount an 8SE will reasonably perform well on IMO. If you might struggle with an HEQ5 then an AZ5 might present the same kind of problem (assuming it's just the mount we're talking about, not mount+OTA). Just FYI I believe it's the 4SE that comes with a flip mirror back which is handy if you want to attach
  20. I think that's the thing, of all the differing designs there's no getting away from size and performance, there's no magic scope that's small yet allows fantastic magnification and clarity (compared to a much larger one). Maybe there will be in Star Trek, just not right now. There's always going to be compromise. I think the OP would do well to look at the refractor option, watch a lot of YouTube videos and imagine how they would handle such a telescope setup in their environment. Spending more on higher quality glass counts for a lot when it comes to refractors.
  21. I like the look of those shiny counterweights. I upgraded my 8SE with a Steeltrack focuser, best upgrade by far for that scope, however it means one also has to upgrade to an EQ mount as there isn't enough room for the Steeltrack and the scope no longer balances in the old SE goto mount (which has flimsy legs anyway, and a wobbly single arm, and mine had a dodgy power socket). So yes, 8SE is a nice size to handle but it requires a decent mount. It's possible to carry it fully assembled on the original SE mount but after upgrading or adding anything to the scope (e.g. camera) the SE
  22. I think if you didn't enjoy lugging the 8" dob about then you won't enjoy lugging an HEQ5 Pro about either, nor a 9.25 or 11" SCT (which would probably need an NEQ6 Pro or similar - a VERY heavy and surprisingly bulky mount - feels like a World's Strongest Man event lifting it out to the garden in several stages). I have an 8" SCT which I mount on an NEQ6 Pro, it would probably be OK on an HEQ5 Pro but I have to say on the NEQ6 Pro it's massively steady even in considerable wind, which is a bonus when standing on a breezy hillside. On the SCT side of things you'll get a narrower, mor
  23. The refractor telescopes will show significant colour fringing on bright objects such as the moon, Jupiter and Venus, Saturn is a bit dimmer but it'll be small so you won't see it in any great detail through those scopes, might be able to make out the gaps between the planet and the rings (it will be very tiny) but most likely not the Cassini Division. You can use something like a moon filter to reduce the glare and colour fringing, but the only way to really eliminate it is to spend a lot more money on higher grade glass as usually found in a triplet apochromatic refractor, or go for a diffe
  24. The star in the last photo could actually have been Venus, it's a very bright object that's best viewed with a filter to reduce the glare, or if your main cap has a smaller cap that you can remove to reveal a small hole then use that to reduce the amount of light entering the telescope (can also be used when viewing Mars which is still quite bright at the moment as it slowly moves away from us, and Jupiter too). Use the free program Stellarium to check what you can observe in your next session, or what you might have seen once you come back inside. There's a facility whereby you can add
  25. I have no experience of Bresser equipment myself, but just going by the item photos and description (ignoring the boasts about Jupiter's surface), it looks like a fairly typical 200mm Newtonian Reflector on a mount that may be nearing it's limit with the scope and accessories mounted (looking at the size of the mount and the width of the tripod legs, digging deeper I find the mount+tripod have a carrying capacity of 13kg and the telescope weighs 10kg). I have a 150P Skywatcher reflector that would sit quite happily on a mount of that size (I am guessing it is similar to a Celestron CG4 mount
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