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  1. I'm going to Kansas the night before then driving to St Joseph in the morning. There is a big event there and it is in the path of totality only 1 second short if the maximum time. There is apparently space in the hotels in the area even though websites say they are full according to the eclipse site - http://www.stjosepheclipse.com/ Good luck!
  2. If you ever come a bit further south then there is the national space centre in Leicester. It is mostly aimed at school age children but there was plenty to keep my limited knowledge interested and there are some fascinating displays on the moon landings and astronauts. My 3 and 5 year old children loved it, especially after watching Tim in space over the last week! Michael
  3. Ring nebula was my first DSO in summer months so you may surprise yourself at what you can see. Just remember that the objects up there will still be there next year if you miss them now (with obvious exceptions for comets/supernovae etc). Use the summer months to practice technique and just enjoy being able to wear a t-shirt while undertaking your hobby rather than being so dressed up you can hardly move! Michael
  4. I saw it too and it seemed faster than the ISS so thought it couldn't be a satellite. I never even considered the dragon being visible from the UK. Maybe this will explain a similar object that I saw last year and was just as fast moving. I can't wait for the next launch to make sure! Michael
  5. Yes it was over the UK about 22:30 and disappeared into the Earth's shadow before it got very high in the sky. Michael
  6. ISS is very bright so was probably one of the many discarded rockets that are up there! I use www.heavens-above.com for tracking satellites and finding out what they are as I find it easier then Stellarium if you are out and about. Michael
  7. I observe from my back garden in mk but it isn't the darkest of places! There are plenty of darker skies not too far away but I have yet to find a decent place to set up my scope away from the roads or on somebody's land. I first saw the milky way properly from a layby on the Leighton Buzzard bypass! I have looked at the mkas but not plucked up the courage to go to a meeting yet as I feel I would be out of my depth. It is a shame that tonights meeting wasnt for observing because it is quite clear at the moment. Can almost guarantee cloud for the next one! There is a thread in the Beds, Herts and Bucks area section about trying to find a dark spot but I haven't checked it for a while to see if anyone has found a decent one. Michael.
  8. Futurelearn are owned by the Open University according to their website. The address is on the OU site so it should be a reputable company. Michael
  9. Yes that's the car park I went to. As I mentioned, the lights from the village could be seen but I'm sure there would be a good position to the left of the car park as you go in - it was being used by a large lorry on the evening I went! The road itself was not busy so I don't think you would be disturbed if you used the site but I would prefer to visit again with some company because it is close enough to civilisation to possibly attract the wrong sort if people. I haven't managed to get out to another site due to my small children and their inability to sleep at a convenient time but let me know if you get there and have a better experience. Michael
  10. You should also download stellarium as you can view the sky as if you were looking through the eyepiece (after you have entered all the correct parameters). Remember that some programs will show the moons as they currently are but we see it several minutes later! Stellarium has the option to 'simulate light speed'. Michael
  11. It is worth all the excitement. I had my first view last April when I woke up at 3am one night and it was clear. In my rush I didn't realise that I was only wearing a T-shirt until I had been outside for nearly an hour! A ringed planed is something that I used to see in sci-fi programs and never thought that I could see Saturn in it's glory from my back garden. It truly took my breath away. Michael
  12. At the moment I just have the eyepieces that came with the scope but would like to upgrade in the future. I have added a barlow to get better planetary views but a 5mm eyepiece would be an improvement. The best thing for me was to get rid of the red dot finder and replace it with a Rigel (as it was smaller than a Telrad). I could not use the RDF and could not find anything! You may get on better with it - some people do, but it really made a big difference to me. As was said above, take your time to get to grips with using the mount and finding where all the knobs are in the dark before thinking of upgrading. I have had lovely views of nebulae, planets and galaxies so the scope is perfectly capable as long as you can point it in the right direction. Michael
  13. I've got 2 excited children and 1 wife who believes again! There was even a red glow as it gained height which I could swear was Rudolph's nose......
  14. Hi, I have an astromaster 130 and have attached my DSLR and used my Nokia smartphone to take pictures and video. I will happily admit they are not that great but will give you an idea of what is possible without much practice. I have attched some pictures of the moon as this is probably the easiest target, and the first thing most people will want to see with a new telescope. You will be able to see many things visually although I suspect the light pollution from your location will make it more difficult than most. Taken with my phone held up to the 10mm eyepiece (hence the slight blurriness). You can buy proper mounts to hold the phone so it is more stable but I have not got one. Taken with a DSLR attached using a T-ring. I did not focus very well and only took a few pictures that night. I have had the scope for about a year and have only just got my head around using the motor drive as my main observing time is actually looking at objects rather than photographing them. A lot more time and practice and who knows what I may do?! Michael
  15. Thanks for that. I hadn't thought of the ISS in that way before. I have shared with my Facebook friends in the hope that the rain may stop and the clouds part for 3 minutes at 6pm tomorrow! Michael
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