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Posts posted by AndyWB

  1. Globular clusters will look fabulous, M13, M92 etc, plenty of the around at this time of year. Planetary nebulae such as M27, 57, the Blinking Planetary, Blue Snowball are all good and will benefit from a UHC filter. M11 looks brilliant at this time of year.

    ^-- This. I went from a 5" Newtonian to a 10", and this was the change that really caught me. Globular clusters really start to resolve and look good! This past year or so I've been gradually working my way back around the globular clusters. 

    Everything looks better, but Globs were the big change for me. Other honourable mentions would be:

    • The Moon. I was surprised by this, but the extra resolution brings out a lot of nice detail in crater walls, etc. You can really see the additional resolution; people don't always mention that aspect of a bigger scope.
    • Nebulae (if under a dark sky). There's no doubt, the greater light gathering can make dim things more visible - but only if the sky itself is dark too.
    • Double stars - if you're into that sort of thing (I am, sometimes). Again, your resolution at work.

    In fact, thinking about it, most of the benefits I really saw in stepping up were probably more about the resolution than the light gathering...

    • Like 3

  2. The 8" is great - but if bunging in the car for family holidays, he might not fit that much family in...

    I got a 130p as a wee scope to start with, and it does very well. I do set mine up on the floor, then sit next to it on a low camping seat. Something taller would be more comfortable, but this isn't bad unless you want to look near zenith.

    If he can handle the size, the 8" would be a fine choice. If not, the 130p is a really fairly compact, albeit without the advantages of aperture.

  3. The Veil is very hard with LP, but if you go somewhere dark it's very easy even without the filter. 

    +1 for this comment. One of my best views of the Veil was on a clear dark night with my 5" reflector. I'd been without light for about an hour, working by starlight. I actually tried a filter (granted, a gentle Baader UHC-s filter) with it too, and it made no difference - it was clear and obvious and beautiful.

    2 days later, from a more light polluted site, despite being pretty clear I couldn't see it at all.

    That said, an OIII will help a lot - but dark skies will help more!

    • Like 1

  4. I find a phone destroys dark adaption - but can be very convenient. Try to keep your observing eye closed while using it, though, to preserve dark adaption. Also, a sheet of red plastic gel will help too.

    A book is a better bet, but tends not to have the same detail or depth.

    I use Sky Safari Plus for my iPhone (which has a small charge), and the Sky and Telescope Pocket atlas (cheap, conveniently sized) or the Interstellarum atlas (expensive, large, but beautifully detailed).

  5. ... , a misty patch almost followed the direction of the main line of cygnus. A quick check on my planisphere and I found out its the milky way! Is this common to be seen in a moderately LP garden in the town?? Or am I going mad?

    You're doing astronomy, so yes, you're going mad. However, the milky way is pretty bright through Cygnus. I can see it on a good night from my high light-pollution back yard, and if I can see it here on a good night, then you can see it most places. 

    Still mad though. ;op

  6. I like to have a plan - particularly so I don't miss difficult or rare events. It also means I occasionally get to "love it when a plan comes together".

    I tend to take notes in a scribbled shorthand, written blind, and then write them up later.


    I also keep a spreadsheet of:

    • What things I've looked at (so it's almost an index for my notebook)
    • What things from the Messier / Caldwell / Herschel 400 lists I've seen / yet to find
    • What double stars I've split

    ... but I'm that kind of geek.

    • Like 1

  7. The scope came with an extra adapter, 2 inch one but its not in the focuser tube, that just has the one that was already in it that the 2 eyepieces fit into, assume its 1.25 inch adapter?

    For all my ignorance the 2 eyepieces that came with it are 10mm and a super wide 25mm, am I correct in thinking the 10mm will be more magnification but the 25mm will have a much wider field?

    I will try and have another go at seeing something tonight if its clear, I do have a street lamp right outside my back garden which lights up half of the garden, its a pain to be honest, not sure if that's impacting on things but I am using the scope turned away from the lamp, it doesn't affect what I can see through the finder, like I mentioned I saw what I think was a star, quite bright, and picked it up fine in the crosshairs but using either eyepiece just gave me a white haze all over, I did think maybe i'd forgotten to take of some kind of lens cover or protective cover somewhere!

    Regarding the adapters, yes, that sounds right. It's fairly common for people to put the 1.25 inch adapter into the 2 inch one, and put that into the scope (been there, done that). You only need the one and that sounds like what you're doing.

    About the eyepieces - yes, your understanding is correct.

    White haze all over could just be wildly out of focus. When you swap eyepieces you'll often have to refocus, sometimes drasticallly. Oh, don't forget to unscrew the 'focus lock' screw if you'd tightened it up - otherwise the focusser won't move despite the know going round (yeah, been there, done that too)

    Do I need to align the finder with the main scope? I can see things just fine at a distance through the finder and am wondering now if they are both out of sync sort of, I can't remember reading anything in the manual about aligning both, just picking something out in the finder and getting it in the crosshairs.

    Yes, you will have to align it, and you'll probably need to do this before each session - but you get used to it, it takes seconds. Stick the low-power (25mm) eyepiece into the scope, look into the scope, and point it at something distance (I like to use a tree on the horizon at dusk, but bright stars, far away lights, and even the moon have been used on occasion). You'll need to focus too so you can see what it's pointing at, and ideally you want what you're using to be at least a couple of miles away.

    You now have your scope directed at a fixed (or very slowly moving) point you can identify. 

    Now look through the finder scope. You should see a crosshairs - but it probably won't be pointing at the target you directed the scope at. Use the 2 screws to adjust the finder scope so the cross hairs points at the same target.

    Job done, both are aligned. If you move the scope so the crosshairs of your finderscope point to a new target, the main telescope will be pointed at the same thing.

    So for me, this is usually:

    • Find tree on horizon to use as my reference point.
    • Looking through scope, find that tree on the horizon.
    • Look through finder scope and adjust until crosshairs are on the horizon.

    Once this is done - that both the scope and finder show my tree - my finder and scope are aligned.

    Just to  (over) complicate matters, I'd also recommend getting something like a Telrad or Rigel Quickfinder as a second finder scope. Unlike the one with the scope, these do not magnify anything at all; rather they project little red rings onto a window that you look through. This has a similar alignment routine; I just do the same thing for it as the finder. They're really useful for the 'getting in the right area' bit of finding something. I tend to use Quickfinder to get me in roughly the right place, then the finder scope to get closer, and then swap to my lowest power eyepiece to get closer again.

    • Like 2

  8. If you're looking to drive out into the mountains, don't bother with anything electrical; it'll just cause frustration and tears. I'm a big fan of going stone-age for astronomy (unless imaging, obviously)

    A nice manual dobsonian scope would be hard to beat, and it means all your money is going into nice big optics. It might be worth checking the size - the base and tube are bulky, though I tend to pack around them. 

    Also, 200mm aperture will knock spots of a 90mm. Over twice the resolution, and 5 times the light gathering.

    Do leave some budget aside, if you can, for a guide book, and a collimation tool (for periodically aligning the mirrors).

    • Like 1

  9. I've just got my new scope and am finding it difficult to stay up until midnight every night before it gets dark. Even then light pollution means it's never really black.  I'm eager to get going but thinking it may be autumn before i can put some hours in. Do most amateur astronomers just take the summer months off?

    No way!

    It gets harder, later, and you don't get proper darkness, but it is so worth a trip out into the wild. Find somewhere with a low southern horizon, and trawl through the joys of Sagittarius. Honestly, that bit of the sky is fantastic, as there is so much going on. M7 and M6 in Scorpius which you should be able to get - just - on a clear night as they poke above the horizon - M22-25, M17-18, M28, M8, M20 - there is so much stuff going on in that patch of sky. 

    Yes, it's harder - but it rewards the effort:

    And that's excluding the globular clusters around the bottom of the tea-pot; on a clear night they're well worth the effort too,
    • Like 2

  10. Hi Tom,

    That's what I get with mine; the Cheshire and laser don't correspond exactly. I've said mine tends to be about 20mm off. I did find that any play in the system accounted for most of that difference; if I gently prod the side of the collimator, the difference drops to about 5mm.

    The good news is I've collimated with one, checked the view, and them collimated with the other, and checked the same view - and I couldn't see any difference. I'm sure it'd matter for photography, but visually, I'd simply not panic.

    I do trust the Cheshire more than the laser, though. 

    • Like 2

  11. I have tried the ptfe tape on the focuser but it just chews it up into a small ball, need to try again.

    I think you might need to lay the tape the other way over the threads - there is supposed to be a 'correct' way to do it, though I can't remember what it is.

    Personally, though, I used teflon based mountain bike hub lubricant. It seems to work well enough too (though not too much!)

  12. I'd go for the 10" dob. It'll knock spots off the 5" Nexstar. The jump between 5 and 10" was particularly pronounced (for me) on Globular clusters, which ceased being 'fuzzy' and now mostly resolve into sprays of stars - beautiful. I hadn't expected that change.

    There are a few other points to consider:

    • The Dob won't need electricity, which if you're heading somewhere remote can be a bit plus.
    • The Nexstar can track, the dob won't. However, you quickly get used to nudging ( and I find I often don't use that high a power magnification, so less nudging is needed)
    • The Nexstar is much smaller. The 10" dob is quite bulky. I'm a fairly average lad (5'11"), and still youngish and healthy, so it isn't a problem - but it might be worth considering.
    • If you're observing somewhere light polluted, the difference between the 2 scopes will be less. If there's no contrast between the sky and what you're looking at, no scope can fix that.

    Also, neither is particularly suited to astrophotography, though web cam imaging of the planets should be possible. That would be much easier with the tracking of the nexstar. For proper AP, though, you need to be looking at equatorial mounts - and they're quite different setups to visual.

    • Like 1

  13. Okay, I figure this should be easy, but when I try Googling I get endless articles about figuring out when Easter is, or the Chinese calendar, or various other religious reasons.

    I've a spreadsheet with all my observations in it. Each row has a date. I'd like to be able to resolve that date, roughly, to the day in the lunar month.

    e.g. 21/02/2015 > 7

    It's only rough, so I'm hoping things like it's elliptical orbit, etc., can be ignored.

    Has anyone come across a simple formula for something like that?

  14. I'd ask, "Why do people watch Britain's Got Talent?" Just because it's more popular doesn't make it less bonkers!

    Personally, I see it as a form of cosmic tourism. I'm just seeing what's out there. It's not science, for me; science is way beyond what my 10" dob can do. But while I'll never go to Jupiter, I can have a good look at it from home.

    Or put another way...

    "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." - Oscar Wilde

  15.  I can spend hours hunting the dark skies and unless it's huge and right in front of me (ie the moon!!), I just can't find a darn thing!!!

    I find for DSOs that the Moon often gets in the way. If the Moon is huge and in front of you, DSOs are tricky.

    (Some of the brighter ones can still be okay-ish, but I tend to hunt double stars, planets and open clusters, rather than galaxies and nebulae during the moon time of month.)

  16. So are planetary nebulae normally small and diffuse big?

    That's pretty much it, yes.

    ...though don't get confused by the Helix nebula. That thing is big! I was looking for something small and bright, like the Saturn, or even the Ring - but it was huge and much fainter. I was at WAY too much magnification to start with.

    I've had a couple of nice looks at NGC40 - the Bow Tie Nebula, just to throw that one in - but it was under dark skies. The Saturn and Eskimo nebulae are good ones.

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