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Posts posted by AndyWB

  1. I had a chat with Moonshane at SGL9 about this; I was determined to collimate my scope within an inch of it's life.

    He said essentially that for visual, it doesn't have to be spot on. You won't notice the difference between perfect and good. He then went on to make some fairly significant adjustments (I wasn't being brave enough with the secondary) to my dob.

    Despite some big adjustments, it made no difference at the eyepiece.

    I have since experimented - decollimating the primary a bit to see if I could spot much difference. I couldn't. Maybe I wasn't brave enough to thoroughly decollimate my scope enough to make a difference.

    That said, all that's for visual use - imaging does take collimation to another level, I believe.

  2. I use my Lunt 35 on an AZ4 - no need for slow motion controls. It is a nice stable mount though. I'd rather over-mount than use a camera tripod...

    I also use an Lunt Zoom eyepiece, and as has been mentioned, find that the sweet spot is about 12mm. 

    I did try some of my 'night' eyepieces too. I found some were very fiddly with regard to eye position, and my 6 and 8 mm were too high power. A 35mm wide field - isn't that going to suffer problems with the field stop? 

    During the eclipse I got plenty of 'wows' from bystanders, so I'm surprised you're so unimpressed. I'm wondering what other problems there might be. I take it you're tuning the filter when you use it, too?

  3. With my Skyliner 250px, my most used eyepiece is my lowest power. I tend to use the Maxvision 28mm or an Vixen NPL 30mm. If you can get one, the Maxvision is much better - though the Vixen NPL is much cheaper. Plasticky too, but works well.

    At the other end, I use a Vixen SLV 6mm as my standard planetary eyepiece. It isn't the widest field of view, but it is crisp, and gives x200. I find my 5mm BST too much - it all gets a bit soft. I'd say 6-8mm should be as short as you go.

    In between, I reckon a 12 or 15mm BST would be good.

    All that said, the 6mm Vixen SLV and the 28mm Maxvision are my most expensive eyepieces. An 8mm BST would be a fair bit cheaper, and you could think of something shorter later. (But seriously, a good low power eyepiece is great!)

  4. It took me ages with my 10" to see that third galaxy in the Leo Triplet - but when I did it was (finally) under clear, dark skies. I found myself thinking "how did I miss it?" Answers - light pollution, cloud, and the Moon.

    Keep trying, it's definitely possible.

  5. Yes - though I've only seen it faintly. I guess it's lower over here, though? I do find that an OIII filter helps.

    The Sagittarius Star Cloud is huge too! And if it's nice and dark, it's naked eye visible! It's a bright cloud lying on the milky way.

    The problem is that the magnitude numbers are about the total light from something, so extended objects have a lower surface brightness for the same magnitude. However, Open clusters and the star cloud are a bunch of points of light, and each of those is relatively bright, and, therefore, easy to see.

  6. My "local" preferred dark site is, I suspect, starting to get too busy for me with people on strange night-time endeavours. Police apparently having a bit of fun in their 4x4 on a dirt road - fair enough. Endurance athletes - that's pretty cool. 3 youths in a 4x4 going 'off-roading at night' that were in order non-plussed, amazed and confused by comet Lovejoy was pretty cool. Apparently night time is the time to 'off-road' as there are few pedestrians to mow down (as long as the athletes aren't out).

    However, the two vehicles with people in flagrante is starting to get a bit much. I do notice none of them bothered in the middle of winter when ice was forming on everything.

  7. Actually, I think summer is my favourite time of the year. Okay, so it doesn't get 'properly' dark - but it still looks much so to my eyes. And yes, it does mean starting observing near midnight. But it does have a couple of good points:

    1) It's not freezing

    2) Sagittarius comes over the horizon, with all the goodies down there:

    Honestly, it's my favourite bit of sky, and it's well worth getting to bed at 3am to have a bit of darkness with this area of sky.
    Plus Cygnus is nice and high, and that's a lovely constellation. Two words - Veil Nebula.
    So yes, summer is a bit more effort, but it's well worth it. Further north I get why you might stop for summer, but in Devon you'll be fine - just up late!
    • Like 4

  8. Yeah, it is a personal preference thing, and yes, I tend not to push the magnification that high, so tracking it's such a thing.

    I did spend quite some time looking at secondary heaters and things, but to be honest, unless you're going for a really big scope, there's not much that fits, while small hair dryers are pretty cheap...

    For the hairdryer I have to run mine from my running car. I'm not sure that a Tracer battery can supply the current (I'm no sure what their maximum current is - worth checking)

  9. In the two months I've spent with my telescope, I have been rather disappointed at everything bar observing the moon and jupiter. (those, especially the moon, looked pretty impressive!)

    I have no idea if my expectations are still too optimistic, if my sky is just too bright or if my scope is just too small.


        ~a slightly depressed and distressed pip

    Hang in there Pip,

    So, I made the mistake of assuming that M1 would be easy to see. It's first on the list, right? Wrong - it was a right pain to find. I actually had to spot it in my 250px before I found it in my 130p, and that was from a dark site on a good night. I've not seen M51 with my 130p at all.

    If you've not gone somewhere really dark, it's worth it. Acey is right - you want to be able to see the Milky Way from horizon to horizon. Then, I'd add, make sure you keep the lights off - or at least your observing eye closed/covered - for a half hour or more, so that you properly adapt to the dark. You want to be able to see by starlight. Then try M42 again.

    The first time Iooked at M42 was from my parent's garden, which is darker than near where I live, and it was unimpressive in my 130p. However, the same scope, from somewhere as dark as Acey says - it blew my mind. Yes, it was still just grey, but there was so much more shape.

    If you're under light pollution, I find that planets, open clusters and double stars work through the light pollution. 

  10. For what it's worth, I think that it's hard to beat an 8" or 10" dob. However, I wouldn't bother with GOTO unless I were doing astrophotography with an Equatorial mount. I don't like the idea of needing electrickery in the middle of nowhere, and at start parties I've heard plenty of wails as power tanks ran dry, or scopes slewed and unplugged themselves. To me, the manual simplicity of a normal dobsonian is a think of wonder.

    My 10" fits across the back seat of my car (just!). If thinking of a 12", a flex tube would be a good idea if transporting around.

    +1 for the hairdryer idea. I've got a wee one that you can plug into the car. I've only had to use it a few times, though; I don't find that the secondary dews up that much on my solid tube. The flex tube might be worse, though.

    • Like 1

  11. Tonight I went out again and I actually found Jupiter! It was a great moment for me as I actually saw the moons around it as well as very faintly, lines going across the planet (the pattern). I feel like I need some new eyepeices as I couldn't quite see it in enough detail. ...

    Okay, I'm going to advise "Don't rush". Seeing conditions can be quite variable - take a little time, and try again over the next few months, perhaps get up early and look at Saturn - but learn to distinguish between bad nights, good nights, and great nights.

    "Seeing", to astronomers, is the stability of the air in the atmosphere. On a really stable night (not necessarily the clearest!) is when you'll get your best views of planets. My best views of Jupiter have been through a faintly hazy sky - but under really stable skies. If the stars are twinkling lots, though, the air is unstable - and planetary viewing is harder. I've found that sometimes when the jet stream is overhead you can't get any worthwhile view.

    Also, I find that lower magnification can be better for seeing detail. Sometimes less is more. A common mistake is to try too high a magnification, and then you just get a fuzzy mess.

    Personally, I think a 5mm might be a bit pushy, and would be inclined to go for a 6-7mm, but like I say, I prefer small but sharp images.

    Oh, and do check out the Moon first too.

  12. Emad is one of the guys on the forum. I guess he must have a few lights near by.

    Yes, a 130mm scope can get DSOs under light pollution - but mainly the brighter ones, and they're not a patch on what you'll see somewhere darker.

    What I'd suggest are:

    • Open clusters seem to cut through light pollution a bit better, so they're a good bet.
    • Consider a filter for emission nebulae. I got a Baader UHC-S and it definitely helps. There are other filters, though, which might be more aggressive.
    • Galaxies are tricky - they really do seem to need somewhere dark. The brightest should be available, though - M31, M81 & M82, M104 etc..

    If you do get the chance to take it somewhere darker, though, take the opportunity. My 5" scope somewhere dark beats my 10" scope at home.

    • Like 2

  13. Ha, yes, I realised this last night when I was getting something in the perfect field of view only to then call somebody else to have a look at it and they said they couldn't see it. I thought they (and I) were going mad!!

    Yeah, I find I have to 'lead the target' - point the scope at where the thing will be in a moment, and then get my friend to come and look. By the time they're sorted out, it's in the right place.

    Normally, it's only a problem with things like planets - so at higher magnifications.

  14. I also read that colour blindness only effects males. 

    Colour blindness usually only affects men as the genes for colour vision are on the X chromosome; therefore, defects in it are expressed as men only have one copy. Women have 2 X chromosomes, and so both versions of the gene need to be faulty on both copies for colour blindness to occur. It is possible for a women to suffer colour blindness, but it is very rare.

    I wouldn't be surprised if some people have additional types of cone and, therefore, more colours they can perceive. Plenty of animals have more types - the most I know of is the mantis shrimp, with 16 different types.

    • Like 1

  15. I live in Reading, and with my 5" scope the Andromeda Galaxy is this small, fuzzy blob. Take it somewhere dark - like 25 miles out of town into the sticks - wait an hour in the dark, and then it'll fill the widest field eyepiece I have from side to side!

    For some objects, you can overcome light pollution to a degree with filters. I have had some pretty good views of the Orion Nebula with a UHC filter on particularly clear nights. However, it'll still be better somewhere dark, and things like galaxies can't really be improved by filters. 

    My rule of thumb is that if I can see the Milky Way close to the horizon it's a good sky. The Andomeda Galaxy - or the core of it, anyway - is visible naked eye. Other good ones to look for are the Double Cluster in Perseus, and M44. I've yet to see M42 naked eye.

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