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Posts posted by AndyWB

  1. So, I have some sachets of that colour-change desiccant. They've changed colour. I'd heard that these could be dried out and reused, but a bit of Googling leaves some questions...

    • I've read that they can be dried in an oven, but at what temperature? I'm figuring a smidge over 100 C? Is that right?
    • The beads themselves come in a plastic packet - should they be removed from this first? Obviously, it's a different material, but I'm not sure how hot it would survive - and I'm guessing it'd get in the way of evaporation anyway?

    Has anyone tried this? Anyone got a recipe?

    (Faintly worried about causing some terrible chemical reaction. Can't quite see how - the silica should survive okay, but I'm not sure about the colourant)

  2. I reckon my down jacket is my best bit of astronomy kit.

    Scarp15 is right though - I miss a down hood. I'd also try for a waterproof outer - down loses it's insulation properties when it gets wet. And a good robust zip is a must - my current jacket is slowly failing as the zip goes. It's annoying - the jacket itself is okay, but zip replacement is expensive.

  3. Forgot to mention, but NGC 2301 is a fabulous cluster in Monoceros, especially without the Moon up. Have a shot of this "Hagrid's Dragon", lovely sparkling chains,


    I like it 'cos it looks like a dragon (to me, anyway), and 'cos there's something funny about an open cluster named after a character from a story where an entire family were named after stars. I do wonder if J.K. Rowling knows?

    • Like 1

  4. I think Acey was just using the chance to compose a little ditty he found humourous; I don't think he meant anything by it. I think we've all been there with stuff on a new mirror. Unfortunately, tone does not come across in text.

    It's a fair question, no, a hair won't bother it. I saw a video about one of the UT Telescopes at the European Southern Observatory being prepared for the night ahead - and its mirror was filthy, far worse than a hair! If ESO aren't that worried, I guess I shouldn't be.

    More recently, another comment I'd read here was along the lines of 'How big is the speck of dust, and how big is your secondary mirror? You don't notice the secondary mirror...' which I must confess was a bit mind blowing to me - but I saw his point. If you don't see the whacking great mirror, the dust would need to be really bad.

    So the short of it is, don't panic about it. We've all been there, but it doesn't seem to matter as much as we all worry about our optics. I know I was a bit bothered when something left a little black spot on the mirror - but the scope works just as well now. I reckon my cleaning it would be riskier than just leaving it be.

  5. I'd advise a Cheshire collimator over a laser collimator. It can do things like help position the secondary, and using at night just needs a small torch.

    Uplooker's advice is good - the 10" is pretty big, it's worth having a look at.

    Otherwise, about the eyepieces - they'll work okay, but there are better. I'd try them and see at first, then consider what you want to do.

  6. Regarding banning Fireworks - well, we could control them a bit more. They do in Northern Ireland, though it's not clear if that's 'cos it's a nice earner (selling the licences) or a sensible attitude towards sales of explosives in Northern Ireland.

  7. Make no mistake, if it comes to a decision by the relevant authorities - should we preserve our dark skies or should we make more money? Money will ALWAYS be the winner. 

    That's not always the case in other examples of environmental development; it just requires that people demand that something be preserved. For example, we don't let companies just dump waste into the rivers (anymore) because people demanded clean rivers and beaches. Unfortunately, most people think more light is a good thing.

    I'm reminded of a marine biologist I heard talking in Cairns once. Someone asked him "As an environmentalist, how do you justify doing these presentations for tourists who'll go out and go diving on the reef, and end up damaging it?" His response was "Yeah, some of these dive sites do get damaged, and yes, it takes those bits of the reef a long time to recover. However, the reef is big, really big, and it's because of the people going to those dive sites that the whole reef gets protected."

    Maybe Kielder will become less pristine, I dunno. But maybe it'll make people think about their lighting needs, and the night sky, when they otherwise wouldn't have. Maybe it'll make them think that more light isn't always a good thing.

    EDIT: And as a random aside, I found a leaflet at a local council (one of our customers) about River and Light Pollution. It seemed an odd combination to me - but I was interested that they were even thinking about light pollution.

    • Like 1

  8. It can be a bit conditions dependent; I have driven there sometimes to feel a bit disappointed. In August (on the 20 somethingth), it wasn't as dark as I've seen it, but I was able to get good views of a lot of nebulae nonetheless (thanks, filter). The Helix, Saturn, and Gamma Cygni Nebula (a surprise!) were high-points. I didn't manage the Crescent, though; that had to wait for a trip to the Brecons with a crystal clear night.

    However, at a similar time last year it was so clear I couldn't navigate; too many stars, and I'd been without light for hours, so my eyes must've been like a bushbaby's. The Veil was awesome in my 130p that time (though no Pickering's Wisp was visible).

  9. On the Veil Nebula, if you don't already have one, budget for a good O-III filter. Pickerings Wisp is very nicely seen in my 12" dob with an O-III and even my little 4" refractor shows more than a hint of it.

    I was going to make that point too - I've seen Pickering's Wisp and the two knots near it fairly well in my 10" with an Astronomik OIII filter (bought in no small part due to John's recommendation!) I'm sure a bigger scope would offer more - but I was seeing more than a hint. This would've been in July this year, and from a dark site in West Berks (I think we've messaged about it!)

    Hellish expensive, that filter; it was a fair proportion of the scope itself. Really glad I got it, though - so good for wandering through Cygnus.

  10. Not much to add, other than I wouldn't discount the Heritage 130p as an option too. It looks like a toy, but it's a good, compact, 5" reflector, and close(ish) to budget. Some use it on a table, some on an low stool or upturned bucket - I just plonk it on the floor and sit next to it on a camping chair.

    However, with a reflector, you'll probably want a collimation tool too - I recommend a Cheshire collimator - but you might want to budget for that too. Eyepieces and stuff can wait.

  11. Hi, 

    I got my first telescope (heritage skywatcher 130p) for christmas in 2012. From 2012 - 2013 I used the scope pretty regularly, although not as often as I should have. However, I still feel that I'm really bad at using it or something as I still cant see that many things. I look at the moon through it all the time (using the 10mm and 25mm lenses that came with the scope) and really enjoy how powerful the telescope seems to be for that. Previously Ive managed to see a double star and even jupiter, making out (vaguely) the stripe. However, through just looking through the forum etc its clear that with this telescope and same lenses, that nebulae and certain galaxies can be recognised. Am I doing something wrong? Any tips?



    I love my wee Heritage 130p, and I managed a fair chunk of the Messier catalogue with it before upgrading. Yes, bigger scopes will show more, but there are plenty of good things that the 130p can see.

    Right, regarding finders - yes, that's one of the weak points of this scope. It comes with a red dot finder (so a red dot is projected onto a little plastic screen, rather than a laser which is usually green, and projected onto the sky/passing aircraft/inquisitive policemen), and it can get a bit fiddly aligning that with the center of the field of view. 

    Assuming you have the usual finder, during the day time, taking care to avoid the Sun (or even better, at dusk) stick in a low power eyepiece. Point the scope at something on the far away or on the horizon (I use a windmill), and center it in the eyepiece. Turn on the red dot finder (the rotating knob on the right with the click when it starts turning) Now use the knobs on the right-rear and bottom of the finder to align the dot on the same far away thing. Check both still point at the same thing (it's easy to move the scope). Job done.

    You may find you have to unscrew and move the Red Dot Finder about on the plastic bracket it attaches to - one of my friends had to do this to get his finder to align. Don't consider a RACI - they're too big for the Heritage 130p, and there's nowhere sensible to fit one.

    I actually find that my 130p rarely needs collimating - I think it's due to the small mirror - but it doesn't hurt to check.

    The biggest difference you can make to the Heritage 130p is to go somewhere properly dark - like 'if you can't see the Milky way, it isn't dark enough' dark - and then keep all lights off while you get dark adapted. Then a lot more things will pop out at you, and things like the Andromeda Galaxy will fill the eyepiece from side to side.

    • Like 1

  12. It had 4 stars close together with a grey smeer/smudge surrounding it - could be cloud? lol.  The moon is bright and there are street lamps nearby... 

    Using a 12" Dob with 14mm and then a 6.7mm - looked amazing, even though it was just a smeer (no filters etc - don't have those yet! :()

    In fact, with a 12" scope, you should be able to resolve at least 6 stars in the trapezium - though E and F are harder to spot due to their proximity to the brighter A and C stars. http://www.samirkharusi.net/trapezium.html  Moonshane gave me a tip on here to try a little less magnification, and at x150 they popped out in my 10" (I'd been trying x240).

    And a smeer sounds right under moon/light pollution. Try again from somewhere dark on a moonless night - you won't believe the difference! I was disappointed with M42 at first, but it was due to local conditions; to me, open clusters seemed far better that night. I tried again somewhere darker, and it was totally the other way round.

  13. That's interesting - I've most of the BSTs. I use them in my f4.7 10" dob, and I find that they're all okay - except the 8mm, which if I'm honest does feel a bit less sharp.

    The 5mm is often not very sharp - but at x240 that's not surprising, and on a good night, well, it's pretty good!

    I do notice that the 5mm has a different housing - so I presume a different lens arrangement. I think the 12 and 15 mm are the pick of the bunch though. The 18mm, if I'm honest, doesn't get used that much, and again, feels a little less sharp. 

    If I was going to replace one, it'd be the 8mm.

  14. When I started doing this, I was very, very tempted by computerised scopes. Luckily I found a forum with some advice that set me straight (along with a thought blog post or two). Now I know much is about personal preference, but for me, I can't see the point of a computerised scope unless you're planning on imaging.

    My first star party convinced me of this. At the start of the evening, there were a few people scratching their heads and wondering where Polaris was. Then there were the cries of "Why won't it align?". Then a period of quiet which was then punctuated by "No! the scope slewed and unplugged itself!" or "No! The battery is flat!", and one memorable "Right, that's it, I'm soldering the dam thing on!". And all that time, I was observing with my mini-dob. Plonk it down, look through it. Set up time - 30 seconds. 

    Actually, the best bit was when someone pointed out that Venus and Saturn were visible, but between two trees. I was sat next to chap who'd lovingly aligned his scope for imaging. I just picked up my scope and moved it to where I could see the planets - and he looked like I'd just committed some offensive act! (And he then looked thoughtful...)

    Alt-Az Manual scopes for visual for me. No alignment, no power, no computer, no problem! I mean, when do computers ever work properly anyway? 

    • Like 6

  15. Nope, a rigel wouldn't fit, unless you're going to fit it to the top of the 'tube' bit. One might fit there okay, but it does mean it's, well, in the middle of the scope. Bit weird, but I can't see why that wouldn't work. Doesn't solve the problem - no visible stars - though.

    Finders - I have seen a Skywatcher RACI fitted to one - I think Naemeth might have done this - but it looked unbalanced, and unwieldy. I think you'll struggle a bit to get one to fit.

    You must be really brightly lit up, though. I use my 130p in the middle of Reading, and the LP is bad; it really is 'brightest stars only'. It's worth considering, what's your lowest power? The fairly short focal length of the Heritage 130p gives it a wide field of view. I quite often use the RDF to point at an apparently blank patch of sky, and then use the 2 degree field I see with a 30mm eyepiece to hunt down something recognisable to hop from.

    • Like 1
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