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About benvz

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  1. benvz

    how many near hemel hempstead?

    Hi - just seen the thread. I live between Hemel and St Albans - was thinking about Jockey End/Gaddesden Row/Ashridge Park as potential dark sites. Any feedback on how dark it is over there? I'm not a member of any societies - only got my scope at Christmas and have been busy exploring the skies by myself, but would be good to meet up with a few other people and observe. Safety in numbers and all that.
  2. benvz

    UFO - Anyone know what it was?

    That could well be it. That or a piece of space junk, like Kropster suggested. It's the double flash that really intrigued me (along with the not knowing what caused it in the first place). Also surprised no-one else seems to have seen it - it wasn't exactly subtle.
  3. benvz

    UFO - Anyone know what it was?

    I looked at them too - FREEGAT/IRIS is unfortunately going the wrong way for what I saw. SL-16 R/B has the right track , but the timing's out by 3 or 4 minutes. Again, neither of them were predicted to go above mag 3. Toatlly confused
  4. benvz

    UFO - Anyone know what it was?

    Fair enough. I doubt you're the ony one guilty of that - I know I'm far from innocent. I thought it could be USA 234, but the track doesn't seem quite right, and a maximum magnitude of 3.6 is a lot fainter than what I saw, regardless of the fact it isn't likely to produce a flare (and certainy wasn't predicted to).
  5. benvz

    UFO - Anyone know what it was?

    Unfortunately going the wrong way. Also, nowhere near bright enough.
  6. benvz

    UFO - Anyone know what it was?

    That's what I figured - just wondering what it was that flared. As I said, can't find anything that was meant to produce a flare tonight.
  7. benvz

    UFO - Anyone know what it was?

    I meant to put this in: the observation was from near Hemel Hempstead at about 19:21.45 this evening.
  8. Can anyone help me? I've just seen a UFO in the sky, about halfway between beta and gamma cepheus, tracking towards gamma cassiopeia. I don't think it's aliens , but I have no idea what it was. It was a naked eye observation - the object was about mag 1, then flared up to about mag -6, then it faded slightly to about mag -2, then flared again to -6, all in the space of a few seconds. Each flare lasted about 2 seconds. I've checked several databases and tracking apps, but none of them predict any visible Iridium flares until thursday. It also didn't look like a meteor, it wasn't moving nearly fast enough. Anyone know what it was I just saw?
  9. benvz

    Hi from Hertfordshire

    Hi Rob. Welcome to SGL. Good luck with building the mount.
  10. benvz

    new member

    From one newbie/ex-lurker to another: hello and welcome to SGL. Never mind about the clouds you've brought down on yourself - it gives everyone else someone to blame
  11. Thanks. Unfortunately, I was only there visiting friends for a couple of days round new year . You get odd looks when you turn up with a telescope to people's houses, it's like you're doing something weird. The skies were really dark there though - they live just outside of Aberdeen and it was glorious. Mind you, driving up the east coast of Scotland at night to get to theirs, I wanted to stop and unpack the scope - had I been on my own I may well have done - Orion's belt was nearly as bright as Sirius looks from my house.
  12. I've been out most clear nights since I got the scope - which all told isn't that many (maybe 15?), but have booked jupiter and saturn, a few clusters, galaxies and nebulae - just need to get better at doing the final locating on an object.
  13. benvz

    New punter down south

    Well, it can be a little rough sometimes
  14. It was Christmas Day, and like an excited kid, I pulled open the box and unwrapped (from the bubble wrap) the various bits of my telescope and put them together - I'd bought my SkyWatcher 130p650 Autotrak a couple of weeks before as a present to myself, so the anticipation had been building for a while. This was the first time I'd be able to actually use it to look at the sky, having got steadily more and more frustrated by the two weeks of completely overcast skies that had been summoned by the act of my purchasing the scope. I'd put the telescope together, found an adapter to deliver 12V mains to it and tested it. Nothing. I tried a different plug socket. Still nothing. I found 8AA batteries and tried them. Still nothing. By now, the panic was starting to set in - I'd bought the scope second hand, and having checked the mirrors and eyepieces for cracks and scratches, was pretty confident that everything was ok. But I hadn't checked the electronics. I decide to take the mount, which houses the motors, apart to see if there was anything obvious wrong, like a loose connection. Nothing. All the connections were secure, there were no snapped wires, and the motors could be turned by hand. But thankfully there were no blackened patches which would indicate a short. I felt almost defeated, until I saw it - a wire, which had been placed where part of the mount casing clipped back in. It had been slightly damaged by the casing pushing on it. Relief. Replacing it was going to be slightly tricky, but thankfully, just moving it slightly so it wasn't trapped by the casing anymore solved the problem. Finally, after many recriminations and curses on those who cause wiring faults, I was ready. I took the telescope outside and hooked it up. It was a bit cloudy, but not too bad. I looked up and selected a suitably tricky target - an almost full moon. I'd read plenty about managing expectations and so wasn't expecting to see the flag left by the Apollo missions or anything like that. What I did see, however, was stunning. I started off at x26, and this was enough to keep me captivated for a good twenty minutes just looking at the bigger structures and the different shades in the craters and seas. When I finally decided to up the power to 65x, and then 130x, I almost had to sit down. The amount of detail I was able to pick out - with vague detail on the mountain ridges, the different type of impact spots within the big craters, the detail on the surface of the seas - was way beyond what I thought I'd be able to see. Apparently setting your sights low is a good way to start out, but even if I'd been expecting it, I still would've been amazed. I was definitely hooked, and this was just the moon - I had an entire universe still to go. This in mind, I moved the scope over to Jupiter. "I'm an old hand now" I thought, it'll be simple to find Jupiter using my current eyepiece (10mm + 2X Barlow) and it'll already be at maximum mag, so there'll be no need to faff around changing eyepieces. How wrong was I. After five frustrating minutes, I relented and changed back down to my 25mm EP and found Jupiter within a matter of seconds. Lesson learned - don't be so smug, you're still a complete novice. If I thought the moon was impressive, then seeing another planet - especially one 400 million miles away - was out of this world (sorry, couldn't resist). Even at this low mag, I could clearly see the planet and all four of its moons around it. Changing up to the 10mm, and then adding the Barlow, brought more and more detail - 2 dark cloud bands appearing and then lighter cloud bands showing up as well. Another twenty minutes was spent trying to eke out as much detail as possible, with the odd look at the moons to see if anything more than bright dots could be seen. I tried in vain to see the GRS (apparently visible when I was looking), but couldn't see it - a sight that still eludes me two months on. After the cloud moved in and covered both of my visual conquests, I decided to look around the sky and see what else there was to fascinate me, but Orion was also hidden and the nebula would have to wait until the end of the month, when darker Scottish skies would make it an easy spot - seemingly having friends living in the middle of nowhere has its uses. This led to me driving the telescope around to look at what were seemingly empty patches of 'dark' sky - infact these turned out to be filled with a rich tapestry of light - thousands of small stars glinted out at me, so bright I wondered how I'd missed them in the first place. After a few minutes, the sky returned to that familiar state of being almost totally opaque and I decided to call it a night, but with a firm resolve to spend as much time as I could looking out at the stars.
  15. Having just joined the site (but been following it for the last couple of months), I think the friendliness and welcoming nature of the members is fantastic. The layout of the site is helpful and fairly intuitive and this makes it (relatively) easy to find any information that you're looking for. I would also echo Ian's comment of: But I realise that this is something that would take a lot of time.

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