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Everything posted by dick_dangerous

  1. Thanks again for all the comments - I'm just using my D5500 DSLR and for most of these a very old, quite slow, Sigma 18 - 200mm lens. I took some other wide-field shots too, but I haven't got round to doing anything with them yet. All the processing was done using Lightroom and Photoshop - I have a Creative Cloud account so I like to get my money's worth! I'm hoping to get a copy of "Making Every Photon Count" soon which I believe in its latest edition covers Star Adventurers and other tracking mounts. I suppose eventually I'll end up with all the expensive equipment too, I just need to save up for it! My next purchase will be a much better telephoto lens, which I'll also be able to use for photographing wildlife. Cheers, Paul
  2. As promised, some more fruits of my labours. I'm really quite pleased with these as first attempts - I have quite a lot of other RAW photos to get through so more might be forthcoming but please enjoy and any tips welcomed! We have images of M31 (with M32 and M110); The Orion Nebula and the Flame and Horsehead; The Pleiades with nebulosity present and what was my favourite to image and create - the Rosette Nebula. Quite a large amount of credit has to go to the dark skies of La Palma! Paul
  3. Thanks for the comments everyone! I've been working on a few more and I have been very pleased with the results - I have photos of the Flame and the Horsehead nebulae (Not great but definitely there) and even managed to get some pictures of the Rosette. I can post all up in the fullness of time. Can't wait to get out there again and improve my technique so thanks for the tips - sadly it'll be about another year until I can next get out under those dark Palmeran skies! The ST80 was out there with me - I think the highlight using it was finding the Cocoon Nebula. You have to love those dark, dark skies! Paul
  4. Hi All, I always said that I was an astro-purist and only did observing. Astrophotography was for other people! Then I got a Star Adventurer... Last week I was in La Palma so I took the mount along and had a play. My polar alignment was rough, but I had a go at imaging a few objects and areas. I present my first ever attempt at imaging and then stacking the images in Photoshop - ladies and gentlemen, the North America Nebula. All thoughts gratefully appreciated - I think this was before I'd worked out how to focus manually in the dark effectively! I currently need to learn to polar align properly and I need to work on the processing but I was quite pleased with what I got! Cheers, Paul
  5. Thanks - I didn't notice any vibrations while I was taking it, but I can see that little kink in the middle of the trail! Practise makes perfect I suppose and I could try processing again and trying to correct it. The full layered tiff would probably kill my computer so I had to merge the layers as I went along. Paul
  6. Hi All, I've recently started to make star trail photos and have started a subscription to Lightroom and Photoshop. Here's my first attempt at a star trail taken last May at Birsay in Orkney of the stars to the north over the Bishop's Palace. I was only able to process the RAW files quite recently, but thought I'd share to see what people think! Cheers, Paul
  7. Hi All, It's been a long time since I've used SGL, but it's good to be back! I'm just beginning to dip my toes into the vast and terrifying world of imaging. So far I've been concentrating on fairly simple long exposure photography of the Milky Way and making some star trails (Will post some of those up at the moment) but I've set my sights on other targets of interest and want to explore the possibility of taking photos of bright objects just using the telescope and my DLSR - what I understand as basically being digiscoping. I have a Nikon DSLR (D5500) and several telescopes, all alt-az mounted. What adaptors and bits do I need to take pictures through the 'scope of stuff like the moon and the bright planets? And is this feasible? I know it's common practise for birders who can't shell out thousands for the big, fast, long lenses, but I'm not sure how easy it would be with astronomical objects. Any help greatly appreciated! Cheers, Paul
  8. John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, is buried at the church at Burstow in the shadow of Gatwick Airport, where he was Rector until his death. Burstow that is, not the airport... The Royal Observatory at Greenwich, rather obviously. And for observing, Kielder and Exmoor National Park are also renowned for their dark skies. On a similar theme, how about Maeshowe? Paul
  9. I have an ST80 which fits in my hand luggage for flights, with a camera tripod to mount it on. Taking it to Northern Spain I was able to view the Veil, North America Nebula, Helix Nebula, M33 and M74, all of which are invisible in my Dob from home. I've recently invested in a 5'' reflector to put in the car for observing but, in true form, when I opened the box I let a load of clouds out, so I still haven't given it a test run. It is certainly a compact set-up though - an f5 Explorer 130PS with an AZ5 mount. Paul
  10. Cheers all - the forecast at the moment looks like I won't get a chance to use it tonight, but hope springs eternal! It did indeed - in several boxes within the one box. It all folds up quite neatly too which will help when carting it to far-flung places or even just if it's in the back of the car while we're doing something else for the day. Yeah... he won't go in the lovely cat bed we bought him, but provide him with a box and he's as happy as Larry. You should have seen the evils I got when I removed the box though... Paul
  11. Hi All, It arrived! Many thanks, once again, to FLO for their usual superheroic turn-around on the telescope delivery. Of course I couldn't wait to get the box open and get it set-up; this took about 20 minutes and no problem whatsoever. I've not had much experience with RDFs before, but even this is now adjusted and ready (Although I'll keep one of my finderscopes handy in case). The AZ5 seems sturdy and simple to use - light-weight too and should pack up nice and small for transporting and holidays, which was the whole logic behind going for this slightly smaller system. And the possibilities of mounting future scopes on it are endless - expect a Skymax 127 on there in a few years time when the planets get a bit higher. And someone was happy about the nice big box it came in. Although Professor Moriarty prefers observing the dynamics of an asteroid through a CAT-adioptric... Snarf snarf. First light report to follow when the skies clear (Typically they were perfect last night). Cheers, Paul
  12. In the end I went for the Explorer 130PS on the AZ5 - my thinking was that I'd be able to buy a the 127 Mak to complement it in the future, plus it'll all still fit in the car boot which was the clincher. Looking forward to test-driving my new toy! Ta muchly for all the help, Paul
  13. Hmm... interesting, especially considering that your car is essentially the same as mine! And thanks for the pictures - very helpful. I was originally considering getting a Fiat 500 like all the cool kids but the boot wouldn't fit my Dob base so we went for the Up! instead. The Heritage has often tempted me but my reservation has always been the fact that it's so low down (that and the helical focusser). How do you practically use yours without getting sore knees or sitting on something? I think a 130P reflector is going to be the way to go on this one... Paul
  14. Yeah, my car is really, really small! Although thinking back to my Mum's old Fiesta that I was on the insurance for, it's probably about the same size. Car's have got bigger in recent years! My ST80 is small but get it somewhere dark and it punches far above its weight - on a trip to Asturias I got better views with it of things like the Veil and the NA Nebula than I ever have with the 150P. And it's the 'scope I used for the one and only time I saw M74 and the Helix Nebula. Aperture isn't king - dark skies are! Having said that, 150mm of aperture will beat 80mm of aperture under the same skies, so it's more a case of courses for horses. One day I hope to buy a really nice but very small Apo as my telescope for taking on flights, I just have to save up quite a lot of cash first! Paul
  15. This was my big fear with the ST120 - and it would cost a lot more than my budget to get an AZ5 to go with it. Cheers Stu - that's a good suggestion! I didn't realise they did that package, but that's a bit of a winner! I'm always considering the Heritage as a grab 'n' go, but then change my mind because of the height problem - this could be an ideal solution! Paul
  16. The base-plate for a larger telescope wouldn't actually fit in the car. Even the 150P tends to dominate the back-end somewhat! A 10'' Dob is at the limit of what I could physically lift too, but that's by-the-by because at the moment I'm looking for something compact and Dobs are anything but that! Paul
  17. Hi All, I've only sporadically been on the forum over the last year or two, which has matched my observing pattern, but I'm in the market for a new telescope! My requirements are quite simple - Im looking for a decent grab 'n' go set-up to stick in the back of the car, for £300 or under. I have a 6'' Dobsonian, which is great, but if I go on holiday / away for the weekend, it has a habit of taking up most of the space in my tiny little car (A VW Up!). I also have slight security worries if it's in there and I'm on the way to Cornwall, or Scotland, or some other lovely part of the world and it's sat, very obviously on display on the back seat. Most opportunist criminals are unlikely to stop breaking into my car because it's only a 6'' 'scope. I'm considering getting another refractor as my preferred grab 'n' go option, and a friend suggested getting a larger Startravel than my current piddly 80mm one which comes on planes with me. On FLO they have the ST120 on an AZ3 mount for £279 and this sounds brilliant - not much less aperture than my Dob but with the bonus that it would be far easier to get to a dark location and therefore outperform the Dob that's confined to the immediate surroundings of London. The only problem is that I'm given to understand that the AZ3 is a bit wobbly, and the ST120 is very much at the upper limit of what it can carry. I then noticed that they have a package of the ST102 on the new AZ5 for about £330 which looks like a pretty good deal to me; there would be less CA (Not really bothered about that) but a reduction in aperture. I don't really want to go beyond that in terms of money, so I'm sticking with the achromats. So my options are to purchase either: An ST120 on AZ3 and it be a bit wobbly (I could upgrade the mount at some point in the future) An ST102 on AZ5 and bust my budget ever so slightly Another option - I like reflectors too, it just needs to be a compact package and with a fairly wide-field. All help / opinions greatly appreciated! Paul
  18. I had a choice last night - on the one hand driving out to look for a possible aurora with cloud and rain forecast and a waning gibbous moon. Or a nice bottle of refreshing cider. On balance, I went for the cider! Paul
  19. An ideal telescope for a child is one that: They can carry outside without assistance Will show them a decent enough view that they can get "Bang for Buck" Is intuitive to use Has a wide-field of view That last one is really important because the thing children find hardest is the restricted field of view seen through binoculars and telescopes. It does depend on the age of the child and how much experience they've had with optics (I picked up binoculars when I was 4). My first telescope was a Tal that was made of solid iron and was so heavy I couldn't move it outside. It was also on a bomb-proof EQ mount and had wonderful optics, but the finderscope system was awful. All the same, I loved that telescope and wish that the stand hadn't been broken - not that I'd be able to lift the wretched thing even now! The following options would be ideal for a child/teenager: Table-top dobsonian reflector - easy to carry around, intuitive to use and wide-field. The Heritage 130P is going to give the best views and at approx. 6kg manageable for a teen Widefield refractor on an AZ mount - bit heavy if we're honest, but I love my ST80. Plus, they look like telescopes to young minds! A teenager could lug one around quite easily. I craved a 6'' Dob as a teen, but realistically Dobs are fairly heavy and awkward to move about, even in two parts, for a child or even a teenager. 16+ and you might be talking, but if it might be a passing fad I think you can't go far wrong with something like the Heritage 130P. Paul
  20. M7 from the UK is a pain, and definitely one to "tick off" as it were, along with M6 and M83. All these objects are presumably glorious from further south (e.g. Spain) but I'm yet to observe them from there. For the Scorpius open clusters, you're basically restricted to observing them at about 12.30am late-June/July with a really clear southern horizon and very transparent skies. They're not that impressive from our latitude so the thrill is definitely in the chase! Paul
  21. Great report - I hope I can get along on the next one; while you were enjoying the dark skies of the South Downs, I was taking a group of excited children around the Wetland Centre in search of bats. There were tonnes of them but quite a lot of clouds too! The site that Peter and I visited on Tuesday was a good step up from London, but it's down a slightly terrifying track with limited space, so I'd be keen to get down to Bignor for a spot of observing. Paul
  22. The Veil is one that needs very dark skies - I've seen it pretty clearly through my little refractor from an ultra-dark site in Northern Spain. I struggle in the vicinity of London with my 6'' Dob! Paul
  23. I hear you about it being below freezing, although not being able to feel your feet is a sign of a good session! Invest in thick socks... If you want an easy target, Venus is looking pretty good at the moment in the south-west of the sky. I also saw a lovely thin crescent moon this evening. Andromeda is best viewed with a widefield instrument somewhere very, very dark - it's always a big disappointment from London. If you're still getting used to lining up the telescope then I'd suggest something nice and bright like the Double Cluster in Perseus. Never disappoints! Paul
  24. Well hi there Everyone! I've been on a bit of an extended astronomical hiatus - the weather was terrible, then work took over, then it was summer and it wasn't getting dark. I did get a few sessions in to observe Mars at opposition, wobbling away near the horizon (Mars, not me)... But August is now ticking over nicely and, once again, I look fondly at my huge white novelty living room ornament and wonder how many light years from home it's going to take me next... Having had the same 'scope for 2.5 years, I'm now looking for an upgrade. I considered a side-grade to a Heritage 130P to take with me on holiday when the car is too full of other rubbish, but I felt this would be a bit pointless, especially when I remember seeing things like this! If anyone happens to know if the base-plate on the 10'' is the same size as the 6'' it would inform my decision! But mostly I'm itching to get my current 'scope out and point at things, which is the aim of the game after all - dying to try and get out somewhere dark and take a look at the North America Nebula, the Dumbbell, the Ring and maybe even a few goodies in Sagittarius... Just a shame that once again the clouds are filling the sky! Paul
  25. It did! I often forget about Cancer viewing from London because it's so faint, but M67 is a bit of a favourite. It looks like a grainy mist with my smaller telescope, so could be mistaken for having some associated nebulosity. Paul
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