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Everything posted by JulianFR

  1. Finally got out for 90 minutes from 11 last night. Despite the brightness and proximity of the moon I had a lovely view of Saturn, very small in the ST 120, but perfectly formed. And Jupiter wasn't bad though I struggled to make out too much detail... I know the ST 120 one't great for planets. I tried for some DSOs but couldn't see anything except the Ring Menial,which is one of the few deep objects I can find easily. It was amazingly small in the eyepiece but still a thrill to see it. l finished up looking at the moon for a bit, which of course was incredibly bright, even with a filter. So, not perfect but great to actually get out and see something at last.
  2. Fairly clear here SO FAR but it's 10pm and the sky is barely dark, and what with the moonshine, I can only see a couple of stars. Plainly not worth going out yet, but I'll probably be asleep in an hour!
  3. I put out the Mak to cool late last night under pretty clear skies after returning from a trip to London. Just 30 minutes later the thick cloud had rolled in and even the moon was totally covered. I did manage to get around 10 minutes with Saturn, but that was it so I packed up and went in. There seemed to be some breaks in the cloud after 1am but by then it was far too late. Very frustrating as usual. Hoping for clearer skies later this week.
  4. Yep, I jinxed myself and probably everyone else around here by saying tonight looked as if it was going to be clear. Now 100% cloud cover. Why do so many clear evenings turn into terrible observing nights!?
  5. Peter, I didn't think Wessex included Hampshire. In that case I guess I must be in central Wessex, as there is a lot of it to the west of me (ie Somerset, Dorset).
  6. I'll whisper this so as not to tempt fate but there are blue skies over my bit of Wiltshire ... at the moment at least. Would be great to have a bit of scope time tonight!
  7. Peter... My bit of Wessex (on the eastern edge I guess) was well and truly cloud covered last night, as well as blowing a gale :-(
  8. Yes, the 300 came with the SW RA finder. I was pleasantly surprised.
  9. Scott... I have more experience buying scopes than in astronomy itself I think, that's true! I enjoy it so much I decided I needed a grab-and-go for snatched sessions. Then I saw the Mak at a good price in a sale and thought it would be better at some things and complement the frac. I'm a bit embarrassed actually so might remove them from my Sig!
  10. Crikey... Everyone replying to this thread seems to be an Advanced Member and/or a Moderator. I feel a bit out of place adding my two-penneth! But just to say I replaced one of the not very usable straight-through finders with an RA version, so that cost £65 (luckily the 300 Dob actually came with an RA). Plus I've bought a Telrad and a Rigel. So the cost of the finder accessories really has added up forme at least.
  11. Can't believe it. Beautiful blue skies all afternoon then, come 7pm, total grey cloud cover. I thought I might at least get an hour in after 10pm. Maybe I can believe it :-(
  12. I've wondered this as well ... Bringing the cold scope indoors always worries me. With the Dob I leave the covers off overnight and the OTA pointing downwards. With the Mak and the frac I leave the dustcaps off and the diagonals out overnight on the assumption the moist air in the tubes needs to get out. I also put one of those little silica gel packs in the open end loosely. Is that worth it by the way, anti-moisture packs? I also leave all the eyepieces uncapped overnight. Hope I'm doing the right thing myself.
  13. Great advice all round. Thanks everyone. Looks plain that dark skies are vital. Luckily there are good dark sites close to me in this part of Wiltshire so I plan to get out there before the light evenings really get long.
  14. Yes, M13 is a stunner isn't it? I really like M3 too. I can actually find them both!
  15. I plan to contact Wiltshire Council about the streetlight... It is the other side of the road from my house but to be honest I didn't bother about it till I started astronomy seriously :-O Not sure that my couple of neighbours would want the light switched off at night. A shield of some kind would be worth asking about. Also, I was thinking about making a shield of some kind out of a camping MST... To fix to the side of the open tube on the same side as the streetlight. That should keep the glare out, but I don't know if it would help the overall LP sky glare. To go back to one of my original questions, I assume magnifying M101 in the hope of identifying structure would not work because of its low surface brightness. Certainly I didn't feel that anything stronger than my lowish power 24mm and 18mm would show more.
  16. Wow... Great image. Move over NASA.
  17. Thanks everyone... I'm glad it's not just me and it can be a challenge, though I do realise I should have persevered for longer st the EP, certainly for as long as I did with M51. I will certainly be going back for more attempts. I guess as a beginner I forget how faint and low magnitude most of these DSOs are, and that they don't all jump out at you like M3 or M13! I do get s real buzz when I eventually track one down though. There's an annoying streetlight in my little close, just a few yards away, and others streetlights close by (considering I live in the semi-rural outskirts of a small market town it's pretty frustrating) ... The orange glow is intrusive when I observe to the W and SW, but I thought it was ok looking straight up, ie to Ursa Major. But maybe it is having more of an effect than I realised. Rosse's telescope was amazing... The biggest till Mount Palomar was built??? What must it have been like though not being able to steer it? I think it could only move in altitude couldn't it? Does that mean there would be things he could never observe, or would everything in the N hemisphere have moved in front of his scope eventually?
  18. It took me a long time to find M101 last night. Obviously Ursa Major is high, so not ideally placed for the Dob, plus the sky though it gave me very clear spells also seemed 'watery' compared with Friday night. But I had expected M101 to be more evident. When I eventually found it I was surprised what a faint smudge it is, though large. I could not make out much structure at all and it didn't seem that magnification above the 24 and 18mm I used was much good.I observed for around 20 mins, though I realise that's probably not long enough. I do still struggle to find DSOs ... They are invariably much fainter than I expect. Is it just me though with M101 or can other people make out the structure? I didn't see much structure in M51 actually, above the two cores. Though as I observed for longer I did start to see more structure come in. Still, I had good views of M3, M13 and the Ring Nebula last night. Those I can find easily too!
  19. I bought this recently with a 127 Mak and I must admit it is confusing. Sometimes it seems to track, others it doesn't move. The speed buttons I find unclear... When/how to use them. Mine came with an addendum sheet that updates the process in the supplied manual. As far as I understand it should start tracking automatically WITHOUT having to press Fast-Slow together. I also think the tripod it came with is incredibly wobbly and unstable... I can't adjust the focus without serious vibration for several seconds. Having said all that I do like the mount... When I can make it work.
  20. By the way, does anyone have links for where to buy observing diaries / notebooks? I looked on FLO but could not see any.
  21. What a great night last night. I didn't realise how clear it was till 10.30 (!) but actually took the 300 Dob out for the first time for ages. Problem was I was rushing so didn't plan my session and, as a result, I was a bit random. But with no moon or clouds the stars were so rich and dense using the 24mm. I looked first for comet PanSTARRS...but could find it (how!?) or at least I didn't recognise it anyway. But I did manage to find M101 and M51 (I do struggle with these... Surprised just haw faint they are). Actually I was a bit disappointed with M51... I struggled to see much definition and it didn't seem to take the extra mag in my 15mm or 12mm well. I also found M65 in Leo (again, I struggle with Leo's galaxies... Pathetic isn't it :-( ) and a couple of galaxies in Virgo's cup (no idea which they were). The highlight was the stunning M13 ... Majestic in the 24mm, incredible in the 15mm, just a bit too much in the 12mm, in which it filled nearly all the fov. I also saw an amazing shooting star, low, at a shallow angle from N to S ... It bloomed and sparked and disappeared in 2 secs of glory. The planets... Jupiter was low and in the direction of an annoying streetlight in my close. To be honest I didn't spend much time on it because its glare drowned the detail. Would have used my neodymium filter if I really wanted to spend time on it. Saturn was glorious in the 6mm and also the 5mm ... But very bright and I could not really see surface detail... Though I saw the Cassini gap just. Mars... Well, again I didn't devote as much time to it as it needs, so as usual I couldn't really identify much. But then I was more interested in DSOs last night. l finished at 2.30 as I was very cold and tired. Afterwards I realised all the other things I COULD have looked at... But given the short time I was out I was fairly happy, though I still struggle to locate common objects! If it's clear tonight (!) I must spend more time looking for the Virgo cup galaxies. Would love to see Ceres and Vesta but I don't think I would recognise them.
  22. Oh... As well as mis-typing I also missed brantuk's post. Will definitely look at that link, thanks.
  23. I have also looked long and hard for a rechargeable hairdryer for anti-dew use, but no luck unfortunately. I would have thought there's a gap I. The market there. If you find one I would love to hear about it.
  24. I think it's going to be the usual dense cloud here tonight... AGAIN! Surely at least one night over the bank holiday will be clear, so I can stay up late.
  25. I have both the 6mm WO SPL and the 24mm Maxvision, which is particularly good value. Very happy with them and they both get a lot of use. Not as much use as I'd like given the current rubbish weather though.
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