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About simonperks

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    Bristol, UK
  1. Thanks everyone for your comments so far. All really helpful and much appreciated. Simon.
  2. Hello all, I have a 10" Dobsonian that I use for observing the moon, the planets and deep sky objects both at home and at star parties and other public events. I've seen that there are various webcams available for astroimaging (at around £80 to £150) and was wondering whether it would be possible to use one of these to show real-time views through my telescope, via a laptop or tablet computer, so that several people could 'look' through the telescope at the same time. Does anyone have any experience of this? I'm guessing that it would probably only work for reasonably bright objects, if at all, but I thought I'd ask. And apologies if this is a really obvious or a really stupid question... With thanks in advance, Simon.
  3. Thanks everyone for your comments and ideas, which are all really helpful. The distinction between 'star parties' for experienced astronomers and public outreach events is an important one, as Lowjiber and Gazabone point out. My main interest is in getting members of the public excited about astronomy, so the suggestions in this thread are exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. Thanks again for all your help! Simon.
  4. Hello all, I'm a freelance science writer based near Bristol, UK, as well as a keen amateur astronomer. I’m writing a feature article for Popular Astronomy magazine about how to organise engaging and entertaining star parties for members of the public and am keen to seek the views of fellow astronomers who have experience of organising public observing sessions. Consequently, I was wondering whether anyone might be able to spare a few thoughts on some questions about organising star parties. The sort of things I have in mind are (and please excuse the rather long list here): Where are the best places to hold a star party? What makes for a good venue?When is the best time to hold a star party, in terms of time of year, phase of the moon, etc.? (I’m taking it as a given that ‘at night’ will work well…)How do you try to ensure a clear night for star parties? For example, do you have a list of potential dates and issue a ‘go / no go’ each day, or do you choose one date and hope for the best?What are the best sorts of observing targets for a public audience? What gets the best reception?Do you have a list of targets for telescope operators or do you let the operators choose what to look at? What do you think works best?Are some types of telescope better for public observing than others? If so, which? And what about binoculars and naked-eye observing?Roughly what ratio of telescopes to visitors works well, do you think?Do you use talks or presentations in addition to actual observing? Does this work well?How do you get experienced observers involved in running star parties? Is it easy or do you struggle sometimes?How do you manage people on-site at star parties? Is there a structure or do people wander freely from scope to scope?How do you publicise your events? What gets the best response?What advice would you give to someone organising a public star party for the first time?I'd very much welcome any thoughts or advice on these or any other aspects of organising star parties and public observing sessions. What works well? What doesn't work so well? And what, for you, makes for a brilliant public observing session? Please feel free to leave your comments here. If you'd prefer to email me directly, or if you'd like to have a chat over the phone or Skype, just message me and we'll sort something out. With best regards and huge thanks in advance for your help, Simon.
  5. Hi Steve, A warm welcome to you (and the Mrs) from a fellow astronomer down the road in Bristol. Sounds like you've got a great set-up. Enjoy. Simon.
  6. Hang on in there, Craig. I struggle with my equatorial mount all the time, and I've had it for several years. If you find that the eyepiece is at a massively inconvenient angle once you've positioned the tube with the controls, just loosen the rings holding the tube to the mount and twist the tube around a little. It mucks up the alignment a little bit, but is easy enough to correct. I agree with the various comments about alt-az being easier (I generally use a dobsonian, for this very reason), but the feeling you get when you can follow something in the sky on a nicely-tuned EQ mount just by twiddling one of the slow-mo controls is difficult to beat... Simon.
  7. Hi Katie and welcome to the forum. I'm a bit of a Perseid fanatic, too, and usually spend a couple of nights in the garden on my sun-lounger watching for the meteors overhead. This year, sadly, the weather hasn't played along very well As you've already found out, you don't necessarily need a telescope to enjoy astronomy. Meteors, constellations, satellites and various other things are best viewed with just the naked eye. Anyway, enjoy the forum. Simon.
  8. Thanks for the suggestion, happy-kat. The Startravel 80 looks like a nice little scope. Simon.
  9. I live on the edge of a small town in Somerset (i.e. with a moderate level of light pollution) and I can just about kid myself that I can see the Andromeda Galaxy from my garden on a clear, dark night. But even knowing where to look, it's only a very small, faint smudge - and I may, as I say, be kidding myself. I'd imagine that it would look a little more impressive from Exmoor or somewhere with much less ambient light. It does, however, look absolutely great through my telescope. So in answer to your question, I'd say that it's probably technically a naked eye object, but not really one in practice. Simon.
  10. Thanks for all the comments and advice, which are really helpful. I did have a go with a little Maksutov at a telescope surgery we ran a while ago and it was very nice, so I'll suggest it to him as an option. I hadn't thought about second hand, but you're right, Jonn, it's worth considering. I'll see if any of the other members of my local astronomical society have any beginner-type scopes they're looking to rehome... Thanks again, everyone. Simon.
  11. Thanks, Erekose. Yes, he's going to try out my little dobsonian, to see how he gets on with it. And yes, I take your point that he'd also need to stand it on something, which might not always be convenient. I'll suggest that he looks at the larger dobs and some of the tripod-mounted reflectors, too, so that he knows what's available. Thanks again, Simon.
  12. Thanks, Tzitzis. Glad to have found a fellow dobsonian fan!
  13. Hello Steve - and welcome to the forum! Massively jealous about your dark skies. Good luck with the astrophotography. Simon.
  14. Hello and welcome! I think it's a very nice photo - it's certainly a whole lot better than my first attempt! Saturn's a great target for observing and it always goes down really well at our star parties. At the very least, you know you're looking at the right thing... Simon.
  15. Hi Mike, Welcome to the forum. I have the Skyhawk 1145P and it's a very nice little scope. I got is as my first scope some years ago now, but still use it regularly despite having bought several other scopes since. In fact, it's sat next to my desk as I type this! I'm not aware that you can get a motor drive or computer controller for it, but if you just want to get out and do some observing without spending a huge amount of money then it's ideal. I don't really know a great deal about the computerised side of things, but I do know that they make things get rather expensive rather quickly. However, I'm sure there are others on the forum who can provide you with the advice you need if this is the sort of thing you're interested in. Simon.
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