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Everything posted by SlyReaper

  1. Winning the lottery? Buy or build my own observatory in a good dark sky spot, decked out with as much technology as my winnings could buy, and invite local schools and astronomy clubs to come and use it for free.
  2. Murpheys law would seem to dictate such a thing whenever somebody buys a telescope. It's a good thing telescopes are a fairly niche market, otherwise the clouds would never go away.
  3. Thanks for the welcome, guys. My ultimate aim is to do some astrophotography, so I can share my observations. Will be spending some more time getting used to the telescope first though, and exploring my area to find a few good dark sky spots.
  4. Thanks! Like I said, the Mars surface details were so faint and blurry it was easy to think I was imagining them. But after a long time staring at it, it became more certain they were real. These observations were taken from my back garden, which is in a suburb of Bristol. Light pollution from the city, not ideal. However, by far the biggest culprit for light pollution was the moon, so I'm looking forward that that going away in a couple of weeks.
  5. Last weekend, I took the plunge and bought a 5 inch Newtonian reflector telescope (130mm SkyWatcher Explorer, spherical mirror) on an equatorial mount. I have to say, this thing is fantastic. My only prior experience with using telescopes was when I was a kid, I had this small refractor scope that my parents bought me as a birthday present. With it, I was just about able to resolve Jupiter into a disc. In fact, it took a while for me to realise it was in fact Jupiter and not some strange focussing artefact on the telescope. Frankly, it was rubbish. The mount was stiff and sticky, so when the target of my observation drifted out of my field of view, I had to manually turn the whole telescope, which was a pain in the Bottom because I kept overshooting. But that feeling in that moment when it finally clicked that what I was looking at was Jupiter... I'll never forget how excited I was. Fast forward to now, and my interest in space and cosmology has returned. I know the prevailing advice about astonomy is to start with binoculars, but my hands shake, so binoculars do nothing for me. I really needed a telescope. So I picked up this 130mm Newtonian reflector last week. The equatorial mount it came with was dauntingly complex, however I am both a mathematician and an engineer, and I will not let such things deter me. The equatorial mount turned out to be as simple as I'd hoped - just set the angle to my latitude and point the first bar at Polaris. Job's a good'un. Since then, I have observed Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Jupiter was more magnificent than I remember as a kid. Not only could I clearly see the four Gallilean moons, but the cloud bands on the surface were also clear. Mars was fantasic, because I wasn't expecting to see more than a faintly orangey disk. But with a 4mm eyepiece (225x magnification on my 900mm scope), a yellow filter, and prolonged observation, I was able to just about see some dark albedo features on the surface. They were so faint and so blurry, it was sometimes hard to tell whether or not I was imagining it. But they were really there. I was able to make out the shapes of these dark features and I'm 90% sure they were Syrtis Major Planum and Valles Marineris, the Grand Canyon of Mars. Last night was another highlight. Being a Friday night, I was able to stay up late enough to see Saturn rise over the Eastern horizon. The seeing conditions weren't good, but at 90x magnification, I was clearly able to see the rings, as well as the gap between the rings and the planet. It was the first time in my life I've seen Saturn for what it really is. I mean, I'm sure I've glanced over it before and dismissed it as a brightish star, but this is the first time I've ever had a good look at it through a telescope. It was magnificent. I've also had my first look at my first Deep Sky Object - the Orion Nebula. Was able to make out the rough shape of the brightest portion of it. Unfortunately, the conditions weren't great - Orion is very low in the sky at this time of year, and the glare from the moon has been hindering my views. Maybe next winter, I'll be able to see a bit more. This post doesn't really have much point other than to say hi to fellow astonomy enthusiasts, and to introduce myself to this forum. And to gush about how awesome it is to see the night sky in such detail. Obligatory picture:
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