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About OscarTheGrouch

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    Capel le ferne, Kent
  1. I'm new to astronomy too and I have both a Refractor (90mm aperture) and Newtonian (130mm aperture) scope. I also have two mounts; a GoTo and an Equatorial. Everything is made by Celestron and I can interchange scopes and mounts as I please. The only reason I got the refractor was that it was cheaper to by the NexStar GoTo mount with the scope than without it!! Having said that, the views of the moon through it are great and I'm really pleased with it. The 130 Newtonian is a good all-rounder and if you aren't sure what you'll use a scope for (planetary or deep sky), I'd go for a scope with the largest diameter/aperture you can reasonably afford (and by that I mean leaving yourself some funds for new lenses, filters and a decent spotting scope) but with your location, make sure it's portable so you can shove it in the car - your local astronomical society should be able to give you details of some good sites with low light pollution where you can see more with your scope. Additionally, you may want to speak to your local astronomical society to see if there are any members looking to sell some second hand equipment. My local group do "public viewings" where the members take their own scopes to different sites and interested members of the public can come along and have a go.
  2. Dry eyes from wearing contact lenses can be caused by no blinking enough. Try pretending you're fluttering your eyelids at your scope before lining up on your eyepiece.
  3. Putting a rubber end on your equipment could mean everything gets a bit moist - I know that may sound vaguely rude or crude, but what I'm trying to say is that if you cap it off, dry it and add a desiccant.......... errrr....... give it a rubdown first and then put your gel sack in....... Silica gel that is....... I'm not doing very well here am I? Last try: If you've not erected your scope for some time you may find that you're a bit rusty....... oh [removed word]!!!........
  4. Do you wear glasses? Lots of people squint because they have an astigmatism and wear glasses because they think contact lenses can't correct this. They're wrong and this may be something to consider. Additionally, I see that you've listed your location as "Croydon" so I presume you have a significant amount of light pollution to contend with. It may be difficult, but you need to find a location that's not only out of direct light but also shielded from the orange glow of street lighting and all those annoying people who have security lights that come on whenever a cat/dog/fox/rabbit/hamster walks by (ok - so there may not be many hamsters but you never know!!), even if this means you lose access to some parts of the sky. In my back garden, I can't see north at all because my house is in the way but the house also shields me from the street lights. In order to look north, I have to pack my scope up and visit a nearby field but that's a small price to pay for the excellent southern and western views I have at home. To help block out any residual light, go to your local Primark and look for a zip up hoodie. Cut the sleeves off (or buy one without sleeves if you can) so that it can be worn under a coat when the weather gets colder. Alternatively, buy something like this (link) but make sure it's made of t-shirt material then cut the sleeves off and the body at mid chest level (meeting up with the bottom of the arm holes to separate the front from the back below the arms) to make a hooded cowl. The advantage of t-shirt material is that it won't fray when you cut it and it's easy to hem the raw edge by hand (even for a bloke like me!). If you don't want to muck about making hoods to go under coats or over shirts/jumpers, then resort to your trusty bath towel. If I say "Watch the birdie", the first thing that comes to mind for most people is a bloke with a box camera on a stand with his head under a black sheet looking through the back of the camera. You can do the same with a towel, but just make sure you don't cover the "business end" of your scope!! This is a great, free, way to see how that helps with keeping both eyes open in the dark and I also use my towel as a dew shield (I put it over the scope when not in use), blanket for sitting on and sometimes I even use it as a towel!! Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that spending out vast sums of money on bits of kit is a waste of money until you know whether or not they're going to help you. You're far better off getting your eyesight tested and using what you've got in the house already.
  5. I have the Astromaster 130 Newtonian scope and my trusty towel. When not in use, the scope is pointing gently downwards and covered with the towel. To keep it neater, I use a length of Velcro to secure the towel in place so it's securely wrapped around the main tube. It not only absorbs moisture, but keeps the dust out and protects the tube from minor scratches when I'm moving it outside. I always try to take my scope out at least an hour before I want to use it so that it has a chance to cool/warm to the ambient temperature; still protected by its towel. If the sky clouds over, I put the towel back on the scope and point it downwards again to prevent moisture build up. I also make sure it's the first thing back on the scope at the end of a viewing session. So far, I've had no issues with misting, dew, dust or discolouration of the scope.
  6. I'm going to see what I think of the location, then I'm thinking that some ground spikes for washing lines angled to allow the tripod to be slid in may be the way to go - the floor tiles will be needed for the calor gas heater, camping table and deckchair; who says you can't be comfortable whilst doing a 20 minute image!! Additionally, I've bought myself some ovaltine, mint chocolate and white chocolate drinks. I'm not sure they will go with brandy, so may have to switch to whiskey going forward.
  7. I know what you mean about "checking the focus" - I put my 130 Astromaster Newtonian scope on the NexStar mount to get some pictures of the super moon. I made sure everything was in focus before grabbing two sets of 20 shots to stack later. I'd forgotten to put my glasses back on before refocussing, so although the viewfinder was in perfect focus for my dodgy eyesight the pictures were useless!! Of course, I didn't discover this until the following morning. Perhaps I should be looking to change back to contact lenses!!! I like the idea of the camping mat - I've loaned the scope to my father in law (on my EQ mount - the Astromaster and NexStar GT seem to be completely interchangeable which is great) so when I get it back I'll give that a go. I find the towel over the mirror end on the Newtonian works well enough, but a camping mat would probably be better. Rather than gaffer tape, our local 99p and pound stores stock reels of Velcro designed to be used to attach plant stems to garden poles. I measure it to the circumference of whatever I'm wrapping it round, add a couple of inches and cut. It sticks to itself so there's no mess and is completely reusable. So far, it's been used to hold my towel in place, strap a camera bag with my eyepieces in to a leg of my tripod, as a tie to hold my tripod legs together when packed away and the like. I've also used the Poundland car brake light repair tape to make my 99p strap on head lamp red!! As for drilling some holes, my wife would kill me! I'm currently using the patio but think I'll move up on to the raised grass area simply because it gives me a wider view of the sky being further away from the house and I can stake the tripod legs in place - it's either that or I'll turn the garage roof in to a permanent observatory!!
  8. If you've read some of my previous posts, you'll know that I don't like to spend more than necessary on my equipment - mainly because that way I don't lose too much if I make a bad buy. So when I came in to some money recently, I decided that I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to buy a NexStar 90GT for next to nothing; especially when Celestron had confirmed to me that my 130 Astromaster would be compatible with the mount. I'd read some forums that mentioned the mount would soon run out of power if you tried to run it off AA batteries, so I also bought myself a battery pack. When the new gear arrived, I was blessed with an evening of relatively clear skies and set up the equipment. Rather than use the 130, I decided to give the 90 Reflector a go. So there I was, sitting in the garden waiting for the skies to darken and 3 stars to pop out so I could align the mount. I'd looked up my latitude and longitude on my iPhone and entered the date and time in the hand control too, so was all set to go. I had a mug of cocoa (having been advised before that drinking cocoa has a lesser effect on your ability to focus than my previous warming drink of a large brandy) and my trusty towel for dew protection/removal and used the waiting time to have a good look at the very bright moon. So what could possibly go wrong? The stars started to appear, so I began aligning the mount. I slewed the scope towards my first star, hit it dead centre and moved on to star number 2. Everything seemed to be going well as I ticked off my second star and set off in search for star 3. Everything was going swimmingly as I centred in on my 3rd star and I told the scope to confirm the alignment. That's where everything went wrong; the hand control came up with the result of "Alignment failed". My language deteriorated somewhat as I began again. During the second attempt at alignment, I kicked the tripod by accident as I was slewing towards the third star. The phrase "Oh what a silly thing to do" came to mind, but the actual utterance was somewhat more colourful. I could hear the brandy calling, so took a sip of my cocoa and began once more. The third alignment check failed to confirm success, so I reduced the requirement to 2 stars. I picked two new stars; one east and one west, centred the scope and............. alignment failed. I reached for the cocoa again. There was one final option: get the handset to select a single star and centre it in the scope. So I moved the scope around, centred on the required star and...................... Success!!!!! The handset informed me it was now aligned!! Hooray!!! Time to celebrate with some more cocoa!!!! So now I was in a position where I could move the scope around the sky and look at whatever I wanted. I decided to start by getting the scope to slew itself back round to the moon, just so I could see how accurate the alignment was; would it centre on the middle of the moon or on the middle of the visible portion? I wondered to myself as the scope turned across the sky. The answer: neither - it missed by approximately 3,500 kilometres - the diameter of the moon. I'd now run out of cocoa. So I went back to the beginning. What had I done wrong? I followed each of the steps through. Lat and Long? Fine. Time agreed with my iPhone. Date? Errr...... Monday. Correct Date? Errr... Wednesday. So I put the correct date in, aligned using the single star method and then tried to find the moon again. There it was in the centre of the scope, but looking a little bit fuzzy. I moved around to the other end of the scope, kicking the tripod once again in passing, only to find the lens covered with dew. At this point, I felt there was only one course of action that would guarantee success; I packed up, went inside and poured myself a brandy.
  9. I have to say that at someone who has the exact same telescope as you, but with the motor drive I love the scope. I do, however, find that the motor drive gets in the way for everything other than astrophotography!! I want to be able to slew the scope around in any direction (once aligned) but I find that when the motor drive is attached it knocks against the fine adjustment arms of the EQ mount. I've removed mine and having just bought myself a GoTo mount, I don't think I'll be putting it back on for a while!! I got in touch with Celestron and they confirmed that the Astromaster 130 tube is compatible with the GT and SLT mounts of their NexStar range. As such, I've just purchased at 90 GT from eBay for £130 and will be using that for my 130 tube. The 90 refractor will then probably be relegated to the EQ mount or donated to my local Astro Society (surprisingly, it's cheaper to buy the scope and mount as a package than the mount as a single item). I know that the NexStar mounts eat their way though batteries in short order, so I've also ordered myself the 7mah Power Tank to keep everything running smoothly (and charge my iPhone whilst I'm sitting in a field!!). In summary; don't bother with the motor drive, enjoy the scope, and FLO do a good deal on their power tanks - buy one!!
  10. I'm a firm believer in finding cheap (or free) alternatives to everything, provided the cheaper version will work as well as the expensive one!! Firstly, cleaning cloths are easy to come by. Next time you make your opticians appointment, ask if they have any spare cloths. They'll usually be nice and give you a couple. Secondly, pretend you're a smoker and use a Zippo lighter. They use lighter FLUID not the stuff in the pressurised container. It still evaporates at room temp without leaving any residue, but it also dissolves grease and dislodges bits of grime. You pour some on to your lens and carefully wipe with the cloth. To dislodge bits of grime, try filling the lid from a jar (mayonnaise ones work well because they've got a larger diameter) half way with fluid and giving the lens a quick dunk. Thirdly, Only use each of your (free) cleaning cloths once before putting them through the wash and make sure you leave whatever you've cleaned out in the air for a couple of minutes to let the fluid evaporate completely. Finally, if your wife decides she doesn't like the smell and lights a scented candle, RUN!!! And there we have it - your very own lens (and computer component) cleaning kit for less than a quid.
  11. Hi Dan. This is a great place to learn. Could I suggest you download "RegiStax"? It's a free programme that lets you stack your pictures to get a clearer image. I'm not sure how much you can do with a Bridge camera (obviously, the zoom is good enough to get you close to the moon!), but if you can override the ISO and set this to 100 and the shutter speed to 0.125, take a series of 10 or more photos as quickly as you can (with the camera on a tripod of course) and run them through RegiStax. You may be surprised at the results!
  12. Welcome. There are lots of good starter scopes on the market. I deliberately avoided "goto" mounts so that I was forced to learn my way around the sky (an ongoing process). I'm glad I did it that way.
  13. Hi Andrew. Welcome to the forum. Everyone is really nice here and you have a great setup for stargazing.
  14. Hi and welcome. Everyone is disgustingly nice on this forum and even if they are jealous of your scope (like me), they will offer advice and tips. You mention that you're reading extensively. The book that everyone here seems to rave about is "Turn left at Orion". I've just got my copy, so I can't say how good it is yet (I've looked at the cover and gone "Oohhh!" but not opened it). Another book I tried was "Astronomy for dummies" but I couldn't get on with it. Fortunately, that one came from the local library so didn't cost me anything!
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