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About Charlie_starz

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  1. I am not into photography at the moment. I think Lunt is definitely the way to go based on all the commentary here. I think I will hold off to see the first light reports on the new Lunt 50 when some of the good folk on here get their hands on it.
  2. I must look for Cygnus next time I am out. Too bright here in London to see the Milky Way unfortunately.
  3. Was out again tonight to revisit Lyra and go back through everything I had seen the other night. It was higher in the sky tonight and harder to navigate due to the bright sky. While setting up I caught a glimpse of Saturn. It was a lot lower in the sky tonight and about to disappear behind some trees so I went straight for a look. Still my favourite sight through an eyepiece to date. So back to Lyra and after starting on Vega, I checked out epsilon lyra again to see that beautiful double double. It took the 5mm eyepiece to split them into the four component stars, no hint of more than 2 under the 18mm. I then moved onto looking for M57 again. I found it a lot easier this time, probably within a minute of starting, I was quite impressed. I tried to pump up the magnification using the 5mm eyepiece but it was too dark. The bright background in the sky was cramping my evening. I watched it for a while with the 12mm, muttering to myself how good it would be if the sky was properly dark. Next, I visited Dubhe and Ablireo, which was very easy to split even with the 18mm eyepiece, both lovely to look at. Next I sat back with my binocs for a while looking around the constellations that I could make out. I wanted to try and find M13 in Hercules. I could easily make out Arcturus and Vega but the sky was so bright it took me quite a while of looking straight up finally spot Hercules. I knew whereabouts roughly where it was in the square, and in a line from Arcturus to Vega. It was near the zenith of the scope so hard to move but after 2 minutes I had it in the 18mm. Very faint, wispy, but definitely what I was looking for. I tried out the 5mm but it was again too dark, given how bright the sky was in the background, so I plumped for the 12mm and watched for about 15 minutes. It did seem to get better with averted vision and once again has me wishing for darker night skies. Another great night out with my scope, all done by midnight though as work beckons in the morning. Hope you all had great success tonight.
  4. Hello all, firstly I have no experience of solar observing at all, other than lying on a beach on holidays. However, I have been fascinated with the images that are posted on this site daily looking at the sun in Ha. So I have decided I am getting a solar scope. I don't need a huge fancy all singing all dancing one but I would like to be able to see the whole sun in through the eyepiece and use higher magnification for closer study of interesting areas. I believe you can use normal eyepieces (please correct me if I am wrong). So after some google searching and reading lots of reviews I think either the Corona PST or a Lunt (either the 35mm model or the new 50mm when it comes out). Without wishing to throw a grenade into the crowd asking this question can anyone with experience on the subject please let me know your thoughts. I worry about the problems that plagued the early PST models and I have read great things about the Lunt 35mm. If I go Lunt should I wait for the 50mm scope? or will the 35mm scope be sufficient to my needs. Also, is the PST actually better / different. Basically if someone can chime in on the differences or pros / cons of either. Also whether I need bigger apperture for such a bright object. Thanks.
  5. I forgot to mention, for some reason planes kept flying through my FOV. I think they were doing it on purpose I also believe I saw a meteorite flash through that part of the sky and I have definitely seen loads of satellites whizz past when I have been looking for objects over the last few nights. Too fast to track with a scope but nice to experience.
  6. This evening the skies were pleasantly cloud free here, so I set up my scope to cool, got it aligned and patiently waited for it to get dark blue (being summer). I did start a little early tonight just because of where Saturn would be. I wanted a good long view before it moved over next doors roof. I didn't want my neighbours thinking I was spying on them. Anyway, as usual I was captivated by the view. Not as good as I have had last week but beautiful nevertheless. So the other night I had printed out a star map of Lyra. Originally I planned to just search for M57 because I wanted to see another Messier object and I believed this would be one of the easier targets for me. However I came across a really good article (http://www.cloudynights.com/item.php?item_id=436) which gave me a lot more to look for. I could only see Vega with my naked eye as it was still pretty blue up there but I had a trick up my sleeve to help me out. The other night I had brought out my 10 year old son's binoculars (pretty cheap pair of Nikon Aculon T01 10x21). They are not serious as astro bins go. He got them for looking at animals in the garden. I was pleasantly surprised by how more much I could see with them though. I used the bins to work my way around Lyra first. Then, thanks to a tip of comparing how much is in the FOV of the bins v the finder scope v the main scope I was able to move around Lyra and line up my scope for a proper viewing of each object. I did have to track back to Vega numerous times to start again but it was all really good fun and very successful for my first time attempting it this way. First up Vega. I could clearly see I had coma issues on my scope (unsurprising as its an achromat) as Vega was not briliant white, but fringed with blue. Following the guide I moved onto Kappa Lyra (get me knowing some stars names!!!) which was not at all as bright but a lovely orange (like a mini mars). Back to Vega and then I moved down to Delta Lyra and I could see there were really 2 stars in close proximity. Up to now I was just using the 18mm XCel eyepiece giving me 55x and a nice big FOV. I have to come back to these another night as I was interested but forgot to pump up the magnification to check if I could make out the companion of Delta 2 Lyra. I was eager to check out the double double I had read about and see if my scope could split them all. So back up to Vega then over to Epsilon Lyra. At 55x I could see too nice small stars. I changed eyepieces to the XCel 12mm giving me 83x and played with the focus. I still couldn't quite split the pair to show their companions, although I believed I could notice them a bit with averted vision. Maybe it was just my imagination and my brain "helping" me see something I had read about. I decided to use my lowest eyepiece, a 5mm XCel giving me 200x. Here things got pretty dark (as the sky was not!!!) but I could easily split the stars into their companions. Hooray, I was looking at a double double. Two weeks ago I did not even know about doubles, one week ago I had never heard of Lyra - so many interesting things learnt since then, and here I was experiencing them. Why didn't I start this years ago........ Anyway, on we go. I made my way back to Delta Lrya and from there down to Sulfat. I spent a bit of time here making sure I could track back to it by moving my scope up / down / left and right and trying to memorise the pattern of stars. I expected to be moving between here and Sheliak for a good while hoping to glimpse M57. I didn't really expect to see it as the sky was dark blue rather than black. Also, of the stars that make up Lyra, I could still only see Vega with my naked eye. After locating Sheliak and knowing which way to move between it and Sulfat, I started the hunt using my 18mm ep. It only took about a minute before something caught my peripheral vision - what I can only describe as what looked like a small piece of dirt on the eyepiece. I stayed with it for a few minutes to make sure it wasn't a bit of wispy cloud. All still good I moved down to the 12mm ep. It was a little clearer although still like a smoke ring from afar, very grey and faint and still best seen when not looking directly at it. Getting excited I tried the 5mm. I could just make it out, but it was too faint so I went back to the 12mm. I think I need darker skies to get any success with the 5mm eyepiece. I spent about 30 minutes following it and it did seem to get a bit clearer the longer I looked "near" it in the eyepiece. I was very excited to have definitely seen M57 for the first time. I can't wait to examine it under darker skies. By ow I was getting a bit cold (I know winter will be a lot worse, but will dress the part) and as it's a school night I went back for a quick look at the double Delta Lyra then the double double Epsilon, but i stayed with the 12mm eyepiece for both. I was going to take a look at Ursa Major to see Dubhe as well but it was starting to get cloudy so I decided to put everything away. When everything was back in the house, I brought the cheap bins back outside for a quick tour of the sky. It was a bit darker than previous but not much. I had a constellation map I printed out earlier and used the bins to look for some I did not previously know. Again I was surprised by how much I could see, even though they are a small pair of cheapos. What they do have going for them is that they are very light though. I think they will be a great tool and could spend a lot of time getting to know the sky with these I think. Definitely will be a major advantage for learning how to star hop. I may even move onto a better pair but will stick with these for now and see how it goes. Tonight was a very successful evening. It is the first time I have gone out with a target list and actually worked my way through it finding each target on the list. Next time I get out to check on Lyra I will have to try and locate M56 as well - not as easy but something I would like to attempt nonetheless. I hope you all had as successful a night as I did. Signing off as a very happy bunny tonight.
  7. I too am thinking of getting a telrad, but want to try and push on with what I have got first. Maybe it just takes perseverence and time to learn how to do it properly. If I wanted instant gratification I would have gone for a goto anyway. Last night the clouds down here cleared up nicely around 9 and I was all set and had been working my way around Lyra, looking at the doubles and interesting items from the link I poseted yesterday. I was waiting for it to get properly dark when all of a sudden at 11:30 it clouded up again. Lyra is for me in the perfect position in my garden at the moment and I am looking forward to the clouds once again clearing. I think this is going to be both an incredibly frustrating and exciting hobby at the same time. Ah well, at least I can spend the cloudy time learning more about what I want to look at.
  8. Thanks Steve and neural for the tips. I was out again when we got a break in the clouds last night and spent some time on Mars and Saturn while I was waiting for it to get dark. I was just starting to really enjoy Saturn when it disappeared and I was disappointed to see that loads of clouds had come in from somewhere. M57 is on my list, in fact I have a star map beside my scope of lyra and had intended on looking just there, but the clouds came in before it got properly dark and spoiled the party. I had been reading up on what to see in Lyra on this article: http://www.cloudynights.com/item.php?item_id=436 Hopefully the moon will not be spoiling as much of the sky after the next few days, and we can get a break in the cloud cover I might have more success.
  9. Hi, great report. I am in South West London too - guess we had pretty much the same night last night. I had tried for M3 as well but gave up and moved onto M13 which I am sure I saw as a faint faint fuzzy. I think part of the fun and excitement about searching out the messier objects is in the hunt. That is why I had decided against a goto scope. For me that would take a lot of the fun and educational part from something that I hope will last a lifetime. Goto for me is very much in keeping with the current generation of wanting things now and not waiting. I think we will get more enjoyment looking and slowly finding these objects. I think using the binoculars is a good tool to compliment your telescope and easier to track along lines between stars, at least identify other stars that you can center your scope on and begin the hunt again. While we are still only on our first objects and are envious of those who have much more experience of these I bet they would love to be able to go back and experience that sense of wonder from finally seeing each new object. You will never get that time back so enjoy and good hunting. I think tomorrow night is supposed to be good as well, today looks a bit cloudy though. I totally agree on how beautiful Saturn looked last night, even in such close proximity to the moon. I look forward to reading about how you get on over the next few weeks as I guess we will have pretty similar experiences.
  10. Thanks for the tips. One other question to you guys.... What magnification should I be using for scanning for Messier objects? I know some will require more or less magnification but in general what is the best . I have been using my 18mm which gives me 55x. Should I be using a bit more or continue on with the 18mm? Thanks
  11. Tonight I had clear skies. It was a bit windy, but I am not complaining. When I bought my telescope on eBay I also received a Celestron X-Cel LX 5mm eyepiece which I had been very impressed with. So much so that I ordered the 18mm and the 12mm from FLO yesterday. I was really impressed to receive them 1 day later and excited to get them out for a test drive this evening. With tall trees either side of my thankfully long garden I have limited views of the sky from home. It meant that I couldn't really get going until at least 10 pm tonight, but at least I put my telescope out to cool for at least 90 minutes first. Finally although it wasn't quite dark I could at least test out my new eyepieces on Mars. I also spent a few minutes locking in my finder scope which seems to have been nudged out of alignment, probably while carrying the scope separate to the base when moving in and out of the house. I used the 18mm first and Mars focused in to see a nice orange ball, still to small to make anything out on but it seemed a lot more focused than the 25mm standard eyepiece that originally came with the scope. Flipped in the 12mm and things started to get a bit more interesting. I didn't really have to move the focuser at all which was nice. Finally I threw in the 5mm and everything resolved nicely. Seeing must have been pretty decent because for me this was 200x magnification. I thought I could make out different colours on the ball that was Mars but it could have been my imagination. I didn't try using my Celestron 2x Barlow because I wanted to move on. I was very impressed with the eyepieces. They feel quite solid and do not look like they were cheaply made at all. They also have really nice holders that protect them when not in use. I will probably add more when I feel I need them and probably also buy the X-Cell LX Barlow to complete the set. Anyway, the other day i had printed out some Ursa Major star charts and gone hunting some messier objects. I had been unsuccessful and had to call it a night because of clouds appearing on the scene. Tonight I spent a lot of time on the plough part and looked at all the stars while I was waiting for it to get a bit darker. Thankfully the moon was still below the treeline for me. After about an hour of searching I decided it was either not dark enough, or I was not using enough magnification to find the objects in Ursa Major. I did read in my Messier book that they were harder to spot than some others so I resolved not to go in until I had seen one. I spent some time looking for M3. I had my stellarium open on the table in red-light mode beside me but I was guessing where it was and didn't have a map. I came up with a new plan.... My son has a pair of binos, not really astronomy ones but I could easily see Arcturus and Vega and I knew that M13 was more or less on a direct line between them but closer to vega. I scanned with the binos and anything that looked promising I used the telescope for closer examination. The binoculars helped me to the right part of the sky but it took the scope to find it. I was examining what I thought was the right area and after a few minutes I saw a faint wisp in my eyepiece (I was using the 18mm X-Cel LX). I knew there was no cloud and anyway it was static compared to the rest of the stars in my FOV. To call this a faint fuzzy for me was an understatement but I was getting excited nonetheless. I switched in the 12mm then the 5mm but it was getting a bit to faint for the 5mm really. I think the problem was that the moon was almost full and being summer the sky was still a bit too bright - but there I was sure I had finally seen a messier object. To check, I used google to search for sketches of M13 and tried to find one closest to what I was using, ie. 120mm aperture, 1000mm focal length and 18mm eyepiece. I am now certain that I have seen M13, but that the viewing conditions were not great given the time of year and the moon. Next up for me tonight was Saturn. I wasn't sure how it would look as it was very close to the moon which would have made a nice photo I think. Using the 18mm X-Cel LX it was really clear and beautiful. It resolved very nicely. Again I was able to use the 12mm and 5mm with very little adjustment to the focuser. I couldn't quite make out any division in the rings tonight, again I think it was spoiled by the moon but those eyepieces are fantastic. Mush superior to the ones I have been using to date. Finally I finished on the moon to see how they would perform. I was really surprised to see that most if not all of the coma (shiny halo effect) had disappeared and I was really pleased with this, However I did come across a problem, how to fit my moon filter? So a great night out, a messier object (although very faint) and my new eyepieces which I will protect with my life now Next up for me is to mess around trying to photograph some of this stuff. I have a Microsoft Lifecam Cinema on route and I am going to see if I can mod it following the instructions I found online and hopefully have something for my son to use to take photos for school. Anyone had any success doing this, and any tips before I give it a whirl? Two questions for you experts if you can help out please: 1. Excuse the complete basic nature of this question but what is the advantage in using a barlow over just using a different eyepiece. For example if I have a 24mm eyepiece and a 2x barlow will it be better or worse than just using a 12mm eyepiece? 2. I have a threaded moon filter that screw into the base of standard eyepieces, anyone know how I go about using a filter on on of the X-Cel LX?? Thanks for reading and here's to many more clear summer skies.
  12. So tonight, despite BBC website saying it will be overcast it actually looks clear so far (fingers crossed). All going well, I will start my Lunar 100 project and get a good look at Saturn and Mars again. BUT..... I spent a good bit of time today studying a star map of Ursa Major. I was looking at the main stars last night so I am confident I can find my way around the "plough" part of the constellation. I printed out the starmap of the constellation on 4x6 photo paper and will have this with me at my scope. Also, I used the occular plugin from stellarium to print a page of how M97, M108, M109, M51 and M101 should look like through my telescope with a 25mm eyepiece. Hopefully I can successfully locate one of these tonight. Fingers crossed for clear skies to last till late.
  13. This is a great resource. Being new to astronomy and it being a time of the year where the sky does not get really dark for me, I wanted something I thought would be achievable to keep me and my son busy for the summer. This list is an excellent project for us - boys love a challenge and he will be ticking off his list to try and beat me. Thank you for posting all the useful information. I look forward to working through the list and learning as much as we can as we go.
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