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Everything posted by Tantalus

  1. Yup, I'm watching from the Spaceflight now feed, it has less time lag than NASA TV.
  2. Thanks Alan, I'll be interested too...
  3. I have the identical controller to yours, Earl, and I'm not an expert but at 8x slew you should be able to see the cogs slowly rotating. Have you tried the motors with just the battery powerpack?
  4. 9/10th May, 2010 120mm f8.3 refractor 20mm, 10mm, 6.3mm Plossls First cloudless night in around 2 weeks for me, and it was good to back under the stars. I watched the 21:05 pass of the ISS, then took a quick look at Venus. It really is very bright right now and an unmistakeable beacon in the west, showing a clear phase at around 80% illuminated. After Venus I slew round to Saturn, where I could see Titan and Rhea on the eastern edge of the rings and Iapetus further out to the west, but couldn't pick out Dione just above the western edge of the rings. I don't think the seeing was very stable tonight and at times Saturn seemed to slip in and out of focus. At one point, I thought I'd seen Tethys but wasn't able to pick it up again so I can't say for certain. Next on my list was M13. I've been tweaking the focuser on my scope recently and I think it's helped. I was able to resolve individual stars in M13 for the first time at 50x magnification and even more at 160x. Then on to M92. I've been trying to track this one down for almost a year but have always managed to miss it until tonight. With no great skill and just moving the scope to and fro in the area I knew it was in, I managed to picked it up in the ep. Similar in appearance to M13, but I found this one a little 'easier' to observe in that I was able to resolve more stars I managed to pick out a couple of chains of stars. Another target I've been chasing for a while it the Garnet star Mu Cephei. Apparently it's one of the largest stars in the galaxy, a red giant thought to be coming to the end of it's life. But then I am short-sighted, so that's my excuse for missing it until now. Herschel described it as ' a very fine deep garnet colour', and IMHO that's an accurate description, and a lovely sight in the ep. I had intended to track down K5 McNaught, but by the time I got to it the seeing had deteriorated. I caught a vague hint of it, but nothing certain. Still, that's a target for another night.
  5. A very interesting question and not an easy one to answer. Many of us may not be professional scientists, but amateur observers can, and have made valuable contributions in the field of astronomy. I've only been a regular observer for about 18 months and a bit of a traditionalist who prefers to 'learn the craft' before commiting to an expensive setup, having so far spent less than £500, but I will no doubt be spending more and more in due time. I don't have any formal qualifications in a science subject, but I do spend a significant amount of my free time reading astronomy related material on the web, watching science related tv, and I've begun attending lectures at my local AS, mostly to satisfy my natural scientific curiosity, but I am increasing my scientific knowledge all the time (albeit slowly) and surely that only help to make me a better observer (better than I used to be, that is). And I'm out observing whenever the weather and circumstance permits. IMHO anyone who regularly observes the night sky and has at least a basic knowledge of astronomy is 'doing' astronomy. If any of us was to see anything unexpected that we believed may be of some significance during our observations then I think (hope!) that most of us would at least know to make some sort of report, even if it's only a post on the forum where it would be picked up by the more professional forum members. The technological advances in imaging in recent years has attracted a lot of hobbyists, and the impact of imaging on the hobby has at times been a contentious issue. A year ago I'd have said that the imaging side was killing amateur astronomy, but now I've opened my mind a bit more I now think it also has it's advantages, and also has some scientific value in that these images can be used as reference points if nothing else. So, If someone asks me, I tell them that astronomy is my hobby, but what others call themselves I suppose depends on what the hobby means to them. In the dark recesses of my own imagination I do like to think of myself as an astronomer, though that's maybe self-aggrandisement and I'd never admit to it in public (Doh! I just have). I don't know if I'll ever be good enough to call myself an amateur scientists, maybe I don't have the discipline to do anything of any scientific value, but I'll always have that innate scientific curiosity and that's what drives me onward. PS: Shane, I know what you're trying to say, but I can't believe you used the 'Astrol...' word!!!
  6. That'd be awesome, or my lottery numbers come up!
  7. Have another look tonight between 9:46pm and 9:52pm, they'll be another pass. This time a bit lower but still fairly close to Arcturus. From my location, Heavens Above shows it as even brighter than last nights pass, and visible even further towards the east.
  8. At 11:00 pm last night, the ISS would have been passing close to Arcturus. The ISS always travels west to east. It would have started dimming around the area of Arcturus as it moved into the Earth''s shadow. You can also check the timing of ISS passes at Heavens Above.
  9. Another good report, Shane. I like the descriptive language you use - 'splat', 'gobstopper' and particulary 'ladies stocking stretched over peppercorns' ... I can't wait to see that one (two nights of cloud for me). Your comparisons of the two scopes are intriguing. I'm not surprised that the Dob is winning, all that extra aperture has to give you something extra, and I'm glad you're getting on well with it. Personally I'm becomming a bit sceptical with 'the popular view's and perceived wisdom - there's so many variables, and so many conflicting 'expert opinions'. There are times when I think it'd be nice to have a 12" Newtonian, but at this time I can't really accomodate an additional setup. And personally I'm happy with my 'little' 120mm refractor, and I'm in no rush to get rid of it. Please keep the reports coming Shane, when mother nature allows, of course!
  10. That's an impressive list you got there Shane with good details. You can update your sig line now. Out of curiosity, (technical issues aside) what gave you the more pleasing views - the 'frac or the Dob? Those polarising filters sound like a bargain, Let us know how you get on with it.
  11. Thanks for all your kind comments guys. I did wonder, Talitha, about the order, with some of the Mare being further down the list. You're so lucky getting to meet all these people. I'm gonna need some higher magnification for the harder targets, but there's no rush and I'm in this for the long haul. And it'll be interesting to see how some of the targets change under different conditions. Clear skies to all...
  12. I'm with everyone else here on this - It really happened. After 40 years, the conspiracy theories are still only conspiracy theories, and no-one has any 'proof' otherwise. And did you know that an estimated 2 BILLION people watched the Moon landing on tv - a third of the world's entire population!!!
  13. Helios f8 120mm refractor EQ5 + Dual axis motors 20mm Plossl Like others, I've been inspired by Doc's informative and very enjoyable Lunar 100 reports, and I've made a start on the list myself tonight. Started observing around 9 pm and what better place to start the list than at #1, the Moon itself. I know every man and his dog has seen the Moon, but as someone else said, it's about observing and not just seeing, so I dedicated the night to observing the Moon as an astronomical object in it's own right, with the just the 20mm ep (50x) which framed the 97% illuminated Moon perfectly. The most obvious features are the dark Mare of course, and though a scope it's noticable that the Mare are much smoother than the rest of the lunar surface. Next, craters Copernicus and Tycho competing with each other to draw the observer inwards. Tycho has always been my personal favourite Moon feature, and tonight it didn't disappoint, with it's extensive rays of ejecta streching far out across the Lunar surface. Every time I see Tycho I can't help thinking how spectacular that impact must've been (had anyone been around to see it 100 million or so years ago!). Copernicus was no less spectacular surrounded by it's sinuous grey tendrils standing out clearly against the darker surface of Mare Imbrium & Sinus Aestuum, and it's central peaks visible even at low magnification. I know Copernicus is an impact crater, but in places the meandering ejecta trails look more like lava flows to my eyes. And west of Copernicus is it's visual smaller twin Kepler (which in an earlier report I mis-identified as Reinhold - oops ***). Then Plato, which at this magnification and now lava-filled more closely resembled a small Mare than an impact crater, and almost impossibly regular in shape. Next, the numerous small bright craters which stand out even in the glare of an almost full Moon, with Aristarchus the most obvious (and I won't embarass myself further by mis-identifying the rest). I didn't want to spend too much time picking out individual features - they'll come later in the list, so I then just kicked back and took in the entire Lunar vista for a while. At this point I was interrupted by a couple of neighbours who were wanting to know what I was looking at. So I took the chance to do a little outreach and let them have a look through the scope. Firstly at the Moon, then I dazzled 'em with Saturn. And as I'm sure many of you have experienced, when you let Joe Public (mature adults, that is) have a look their reactions are almost invariably of amazement, followed by a flurry of naive questions. One guy said he'd heard of Saturns rings, but never really believed they existed until tonight! And the other said he had a small telescope in his attic which he's never used, but was now thinking of digging it out again (He's seen me in the yard with my scope on a number of occasions). They stayed for more than half an hour, discussing the Solar system, Universe and all that, and by the time they left I only had another 10 minutes of the Moon before it disappeared behind houses, but I didn't mind their intrusion because they'd shown a genuine fascination, and at least they had the courtesy to share their beer... To end the night, I couldn't resist spending the last 10 minutes having a wonder around the lower Mare Tranquillitatis, close to Ritter, Sabine, and Rimae Hypatia, letting my imagination wonder back to the magical days of 1969. As Doc says, we often complain about ol' Luna, but tonight has been an eye-opener. There's so much to see there, the Lunar 100 is just a starting point.
  14. I thought conditions were good last night Jahmanson. I was also looking at Saturn and managed the same four moons with my Helios 120, although I could only get Iapetus with averted vision, and in moments of exceptional seeing with direct viewing.
  15. I'm enjoying reading your Lunar 100 reports Doc, there very descriptive and the geological and background details you include are educational. If these were concatenated into a single post they would make a great sticky for either the Lunar Observing section or the Primers and Tutorial sections. The only caveat is, having made a start on the Lunar 100 myself last night, I'm reluctant to post a report because I couldn't hope to make them as interesting as yours...
  16. From what I've read about the X-37B it appears to be a strictly military vehicle, and the Pentagon are saying as little as possible about it's capabilities and mission objectives. This first flight was apparently intended to test it's suitability, and there's a second vehicle currently under construction. You can find a bit more detail here:- Spaceflight Now | Atlas Launch Report | Atlas rocket delivers Air Force spaceplane to orbit
  17. I was also out between 02:20-03:30 on the 23rd and managed to see a few Lyrids, one which also passed just below Cassiopea. In a meteor shower, meteors are usually visible over a large area of sky. To tell if they were Lyrids, try and trace them back to where they came from. The Lyrid radiant is between Lyra and Hercules. If you can trace them back on a line that passes near the radiant then they probably were Lyrids. (The two best and brightest ones I saw though, were not Lyrids)
  18. Tantalus


    Ditto. Now the Sun appears to be waking up again, I'll definitely be spending more time looking Sunward. Those flare animations take your breath away.
  19. When it comes to focus masks, Bahtinovs are probably regarded as the best thing since sliced bread! Have a look at this thread:- http://stargazerslounge.com/equipment-discussion/95787-bahtinov-style-focus-masks.html Coincidentally, I was making one earlier this evening.
  20. Is it possible to take the hobby too seriously? Scooter looks good, but I can't help thinking those images'd look better on a Harley
  21. Tantalus


    Anyone been looking at the latest images from SDO? There's some amazing stills and animations posted on SpaceWeather tonight.
  22. Just a thought, would a small mirror, like those small round inspection mirrors help?
  23. I'm sure most of you know that the Shuttle STS-131 didn't land today. So for space-watchers up late/very early there's another chance to catch them both later tonight. Heaven's Above gives the first pass of the ISS at around 03:08 BST, and a second pass at around 04:40 BST from my location. From Google Sat tracker, I make the Shuttle to be around 5mins 20s in front of the ISS. With only 3 more projected missions, opportunities to see the Shuttle are diminishing rapidly, though I don't know if I'm going to stay up for either pass, I've had a lot of late nights recently, I need sleep...
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