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About mikeDnight

  • Rank
    Sub Dwarf
  • Birthday 04/02/62

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Interests
    Lunar & planetary , binary stars & comets.
    Visual astronomy in general and an advocate of sketching as an aid to observing.
    I also have a passion for refractors and optics in general, and have a deep interest in the history of amateur astronomy, the astronomers and their scopes and observatories.
  • Location
    East Lanc's
  1. SkyWatcher and Celestron generally offer very good quality. Orion usually offer the same as SkyWatcher but at inflated prices. My own opinion about Meade is that their mounts are often poorly designed and use cheap components. When Meade gets involved with a product, the product quality suffers! Stick with Skywatcher/Synta or Celestron and you'll not go far wrong.
  2. Astronomy / science book recommendations

    If I could own just one astronomy book it would be Starlight Nights by Leslie C Peltier. I'd definitely take this amazing and inspirational autobiography with me if I were staying in hospital. It's the best book I've got, but I don't know if its available on iBooks?! Hope you make a rapid recovery! ☺
  3. That's right! I'd be more than happy to allow Paul the occasional glimpse through my FC. For a small donation of course! 😆
  4. Attached are three pics of Paul's superlative apo refractor.
  5. My first serious aperture refractor was a 102mm F13 Vixen achromat which I bought from Peter Drew in the mid 1980's. It was a superb scope that gave terrific views of both the moon and planets, and brighter dso's. In my mind the F13 Vixen gave me the finest view of M82 that I've ever had, showing the galaxy as a slender mottled ghost with a dark lane bisecting the ghostly wedge of light. It might sound unimpressive but in reality it was jaw dropping, because it was so sharp and detailed. I can't ever remember noticing CA in that telescope, so it must have been very well controlled. One local astronomer booted his garden gate off its hinges and stormed off into his house after seeing the Vixen outperform his prized 8" Newtonian while looking at Saturn. I also bought a Helios 120mm achromat in 1999. First light through that scope revealed CA that was very well controlled, especially after considering the telescope was only F8.3 and as cheap as chips. For the money it was excellent! Looking at the moon on that first light night, the two things that stick in my mind are "where's the CA?" and "that's a very nice view!" The 6" version that i bought some time later was also good but the CA did become quite noticeable, as you might expect. After owning a couple of fluorite fracs and also a number of ED fracs for a few years, I bought a 105mm Antares F14.3. I wanted to rekindle my love for the long focus refractor. The scope was beautiful and gave textbook star images, but it had a warmth to it that the apo's did not. The CA was essentially non existant but the length of the tube made it very awkward to mount and my comfort was compromised, so i couldnt relax fully while observing. I'd be very happy with the Antares 105 as my only scope but I'd have to mount it on a solid, permanent equatorial with Hargreaves strut to do it justice. Personally I feel a 4" F15 refractor is bordering on being nonportable, mainly because of the mounting issue, but otherwise definitely a great scope.
  6. In praise of the 32mm TeleVue Plossil

    Yes, but in my mind and for whatever reason, unless the stars are sharp across the entire field then the eyepiece isn't really giving a true real field. If for example, the stars in the outer 25% of a 70° AF are not sharp or in focus then I might as well be using a narrower field eyepiece that is sharp or sharper towards the edge. May be I'm a little odd, or even a lot odd, but over the last couple of months I've really enjoyed using quality but simple eyepiece designs over the bulky, wide field designs. These little gems are so sharp and pure that I'm happy to let go of the wide field hand grenades which are often much larger and heavier than they need to be, all in the name of fashion. To fund my Tak I sold many of my Televue eyepieces which were mainly 2" fit and kept my XW's, which I thought gave a better view anyway. But this left me with mainly highish power eyepieces, so one evening my mate Paul loaned me a 24mm Plossl. Wow it was good! There was a sharpness and clarity to the view that i hadnt seen in years. I then decided to set myself up with some small but high quality eyepieces from Takahashi but was dissapointed with the performance and comfort of some of them. I then bought a set of Fujiyama ortho's but some were faulty and I sent them back. Although I wanted a complete set of quality 'simple' eyepieces, I was unable to find a set, so I've had to cherry pick from different brands until I feel reasonably happy.
  7. In praise of the 32mm TeleVue Plossil

    Hi John, With the XW's the 20mm and 14mm tended to show seagulls at the edge of the field which started to be detectable at around 25% from the edge. With my 31 Nagler the edge stars were out of focus when the centre field was sharp, but by focusing the 75% zone it gave a reasonable view across the field though technically it wasn't in true focus. My 35mm Eudiascopic goes off at the edge but its very close to the field stop and the eyepiece is so comfortable I can forgive it.
  8. Just out of curiosity, the first shipment of the new Takahashi FC100 DL was said to be in July, so has anyone in the UK received theirs yet? I'd like to see an image of the new colour scheme in the wild!
  9. The Evostar ST150 could never match the 120ED for CA even if it had an apo filter. Filters always detract from the purity of the image, and from experience I'd rather put up with the 150's CA than degrade the view. Having used both scopes extensively, I'd say the 150 is well worth having as an RFT and would show a very noticeable advantage over the 120ED on dso's, providing you get a good one. They vary greatly in quality! The CA is of no real concern when studying star fields, nebulae and galaxies. If however you decided to go for a ST150, whatever you do, don't sell your ED. The ST150 will never compete with it on the moon and planets.
  10. Make your scope earn its keep

    Thanks for the explanation!
  11. Make your scope earn its keep

    It's the alignment of the mount that puzzles me, as if it is polar aligned the scope is looking west. For a southern view the counter arm would be horizontal, similar to the attached pic.
  12. Make your scope earn its keep

    Looks to be aimed in the wrong direction for Saturn? The scope appears to be looking north west! Just curious!
  13. A choice between three binoculars...

    Personally I'd go for the latter! The former two options talk about the mechanics but tell you almost nothing about the optics. The latter, more expensive option however, focuses on the high optical quality of the binocular and that's where its strength lies. I haven't used any of these binoculars, but you can tell a lot about a binocular or telescope by the information that is missing from the info box.
  14. In praise of the 32mm TeleVue Plossil

    After spending the last thirteen years using TV'amazing wide field offerings, I made the decision to return to the simpler plossl and ortho designs for my eyepieces. There's a clarity about them that to my eye seems to be lacking in more complex eyepieces. I can live quite happily with a slightly narrower true field of view as its more than compensated for by the clarity and on axis sharpness. Other advantages are the physical size of the plossl and similar designs, they are relatively cheap, and in many good quality simple design eyepieces the edge distortion is kept well under control. It used to niggle me that on many high end eyepieces boasting a 70, 80 or 100 degree field or more, a significant amount of the outer field showed distortion. So in my mind if the outer 25% of a 70° field eyepiece such as the XW shows distortion, its not a 70° eyepiece. Granted, all eyepieces go off a little at the edge, but when you're paying hundreds of pounds for a wide field its a bit of a con'. I recently bought a 35mm Eudiascopic as my lowest power eyepiece. It gives the widest true field that a 1.25" eyepiece can, so in this regard its similar to the 24mm Pan. It has a lower power than the Pan, and in a direct comparison with the 24 Panoptic only last week, the Eudiascopic proved to be a much more pleasant eyepiece to use and was more comfortable by far. I can't see me returning to expensive wide field eyepieces any time soon.
  15. There's a Takahashi 6x30 finder on SGL Classified right now for £70. I cant imagine a better finder for your scope.