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Astro Adj

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Everything posted by Astro Adj

  1. After a decent battery and charger I think that will be my next purchase! Seems like a bargain at £30. I've had a look at some RA finderscopes but as they tend to be around double the price I think I'll stick with the Rigel. As I'm used to going from 1x to the eyepiece of the scope hopefully that'll work okay!
  2. I was faced with a similar choice. In the end I decided to save a little more than my initial £800 budget in order to buy a 300P Flextube Auto. Unfortunately I've not had the chance to use it yet, but will post a brief first light report as soon as I get some clear skies. What I can say is that the new scope doesn't take up any more floor space than my 130PM did (when you include the tripod, mount and OTA). It stands at around 1m in height when collapsed, so again isn't too imposing. I too was concerned about collimation, as I'd heard I would need to collimate the dob literally every time I used it. Seeing as I only collimated my 130PM once in the several months I owned it this worried me. However I invested in a HoTech SCA laser collimator, and this is a truly excellent bit of kit. I'm now able to extend the scope and collimate in about 5 minutes. I went for the 300P as I am mainly interested in DSOs (although do like a spot of planetary observation too!) and wanted the light grasp that a big dob offers. I couldn't go bigger than the 12" for 2 reasons - cost and portability. I opted for the Auto as I haven't had a dob before and wasn't sure if I was up to nudging the scope repeatedly. An added bonus is that I'll be able to use my rudimentary digiscoping set-up to capture the planets, the moon and potentially some of the brighter DSOs. The scope is currently £1015 at FLO. I bought the Astrozap shroud too, although have since found that I could have bought some neoprene and velcro and made a DIY version for £10 - £20.
  3. It is a great design, considering the size of the scope it really doesn't take up too much room when collapsed. It takes under a minute to go from collapsed to extended (or vice versa) which is a plus too. The tracking was what made the purchase irresitable to me, I just loved the idea of a big scope in a reasonably portable package that was capable of tracking targets. Of course I don't know how effective the tracking is yet, but will definitely write a few lines on it once I've been able to get out there. Below is a pic of the scope collapsed. Considering that there is no mount of tripod to store it doesn't really take up any more floorspace than the 130 with all its bits! The discerning viewer may spot the shroud is absent in this pic, the reason for this is the pic was taken before I attached the shroud. You can collapse/extend the scope and the shroud stays exactly where it should be - another clever design!
  4. I've got no complaints with mine, although I've not used it in the dob yet. In the 130 the 5mm gives around 130x magnification, and with my 2x barlow this figure becomes 260. At 260x the image is noticeably dimmer, although I believe this is more to do with the exit pupil (0.50mm) than the eyepiece itself. Might be entirely wrong there, though! I can't wait to use the Hyperion on my new dob - it should be able to show a decent level of planetary detail (I hope!) and I plan to compare the Hyperion with my 6mm SW Ultrawide. One other bonus the Hyperion has over other eyepieces is that you can combine it with a tuning ring to change the focal length of the eyepiece. For example, the 5mm can be turned into a 4mm, 3.2mm and 2.6mm using various combinations of the 2 tuning rings.
  5. I wish I could use a high-powered ortho but I found the combination of small eye relief and even smaller aperture meant I had trouble keeping my target in view. I did a bit of research and ended up buying a Baader Hyperion 5mm. It's incredibly comfortable and, to my inexperienced eyes, an excellent performer. I suppose another option for me would be to combine a longer focal length ortho with a barlow. Would the addition of the barlow degrade the image noticably?
  6. I was expecting it to be big, but the pictures online really don't do it justice! I was gobsmacked when I extended the trusses for the first time. My only reservation is that I have 3 flights of stairs to traverse to get outside - going down is probably going to be okay but the ascent might force me to get back to some gym work! 130 as a finderscope, eh? Don't give me ideas! Although the 130 came with a motor drive I couldn't get the hang of it, and despite the equatorial mount for all intents and purposes I was using it as if it was a dob anyway. I hope the auto tracking on the 300 is good enough for some basic pics of the moon and planets, but really I am interested in DSO hunting and figured the extra aperture was more important than a mount that would support serious imaging. I've heard good things about the Rigel Quikfinder, how does that compare to a telrad? I was thinking I could perhaps pop one of those next to the finderscope in order to have my cake and eat it (or something).
  7. After several months of being all alone my 130PM now has a companion! I received my new Skyliner 300P Flextube Auto from FLO 2 days ago and have just finished assembling / collimating it. I thought I'd take some shots to highlight the difference between the 2 scopes! I absolutely cannot wait to get out there and use it, both Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be clear here so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. From the quick play I've had with it, I can say for certain I like the focuser much more on the new one - it seems to have less play in it than the system on the 130PM. Also adjusting the primary is a doddle thanks to the knobs on the bottom. However I'm not too sure about the finderscope, and think I may plunder the RDF from the 130PM. The unit moves smoothly in azimuth, although moving the OTA in altitude seems a little haphazard - sometimes the OTA jiggles a little when I release it which might get a little frustrating as that tiny movement will represent a sizeable chunk of sky! Perhaps using the hand controller will help. I'm looking at power options for the motors at the moment, I've got 8 batteries in there for now but will get a more permanent solution as soon as I can. When I've been able to use the 300 under clear skies I'll write a quick first light report. I am very excited - if my maths is correct this one gathers 5.5 times more light than the 130PM (or 2609 times more than a dark-adapted pupil!)! On a final note, FLO were superb - I received the scope and all the accessories I ordered 2 days after placing the order and James was extremely helpful throughout. I'll definitely be buying from them again! Pic below, please excuse all the bedroom clutter!
  8. I am amazed by the eyepiece cases on display in this thread, as well as the contents of said cases! Mine is incredibly basic, but unfortunately I completely forgot about a case when budgeting for my new scope and accessories! As such I did a bit of a Blue Peter using whatever I could find lying around the bedroom. The case is actually for a set of Remington clippers, and the polystyrene came with my new scope. Other than that I used a pen and ruler to mark out slots for my eyepieces, and a combination of knife, scissors and fingernails to make the holes! Afterwards I put some of the polystyrene back to ensure a snug fit, and actually I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. Unfortunately it doesn't accommodate my new Hyperion, but I have left space for the barlow that I should be receiving any day now.
  9. Shane - yes indeed. I don't see what's wrong with having my scope on display, and most people who've seen it ask questions and seem genuinely interested. But then again it does dominate the room, and I suppose I'd not be too pleased if my wife decided to position a 5ft model of a shoe in plain view. I'm sure if I can just get her to look at something through the scope I'll be fine, but she's steadfast in her resolution not to get within 6ft of the eyepiece. Doh. Brantuk - thanks very much! I'd seen a couple of these on various websites but didn't realise they could be used to power the scope. Think the clamps scared me off! John - thanks for the tip. I only tend to observe for a maximum of 2 hours so that might be a good solution. I've been in touch with the closest trader to me, but unfortunately they have no stock of the 300P auto currently. Apparently it only takes a day or so to order it though, so with any luck I should be able to have a good look at one sometime early next week. In the meantime I need to decide which accessories are essentials, and which I can leave until the new year. Unfortunately the list just seems to be getting longer!
  10. Thanks again for the help everyone, and for clarifying the options regarding 1.25" and 2" EPs. I think I'll stick to 1.25", as the biggest focal length I could use with my scope is around 32mm. Anything more than that would produce an exit pupil that is too large I think. Paolo - thanks for the suggestion. I checked it out and was very impressed with the site - even with insured shipping to the UK the prices are very reasonable. Some nice EPs in stock too... Branktuk - thanks for the input - nice to hear from another owner of the scope. Annoyingly I had that issue but seem to have misplaced it. Still, I remember enough of it to recall they thought highly of the scope. I was looking at the SW 17Ah powerpack, but it's quite costly. I tried searching the Maplin website but couldn't find the one you referred to. Any chance of pointing me in the right direction? :-) Shane - I think you are being a little modest when you say you know nothing! A very good suggestion and one I'd not considered. I've never looked at refractors - not sure why tbh, but I guess I've turned into an aperture addict. The only problem is the additional storage space, as I have to disassemble my scope after each session. Currently this means my OTA, mount and tripod are all hidden in different parts of the bedroom. Bit annoying when it comes to assembling it all again! The appeal of the 300P was that I could just fold it down and plonk it in a corner, but if I had another scope I'd be back to hide-and-seek with my parts!
  11. I see. That's really helpful and I've bookmarked this thread in case I ever need to start baffling. Sorry for yet another question, but I noticed you mentioned you use 1.25" EPs exclusively. I was wondering if there are any benefits of using a 2" EP when compared to a 1.25" of the same focal length? If possible I'd like to stick to 1.25" also, so that if I do invest in some filters they will fit all EPs in my collection. Thanks again for your help - I may end up going shopping over the weekend!
  12. Thanks again for the replies - I really appreciate everyones' time an effort! The reason I quite fancy the Auto version is that I spend a fair bit of time observing with family and friends and like the idea of getting an object in the FOV, then being able to let them admire it without having to jump in and re-centre the object. Also, I have got a rudimentary afocal camera set-up (max 60 sec exposures) and although I've only used it on the moon to date I may want to give some of the brighter DSOs a try sometime in the future. Because I will be shot at dawn if I get another scope for a long time I want to ensure this next one will suit me long term. I'll check the car, hopefully it'll be okay. With any luck I'll be able to get it all in the boot (the rear seats fold flat and also back on themselves until they are lying against the back of the front seats - handy!) but I'll check the rear door access too. Interesting that you had a SkyQuest too. The XX12i looks to be very robust, but other than that it seems I would lose tracking in exchange for an object location system. Do you know if they also suffer from the light-scattering issues? Are there any other pros/cons of either system? Interesting point re light-scattering on the 300P. Although I'll mostly be observing DSOs I do like to look at the planets too. Are there any filters I could pick up that might help mitigate the issue? Thanks again for the really detailed reply - I am now of to learn more about baffling, collimation and the size of my car!
  13. Thanks so much for the advice everyone. Splitting my budget is something I need to give some thought to. I also need to start planning what EPs I'll need; are the ones that come packaged with the 250P / 300P decent or would I be better planning to buy a complete set? Out of my current collection only 2 are half-decent - the 20mm is a Williams Optics SWAN model, and the 6mm is a Skywatcher deluxe wide-angle EP. The 10mm and 25mm are the basic EPs that come with the 130PM package, as is my 2x barlow. As such I think they'll all need replacing, and I've also read that I'll need an OIII filter for good DSO viewing. I suppose I need to decide whether to get a smaller scope with all the accessories at once, or get a bigger scope and upgrade my EPs gradually over the coming months. Thanks for the heads up regarding the January sales too. Good point re the VAT increase. My Mum and sister are coming to visit for boxing day and I'd love to have the scope here by then as I think they'd really get a kick out of it. I was holding off because I didn't want to find out the scope I bought was hundreds of pounds a week later but perhaps I was worried unnecessarily! Ideally I'd like to have a go on both the 250 and 300. Perhaps I'll find out what time The Astronomy Centre in Ely closes - if I'm lucky there might be dark skies by then. Thanks again for all the helpful replies - it's given me lots to think about.
  14. Thanks for the reply! It does seem to be an excellent scope, but I wanted to check that I'd not overlooked any other options. The other scope that caught my eye was the Orion SkyQuestXX12i, this is out of my budget (unless it drops by £200 or so in the January sales!) but seems very well made. I was also wondering about collimation on these scopes - should I factor a decent laser collimator into my budget?
  15. Hi all, After selling my car in order to buy something more practical (i.e. something the baby can fit in!) and buying a 'sensible' car I find myself in the happy position that I have £1000 to spend on a new scope. Woohoo! The initial euphoria abated when I realised that I really didn't know what to go for. This scope will need to last a long time, and I've not really been observing long enough to have acquired enough experience to make a truly informed decision. So, I was hoping you lovely ladies and gents could assist me? Also, my budget is for the scope and mount - although I have an EQ2 I somehow doubt it will be up to supporting my next OTA! I realise that the right scope will depend on several factors, so thought I'd list my preferences and dislikes to see if it helps make a decision easier. First up, I really enjoy learning the night sky and discovering an object myself. I've never had a GOTO system and, to be honest, think I'd rather spend the cash on better optics. Second, although I've dabbled in astrophotography, I can't see myself getting into it seriously. Having said that, a scope that allows me to track my targets would be nice. In terms of dislikes, I've found using the motor drive on my EQ2 a bit of a pain. Despite my best efforts to set it up correctly (balanced scope, accurately aligned it, used a spirit level to ensure the mount was level etc) I've never been able to keep an object in the FOV for long at all, even at low magnifications. I've also found storing the scope to be a little bit inconvenient. It's not so much the size, more the fact I have to dismantle it after each session and store the mount, tripod and OTA separately. I mainly observe from home now, and my garden has a limiting magnitude of around 4.5. Transporting the scope is not too much of an issue as my new car has an enormous boot, but I would need to be able to carry the scope myself. As such if any individual component weighs more than about 25kg it might be a little awkward. Finally, what do I like to observe? With my current scope I've spent most of my time looking at Jupiter, the moon and a variety of clusters. With the new scope I think I'd like to observe DSOs more than I currently do, but I would still like to get decent views of the planets. I think that's about it - but do let me know if there's any more info I can provide that will help to identify the 'right' scope for me. So far I've been drawn to a truss tube dob, as they seem to offer the best performance for the money. The fact they take up relatively little space when not in use is a bonus too. Specifically, I like the look of the Skywatcher 300P Flex tube Auto. Big aperture, tracking and reasonably portable. One last thing - do scopes tend to come down in price in the January sales? Just wondering if FLO and maybe Scopes 'n' Skies / Pulsar Optical (they are not too far from me) might discount some scopes that would give me a few new options! Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions!
  16. Great report - and very interesting for me especially as I am considering purchasing this exact scope! In answer to your question about the smallest crater you could observe at 600x, I believe the answer would be in the region of a crater with a diameter of around 615m. I may be way out, as I guessed your EPs AFOV (my guess was 52 degrees) and my maths could well be wonky, but here is how I arrived at 615m. EP AFOV (52) / Magnification (600) = True FOV = 0.091 degrees. True FOV x 60 = 5.5 arcminutes, or 330 arcseconds. Once that was established, I popped the figures into the small angle formula, which is D = αd ----
  17. Great report! Sounds like you had another superb night, and I love the image! I also really enjoy showing others the views our scopes can provide, funnily enough the only person who I've yet to convince is my wife! Quick question on your image, you mentioned that you used a high magnification eyepiece yet the field of view is large - how did you manage this? I'm hoping to get my basic imaging set-up out for the first time tonight and am taking on all the advice I can! Congrats on your climbing Messier count by the way!
  18. Thanks for the great report! I really enjoyed reading that, and it's made me want to step up my moon observation! I have the Virtual Moon Atlas and have begun to recognise certain features, still have a long way to go though. I agree, the moon is wonderful to observe and although I can empathise with the DSO observers/imagers to whom it is a royal pain I just concentrate on the moon when it's there, and go DSO hunting when it's not!
  19. Thanks for the report Amanda, I enjoyed reading that and you've given me a couple of new potential targets for my next session. If the weather stays nice that could be as soon as tonight! Thanks too for the map!
  20. Oops sorry - I made an assumption you had an Equatorial mount not a GOTO one - my bad! Getting Stellarium is an excellent idea - you can learn an enormous amount and it really helps to plan your night out. Once you have it finding Polaris will be much easier, but in the meantime the method I use is to face North, then look for Ursa Major - the Big Dipper. Locate the 2 stars that form the edge of the 'bowl' (furthest to the right). From there you can continue straight up to Polaris. It is the brightest star in Ursa Minor, so you can check you've found it by ensuring the star you are viewing is at the end of Ursa Minor's 'handle'.
  21. Hi Gorkem, I also have the SW 130 and love it! I'll see if I can help you out a little, but should let you know that I am a newbie myself so you may want to wait for a more seasoned observer to help you out! Anyway, regarding the stars, to be honest they will never get much bigger, regardless of how much magnification you throw at them. The distances involved are so vast that they will never appear much bigger. However, magnification will give you better views of the planets and the moon, as well as some DSOs. In terms of alignment, I would recommend using the scope during the day (but whatever you do, DON'T look at the sun!) and aim at the furthest distinctive object you can see. A chimney or something similar works well. Look through the RDF, then through the eyepiece. Ideally they should match up. If not, adjust the RDF until they do. Once this is done, perform the same trick on a star in the night sky. I use Polaris (as this helps with polar alignment which I do before every session) but really you can use any star. Place the RDF dot on the star, then use your lowest power eyepiece (the one with the biggest number - mine is 25mm) to view it. Ideally it should be in the centre of your field of view. If not, repeat the trick you did in the day until they match up. Once this is done, you shouldn't need to align the RDF again. Next up is using the equatorial mount. This is trickier, and the best advice I can give is to have a look at the excellent article below - I found it extremely useful. Setting Up an Equatorial Mount - McWiki Finally, about those wonderful, full colour pictures of galaxies and nebulae you have probably seen in magazines etc. I'm afraid to say that, with our equipment, we will not see such colour or detail. These images are captured by very expensive cameras that can let an enormous amount of light in over a protracted period of time (something our eyes are incapable of) often in conjunction with superb scopes and mounts. You will be able to see many wonderful objects, such as the Andromeda Galaxy, but they will appear monochrome. However, when you think about what it is you are actually viewing...well, for me that alone is better than looking at a fancy colour picture on my computer screen! Best of luck, do let us know how you get on.
  22. Astro Adj

    I'm Hooked

    Welcome to SGL! I'm new to this too and also went for the SW 130, you may find the link below useful when it comes to polar aligning the scope and setting up correctly - it really helped me out a lot. Setting Up an Equatorial Mount - McWiki Best of luck, hope both you and your son enjoy your time under the stars. I can't think of a better way to spend time together!
  23. I'm all set for tonight, and so far the weather looks promising. I've not been out in ages so am very excited about the prospect of a good night's observing. Plus, I've got another couple of first-timers who want to come along, so it should be a special evening if the clouds stay away. Without wanting to jinx things further, I've also gotten myself a basic imaging set-up and new moon filter. If I am extremely lucky I may even be able to take my very first astrophotograph!! Good luck to everyone who plans on observing tonight, may your batteries last long, your clothes stay warm and your drinks stay chilled...or hot, if you're an old man like me and prefer to star gaze with a thermos of tea rather than something alcoholic!
  24. Congratulations on splitting the double-double. That's something I've been itching to try for some time, but various commitments and cloudy skies have conspired against me so far! M57 is a lovely sight and your scope should show it quite well. As Julian said though, definitely one to practice your averted vision on! I agree with your opinion of the SW barlow. I am looking to replace mine soon, and have heard many good reports of the TAL 2x barlow. FLO stock them and seem impressed with the bang they give for your buck!
  25. Thanks for sharing - this is a brilliant map. It's very interesting but also quite beautiful; I may even be able to persuade wifey to have a look at this one!
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