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Astro Adj

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Everything posted by Astro Adj

  1. Hi and welcome to SGL! I'm sure you'll find that any question you have will be answered quickly and comprehensively here - it's a great place for us night owls!
  2. I had a little look at Stellarium following your comment and can see exactly what you mean regarding new stars appearing as others dip down below the horizon. Although I was initially worried that my friendly Summer Triangle would not be around all year (I suppose them name should have given that away - doh) I hope that by then I'll be familiar with other areas of the sky, or at the very least be able to use the bright stars in Orion as my new anchor point! Thanks again for the help and tips everyone! One last thing, should I be making these updates in the blog section of the site or is it okay to continue to post them here?
  3. Those sites are fantastic! Thanks for the links - I've now had to create a new 'Astronomy' favourites folder in IE due to the number of great links fellow SGL members have provided! I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's experiences and comparing the number of Perseids we were able to see.
  4. Hi Rachel, The other newbie in Colchester was me! I've only been star gazing for a couple of weeks but already I'm hooked! I've found this forum to be a brilliant source of information on all things astronomical. Everyone is so friendly and I've already picked up a tremendous amount of useful tips. Anyway, hope you have a good time watching the Perseids. I've organised a little meteor party for tomorrow night and am hoping we get good, clear skies. Cheers, Adrian
  5. No worries! I've found the people on this forum to be so helpful and friendly - I wouldn't have managed to take the dust cover off if I was left to my own devices! That link is excellent, and it covers a couple of points I was wondering about. You might find that the RA drive assembly gets in the way of the scope, this was really confusing me until I realised that by moving to the opposite side I could still view exactly the same piece of the sky! And I didn't even think to rotate the tube to move the EP into a more practical position - you should have seen some of the contortions I was putting my body through during my second session! I'm going out again on Wednesday night, ostensibly for the Perseid meteor shower but I'm hoping to see a few more new objects while we're there.
  6. Thanks for the tip! Quick question on RA coordinates - are they absolute or do they change gradually over time? I seem to recall reading that most listed RA coordinates are from the year 2000, and I noticed Stellarium lists two sets of figures. Should I be concentrating on the RA/Dec 'of date' figures?
  7. Not long to go now, and the BBC website currently says Wednesday night will be clear! Unfortunately the Google weather page has 70%+ cloud cover for the night. Let's hope the BBC are right on this one! Thanks for the links, I'll have a good look at both now. I can't wait!
  8. Thanks for the tip, Mike. It's a great idea, I'll have to follow your advice I think! The trouble is I'm not sure my wife is quite as keen on my new hobby as I am and I don't want to end up in the dog house for spending more time with the stars than her! At the moment I'm limiting myself to the area around the Summer Triangle and trying to branch out from there. I find it easier as I can always fall back to Deneb, Altair or Vega for a point of reference. Plus there are some very interesting objects nearby such as the Ring Nebula and the Great Cluster in Hercules. So much to see...
  9. Date: 3rd August 2009 Time: 2230 ~ 0030 Site: Back Garden Weather: Partly Cloudy Site Notes: The site was very bright - there were 2 streetlamps within a 10m radius as well as a very well-lit main road and numerous residences with the odd light on. Additionally, a massive part of the sky was blocked by houses and walls. On a positive note, there was no dew! Observations: I was able to get a clear view of Vega, and also located its constellation - Lyra - my very first constellation! I could also make out the 4 stars that comprise the 'body' of Hercules. I was hoping to view M13 - the Great Cluster in Hercules - but conditions made this impossible. I also viewed a star near the Western Horizon which I believe to be Arcturus. Towards the end of the session the Moon finally came into view. And what a view it was! It was spectacular through my 10mm eyepiece (magnification 65x) and very dramatic as dark clouds were moving across the Moon as I was observing. The contrast between the dark clouds and bright Moon was amazing and made me wish I could have taken a photograph. I also tried to increase magnification by switching to a 6mm EP (which would produce c.108x magnification) but alas the clouds foiled my efforts. Comments: A much more productive session despite the poor conditions. I used the session as a 'practice run' so that I could get accustomed to setting the scope up correctly. I balanced the scope and aligned the red dot finder, although I am still finding the latter tricky to use. I was able to get the scope polar aligned, and also used the RA drive to track Vega. Unfortunately it was out of my field of view within 10 seconds or so - I think I need to look at the manual some more! I was delighted to be able to recognise stars and constellations unaided and the brief glimpse I snatched of the Moon was superb. Again I find myself wishing for clear skies so that I can use my new found skills at a dark site!
  10. Thanks for the comments, everyone! Happily I've been able to improve somewhat since this session, and have started to get the hang of using my mount correctly. I'm finding that the more I discover, the more I want to know! My only concern is getting a bit too carried away and running up enormous bills with my nearest astronomy store! Cheers, Adrian
  11. This is the technique I use on objects that I know the location of and can actually see. Jupiter, the stars that form the Summer Triangle, Polaris and Arcturus are pretty much all of them for now! However, I think the setting circles will be useful when you want to locate an object that the naked eye cannot detect. I still have a tremendous amount to learn, but I hope that by using the setting circles correctly I'll be able to find objects like the Ring Nebula and Great Cluster in Hercules a little more easily! Thanks for the link - I found the section on polar alignment very useful indeed! Cheers, Adrian
  12. Hi Mike, I'm a complete beginner also, and have in fact bought exactly the same scope as you! I was observing on the 8th August from a good dark site and my primary target was Jupiter. I started at around 2230 and found clouds covered where I imagined the planet to be, but after spending some time looking at stars that weren't obscured by cloud I came back to Jupiter at around midnight. I used my 25mm EP first in order to find Jupiter (I find it hard locating objects using the RDF and a more powerful EP) then switched to a 6mm EP. The colour of the planet was more obvious but I wasn't able to make out much detail however. I then popped the 2x Barlow in with the 6mm EP and it made a huge difference. This combination with our scope gives around 216x magnification. If you use the 10mm with the barlow you should be looking at around 130x magnification, which I think should be sufficient to make out some level of detail as well as colour. Also, I found the distance my eye was from the EP made a big difference too - try moving slightly closer or farther away from it and see if this helps after you've focussed. Regarding assembly, I usually wrap the tube itself in the bubble wrap it came in, then put it into a sleeping bag which I then strap into the rear seat of the car! I dismantle the mount and tripod too, and put the mount, EPs, accessory tray etc in a backpack. After a few goes I've found I can assemble the telescope quite quickly and feel this is the safest way to transport the package. The mount is quite a tricky thing to get the hang of isn't it?! I posted a thread in the observing section of this forum about my first experiences with it - have a look there if you want to feel better! :-) I'm still learning too, but I think once you've grasped the concepts of declination and right ascension it gets a bit easier. The next step is learning to use the setting circles! Best of luck! Adrian
  13. James - excellent! I've asked my brother to keep an eye on the sky, I'm trying to decide now whether a Meteor Party I've planned will be better out Lindsey way or at the other site. I'll let you know how we get on! Hi Dean - thanks for the tip! I have to admit I was looking rather lustily at the new Skyliner Dobsonian (with tracking!) in this month's Sky at Night magazine. But first I have a lot of work to do with my 130PM - no point running before I can walk! Bob - I was thinking of a similar place. I don't know the area that well though, perhaps I'll go on a scouting run soon. I went to the roads near the Abberton resovoir but it seems they're pretty popular with the petrolhead community, and bi-xenon headlights racing past every few minutes probably wouldn't be conducive to decent viewing! Cheers, Adrian
  14. There's definitely something alluring about the promise of a meteor shower. I'm very new to all this, and when my friends heard about the telescope they were all a bit puzzled. However, the mention of meteors and suddenly they are all interested - so much so I decided to hold a Meteor Party on the 12th! We have a great dark site scouted out, and thanks to Amanda I'm now in the process of organising the bits and pieces we'll need. I can't wait - let's all just keep our fingers crossed for a clear night! Cheers, Adrian
  15. Hi everyone, I decided to keep a journal of my observing sessions so that I could chart my progress from an absolute beginner to, well, someone not quite so clueless! I’ve taken the below from my notes, and whilst I’ve edited it a bit I think it’s still incredibly basic. Still, the only way is up, right? Date: 30th July Time: 2330 ~ 0130 Site: Colchester (out of town) Weather: Clear Equipment: Skywatcher 130PM, 10x50 Bino’s Site Notes: The site was quite dark but there was some light visible, most likely from the residences near the area. Parts of the sky were not visible due to trees obstructing the view. Observations: Clear and impressive view of Polaris. I was able to identify the 'Summer Triangle' - Vega, Deneb and Altair. Vega in particular was very bright. I was also able to see 2 meteors, which was an incredible sight. Finally I was able to observe an unknown star close to the Southern horizon. Comments: Oh dear. This session was a veritable comedy of errors. I'm not sure where to begin! First of all, I mistook the Altitude and Azimuth controls on my EQ2 mount for the Declination and Right Ascension ones. On top of this, the scope was not polar aligned, I had no compass, and I forgot the batteries that would power the RA drive. I also had no knowledge of the night sky and only a map I found unintelligible for guidance! Looking back, it's a wonder I managed to take the dust cap off. So, was it a disappointing night? On the contrary! The fact I was able to see anything at all was brilliant I loved every second of it. My original plan (if you can call it that) was to view the moon as I imagined even I could locate that. Unfortunately due to the trees and the low orbit of the moon at this time of year that proved impossible. I came back from this session excited and eager to rectify my (many) mistakes. I downloaded Stellarium and set about learning the night sky. I decided to focus on the area of the sky currently populated by the 'Summer Triangle' and have identified many objects to hunt for next time! Cheers, Adrian
  16. Thanks so much - lots of useful advice! Now that you've explained it I feel a bit silly! I should have realised it's not until the meteors reach our atmosphere that they leave a visible trail. Well, that's something else I've learnt today - thanks! Luckily I've been able to see the Summer Triangle on both previous sessions, so hopefully I'll be able to point everyone in the right direction. Because this is as new to them as it is for me I'm sure viewing just about anything will be exciting! I am going to try to find the Great Cluster in Hercules, that looks like an incredible sight! Jupiter would be fantastic too - it is one of the sights I am most looking forward to. I am going to set up around 2130, so that everything is in place by 2200. From then on it will be red light only (I've even got a customised setting on Windows now that is just reds and blacks!) so that everyone can get their eyes adapted. I've already explained that looking at a mobile could be disastrous! I'll get some star maps to go with Stellarium, between them both I guess everyone should be able to see what they are seeing, if that makes sense? I'm really looking forward to it. I seem to be addicted to the BBC weather page of late, as soon as I see we have a clear night I've got my bag all ready to go! Sunday looks to be the next suitable evening so I'll use that as a dry run for Wednesday. I agree, if we do see some meteors that'd be great, but the atmosphere and experience will be fantastic either way. Thanks again! Adrian
  17. Hi Everyone, I've been reading a lot about the Summer Meteor Showers, and am thinking about hosting a Meteor Party. I am very new to this, and so far have only actually used my telescope twice! As such I'd be really grateful for any suggestions / advice more learned observers can provide! My plan is to go to a dark site at around 2200 on the 12th August and observe the Perseids. The first stumbling block came at knowing where in the sky to look. I bought this month's Sky at Night, which confused me even more! They state the radiant is just above Perseus, which makes sense, but go on to say: "If you look at the square of Pegasus, over towards the Summer Triangle, you'll get meteors streaking down the Milky Way from Cygnus to Aquila". I've been observing Vega, Deneb and Altair so I feel confident following the instructions, but am conscious I'll be looking at the Summer Triangle and not Perseus. Would this be a big mistake? Also, I'm planning on taking a waterproof base mat, sleeping bags, folding chairs and the usual assortment of tea/coffee etc. Is there anything else I should consider taking? Many thanks in advance for any tips! Cheers, Adrian
  18. I've been using a Skywatcher RDF that came with the scope I bought. It's easy to align but it took my a little while to get used to the idea of looking through the sight into the night sky. Sounds obvious but I struggled for a while to get myself 'in line' with it, particularly when the scope was at awkward angles. Also, I have now left the RDF on twice now after viewing sessions - it's very easy to forget to turn it off! Finally, I have found that sometimes the red dot obscures smaller objects which makes precise targetting difficult. However, I should say that I am an absolute beginner and the minor issues I've experienced are most likely faults with me and not the RDF! Cheers, Adrian
  19. Thanks - it does indeed look like a good site! I took a drive out there yesterday afternoon and can't wait to return with the scope! I've also been thinking about going to the roads surrounding Lindsey, my brother lives there and has often commented how brilliant the stars appear from his house. It's not too far from Hadleigh which I don't think is a massive distance from you. I'll try both and let you know how I get on. Thanks again for the tip, I'll keep my eye out for the post about dark sites! Cheers, Adrian
  20. Thanks again for all the welcomes! I've been experimenting with the scope today (as recommended by Astro_Baby - thanks!) and feel much more confident about being able to use it a little more effectively now. I also discovered my red dot finder was way off, hopefully I've corrected it now. I've spent some time familiarising myself with star charts and Stellarium and just can't wait to get out there again! I've identified two main targets for my next observing session - Jupiter and the Andromeda galaxy. I'm desperate to see my first planet and the thought of viewing another galaxy is difficult to put into words! J - sounds good! I went to Highwoods country park last time which was pretty good and only 5 mins away from me. However the light from the town was still quite apparent, I suppose I'd have to go somewhere really dark to appreciate the difference! If you could let me know roughly where to go that's be great! I can imagine the deer would have been quite scary, although I suppose they were probably pretty terrified themselves! Adrian
  21. Thanks for the quick replies and warm welcomes! I'm looking forward to getting back out there as soon as the weather is favourable!
  22. Hi everyone, I've been something of a lurker here for a little while, but after finally taking the plunge and buying my first scope on Monday I thought it was high time I registered! I bought a Sky Watcher 130PM with the motorised EQ2 mount and a set of Bresser 10x50 bino's. I absolutely couldn't wait to get out and use them, and on Thursday night I took the scope to a decent site and set about observing. Only at that point did I realise I hadn't any idea how to go about it! Even so, I did manage to view Polaris and what I think was Altair really well. Now that I've had time to read through the instructions properly I'm amazed I saw anything at all! I mistook the alzimuth and altitude controls for the RA / declination ones and made a number of other mistakes. However this has only increased my interest and I can't wait to get out there again now that I know how to get my scope correctly aligned! Anyway, I'm really looking forward to learning more and more about this fascinating subject and will keep an eye out for any meets in my area in the future. Cheers! Adrian
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