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About Relpet

  • Rank
    Star Forming

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  • Gender
  • Interests
    Astronomy, films, history books, French Resistance, sitting in the sun pondering the ineffable mysteries of life.
  • Location
    South-west France
  1. Relpet

    Pic du Midi Observatory, Pyrenees

    I'm truly impressed by your prowess and can see the appeal for experienced mountain walkers. Your picture says it all. But if it's going to be a once in a lifetime experience for someone on their annual holiday a night at the observatory with a film show, a lecture on the history, a planetarium, a good dinner, a night under the stars (or as much of the night as you wish) and a tour of the past and current apparatus after a good breakfast still seems hard to beat. If the cloud cover is similar to my experiences while the observatory itself would be clear every one of those 775 shelters would be enveloped in cloud. Only the points of the very tallest peaks poke through. I'm guessing the Alps enjoy a Mediterranean weather system while we seem stuck with the Atlantic most of the time.
  2. Relpet

    Pic du Midi Observatory, Pyrenees

    As I noted in my piece on an overnight stay in September last year, quite severe ice formed on the metal gangways and handrails. Not so long ago a chap who enjoyed a golden goodbye from an insurance company took a break in the Pyrenees and went walking in light clothing. A group of Italians cautioned him about a forecast change in the weather and recommended he turn back. It was a fine day so he ignored their advice and was found three days later dead of exposure. The Pic du Midi is close to 10,000 feet. Alpine mountaineers, maybe. Your average stargazer??? It may be pricey but what price a long life?
  3. Relpet

    Pic du Midi Observatory, Pyrenees

    The observatory is probably a couple of thousand metres higher up, Olly, and from my experiences usually well above cloud level. It's the cloud lying like an ocean below with the higher peaks rising like islands which can make it such a magical visit in daytime. Equally the tour is in French on the Pic, the observatory being selected by NASA to explore sites for the moon landings so it must have had something going for it. At lower level (that is three thousand metres lower chez moi) the skies dominated by Atlantic weather have been pretty poor for the past two years and observing in Provence is definitely on my bucket list. Peter
  4. Relpet

    Pic du Midi Observatory, Pyrenees

    No, you were not rude by any means, Luke. I think you're quite right to advise people with an interest in the night sky that if they expect to get a tour of the observatory hardware during the day they will be disappointed. Bookings for an overnight stay are limited as well so you need to check early. They can be a bit parochial here. We went up on 14th July, Bastille Day, to hear a piano recital followed by a buffet. The pianist chose instead to give a lecture on Artur Rubinstein, in the open air without a microphone, which largely consisted of a conversation between him and three of his friends. The other 100 or so people, unable to hear a word, had to be content with an occasional tinkle to illustrate his point. Then the mostly French audience, knowing the precedent, headed straight for the buffet at the earliest moment and cleared every table in 15 minutes flat. The polite British had to be content with a few sandwiches brought from the kitchen. Nothing's perfect, even that close to paradise. Peter
  5. I had my first opportunity to use the 'scope tonight. Views of the moon and Jupiter as good as any I've seen before but earthshine on the mon definitely the best. 7mm view of Jupiter also excellent. I was using the AVX manually thinking I wouldn't have time to set up properly before clouds rolled in but a fleeting glimpse though an 8mm Baader modular with both tuning rings made me wish I'd taken the trouble. Anyone interested may like to know the included eyepiece is a 2" 28mm ES argon purged item which retails at about £160. The finder is erect image with a built in illuminated reticle and can be adapted to focus to your eye. Being severly myopic I've always found it a nuisance using my glasses at the finder and naked eye at the eyepiece. This is without doubt a quality finder which would cost twice the price of a normal job. The focusing mechanism is superb. I won't write a review. Ade Ashford did a three-page review in Astronomy Now and I agree with everything he said, positive and negative. I bought it at a bargain price of €750 but just discovered today that Bresser in Germany have dropped the price again to €500. I'm a bit cross with myself for being too hasty but feel obliged to pass it on. As the EP, finder and focuser are worth half Bresser's asking price it looks like a real bargain.
  6. Relpet

    Pic du Midi Observatory, Pyrenees

    You have to stay the night to get the real deal. It is crowded during the day, partly because the local communes have taken it over to develop revenue which otherwise would be pretty slim pickings in that region. At night it's an entirely different story and forget the fast food; you'll get a first-rate dinner and breakfast. The rooms are spartan but they are designed for workers, not 5-star tourists, and if you have a clear night sky you won't be spending much time in the room anyway.
  7. Relpet

    Pic du Midi Observatory, Pyrenees

    As you will know it's a favourite col when the Tour de France comes through the Pyrenees stages. The first time I ever went up (4 wheels, internal combustion engine), also in August, we found ourselves enveloped in thick cloud with strange vaguely mobile shapes appearing in the gloom. As we got closer we found they were a herd of llamas. Make sure you have a lightweight weatherproof cape of some kind. A friend who runs a gite in the next village and a great cycling enthusiast himself had a near-death experience when he found himself descending in heavy rain and a biting wind with only a T-shirt and shorts. The electrical storms in August can be pretty spectacular at night but best observed from a covered patio with a G&T in hand. No matter what you will treasure every minute of your trip I'm sure.
  8. Relpet

    A memorable night on a bare mountain

    Oh, Helen. Are you in for a treat. Mid-July will be great for Mars but just a little early for the lunar eclipse. Clear skies? If there is any cloud you should be above it. I hope you will post a report of your experience and I look forward to that. Peter
  9. I thought I'd raise a glass last night rather than start a fire - (though it was cold enough in our front room). And I did enjoy, thanks.
  10. I came across this in my local branch yesterday. Haven't tried it yet but I do like the label.
  11. Relpet

    Pic du Midi Observatory, Pyrenees

    Dead right, Pete. He went up in June last year with a group of other high-rankers. I don't have my copy with me but I believe a number of his pictures were featured in an article in Astronomy Now later in the year. My wife offered me the trip for my birthday in June but I turned it down as I thought astronomical twilight would make conditions less perfect than if we went in September. What do I know? Peter
  12. Relpet

    Pic du Midi Observatory, Pyrenees

    Sorry, forgot the link http://picdumidi.com/en/plan-your-trip/a-magical-night-at-the-summit
  13. Relpet

    Pic du Midi Observatory, Pyrenees

    I posted a description of a visit I made with my wife last September. I hope this is useful. We spent the night there but in June when it gets dark so late you may have to take the last telecabine down before the stars come out. Here's an English language link. Believe me, don't begrudge spending the money to stay the night so long as the sky is clear.
  14. I'm really pleased to hear that from a user as it confirms what I've already read. I'm in UK at present so the 'scope is being delivered to a friend in France who is honour bound not to open the packages until I get there. I should get my hands on it in about two weeks when I hope to be able to give a first light report. Thanks again.
  15. If anyone read the review of this telescope by Ade Ashford in the current edition of Astronomy Now they might have been tempted to sell the children into chimney-sweeping and go out and buy one. I thought it was a bridge too far for me until I received a newsletter from Bresser in Germany where I have an account. I always check the stock they have in their ex-display and discontinued sections and was astonished to find one of these marvellous 'scopes priced down from 999€ to 750€ with about €7 delivery to my address in France. When I've bought ex-display stuff before from Bresser it has come in unopened packaging so I don't expect to find anything other than a pristine 'scope when it arrives. An American reviewer says it works perfectly on his AVX mount - just the ticket for me. I don't know how many "ex-display" they might have left but if you want one of these 'scopes you might check their German website. My next purchase was going to be the ES 12" Ultra-light Dob but I think that's faded into the distance now. In AstroBuySell I notice Ade Ashford is selling a 6" Mak-Newt, I guess because he wants to keep the Comet Hunter. I hope this is of interest.

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