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Relpet

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About Relpet

  • Rank
    Star Forming
  • Birthday 03/06/39

Profile Information

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

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515 profile views
  1. Dead right, JNB. Generally speaking, as a result of that learning curve, I have since bought much more judiciously - new and second-hand - and Grandad's Broom still sweeps around the night sky occasionally.
  2. This place is not far from us, Dave, and we take a walk up there about once a year. As you are interested I thought you might like to know about it. http://www.in-touch.ukvet.net/112/112ann.htm It's said to be the highest elevation military cemetery in the world. It's so tricky to get to the War Graves Commission are quite happy to leave the reverent care in the hands of the villagers. Better close this now. Peter
  3. I had cataracts removed from both eyes a few years ago. The transformation was amazing. Sufferers are rarely aware of the gradual loss of vision so when the mistiness is cleared away the sudden impact of renewed clarity of everything around them can be astounding. To make out every leaf on a tree again, every blade of grass on a village green can be quite wonderful. The replacement, artificial, lenses replacing the clouded natural ones are fixed focus (under the NHS at least) and are slightly smaller than the natural lenses. Driving at night can be a problem for a couple of years as oncoming headlights can strike the edges of the new lenses and defract across the eye causing dazzle but that reduces as the enclosing tissue grows to meet the edges. I have glaucoma also which, if not caught in time, can cause permanent damage to the eye. Treatment with drops or surgery can halt the degradation but my right eye, the one most convenient for observing, was the worst affected and I do have trouble focusing at times. Without the treatment that I started about eight years ago, though, I would probably find astronomy impossible now. Specsavers spotted the glaucoma in the first place and referred me to my GP. A lot of opticians give free eye tests these days. Take advantage of them! What you may not notice they certainly will.
  4. Sorry to be late replying but you are spot on. As I commented to another member a couple of years ago I do my observing mainly at our second home in SW France. There are memorials all over the region to commemorate those who died in the Resistance and innocent victims of Nazi atrocities. It was just a way of recognising the part they played in preserving what, for us, is a beautiful place to spend the years that are left to us reaching for the stars.
  5. Thanks, Paul, The point I meant to make but forgot to add is that I could have bought the whole package I ended up with for signifcantly less than the total I ended up spending. For beginners there are certainly bargains to be had - they just need to know where to look and what they are looking for (which I didn't in that particular case) and to check the cost against the new retail cost. You may not necessarily find the best deal in an unexpected place. Peter
  6. When I first got interested in astronomy a couple of years ago I saw a 4" Newtonian on an EQ1 mount for 50 euros in a Troc in SW France. A Troc is where people put unwanted goods for sale and share the proceeds with the proprietor. Knowing nothing about the normal price of s/h scopes of this kind I thought it looked a cheap way to the stars and bought it. It came with some eyepieces and filters which gave me an extra thrill. After playing with this thing for a while I realised the tripod was damaged and flimsy in any case. So a new tripod from Astroboot. The thing was over a metre long and a bit unwieldy so a new OTA half the length, again from Astroboot. The eyepieces and filters were rubbish and soon replaced. The metre length tube I dismantled and saved the misted mirrors so I could show interested people how a Newtonian works. I later bought some tube rings and a dovetail to mount the OTA on a better platform. So my €50 'scope is a bit like Grandad's fifty year old broom. Four new heads and three new handles but still as good as new. I've learned a lot since then, principally, there is no cheap way to the stars.
  7. Very interesting topic and replies. The light pollution map linked by John gives misreading results. From our village in Surrey, where we don't have a single street light, you can scarcely see anything to the east as the light from the Gatwick/Crawley combination wipes out half the sky. Guildford, Horsham and Dorking to the west, south and north throw in their two-penn'orth. Yet the map shows little LP. Our village in France, though, is about Bortle 3, unless football practice is under way and the floodlights are on, but the map gives, locally, about the same reading. Milky Way, Surrey. No chance. Voie lactée, France. You betcha. Our biggest gripe in France is that each parish has its own budget, to some extent, to spend on local amenities - including street lights. No one goes anywhere on foot (except the ex-pats). If we invite the French neighbours round they will get the car out to drive 80 metres. But though we already have street lights every fifty metres or so along the high street, if anyone demands a street light outside their house they get one. So in what could truly be a dark sky site we do have a lot of local nuisance that I do my best to screen out.
  8. Not long ago I acquired a new SW 4" Newtonian OTA on the cheap but have only an old EQ1 mount to set it on. I would like, from time to time, to swap this tube with the 4SE tube on the 4SE mount so bought a set of rings and the shortest dovetail to fit the SW tube. Only problem seems to be that the angle of the seating on the 4SE mount is does not match the angle on the SW dovetail. In my naivete I had presumed that all dovetails were made with identical angles. So, even fully tightened the SW dovetail is held only by the lip at the top and not only wobbles when standing still but will surely take off into the night sky as soon as the 4SE drive goes into a fast turn. I can't use the Celestron dovetail as the 3mm screw holes are too close to fit securely the bolt holes in the rings, which are a larger size anyway. I've looked at "universal" dovetails but the prices I've seen are not worth it and with no guarantee in any case that the problem would be addressed. A quick, cheap fix must be out there somewhere. Any ideas, please?
  9. We are fortunate to have two excellent Oxfam bookshops in nearby towns and almost my entire astronomy library has been acquired from them. I buy anything that looks an interesting source of information, usually at a fraction of the original cover price, regardless of the particular subject or author. By keep throwing nuggets of mud at my wall of ignorance I find that a gradual layer of retained information builds up which I hope to put to good use once I get a chance to get out under clear skies. Nevertheless, even the scarcity of opportunity in the last twelve months does not detract from the pleasure of finding out more and more about our amazing place in the universe. I can think of hardly any source of information that has no value - sooner or later. You've already boarded the information train; enjoy the ride wherever it takes you.
  10. You will find a lot of fellow observers in Surrey. Guildford Astronomical Scoiety has a strong membership, a connection with the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at Holmbury St Mary and arranges monthly talks at Surrey University by experts in the field. It's a good place to meet like-minded people. http://www.guildfordas.org/ Farnham also has a society http://www.farnham-as.co.uk/ and Walton http://www.waltonastrogroup.co.uk/ These societies usually have open evenings or outreach gatherings and I learned a lot from attending the Guildford meeting at Newlands Corner a few years ago. This forum, as you have found, is full of great advice but sometimes there's nothing like talking face to face with someone with thirty years observing experience who is only too keen to encourage new observers. I hope you enjoy many more clear skies than we have experienced in southern Surrey over the last twelve months! Bonne chance.
  11. Thanks, all. I guess I'll just bide my time and wait for one of those No.120 buses to come along.
  12. To all those still following this topic and have recommended the ED120 are we all agreed this would be the best buy for refractor visiual, please? http://www.skywatcher.com/product/bk-120ed-otaw/ There seems to be little point in spending £600 on something that I will find ultimately lacking if by squeezing the plastic a bit harder, or putting off the purchase either until something second hand turns up (or after a couple of extra months hard saving) I can relax about the, (rather considerable), extra expense of buying new and know I've got something for life. Consensus seems to centre on this 'scope. Thanks to all who have taken the trouble to reply.
  13. Thanks, Olly. I shall be taking my time and searching the small ads but I just feel that before my eyes go completely, my grey matter turns to irredeemable sponge and the pension fund collapses under the strain I should spend some time with a refractor of some kind. I got the 150p-ds, used, as a gift and I haven't had a chance to take it outside in southern England yet but it will be spending the summer months in France so I hope to do have a go at some imaging then. Peter
  14. That's the kind of informed comment I have come to expect from SGL and it is pertinent. At one point last autumn I left the tube of the Dob open in the barn and next time I went to use it, some weeks later, found dead spiders and all sorts littered over the main mirror. After stripping it down, cleaning and reassembling I carried out what was probably the most thorough collimation the Dob had ever been treated to. Then the weather hit and we went for weeks without clear skies and the planets, on those odd occasions when they might have been seen, had gone some place else. My highest magnification EP was 5mm, which was probably a step too far. I was advised early on that 6mm was probably the most likely to give the best result. I have now invested in a 6mm. However, most of my gear is in France and I'm in England until 28th March, so I have to wait until then before I can see what difference this makes. If the improved collimation, correct eyepiece, helpful juxtaposition of planets, clear skies do indeed let me see what I want to see with the Dob then maybe an 80mm APO will be enough of a refractor. Thanks for the observation.
  15. Thanks to everyone, I have truly appreciated all the advice here and will seize whatever opportunity presents itself first in the light of that advice, with practical, affordable quality as the guiding principle.