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Everything posted by Relpet

  1. I'm lucky enough to be able to spend half the year in south-west France. It was there four or five years ago I first took an interest in astronomy because the skies on a clear night revealed more stars than I had ever seen from our permanent home in a part of Surrey totally overwhelmed by light pollution. I made some fairly big investments in telescopes and eyepieces and have had a lot of pleasure from observing but like many others made a start on imaging, mainly the moon with a DSLR shooting through suitable EPs and a 12" Dob. Having seen so many wonderful pictures of the Milky Way taken by amateurs and with a 360 degree Bortle 3 site just a few kms up the hills behind me I thought I had to give it a go. I bought a f2.8 wide-angle Rokinon lens for my Canon 500D, a Manfrotto head and a decent tripod but 20 seconds was about the longest exposure I could get without star trailing. Clearly I needed a tracking system but the prospect of hauling my AVX mount, power pack and telescope with camera mount up the hill was too daunting. A German friend introduced me to his clockwork Omegon LX2 Minitracker and after a few trial shots I was convinced this was the solution. Soon after I found Omegon had released the LX3 in Europe. This has an improved mechanism but also a greatly improved polar finder over the LX2. Needless to say the skies clouded over the day it arrived so some three weeks later finally I got a chance to use it. The manual, which you have to download, is straightforward and once everything is attached shooting is utterly straightforward. I bought the version which includes the Omegon ballhead and I found that at some angles the ballhead could not keep the camera in position but 90% of the time the camera was rock steady. The clockwork timer will run for an hour on a single winding. I've been able to try it on two nights recently, once from my yard and once from the hilltop. I'm still having a lot to learn about best aperture, ISO and timing combinations, not to mention post-processing but the attached pictures might give anyone else with an interest in Milky Way imaging some idea of the effectiveness of this mechanical rather than electrical device. I believe I captured the Andromeda galaxy halfway down the left of one picture though I'm happy to be corrected on that. The picture of the crescent moon and Jupiter setting, vastly over-exposed, is thrown in for fun. Except for that one the others were all two-minute exposures at ISO 1600 at f4.
  2. Cheers, Knobby. I must say I like the look of Nigella's results with the clockwork job.
  3. Pardon my ignorance, Knobby. In my RAF days a SAM was a Surface to Air Missile. As an alternative I've been guided to this https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p11058_Omegon-Montierung-Mini-Track-LX2-SET-mit-stabilem-Kugelkopf-fuer-mobile-Astrofotografie.html which has the advantage of being clockwork and got a good workout in Sky at Night magazine last year. A German friend has used one successfully. Hmmm...
  4. Has anyone here used one of these, please? https://www.moveshootmove.com/ If so I'd be grateful for an opinion. There are some glowing reviews on YouTube but they seem to be sponsored by the maker.
  5. Thanks, Alan, I need to do some more work with the manual. I shot some RAW images of the moon this evening and found each image was mirrored with a JPEG, which seems a bit unnecessary. Pics weren't brilliant on first sight but will persevere on the next clearer night. Your lucid advice is greatly appreciated. Cheers Peter
  6. That's such a clear explanation of what must, to more experienced imagers, seem an obvious error that it's even overcome my disappointment. I've been told several times to shoot in RAW and I'm about to change the default setting this instant. Thanks, Alan, and to all who replied.
  7. On Wednesday night. July 10th, I promised some visiting Parisians a picture of the moon after they had observed it with me that night. I made a composite from about 15 images taken with a Canon 500D through my 12" f4 Dobsonian fitted with a 2x2"PowerMate. The resulting image was pleasing enough to send the Parisians but seemed to contain more detail than my usual single shot. The image on the screen was 15.5% of the original. When I zoomed in to 100% I was astonished to see what on Earth might be sand dunes, or ripples left by the tide on a beach. My first thought was ancient, solidified lava flows but if anyone can put me right from the cropped pictures attached I would be grateful.
  8. Very interesting link. Lots of food for thought there and the advertised CDs look interesting too.
  9. Poe, in typical over-blown 19th century style, suggests he prefers the myth to the maths.; realising the sensation in his own brain of the beauty he sees with his own eyes yet still enjoying the imaginative interpretations of the myth-makers of the past. He finds the science as painful as a child being told there ain't no Santy Claus. Had he, and they, been able to see the celestial images we see in the 21st century he, and they, would be as rapt in wonder as we are but, though acknowledging everything the physicists say, probably still regarding the scientific explanations as secondary to the awe-inspiring images. - I humbly suggest.
  10. I hadn't expected to start such a discussion and I'm not sure I have the knowledge to make telling points but sometimes the best scientific writing is so lucid it could be placed on the same level as classical prose. It isn't designed to give an impression but to convey the most accurate representation of the idea in the writer's mind. Lucidity is the way to spread understanding. Poetry, music, art are perhaps aimed at a different part of the human psyche, designed to share feelings and which may not strike the same chord in everyone. The best scientific speakers also strive to convey their exact meaning, avoiding cliché, searching for the right word. They want their ideas to take root, not provoke an emotional response. Picking up Olly's last point, in a broadcast from New York hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Janna Levin - a world authority on black holes - said she wasn't looking for easy answers. The challenge was in the search for the right answers and the physics relating to the inner nature of black holes perhaps currently represents the most challenging area of what is not known. The astrophysicists may still be looking for the answers but there's nothing to stop a poet composing his dreamy view.
  11. In June a few years ago the weather on the French side was persistently cold and wet for two weeks. Friends, seeing the depth of our depressed state, recommended no more than two hours drive away is the delightful village of Ainsa. Just like Olly we entered the tunnel in, seemingly, mid-winter, and emerged in high summer. Good luck.
  12. We sure can, Olly. Whitman wrote his piece in 1855 at a time when great strides were starting in American astronomy and which progress he followed all his life. I guess the growth in the number of astronomers would lead to the growth in the number of theories being postulated giving rise to lectures which he found added nothing to his enduring love of the actual night sky. I've always found Whitman a bit over-blown for my taste but his excitement at the discovery of two moons of Mars, his conjecture that there were galaxies beyond the Milky Way and even the possible existence of universes beyond ours suggests he was not thinking idly when he wrote the piece. Neil deGrasse Tyson who recited the poem in the clip is a distinguished astro-physicist, as is Janna Levin who recited the poem at a gathering in New York City. I posted the clip to encourage people who might otherwise be intimidated by the science and so overlook the magic of the night sky and, boy, would Whitman have found magic in the unpolluted skies of 1855. Cheers, Peter
  13. I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay. I'm in UK until the end of June, otherwise I might have suggested we meet up somewhere. In the meantime I must check out Lac de Bious Artigues. Cheers
  14. Just picked this up so hope I'm in time. We have a second home about an hour's drive from La Mongie where you would pick up the cable car that takes you to the observatory on the Pic du Midi. Damian Peach took some great pictures from there a couple of summers ago. The weather can be problematic. The area around the Pic du Midi is kind of on the cusp between Atlantic and Mediterranean weather systems. In the last few years it has been predominantly Atlantic meaning not a high proportion of clear skies. When they are clear they can be stunning. If you time it right the electrical storms raging around the mountains can be equally stunning. There are many ruined castles and ancient churches that might make a good foreground for Milky Way shots, not to mention the mountains themselves but every village in rural France seems obsessed by putting in street lights every 50 metres to meet the demand of any local resident who thinks he needs one. Needless to say if anyone goes out at night they use the car even if they are going to a party just down the road. No one walks at night except the occasional ex-pat. Our village is also blessed with a floodlit football pitch. Match nights and practice nights always seem to coincide with clear skies. Two kilometres from my front door, though, I can escape to a 360 degree dark sky with just distant glow from towns about 20 kms away. You may need to do some daytime exploring to make sure you're going to be happy driving up steep, narrow, precipitous roads in the dark. One suggestion I could make is close to the Cirque de Gavarnie. There is an excellent caravan park there but also a good road leads up to a car park at the Col de Tentes. From the car park you can walk higher until you get a view of the Breche de Roland. It's unlikely you'll be troubled by anyone else lumbering up hill with a telescope once you've left the car park. There is wild country in the Baronies near the castle of Mauvezin where you might get unpolluted skies. The lakeside at Lac de Gery near Saint-Béat might also be a good spot. One of my favourite places in all the world is Artiga de Lin just over the border into Catalonia. From the N230 travelling south turn right at Es Bordes, through the village and follow the road until it runs out into gorgeous countryside. Huge car park but probably littler used at night and, once again, you'll be the only one lugging a telescope away from the lights of any other campers. Rimmed by mountains there should be little light pollution. I hope this helps. No matter what, you've chosen to go to a beautiful part of the world.
  15. Have to wait for next month. Totally clouded over here but thanks for the tip.
  16. The moon is really putting on a show these last few days. Having had great pleasure just observing last night I thought I'd do the same tonight until I looked through the finder and the Golden Handle leapt into view. Back to the house for the camera. 12" Dob, 2 x 2" Televue PowerMate, Canon 500d 125th second at ISO 100.
  17. It may just be a matter of timing. It was a pure fluke that I took the shots when I did and possibly just as the sun was at the optimum angle. It may never happen to me again!
  18. There are an awful lot of Os as well, John.
  19. I took some pictures last night not realising I'd captured the X and V, but L as well? 12" Dob with Baader 17mm connected to a Canon 500D. 40th of a second at ISO100
  20. I bought recently the 2" 2 x Powermate and love it for lunar photography. Haven't had a chance to use it for much else yet but looking forward to exploiting it to the full.
  21. Not a million miles from you Marvin. The village of Saint-Plancard in Haute-Garonne. We spend about half the year there in scattered chunks. I guess you'd be about a two and a half to three hour drive. I got my 150pds second-hand and, frankly, the focuser was so well-worn I replaced it. So you might need to check the condition if you buy a used version. I have a good spare focuser that I bought for a different project but it won't fit your Space Probe. Have you checked Leboncoin for used 'scopes? There is the occasional bargain to be had through LBC, though most expectations seem way too high. PM me for directions if you fancy a drive down some time.
  22. Where are you located in France, Marvin? There are a number of subscribers from French locations (including me until the end of May) who might have alternative equipment you can take a peek through before upgrading. For example, I have a SW 150 PDS myself. As far as I can see your existing focuser takes only 1.25" eyepieces. Most dual-speed focusers have 2" draw tubes so you would have to modify the aperture in the tube, even assuming you could find a focuser that then fits your tube's parameters. It's a subject that has been raised elsewhere since 2009 and there seems to be no quick, easy or cheap fix. You're talking at least £100 for a new focuser, even before you start enlarging the aperture in your tube. A new OTA that comes with a decent focuser included might be your best move for imaging and keep the Orion for observing on your old EQ2 mount, if you still have it. There is a second-hand 150 PDS for sale on AstroBuySell at present.. https://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/propview.php?view=149128 Not much more than the cost of a new focuser. Hope this helps.
  23. That seems to be the most popular upgrade, Miguel. I just wish I'd bought that one in the first place instead of the highly-criticised tripod that SW sell with the mount as standard. As it is I am happy with the AstroTrac I bought from 365Astronomy (see earlier post).
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