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Nigeyboy

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Everything posted by Nigeyboy

  1. Seems to be the way of it at the moment!! Hope you get some time to test out the ES30 soon!
  2. Hi everyone, Note - entry written Thurs 17th Jan Well, its getting busy at work, and at home now. Coupled with work, my daughter is approaching the end of her A-Levels so she is massively stressed out with both her course work, and her uni applications. I can’t quite believe that my little girl is going to be leaving home in September. Only seems like yesterday that she was getting ready for her first day at school . . . . I am going to find that day very hard I think. We spend our lives looking after them, and raising them for this moment, but it doesn’t make it easier does it? Anyway- that day is nine months ahead of us, so I won’t dwell on it just yet!! Last night saw a decent break in the clouds. According to the forecast, a cold front had moved through and lo and behold the sky cleared mid to late afternoon, and the temp dropped noticeably. I took th tube out about 7:30pm, and left it a good hour to cool. Following my little process, I set the mount up inside, and then carried the whole thing outside. Mounted the tube, balanced it and I was ready. Again, I only carried out a rough polar alignment – looking through the centre of the mount I centred Polaris and I was ready to go. The evenings viewing was all about the Moon, so I had set up the scope in the garden, rather than round the back of the house. Yeah there was a lot of LP from the street light which I have dubbed Rigel, on account of its colour and brightness, but as I was just looking at the moon it wasn’t too bad. I started off at 48x with my 25mm and spent a good half an hour just taking in the view. The atmosphere seemed quite steady, and I took in the amazing detail along the terminator. About this time, my 11 year old lad came out with his coat and hat on! I moved the tube round for him, and he spent half an hour out with me which was lovely! He kept looking through the eyepiece, and then up at the moon, not quite believing the detail he could see! We upped the mag to 120x and while the image was a bit dimmer, the seeing was still very good and steady, and between us we looked at Sinus Iridium, Plato, Clavius, Tycho and Copernicus. He was a model student lol! Asking me loads of questions about what he was looking at. He only went in when he got too cold bless him!! So, another successful night with the 150PL. I have begun to tick off various items of the Lunar 100 list. I want to take my time with it, and not do it all really quickly. I also want to go back to various locations at different phases / illuminations, so as to pick out more detail in them. I have downloaded an Excel list of the features, and added a big map of the Moon showing their locations. I have also downloaded a really good Moon Atlas which is helping ID loads of smaller craters – the smallest I saw last night was about 10 miles across I think. Anyway – here’s hoping the skies keep clear for us all!! Cheers Nige
  3. Cheers Lurcher - its been a long time coming and i am so pleased I finally have the scope! M31 was in the one direction where there wasn't a huge amount of LP - guess I was lucky!!
  4. It finally happened – after waiting two weeks and a day, the clouds parted, and I was greeted with a clear, still and cloudless sky!! Whoop Whoop!! 15 days is a long time to wait! The scope (SW Explorer 150-PL) had been sitting in my dining room since Christmas, and despite a very short outing last week, that lasted about 10 minutes, last night was the first time I used her properly. I popped the tube outside a good hour before I intended to go out to observe, giving it plenty of time to cool down. I then put the mount together – I did this inside, so I could see what I was doing! Once it was all secure and bolted together, I set the declination (?) to 53 degrees and took the whole thing outside through my patio doors. Before I popped the scope on the mount, I did a basic polar alignment. I was chuffed – I had the declination spot on, and just need a tweek to the left and it was there – not perfect, but enough for my first observing session. I then put the OTA onto the mount and secured it. I had been playing around with it in the house the previous week, and had found the balance point, and marked the dovetail bar, clever eh?! I then moved the counter weights about to get that balanced as well – it all worked out fine, and the lightest touch when the clutches were off was enough to move the scope about. I fitted the finder scope and got it aligned with tube – I did find this a bit tricky to start with, and a couple of times during the evening I managed to knock it out of true with my arm / head / face!! And I was now ready to go! My observing location is pretty limited at home – the front / side of the house is now flooded with light from an LED street lamp – the red circles show the street lamps, and the red cross is where I set up the scope. I had good views to the North and to the West though: I'm not shy to say that my knowledge of where things are in the night sky is limited!! This will change as the year progresses, so i content myself to first locate M31. I found this quite tricky - the finder scope is a straight through job, and the angles can sometimes make looking through it a challenge. So I bought out the 20 x 80's and quickly found it. I then pointed the scope in the same direction, and a few twists of the slo-mo controls and there it was. I had the 25mm eyepiece in and I realise that the target was waaaay bigger than the view through the eyepiece!! However, the core was revealed. I looked for quite some time, and small details began to come out and I'm sure I saw the darker dust lanes. I then took a look for the Double Cluster, and wow!!! What seemed to be hundreds of stars, packed into the view! I was getting happier by the minute! I content myself to just scan the star fields in that area for a while, and then swung around to try and and find M51. Using the 20x80 technique I found it, and turned the scope to it. It was a faint fuzzy at 48x, so I upped the mag to 120x with the 10mm eyepiece - it became a larger fuzzy object, and I couldn't really see any structure, but knowing the light coming into my eye had covered 20 million light years was awesome! It was getting late, so I took off the tube and carried it round to the garden with the street light over it - I wanted to look at M42 before I packed up. However, the glare from the street light overpowered the finder and I couldn't see anything. Tried to shield it with my hand, and although it stopped the glare, it was all a bit washed out. Shame - perhaps an air rifle would be a good investment . . . . . !! So, overall I thoroughly enjoyed my first night out with the 150PL. A few early observations on the scope and mount (this blog will be like a long term review for the scope): The OTA with tube rings and dovetail bar weighs in at 6.4kg / 14lb, according to my scales. This is right at the limit for the NEQ3-2 mount. Added to the weight, the tube is long at and although I got the balance spot on, it took several seconds for the vibrations to die down following focusing. However, using the slo-mo controls didn't induce any noticeable shaking when tracking objects, so thats a bonus! I think a heavier mount will be needed at some point. I hope to try and save for the HEQ5, but with daughter going off to uni in September that may be a while down the road!! The eyepieces and barlow that came with the scope appear to be fairly solid - I only really used the 25mm, and I have nothing to compare them too, but the view seemed bright and sharpe. The finder scope is a generic 6 x 30mm. While the view is crisp, trying to look through it gave me a cricked neck after a while!! A 90 degree finder will defo be required The dovetail bar is a lovely green colour, but does appear to be quite soft - just mounting the scope the few times I have used it as already left some marks and dints in it. The focuser is fine for my use - not stiff at all, and with enough friction to make small adjustments easy. I see no need to upgrade this yet. So - lets hope the weather stays clear, as I am keen to turn the scope on to the Moon!! Thanks for reading, and a Happy New Year to all!! Cheers Nige in Derby
  5. Thanks for the replies - appreciate the responses. I did just as you advised. I did take a soft dry cloth to the outside of the OTA, and also the mount. Got a good 2 hours out last night, finally!!
  6. Evening all! Due to the cloud curse that afflicts new telescope owners, tonight was the first time since 25th December i have managed to get out with my shiny new telescope! I have had a good two hours out under the stars, and i am blown away by the views my Explorer 150PL has shown me (I am doing a blog here in SGL, so please take a look for the upcoming 'First Light' entry - (Here). I have a noob question - bringing in the scope from the outside it has obviously attached a lot of condensation on the outside of the tube, and also the mount. I have dried off the worst of it, and have left the main cap on with a small air gap, Going forward, is this something I need to worry about? Going to bed now as work in the morning (boo!!) Thanks in advance Nige
  7. A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone! I do hope everyone had a fantastic time over the holidays. Well, Santa has been very kind to me this year, and on Christmas morning I awoke to a huge box in the living room – it had been too big to wrap, and anyway I knew what I was getting lol!! So, I am now the proud owner of a Skywatcher Explorer 150PL. it was ordered from RVO at 4pm on Thursday afternoon, and arrived early on Saturday morning – great service!! I had um’d and ah’d for ages on what OTA to get, and I finally settled on the PL. To me, it seems to be a good compromise between focal length, portability and aperture. It will be perfect to get me back into observing once again. I think the mirrors will need collimating – that’s a given, right?? My daughter got me a collimating eyepiece and I have been reading up on how to do it – hopefully I can manage to do it without too many problems!! The tube has come with rings, dove tail bar, 10mm and 25mm eyepieces, a 2 x Barlow and a 30mm finder scope. I think I will be after a 90 degree finder at some point to make things a bit easier. I have mounted it onto my NEQ3-2 mount, and it balances ok. I think the mount it at is limit, but for observing it will be fine until I have saved for the HEQ5. Can’t wait to get it out under the stars, however, the weather forecast is cloud for the next week at least . . . sigh!! I guess that is the fabled curse of new scope owners everywhere!! So – lets hope that the clouds clear soon. I can see blue sky at the moment . . . just hoping it stays that way! Happy New Year everyone, and pop back again when the next entry will be following my first evening with the PL!! Cheers Nige
  8. Hi all, As you may have read in one of my previous posts, my job with Greene King sees me coordinating till and IT installations during pub refurbs. Well, these last four weeks have been solid. We are trying to get as many pub refurb projects completed before the end of this month. Doesn’t do to have pubs closed at the busiest time of year! However, things are beginning to slow down on that front – although the meetings for jobs starting in the New Year are already coming in! This, added the fairly rotten weather have meant I have not been out with my binoculars as much as I would have liked. I have managed a few short sessions outside though and have seen the following: Venus – I get up early during the week, and always poke my head outside to see what the weather is like! Saw Venus was up, and quickly popped on my slippers to take a look. It was bloomin cold!! The sky was just beginning to lighten, but the view was crisp and the planet showed a definite crescent phase! I was so pleased!! Mars – I can’t see a disc, but the orange hue shows up well. Must wait to get the 150PL for a proper look!! Moon – again, impressed with the views I had. Observed the moon over a number of different phases, from just past new, to nearly full. The detail I was able to pull out along the terminator was pleasing. I have downloaded a Moon atlas, and am challenging myself to learn as much as possible on the geography of the Moon. Once I get the 150PL I am going to try for the Lunar 100! Messiers – I have downloaded a Messier catalogue spreadsheet, so I can start ticking off the ones I have seen. Not really had a chance to look for some of the dimmer ones, but (obviously!!) I have ticked off M31, 42 and 45!! I think I caught M1, but not too sure at the moment. I was in my back garden, and the LP was quite bad. Other stuff – I have downloaded a Plane Radar ap for my phone. I keep an eye on it during the day, and if I see a large commercial jet heading over, I pop out to take a look. An A380 at 33,000 feet is quite a site through the bincoluars!! I could very clearly ready the ’Emirates’ logo in red and white under the wings. Thanks for reading! I will try and do another blog before Christmas, work and weather permitting! Cheers Nige
  9. Thanks for the replies. Just to clarify I already have an EQ 3-2 mount. Not it a few years back. So am just going for the OTA now.
  10. Hi Neil It will be visual i will be using it for. AP will come along at some point, but I don't have the funds for that at the moment. I am interested in lunar and solar system, and understand that the DSO's may be a challenge! I do have a pair of 20x80 bins for widefield use, and have been thinking of getting a 120ST Frac as well. Those are some awesome pics! Very impressive indeed. Thanks Nige
  11. Afternoon all, I have set my sights on this OTA, as I think it is a good compromise between aperture and focal length. What I am struggling to find is some good reviews from people who have actually owned and used this scope themselves! So - any of you peeps had this scope now / in the past? What are your thoughts, and are there any issues / problems I should know about? It will be mounted on an EQ3-2 for the time being. I hope to have saved up enough by next summer to get a more substantial mount! Thanks in advance Nige
  12. Thanks Andy - I had a look at it last night, and it looks like just what i need! Cheers Nige
  13. So, been another busy week, but not so much travel – just been pottering around the local area which makes a nice change! Also means I get home at a reasonable hour! Had a good weekend – my 10 year old son and I went to the Donnington Car Museum for a look around. He is mad about F1, and when we saw two of Senna’s cars, he was over the moon! I read that it is closing down for good on November 5th, as they can’t afford to keep it open any more – such a shame, as there is so much history there. Anywho – on to other things. The weather has been fairly kind this past week, but it wasn’t until the end of last week I managed to get out under the starts with my 20x80’s. it was my first look at the moon through them, and I was very pleased with the view – the moon as just coming up to half full, and the detail along the terminator was crisp and sharp. I was able to make out Mare Imbrium. It was half illuminated, and some of the mountain peaks on the far side where just starting to be hit with sunlight. Further down, there were two craters in amazing relief – I think they were Eratosthenes on the left, and Copernicus to the right. Copernicus as in deep shadow, apart from the far left crater wall, which was bathed in sunlight. Overall, I was really pleased with the views, and have decided to learn as much about the Moon as I can, in readiness of the Explorer 150PL I shall be getting at Christmas. Further afield, I kept getting pulled back to the area around Cassiopeia, and Andromeda. I still don’t know what I am looking at really, but once back in the house, I am using Stellarium to work it out!! I found two clusters, close together below Cassiopeia – turns out it was N884 and N869, and each showed a mass of stars. I went back again to M45 to marvel at the sea of stars I could see. It is still fairly low from where I am, so hopefully the view will improve in the coming months. Next out, I want to try finding some globular clusters, such as M13. Time to start ticking off the Messier objects I think! Looks like it will be good again tonight, up till about midnight, but the Moon is nearly full, which might makes things tricky – we shall see!
  14. Hi all Can anyone point me toward a decent online moon atlas? Preferably one that shows a good level of detail, along with info of the features? Thanks in advance Nige
  15. Glad you got the Skymasters back Kev - and a new pair at that!! Very good service there. I also popped out for half an hour last night with my 20x80's, from about 10:30pm. My first proper look at the moon, and I was pretty blown away! I will be adding the session to my Blog her on SGL on Monday next week! Clear Skies! Nige
  16. Had another thought about this - surely if this thing is going to illuminate a single area, it would need to be place into geostationary orbit? would that not mean the collector surface area would need to be that much bigger?
  17. Just what we need - more LP! Kind of reminds me of the satellite in the Bond film 'Die another Day'. Maybe they have ulterior motives . . . . !! But seriously - is this the shape of things to come? Soon there won't be a dark sky anywhere on Earth left for us . . . sad times . . .
  18. Well, it appears to have been over three years since my last Blog entry . . . . . so what's been happening? Well, shortly after I my last entry, I was made redundant from my job as a Projects Coordinator. When I say 'Redundant', I was contracting, and the work dried up which was pretty crap. However, I wasn't out of work for long - got some more contracting work, and then just over a year ago I got a perm job with Greene King Pub Co. as a Regional Systems Manager - basically, I look after about 500 pubs IT equipment. My region is East and West Midlands, and the North East of England - so anywhere from Kidderminster in the South, to York and Scarborough in the North. It's a lot of driving (about 35,000 miles per year), but I love it! I get to see loads of the country, and always manager to catch Pop Master on Radio 2 now!! So, back to it - last time I blogged I was after a new scope. Well, I still am!! I have got myself a pair of Celestron Skymaster 20x80 bins as a stop gap, and have managed a couple of evenings out with them since I got them on my Birthday a few weeks ago! I still have the EQ3-2, and have now decided to get myself a Skywatcher 150PL OTA. I have been doing lots of research, and I think it is a good compromise between aperture and focal length. My 10 year old son is now getting interested in space and astronomy and to be able to see the planets is especially important!! Looks like I will have to wait from Crimbo for the scope - I have sent my letter to Santa already, and I am pretty sure I have been a good boy this year!! So, I hope to start Blogging weekly again now, to start with, with observations with my new bin's, and the in the new year, with my shiny new scope! Thanks for reading! Nige
  19. Hi - welcome! I'm a Noob as well, and have just started back on SGL. Sounds like you will have some dark skies when you move!! Good luck!
  20. Hi Merlin - I honestly don't know the answer to that. I would hope not, as they are marketed as 80mm. I would feel pretty cheated if that were the case!!
  21. Update, and some pics: Popped outside again late last night, after I got back from a pub installation in Bristol. Seeing was not so good - there seemed to be a very slight haze in the atmosphere that dulled things slightly. I returned to M45 - has to be my favourite at the moment! I could also just see Taurus rising over the neighbours hedge ,so took a look at Alderbaran - the orange colour was quite evident, and the loose cluster that makes up the Hyades was quite something! Here are a few pics I snapped off today. The 'small' bins next to the Celestrons are my poor old battered Miranda 10x50's! The eyepiece shot was handheld using my mobile phone camera, so its a little OOF, but gives an idea of magnification and FoV.
  22. Nice set up there Kev - I like the idea of a pistol type grip. I have a traditional photo tripod, so might look into getting one of these!
  23. Hi Kev - they are good! Can't wait to get to a really dark sky site and give them a proper go. Just need those pesky clouds to clear for an evening or two . . .
  24. Hi all, Been a while since I have been on the site – work has been really busy these last 18 months, and although it’s still manic, things are slowing down a bit!! Viewing my previous posts, you will see that I was in the market for a new scope to adorn my EQ3-2 mount that I had purchased ages ago now!! Well, things didn’t turn out as expected, and while I am still hoping to get a scope, hopefully at Christmas if Santa is kind to me (I have been a good boy lol!!) I decided to get a pair of Binoculars to fill the gap! Budget was tight, and I did want a pair of larger aperture bins. A lot of reading up on the internet, and I settled on the Celestron Skymaster 20x80’s. I already have a pair of 10x50’s so was after something with a bit more power, and larger objective’s. The skymasters seemed to fit the bill, and the price was right as well! I dropped into Rother Valley Optics with my cash on the off chance they would have a pair in stock – they didn’t, so I left my details, and less than 24 hours later, Adam from the shop called me to say they had a pair in! I drove over to their shop, tried them out outside the shop, as I had read that some pairs are known to have collimation issues. These where perfect, so I parted with my £99 cash and went home with them! First class service from RVO, and I will be using them again when it comes to getting my scope – thanks guys! So, onto the bin’s. They came double boxed up, and within the branded box inside the plain box, the bin’s were securely packed in foam and wrapped in plastic. They come with a basic carry case, which won’t protect them from hard knocks, but will keep the dust off them while not in use. The eye pieces are protected by a one piece cover, while each large objective is covered by its own, separate cover. There is also a basic neck strap, but it appears quite flimsy, and I won’t be using it. The bins have a built in tripod adaptor, on an adjustable slider, meaning they can be securely attached to a tripod and balanced up. Weight wise, they tip the scales at just over 2.6kg. This isn’t hugely heavy, and while I did use a tripod for some observing, when I wanted to look at things nearer the zenith, I hand held them, and did so for quite some time. I didn’t feel they were overly heavy, even after prolonged use. It seems that new scope curse also affects owners of new binoculars, as I had to wait 5 days for clear skies!! I went out at about 10:30pm into the back garden, and while the side of house has a street lamp directly over the hedge, round the back its cut off, and quite dark. I began by finding M31, which at is currently nearly at the Zenith. I could see the central core clearly, and with some averted vision, make out some finer details in the disk. Moving on to M45, the Pleiades, that was just rising over my neighbours fence – what a sight!! Even though it was quite low down, the cluster filled the view, and I could see loads of fainter stars within it. Moving through the Milkyway, the view was filled with thousands of stars and star clusters!! I was really impressed. I intend to go to a dark sky site up in the Peak District, just north of Ashbourne when time and the weather permit, to get some proper dark sky viewing in! I have not yet been able to look at the Moon or any planets through them – the Moon hadn’t risen by the time I turned in, and is now a very small waning crescent. I will have to wait a bit longer, and will update the review once done. Mars was up, but low in the sky, and due to the street lights, swamped with LP. With terrestrial viewing, they provide bright and crisp views. While there is some CA when looking at things with bright edges, general viewing wasn’t affected in any way. I plan to take them to my local nature reserve to test them out on some wild life as well. I am also a bit of a plane fan, and when time permits I park up near East Midlands Airport to watch the aircraft coming and going – these will be great for that, set up on my tripod for easy viewing! Conclusion – the Skymaster 20x80’s are a decent pair of binoculars. While they don’t have the build quality of more expensive ones, treated well I can see no reason why they won’t last for years. They actually come with a 5 year Celestron guarantee anyway! For causal use when you don’t want to set up the main scope I think these fit the bill nicely, and I would recommend them to anyone. Cheers all Nige
  25. Wow!! Brilliant capture, and bright even behind the cloud! I’m going out tonight to try and see / capture some.
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