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Everything posted by Nigeyboy

  1. I'm so pleased this thread was bumped, or I may never have found it!! I have a manual EQ3, and will be getting the enhanced motors for it next month for my Birthday. I planned to start using it as just a widefield rig with just my (un-moddified) Canon 400D and 17-55mm f2.8 lens. I am then hoping to move up to some lunar imaging with an old webcam i found in the loft a while back on my 150PL. The pics on this thread are amazing - shows what can be done on a budget and with minimal equipment!!
  2. Thanks for the comments. If I had remembered to take my laptop with me I would have picked up on the focus issue - live and learn though. Already planning my next trip (this time a bit closer to home in the Peak District), so hopefully will come back with some better images!! I noticed I also picked up M31 on the first pic - faint, but its there!! Also - that bright 'star' just to the left of the chimney is Saturn!
  3. Hi all Spent a week in Cornwall mid August. The skies where truly dark, so tried some (really) basic AP. Just my 400D with an EF-S 17-55mm 2.8 attached. Opened right up, ISO 1600 and a single 30 second exposure. I didn't nail the focus, but am quite please with the results!
  4. Wow!! Thats incredible!! I tried my hand at some basic AP while on holiday in Cornwall a few weeks back. I only had a static set up (Canon DSLR on a tripod), but still caught some details!! What tracking mount did you use?
  5. Hello there!! Yeah, its been a while since my last blog post. Work and family life have been unbelievably busy these past months – added to that the summer nights being short, things on the astro front have taken a bit of a hiatus. However, the nights are slowly drawing in now, and following our recent holiday to Cornwall I am slowly getting more time to get out under the stars! A couple of weeks ago, we took a family holiday to Cornwall. We stayed on a working farm, on the edge of Bodmin Moor. I had done some homework, and the farm had Bortle 4 skies, compared to my 6 at home in Derby!! I was looking forward to seeing some proper skies! The first few days, while warm and sunny, moved to cloud in the evenings. However, I got my chance on the Wednesday evening – clear skies from horizon to horizon! I waited for the sky to become fully dark, and went out into the little garden we had the use of at about 10:30pm. I was lucky – the farm didn’t have any floodlighting, and the only light was a security lamp on the farmhouse. I was well hidden from it anyway in the garden. I wasn’t able to take my 150pl with me (too big!!), but took my Celestron 20x80’s along. After my eyes became adjusted, I was rewarded with one of the clearest and brightest skies I had seen since my days living in rural North Norfolk! The Milky way was a bright band across the sky, with Saturn nestled in it toward the horizon, and so many stars I had trouble making out the constellations! M31 was bright and clear, and Double Cluster was amazing. I spent a good half hour just sweeping my bins along the star clouds of the Milkyway. It was then I decided to go and get my camera, and try and my hand at some basic AP. I set up my tripod and Canon 400D, set the ISO to 1600 and opened the lens to f2.8, and pointed it at Casseopia with a 30 second exposure (couldn’t do any longer than that as I had forgotten my cable release!). The image came back and even on the LCD I could see I had captured a lot of detail! I took a few more, and the results are below. Did some basic editing in CS-5 – just tried to make the detail stand out a little more. Am quiet happy with them – only 30 sec exposures! The lack of LP was a real bonus!! This has ignited my desire to take the AP further. Nothing like getting an expensive mount (yet!), but I plan to get the dual enhanced motors for my EQ3-2 and attach my camera to that. Hopefully I can get at least a couple of minutes exposures at moderate focal length. I only have a 17-55mm lens, but is the f2.8 version. I have also looked into getting an adaptor so I can attach older FD lenses to the 400D. There are some real bargains on Ebay for 135mm / 200mm and 300mm FD lenses. I will do a separate review of the place we stayed – it really is perfect if you are looking for base to explore Cornwall and Devon ,and also want dark skies at night!! Thanks for reading, and hopefully, it won’t be 6 months before I post again!! Cheers
  6. Thanks for the comments - understand about the full moon! I knew it wouldn't be the best image, but thought I would give it a go. Weather looks of later, so may try again. Moon is at 79% so will at least get a bit of terminator! I may also try and hook up my 'webcam' that i have built! Will see what happens!!
  7. Hi all, Popped out last night to have a go at shooting the moon through my SW-150PL, using my iPhone to capture. Nothing amazing here - handheld the phone up to the 25mm eyepiece and took a few shots. This was the best, and I have done some minor tweaks using the phones photo editor to bring out some detail.
  8. Hi all Been a while since my last entry, so thought it about time to log another! Things are getting a lot busier at work. My area has changed, and I have now taken on Norfolk, along with Bristol and South Wales. I am a Regional Systems Manager for Greene King Pub Co. and look after all the sites IT and till equipment. So, more sites means more meetings and more miles, but I love it - getting out and about, and seeing areas of the country I haven't been too before. The other day I had to drive from Shrewsbury to Sheffield, and the SatNav took me over the Moors near Manchester, and the High Peaks near Buxton. It was a lovely drive!! As a result of the above, my leisure time has taken a bit of a hit, but I have still managed to get out with my Telescope on quite a few occasions, albeit from the back garden. When the weather has cooperated anyway! I will do a more detailed write up later, but I have made good in roads on my Lunar 100 challenge, and also made good progress in re-learning the sky. All being well, I will be heading up to the area around Ashbourne / Ilam in a few weeks. I have a friend living out in the sticks, and he has graciously let me use his back garden. Its proper dark there - compare to my garden anyway, so that’s something to look forward too. I have also taken my first, probably ill-advised step, into AP!!!!! I went out last night and took some pics of the full moon. I used my 25mm eyepiece, and hand held my iPhone up to it. I wasn't expecting anything amazing, but was fairly pleased with the results: Not completely in focus, but as I said, it was all hand held! Makes me think if I can mount the phone in some way, I could get some sharper shots. I have also found an old webcam - I have butchered it, and made some adaptions to allow it to attach to the focuser. I gave downloaded various software to hopefully allow me to get some video of the moon for stacking purposes. Not tried it yet, as I need to get a longer extension lead for the laptop. But I think it should work ok. I will do a full post on it once it has been for its first test drive!! Clear Skies!! Nige
  9. Seems to be the way of it at the moment!! Hope you get some time to test out the ES30 soon!
  10. 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
  11. 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!!
  12. 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
  13. 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!!
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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.
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. Thanks Andy - I had a look at it last night, and it looks like just what i need! Cheers Nige
  21. 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!
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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?
  25. 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 . . .
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