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Whistlin Bob

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About Whistlin Bob

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    Burton upon Trent
  1. Great stuff. I wonder how many people get hooked on the hobby this way? I could cut and paste your first five paragraphs, and if I swapped "Pleiades" for "Saturn" I could truthfully present it as my own. I wasn't even particularly interested in astronomy when I was doing it. My 76700 is currently sat, unloved up in my loft and retained only for sentimental reasons. I'm just wondering....
  2. Observed last night in an eight inch dob, 2 fov hops down in the finder from Zeta Ophiuchus. Could not see it in the 9x50 finder, but it was clear and quite bright in the ep at 24mm. Really makes you take your hat off to those early astronomers who discovered these things. The diligence, commitment and attention to detail to work out that- 'hang on- that dot has moved!' is really quite something.
  3. “You’re writing a blog about a spreadsheet???” My wife has just discovered that not only have I adopted the habit over the last couple of years of sitting in the garden on clear dark nights and then making notes about it, but I’ve then been putting it into a spreadsheet and getting statistics about it. And now I’m sharing it in public. She’s giggling at me with what I hope is affection… Last year I bought a 14 inch dob and after a few months enjoying the views and wandering through the skies I decided I wanted to be a bit more rigorous and start planning my sessions, so I started making notes on my phone of what I wanted to look at after reading observing reports on the web. I quickly moved onto recording the success or otherwise of these observations on a black notepad on my phone (to minimise disruption to my dark adjustment, although to be honest, in Bortle 5 skies it doesn’t make a huge difference), and it was a short step from there to Excel. I just spotted I’ve been doing this for around a year so I thought I’d share it, partly out of curiosity to see how it compares with others experiences… Stating the obvious: we get quite a lot of cloud. If it’s clear, I’m not doing family stuff and work’s not in the way then I’ll go out and observe. Altogether I’ve recorded 26 sessions. I’m pretty sure there have been more than that- if I’m observing in company I’m much less diligent about recording it. I also sometimes have quick sessions with my 8 inch for half an hour and I’m a bit rubbish about recording those too. So: 26 is roughly the number of ‘proper’ sessions where I’ve sat outside with a target list and written it down. From this I reckon twice a month is a good working average for how often I can do a ‘good’ session. Objects: No of Objects 149 Messiers 65 No of Observations 280 If I was a bit disappointed to realise how infrequent observing sessions are, I was quite surprised by how many objects I’ve managed to record during that period- including quite a good chunk of the Messier catalogue. I suspect I’ve managed to get through most of the easier ones. From my location, although my southern horizon goes down to a few degrees in places, I’m looking directly over rooftops and at the dome of light pollution over the nearby town and often the orange haze makes finding reference stars to hop from very difficult, so I’ll probably need to make more effort to get to dark sites to grow this list a bit. Favourites: I wasn’t surprised to find that there are some objects I come back to again and again, but I was quite surprised to find the Leo triplet at the top of the list, although on 3 of those occasions I couldn’t find NGC3628. M13 is less of a surprise, I never get tired of looking at it and trying to resolve as far as possible into the core. I notice that over time I’ve been less inclined towards the higher magnifications. The Double Double is a favourite first port of call, both because it tells me how good the seeing is, and also whether my mirror has cooled. Plus, I love the idea of it as a vast interstellar executive toy- with six components that we can’t see. I’m sure M42 would have overtaken all of these if it were visible for more of the year and not so subject to winter weather. Failure… Something I’ve not done much of is logging how often I can’t find or see things. The Horsehead is conspicuous by its absence (I picked up an H-Beta filter in March, but just missed out on the HH) and I really want to see Stephan’s Quintet visually- this will need darker skies! I suspect that if I was logging more diligently the times I’ve failed to find either of those targets they’d be quite high up on the list and I’m going to start doing that. I’m also going to record a bit more about where I observe (usually my back garden) and what equipment used. I’ve attached the spreadsheet I’ve used in case anyone wants to re-use the format- it’s pretty basic and has just sort of grown organically as I’ve added bits and pieces to it. It’s a bit of effort to keep it up to date, but I’m glad I did it as it’s been interesting to look back over it and remind myself of what I’ve seen- It’s also a reminder of how great visual astronomy can be when you’re suffering the frustration of several weeks of cloud cover. I’m going to brush over the slightly worrying and repeated experience, of reading about targets, thinking they sound great, then finding I’ve already seen them… Log 18-19.xlsx
  4. One question: have you seen a 16" in the flesh? They're really big. Once I saw one I realised that it would be a struggle to get it through doors and for objects near the zenith I'd need a ladder (I'm 6 foot). In the end I downgraded slightly and went for a 14"- which is just the right side of convenient. It's not quite as powerful, but I don't regret this because it gets a lot of use and I'm not sure the 16" would have. It has relativey cheap far Eastern optics and I find them fine..
  5. +1 on the idea of going for clusters- they're probably your best bet for the next month or 2, although the globs will be quite small in your setup. The beehive is around for a little while yet- that's pretty good.
  6. I'm completely with you on this. I love the sense of achievement that successful imaging can bring, and I've even come to enjoy the processing side. But nothing for me matches being at the eyepiece. So I set an imaging run going and then get the dob out. Plus I've found that once the camera is going I'm more likely to mess it up than improve things!
  7. Can I suggest a slightly different approach? Buy 2 used cameras- 1 for ap and one for 'normal' imaging- then get the ap one modified. I did this- using a 100d for normal and a modded 600d for astro, and this is working very well for me. You could do this, including the mod, for the lower end of your budget, although lenses would be additional.
  8. Thanks- enjoyable report to read and a couple of new target ideas ??
  9. I can really feel your frustration @Fieldsy!!! I think that you're exactly right that the problem is how many different learning curves you can end up ascending at the same time. Can I suggest you drop the guiding just for the moment. Perhaps target clusters which can give you great images from relatively short exposures and use this to really sort out imaging with your main camera? Then you can get some reward for your efforts.
  10. (Homer Simpson noises) mmmmmm..... 24 inches.......... mmmmmm........ drool...... I keep telling myself that 14 is plenty. I really don't need any more. It's not working.....
  11. For anyone struggling to find m51 there's a super easy 2 star hop, if you have cross hairs in your finder, that gets you there every time and saves you from 'mowing the lawn'. 1) Put Alkaid (the star at the handle end of the plough) in the middle of your field of view and then adjust your finder scope to make sure it's perfectly aligned. 2) Now, looking through your finder, move to 24CVn, which is the next brightest star in your finder- see screenshots below. 3) You should now be able to see a three star asterism that looks like a right angled triangle either to the left (straight through finder) or the right (RACI) of the fov. 4) Put the centre of your cross hairs just outside the hypotenuse three quarters of the way towards the shortest side of the triangle. Bingo! I live under Bortle 5 skies and on all but the poorest nights the two cores are visible with direct vision in an 8 inch dob. Shots from Sky Safari below for RACI and Straight Through funders
  12. Looking at your 'victories' (I get the same feeling when an astro photo goes well) I think you'll do great with a 130pds and some of @RolandKol's advice. Please be sure to share your results with us! On the subject of collimating the secondary, at least for the first time, it's worth using a Cheshire instead of a laser. The other key advice is try to be relatively delicate when you adjust it- my problems with this process used to arise from being heavy handed and over tightening. Also- sorry to wander off topic, but how do you get on with the SW AZ mount and the 127? I've been trying to use one for some short exposure (to manage field rotation) DSLR work and it struggles to hold images centrally for very long.. Do you get the same problem?
  13. Great report- sounds a good place to visit ?
  14. Welcome! I had a very happy week in Belgium last year- but I could see what you mean about the light pollution. Good luck with finding what you're looking for! ?
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