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About chbrandt

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    Kansas City, MO
  1. I'm in the very early stages of planning/saving for some new glass and wanted to get some updated opinions on these two scopes. Here are the pros/cons I've found listed in old threads for these scopes: Pros of XT12g Ease/time of setup Less collimation required Lighter in weight overall Significantly cheaper ($453 if you assume a shroud is needed for xx) Not as much affected by elements due to solid tube vs. truss (flexure, wind, etc.) Pros of XX12g Easily broken down/transported in any vehicle Cooling fan included ($23 value) Probably looks cooler Mirror cools faster if open? Let me talk for a bit about how I would use the scope. I live in a light-polluted city with an XT8 and since getting into astronomy last March, I've logged exactly 60% of my 100 observing hours with the scope from my house. The other 40% I've taken the scope to darker skies. I would say that the percentage of going to darker skies is certainly increasing. For example, since August, it's been 40% at home and 60% away from home. Often I'm very limited on my time, observing only for an hour or two, so the grab and go XT8 has been great. I have a Toyota Highlander and don't expect to ever have a smaller SUV. I'm 30 years old and currently store my XT8 upstairs but don't really have any trouble carrying 40-50 lbs short distances. Assuming I could talk the wife into a $2,200 budget later this year, I'm between the XX12g and a shroud, OR the XT12g, the wi-fi controller, a cooling fan to match the xx, a padded telescope case and an off-axis solar filter. The latter option would also save about $40, perhaps for a new telrad. If I don't need to break the scope down into smaller pieces, is there any way I could justify the XX over the XT? Are the views in these two truly going to be near-identical? Interested to hear some thoughts from other users. Thanks in advance!
  2. I stated something in my last post that I've now learned to be incorrect. After talking with Sky Safari support staff, they are now offering an upgrade program on their software. For any purchase within 12 months of a new release, they will issue a coupon code for 100% of the purchase price towards the new version upon its release. This is great news for me, as I purchased SS Plus about 6 months ago and the new version comes out in the next 2-4 months. Also, it does appear that SkyPortal is SkySafari, as others posted, albeit a very scaled back version in regards to amounts of stars/objects/features.
  3. I've recently joined SGL and have been very impressed by the quality of people here willing to help and offer advice. I just got into the hobby last March when I purchased an XT8 and a cheap set of Orion Plossls. Since joining in March, I've logged over 135 hours at the EP and knocked out 80 of the Messiers, joined my very active local astronomical society, became key holder at our public observatory and started upgrading equipment. All told, I'm a little obsessed with the hobby. I look forward to getting to know some of you and to share experiences and ideas in the future! Chris------------------------------------------------------Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian with TelRad. Eyepieces: 30mm Explore Scientific 82° (40x, 2.05°), 14mm Explore Scientific 82° (86x, 0.96°), 8.8mm Explore Scientific 82° (136x, 0.60°). Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars on 70" Pistol Grip Tripod
  4. Thanks for the post, I've never insured before but will be going forward.
  5. Sounds like you've got several good pieces of advice here. I've been using SkySafari for Android on my phone AND tablet (mostly tablet) and absolutely love it. It beats out their desktop software (Starry Night 7) in many aspects and hasn't let me down. The voluminous object descriptions and ability to log observing sessions while at the scope is great. One piece of advice. As someone mentioned, with Sky Safari you don't get to upgrade new versions for free. DON'T MISS THIS ----- a new version for Android is coming out late Q1 or early Q2 with some pretty cool new features. I would recommend using whatever for the rest of the winter season and then getting this app. I have the Plus but will probably be upgrading to the Pro when the new version comes out. Stellarium is pretty cool but I've found there to not be enough stars and objects for what I like. SkyPortal is the same. Their Plus version has 2.5 million stars and the Pro goes up to 25 million. Good luck with your choice!
  6. The skies are pretty good there, I much enjoy going down even though it's about an 80 minute drive each way for me. The Telrad dew cover (frost cover this weekend for sure) is one I found online that was very easy to make. Seems to really work well. See the link below. http://www.homebuiltastronomy.com/downbino/HomeBuiltAstronomy-TelradDewShield.html The scope came with an Orion Plossl and I bought the rest of that set to get started. I have recently started collecting the Explore Scientific 82 degree EPs and have been absolutely thrilled with them. So far I have the 8.8mm, 14mm and 30mm. I'm hoping to get the 6.7mm in the near future to round out the set for now.
  7. John-- I have been reading a bit about these and just wondered how they would change the FL and magnification of my EPs? I currently use an 8.8mm and 14mm, both in my 1200 FL scope, and plan to eventually purchase a 6.7mm to round out my set. Will this ring significantly change my magnification when using filters? Chris
  8. I was out observing one night and kept getting annoyed that I could see my computer screen from my seated observing position. To solve this, I hung a blanked from my open SUV hatch that would keep the light from being visible. It was a bit cold that night so I plugged in a space heater and noticed it was a bit warmer with the blanket holding some of the heat in. As it got colder and colder this winter, I modified the setup a bit and turned the back of my SUV into my personal observing station, complete with heat! I've attached some pictures from our club's dark site from last night so someone can reproduce this if wanted. I've taken 3 blankets that reach from my hatch nearly to the ground and clipped them around rear door using binder clips. After that, I clip on a large tarp using the same clips to hold in additional heat and to block any light that might get through the blankets. On really cold nights, I also put a blanket hanging down from the SUV rear floor over the edge and down to the ground to keep air from coming in underneath the vehicle (not pictured). Several times I've used this now and other club members can't believe how much warmer it gets inside. Some have suggested it's 15-20 degrees F warmer! It's big enough for 2 people to very comfortably stand and this is where I do all of my logging/planning before going out to the scope. Also it's nice to bring my EPs back in occasionally to keep them from fogging up. 10 minutes to set up and maybe 5 to take down. Would love to get some suggestions for any improvements and hopefully this will help someone else fighting the winter cold on the cheap! *Excuse the ugly blankets, they are what I had lying around and after the lights go out, you can't tell. http://1drv.ms/1mYBkHW Clear Skies! Chris
  9. I recently purchased a 2" NPB filter from DGM Optics and am having some trouble using it with my 1.25" EPs. I have an adapter to go from 2>1.25 with filter threads but the problem is my EPs go just a tad too far through the adapter to the point that I think they would hit my filter if it was threaded on. I don't want to attempt to just not totally thread the adapter on, nor do I want to tighten the screw on the EP when it's not all the way in to keep it from touching. I'm thinking I either need an adapter that has more room or maybe some kind of male to female adapter to screw into the adapter to add more room. I've looked some but can't find exactly what I need. Any ideas? Thanks! Chris------------------------------------------------------Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian with TelRad. Eyepieces: 30mm Explore Scientific 82° (40x, 2.05°), 14mm Explore Scientific 82° (86x, 0.96°), 8.8mm Explore Scientific 82° (136x, 0.60°). Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars on 70" Pistol Grip Tripod
  10. Thanks all for the suggestions. I'm leaning towards just leaving the car in the driveway with the OTA in it and then not turning on the heat (other than the seats:) on the way to the site. This should keep the mirror close to outside temperature while keeping it free from dew and the outside elements. Our heater doesn't run much at night, in the house or the garage, but I'm still thinking that inside the vehicle, inside the garage is going to be much warmer than the outside temperature after it's reached the nighttime low. I don't have a cooling fan or a way to power it currently. After I finish collecting EPs and a couple other accessories I'm wanting, my thought is to maybe eventually pick up a battery with some dew heaters and possibly a fan if I can set it all up off of one somewhat small battery. Thanks again everyone! Chris------------------------------------------------------Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian with TelRad. Eyepieces: 30mm Explore Scientific 82° (40x, 2.05°), 8.8mm Explore Scientific 82° (136x, 0.60°). Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars on 70" Pistol Grip Tripod
  11. I recently discovered a nice, dark conservation area about 20 minutes from my house and I set out on Saturday morning for my first-ever pre-dawn viewing session. The night before, I loaded up my car with all of my gear, including my XT8, so I would be ready to pull out shortly after 5am. Upon arriving, I finally learned why everyone is always talking about letting mirrors cool down. Although I'm pretty new to this, from March through November I've mostly been able to take my scope from my heated home straight outside and start using it with no problems, never letting my mirror cool. On Saturday morning, however, the outside temp was about 20 degrees F and the scope had been sitting in my car, wrapped in a blanket for transportation, in my somewhat heated garage (usually around 50-60 degrees). I'm thinking more pre-dawn viewing will be in my future but I want to avoid the time to let the mirror totally cool each time. I'm thinking of ways I can either safely leave the scope outside when I go to bed so it's nice and cold at 5am, or if I can leave the garage door slightly open with it sitting outside the vehicle for that same time. Another option I thought of was to leave it loaded up in the vehicle but park the car outside overnight? In the 20 minute drive, is it going to head back up significantly if I do any of these options? I've read lots of horror stories from people who leave their scope outside, covered or not, too often, so I get worried about that. Any ideas I haven't thought of or thoughts on the ones above? Thanks! Chris ------------------------------------------------------Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian with TelRad. Eyepieces: 30mm Explore Scientific 82° (40x, 2.05°), 8.8mm Explore Scientific 82° (136x, 0.60°). Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars on 70" Pistol Grip Tripod
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