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About Chiz

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    Thames Valley, UK
  1. Hi, I have just purchased a SW Evostar 80ED and want to start using it for astrophotography. The general advice seems to be that the must-have accessory is the SW .85x Reducer/Flattener, which I hope to get once they become available again (which may be a few weeks/months away). In the meantime I'd like to get started with some AP, so that I can gain some experience. However I am a little confused as to what additional equipment I need / want, and how it all slots together. I have a Canon 550D DSLR, with a T-ring adapter, and a 1.25" T mount camera adapter. These are straightforward enough and there is only one way to put them together. I have used these with my 150PL by using this combination in place of an eyepiece. I have also used the DSLR ring directly on the focuser of the 150PL as that has a T adapter. Now I have the 80ED I am a little lost. This also came with a T adapter - which appears to be a short extension (male one end, female the other). My understanding is that I should not use the diagonal, but I don't know what goes between the DSLR and the scope. I believe that I will need some sort of extension tube to make sure the camera's CCD is in the right place, but how long and what fittings it should it have? I have looked at the usual suppliers' websites, but they seem to assume you know what you want and what to do with it. They talk about T rings, M48 adapters, prime focus camera adapters, T-2 spacers, M48 to T2 adapters, and various other tubes. Do I need any/all of these? If so which? How do they fit together and to the scope? Once I get the SW .85x Reducer/Flattener, how does that fit into the light path? Will I still need extension tube(s)? There is also the FLO Adapter for Skywatcher Focal Reducers - do I need one of these as well? I'm happy to spend money if I need to, but I also don't want to waste money on something that I don't need. It should be clear that I'm confused by the range of connector standards that seem to be involved (T, T-2, M48, etc.) and the basics of how the components fit together. The supplier websites have a great range of components and between them I'm sure they solve almost any problem for someone who knows what they want, but there seems to be very little information for n00bs like me. Perhaps there is a dummies guide to this stuff, but I haven't found it yet. I do have a copy of Making Every Photon Count, and that is an excellent book which will help me considerably with AP, but I couldn't find the information I'm currently looking for in there. Thanks, Chiz
  2. Thank-you everyone for your help and advice. Evostar 80 ED ordered. Looking forward to some clear skies.
  3. I have recently bought an HEQ5 Pro mount and was planning to get a SW Evostar 80ED to sit upon it so that I can learn the basics of astrophotography. I've read here and elsewhere that this really requires the SW .85x reducer/flattener to get any decent results, and that all seems to make sense to me. Unfortunately there are none of these flatteners to be had in the UK, so I have postponed my purchase. I do have a SW Explorer 150PL, which has been a lot of fun for the last few years and I plan to rest it on the HEQ5 as soon as those clouds move away, but I don't see it as a great tool for DSO AP (although I will be trying some lunar pictures). Is there and alternative to the 80ED that would be suitable for a beginner for DSO AP? I'm lucky that my budget can be reasonably flexible (in as much as I have considered the Equinox 80ED), but I don't want to throw money at something that would be wasted on a beginner. But my impatience to get started means I'd rather not have to wait a couple of months for SW to send some more flatteners to these shores. I have a Canon 550D DSLR and a Phillips ToUcam PRO II webcam. [Hmmm. Impatience - yes, I know that is not a good trait for AP.] TIA,
  4. For the last year or so I've been making do with a pair of Lidl £15 binoculars. Excellent value for money, but it's time I upgraded to something a bit better. My eyes are just over 50 years old (like the rest of me) and my right has always been stronger than my left. I wear glasses which do a good job of correcting my vision, 12 months ago moving to varifocals. My short-sightred vision isn't that bad - I can just about pass the driving test without glasses (though I never drive without them). When using my telescope I often take off my glasses to look through the eyepiece. The cheap equipment has served me reasonably well, but I've always had a bit of trouble getting things properly focussed for both eyes - either with or without glasses. Earlier today I read the very useful "Re-setting the Right Eyepiece Dipotre", which might help but I think better optics are the way ahead for me. I'm considering the Pentax PCF WP II and the William Optics 10x50 and would like some advice, especially given my particular eyes. The reviews of both seem very good and have long relief (18mm & 20mm) which should suit me with or without glasses. If my eyes were equal then I'd almost certainly go straight for the Pentax option, but the independent focussing of the William Optics makes me wonder if it would give me better results. I'd be grateful for any advice, opinions or recommendations. Thanks, Chiz
  5. Hello, About 18 months ago I bought my first scope - a Skywatcher 150PL on EQ3-2. At the same time I bought a dual axis motor which has worked just fine - until now. On Friday night I was having fun trying to image Saturn and all was well. The I noticed it had stopped tracking and the red light was permanently on (it is normally green when no buttons are pressed and the RA is tracking). I tried all four buttons - they all clicked as normal and none of them seemed to be stuck. The one page set of instructions says that the LED should flash if it thinks the batteries are on the way out. I checked them with a digital voltmeter and that said they were putting out around 5.9V. Last night I tried again with 4 new batteries (voltmeter said they were just over 6V) and the problem still persists. I tried it without the scope & counterweights to see if that made any difference, unplugging the connectors to the motors etc., but nothing has helped. If I press any of the buttons then these have no effect - all I have is the solid red light and no tracking As I said, I've had the scope & motors since around Nov 2009, but due to a number of reasons I have not used it anywhere near as much as I would have liked. Each time I have used it things have worked fine. In total it has probably had less than 24 hours usage. It is all stored indoors in a dry environment (not in a cold damp shed) and everything looks as good as it did when it was new. I'm sure I'm not the first person to have encountered this problem and I hope someone out there knows what is wrong, and more importantly, how to fix it. Help, suggestions etc. welcomed Thanks in advance, []kywatcher - Dual-Axis D.C. Motor Drive for EQ3-2
  6. I found Martin's Primer - planetary imaging with a Toucam a very useful starting point. I have recently acquired a TouCam, but I think the principles described will apply to any webcam. It will certainly give you some things to try. HTH,
  7. My first go at imaging with a webcam and scope. Taken about half an hour before sunset, with the moon quite low in the sky. Philips ToUcam PRO II, SW 150PL on EQ-2/3 with dual-axis motors. No barlow. Captured using K3CCD then processed with RegiStax - trying to follow the instructions in Martin's excellent primer. 90 seconds at 10 frames/second. Theophilus and Mare Nectaris top left, Santbech dead centre. I used Fracastorius B & Santbech C (according to the Full Moon Atlas) as the alignment area. A little bit of tweaking using GIMP to set the levels and convert to greyscale. I captured in colour hoping to include the pale blue sky - but that part failed. I'm reasonably happy with the result - my goal was just to go through the process and see how it all fits together. Focussing was my main problem - the mount is not very rigid and the standard SW focuser is not that great for fine tuning (well, not in my clumsy hands). Clearly something I need to practice. I had a couple more goes, but the results were not as good - partly I think because I didn't get the focus any better, the moon was hovering just over my neighbour's (warm) roof, and I think I was going the wrong way with the settings in k3ccd. The third image was using a SW 2x barlow - which only emphasises my poor focussing. I got the webcam just over a week ago and this was my first opportunity to use it. I would like to have ago at Jupiter later tonight, but it looks like the clouds are rolling in again . I welcome any comments, good or bad, but preferably constructive.
  8. Even a dead, cold, dark star would continue to rotate. In fact as it collapsed it would rotate faster & faster to conserve the angular momentum.
  9. I've been using iTunes U since I stumbled across it a couple of months ago. But if you like your science in small doses, a couple of years ago the University of Nottingham brought out a series of bite sized videos on the elements of the periodic table - fantastic stuff. More recently they have added the Sixty Symbols website - brief explanations and discussions about 60 of the symbols commonly used in science - many of them related to astronomy. If you haven't seen any of these then I strongly recommend taking a dip. No iPod required - just the web browser you are using right now.
  10. Last November I treated myself to a Skywatcher 150PL. It has given me many frozen nights of fun observing, but now the nights are so short I need some brighter targets to keep me occupied. The moon is good, and available a lot of the time, but I really want to see what the sun has to offer. I've got the scope and a couple of extra EPs, but what else do I need? OK, so I know the first thing I need is the knowledge that the sun is very bright, and mightily powerful and I need to be VERY careful. If not then there's a good chance I'll set fire to the scope and blind myself. Some Baader AstroSolar Safety Film looks like a good buy. But how to attach it to the open end of the scope (safely, securely and easily)? When that problem is solved, what about filters? Should I just start with no filters and see what I can see, or is there a "must have" that I need to start with? Any advice, tips and recommendations welcomed.
  11. I too had my first view of Saturn just a couple of nights ago. Wow! I'd agree with all the comments above - that view and feeling of excitement will stay with me for a very long time. Starting with a 25mm EP I worked up in steps to a 10mm + 2x Barlow, which gave the best view. Stunning. I was also very pleased that the motor on the EQ2-3 mount did a great job of keeping Saturn centred (once I'd connected up the RA & DEC round the right way ). It let me know that I'd done a reasonable job of aligning with Polaris without a polar scope or any other aids. It was also my first chance to use the Lidl bins I bought last week - very impressed with what you get for £14.
  12. Well they didn't have them stacked up on the shelf - they were locked away in the store room! There are plenty more expensive & smaller items in the open shop, but I guess binoculars are seen as more valuable items and attractive to shoplifters. Anyway, I was unable to test the bins in the shop but they did say if there was any problem then I could take them back. So I took a risk and bought a pair regardless. And to be honest in the rain / sleet / snow that was pelting down outside I probably wouldn't have been able to do much in the way of an accurate test. If they are off kilter then I might treat it as an exercise in "how to collimate binoculars" (which probably is a good thing to learn), or discover first hand how efficient the customer service and 5 year guarantee really is (and from what I've read in SGL it should be ok). Thanks for all the advice - it is very much appreciated.
  13. Brilliant! That's exactly the sort of advice I was looking for. I'm not sure they'll let me take anything out of the shop before paying for it, but I'll be armed with a few tests before parting with my money. I know these are only cheap, but with so many people saying how good they can be for the money I really ought to give them a try. Many thanks to everyone for the advice.
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