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About cloudsweeper

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    Merseyside, England

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  1. Welcome to SGL! There is no one answer to your question. There will be lots of advice, then you're going to have to take the plunge! For a bit above your stated figure, there is: Easy to use, very portable, shows planets, moons, clusters, even galaxies and nebulae (depending on conditions). And the GoTo is a great feature for pointing you more or less right at the targets you seek. (Only other thing to note: you'll need a decent power pack.) Doug.
  2. Promises to be good Alan. Jim Al-Khalili is a good presenter and author! Doug.
  3. Good session! The widefield views with that 'scope must be great. And just "aiming" your 'scope in the right region is often quite effective - I recently had good results with two nice clusters just by getting the red dot in the region between two well-separated stars. Of course, the widefield 'scope comes into its own for this sort of approach! Doug.
  4. The run of clear skies continues! First off I thought I'd try for the M41 open cluster beneath Sirius just because Sirius is so easy to spot. Bit optimistic really, since M41 was very low, and the LP to the south is high. I did manage to spot several of its stars however, especially at slightly higher mag (x43) and increased contrast. Now the galaxy. I have spotted a number already with the 8SE Cat, but hoped to grab a few with the smaller Frac. From Cor Coroli, following star patterns, the M94 spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici was easily seen, albeit as a very small fuzzy spot. Again, a small increase in mag enhanced the view. Success - and what a delight! Hoping to be on a roll, I went on to seek nearby another spiral, M63, the Sunflower Galaxy. I got right to a star immediately next to it, but saw nothing. I increased the mag, used AV, tapped the 'scope, tried an Nd filter - nothing. Nevertheless, it was a most satisfying session, and of course, more valuable experience. (M63 has a similar magnitude to M94 but is slightly less bright, and it is a little larger, so perhaps the surface brightness was too low. Anyone got any suggestions here?) Doug.
  5. Great stuff, Gus! I've got to get my galaxy count up, so I'l be visiting Virgo too. I had a 5" Mak (Nexstar 127 SLT) before the 8" SCT - I believe Maks have a simpler corrector plate at the front, so they can more easily be made to a high standard, but they get bulky and costly at larger apertures which I presume is why only the 4SE is a Mak. Doug.
  6. Gus - now I think back, when I used a tablet/WiFi, the date/time/location were taken from the GPS in the tablet. Is your system somehow different? Doug.
  7. You'll really like the GPS Gus - it does make the process much easier, and made me more inclined to move the 'scope during a session. Doug.
  8. This dual-speed focuser has utterly transformed the ST120. It's always easy to use (on the AZ4), and the widefield views (about 4.5 deg) with the 42mm Revelation are spectacular. But now, without the slack in the R&P focuser, it is more of a pleasure , and without the jerky action I experienced before, the fine control gives really sharp focus. Cassiopeia/Perseus Region: M103 open cluster - mag up to x100 showed several stars, with the main six resembling a miniature Plough. (Noticed this also with Cr89.) Cr15 - open cluster - tight line with just a few stars. M45 (Taurus) - always a treat, particularly with a panoramic widefield view. Mirphak starfield - no particular designation, just a lovely view! C14 Double Cluster - just aimed the RDF between Miram and Epsilon Cas, and easily spotted the target in the wide view - an all-time favourite. Upped the mag to x60 for detail. M52 open cluster - again, "hopping" was done by aiming, this time between Caph and Iota Cep, and only one "key" star was noticed. Stellarium confirmed the location, and raising the mag to x90 revealed a small, dense cluster of faint stars, the view enhanced by AV. I enjoyed the freedom to sweep rapidly across the celestial sphere, with widefield views all the way, then the satisfaction of homing in on a target. It might then take more mag to reveal detail and enhance contrast compared with using the GoTo SCT, but that just makes it a completely different experience, with different challenges! Doug.
  9. Nice combination of mount, 'scope, and control Gus - and a nice harvest of targets! Doug.
  10. Thanks, Nathan - I used the 8SE (SCT) because of the GoTo (saves a lot of messing about), and saw a few galaxies in Markarian's Chain in Virgo - a great result! Doug.
  11. OK mate. Clear here right now, but I'm after some galaxies in the early hours (if I can get up!). Saturn is a beauty! Doug.
  12. Steady on, Nathan - we could be losing you to the Dark Side! Doug.
  13. Impossible of course to say which one, but it sounds very much like a globular cluster. (Open clusters are more like groups of stars even at low mag.) Great progress indeed! Doug.
  14. For faint objects, transparency needs to be good - basically a lack of those thin, wispy clouds. If you look at the sky and can't even see that many stars, transparency is bad. Poor seeing shouldn't stop you observing faint objects too much, but they will look very fuzzy indeed. It's due to atmospheric turbulence, and makes detail deteriorate at higher mag. Jupiter looks less sharp; lunar detail likewise, and it might seem to shimmer somewhat. Doug. PS: Looking lower in the sky also makes transparency worse.
  15. Dense clusters are beautiful. Have you tried the Double Cluster C14 in Perseus? A real treat! Doug.