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Everything posted by joncrawf

  1. thanks for the recommendation - ordered mine today!
  2. You are rapidly achieving 'expert' status! Watching with interest!
  3. Superb information for anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps. It's generous of you to share it. Thank you And, hearty congratulations on getting this far. Concreting is hard work but if you work methodically (as you have) it's possible to achieve great results.
  4. Some of these images are fantastic! Presumably these 'smartphone eyepiece adapters' represent a good way for several people to view live images of brighter objects? My son (9 years old) & I are keen to identify Apollo landing sites on the moon and Lunar 100 features. I guess this might be easier done on a smartphone screen where I can point more easily at features - try telling a 9 year old to look ' two crater widths to the East and then follow the linear feature north about another 1/2 crater width'. Some of the clamps I've looked at seem to have built in 10mm EP, but I'd prefer to use my own BST Eyepieces. FLO doesn't seem to carry them so I've ordered this from amazon today. I'll let you know how I get on.
  5. I've considered using evernote for this. But i haven't found a way of creating a template so that obs notes can have a repeatable structure in place before I fill in the gaps. Any idea how this can be done? EN's a really superb piece of software which I use for nearly everything.
  6. Recently visited Helford River Campsite http://www.helfordrivercamping.co.uk/ on the Lizard Peninsula (S. Cornwall). A charming site with dark skies and unrestricted views in all directions. Nothing here except a field with electric and toilets - no lighting except in toilet block. Ask to be located in the Western portion of the field and the toilet blocks lights won't affect you. Highly recommended.
  7. I'm a relative noob but the advice that's freely available here from people much more knowledgeable than I is a really valuable resource. Use it well and welcome to the forum! One of the more valuable bits of advice that I picked up here was to get a Telrad. I did just that and since then I don't think I've used my 9x50 optical finder at all. My advice would be to choose carefully where you position it. I have a SkyWatcher 200p Newtonian and I've just decided to buy another Telrad basepalte so I can have another mounting option. Perhaps try attaching the telrad with bubber bands in a few different positions before mounting permanently.
  8. Raised off the ground and also sub floor ventilation should help
  9. +1 for Sketchup. It does take a bit of getting used to but there are plenty of tutorials on Youtube - search "Jay Bates Sketchup". You can use it to doodle as Anthony says but it's functionality is equivalent to most CAD packages. I use it primarily doodling ideas and for cutting plans (ie figuring out how much timber I need for a project and how to cut it efficiently), I rarely plan out a job in detail. there's no need to go overboard on timber dimensions for the carcass of your shed - 50x50mm is ample, anything more just adds weight and cost. But if you use anything smaller then you need to consider a structural skin (plywood preferably). a 50x50mm carcass with a breathable membrane on the outside, shiplap timber cladding over that and a 9mm plywood skin on the inside (to give rigidity) would suffice for a small shed. There's great satisfaction to be got from building your own and as long as you have basic skills / tools and take your time work methodically it's an easy job for long summer days.
  10. I've been using my telrad for a few weeks now and I'm not sure if there is a perfect spot for it. I've been meaning to order a new baseplate for it so that I can switch it from side to the other although I'm sure it will have to be adjusted each time I move it unless, by some miracle, I manage to get the baseplate accurately aligned. It's a brilliantly simple piece of kit. I rarely use the SW finderscope now. I'd happily promote the Telrad into 'prime position' on the scope and relegate the finderscope to secondary. Spaceboy's advice is good - position with rubber bands or blutak for a few sessions. I'm using an EQ mount which means the scope can be in awkward positions depending on where it's pointing. I'd imagine it will be easier with a dob.
  11. That's a useful video Peter - particularly for camera settings. I think it's going to take a few more goes to get it just right. I think that 1/1250 shutter speed would be about right for me too. I think I'll get myself a 2" Barlow to use with the DSLR. The image of the ISS was very small in the FOV and it's bright enough I'm sure to handle a bit more mag. Thanks for the info!
  12. Inspired by the OP's shot of the ISS I managed to get my own last night as it passed by Jupiter last night at a distance of 860km from my location. A poorer effort than Peter's image but just about recognizable. Using Canon EOS750d DSLR on SW200p, shutter speed was 1/500 ISO 6400. I just set the camera to fire off continuously (I guess I was getting perhaps 5 fps?) at same shutter speed & iso settings while I guided the scope. All images I got were overexposed. Next time I'll see if my intervalometer can fire off a number of images at a range of shutter speeds.
  13. I caught it this evening! First time I'd got a decent view of it. I was setting up to have a quick view of Jupiter before it dipped behind the house and realised it was due in a few minutes, so was able to get set up and wait for it. It was relatively easy to track it in the Telrad and my wife got a better view than I did while I tracked it this way. You could definitely make out it's shape and the solar panels. According to Stellarium the Cygnus resupply vessel was following close behind but I didn't see it.
  14. Great shot of the ISS, Peter. I managed to see it clearly in my scope at x40 this evening for the first time! Although my wife got a better view as I guided using the Telrad. Flyover here was at 22:35 and I was just setting up to look at Jupiter when I realised it was due in a few minutes.
  15. I think any human being ought to get a thrill from watching the ISS fly over - you'd have to be a pretty cold fish to remain unimpressed by it. For the time being it's the only thing in the night sky where we know there's life (apart from the Chinese station -Tiangong). You can use Calsky.com to predict with greater accuracy where the ISS will be from your location and 'ambush' it in your telescope as it crosses the disk of the sun (with appropriate filters to protect your eyesight) or moon. I've tried tracking it in the sky with my scope but have not yet succeeded in getting anything other than a white streak. When your mak comes you could also download a list of the Apollo landing sites on the moon and find them. Enjoy!
  16. Great report thanks for posting. Bravo for catching the ISS! Were you tracking on an AZ mount? I've tried tracking the ISS in my scope for a 25mm (x40) EP on an EQ5, but found it almost impossible. I have only managed to see a fast white streak across my FOV on one occasion. I have resigned myself to setting an ambush and waiting for the ISS to transit the sun or moon!
  17. Thanks Rob, I appreciate your input. I wonder what the pro's and cons of expanding your EP range by buying more EP's or 'cheating' and buying a Barlow which effectively expands my modest range of 2 EP's to a slightly less modest 4. Is there any compromise with quality when barlowing a descent EP?
  18. Charic. I wish I was in NE Scotland! It's a fabulous part of the world - although perhaps a bit frustrating with almost continuous daylight at this time of year! Am I right in thinking you enjoy some of the UK's lowest rainfall? And DARK skies in the winter months, what's not to like? I've had my 8mm & 25mm BST's out several times since they arrived a couple of weeks ago. So far they have lived up to the hype! Very comfortable for me to use (no problems with eye relief) and the apparent FOV makes you feel like you are in an IMAX. I'd love to compare with something with a really wide FOV! I'll probably invest in another couple of BST's in the next few weeks. Perhaps a 5mm for planetary when the seeing is good and an 18mm to fill the gap between 8mm & 25mm. I wondered if they barlowed well? Perhaps a good Barlow is a better idea than buying new eyepieces to plug the gaps? I have tried my BST EP's with the 2x Barlow that came with the scope and I wasn't terribly impressed with the results. Not sure whether this was because a) the BST's don't barlow well, c) the seeing was poor or d) I was just trying to push my scope too far. Also, I wondered what I should consider as my lowest power / wide field EP in my SW200p F5?
  19. I'd second that. The digging is by far the worst bit. You could rent a mini digger (or even a mini digger + operator) - last time I did this I got a decent machine for £120 (£200 with operator).
  20. I thought I’d share my observatory build here. The build is complete much sooner than I had anticipated really – for reasons which I’ll explain. Feel free to comment and criticize, but if you spot a fatal design flaw it’s too late! I should point out, also, that I’m a relative newbie. I had a 6” Newtonian on an AZ mount in 1986 (aged 14) which I used for two or three years until I put it to one side. Over the past three decades I’ve been a ‘non-practicing / armchair’ astronomer. But now I have an 8-year-old son who’s keen and has been pestering me to buy him a scope. I was initially reluctant as I was concerned he would expect me to show him Hubble quality brightly coloured images of galaxies, nebulae and planets – I know the limitations of an amateur telescope! But he was keen and I was beginning to feel the bug biting again. My wife & I bought him a SW 200P on an EQ5 mount for his eighth birthday and we haven’t looked back. But it became obvious fairly quickly that if we were going to get the best out of we’d need some sort of permanent set up so that a quick 20 min session can be fitted in after dinner and before bed. I was worried the scope would get put away and forgotten about if it was a 30-minute ordeal to get it set up every time we wanted to use it. We have a fairly large garden with good views almost all around (except to the NW) above 20o and although we have Torquay just five miles to the South there’s no street lighting or neighbours bothering us in our back garden. Initially the project was going to be limited to installing a home-made soil pipe pier on a 0.75m3 block of reinforced concrete with a view to installing a Pulsar Dome at some stage in the future. I made an adapter plate out of birch ply for the EQ5 head to on which was fixed to the pier by 3 x 1m M12 threaded bars which were concreted into the 110mm soil pipe and protruding 200mm above. Electrics and Cat5 were supplied to the pier through 40mm wastepipe underground (mousing lines left in place). So this setup worked OK, the position was good and it was a relief to have my mount set up and ready for action. But the pier wasn’t as stable as I’d hoped it would be and the plywood mounting plate left a little to be desired – too much flex introduced by the 200mm protrusions of M12 rod. I felt the urge to go a little further and decided to crack on and get on with the whole project done and dusted. Having more or less decided on a Pulsar dome I was having second thoughts, I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to be ‘indoors’ while enjoying the ‘great outdoors’. When Thomas and I are out with the scope we spend as much of our time looking around the night sky ‘au naturel’ as we do looking through the scope. Also, we have no neighbours immediately next door to us and no street lights shining into the garden so there was no need to consider light screening. So we decided that a roll-away shed on a dedicated deck would be the way to go. The shed would double as a warm room in the winter and perhaps as a computer room if we decide we’d like to try our hand at imaging sometime in the future. The “astro-deck” and “astro-shed” were constructed over the course of 2 weekend and a few evenings. · The shed rolls on 6 x 75mm fixed casters (screwfix item 50880) rated at 70kg each. The casters run in recessed tracks in the deck. (I estimate the shed weighs 200kg) · The concrete pier base is entirely independent of the deck – no amount of leaping about on the deck causes vibration in the pier. · I replaced the home made pier with a Rigel pier from Pulsar – a big improvement! · The shed ‘locates’ snuggly onto a plywood plinth that I made to conceal the top of the concrete pier base – this means the shed can’t be tipped over (by wind or miscreants). · There are electrics and data connections in the shed, at the pier and on the deck. · A handrail and picket fence surround the viewing area – safety feature to prevent numpties from falling off the deck in the dark! · Cost approx. £1500 (including the pier) Further work / mods to be done · The red lighting is too bright · Install burglar alarm · The shed is heavy to move, once it’s built up a head of steam it’s Ok but getting it moving is hard work. Some sort of simple winch mechanism would make life easier. · The scope needs to come off the mount for the shed to be opened or closed – a bit of a miscalculation if I’m honest but not a problem so long as I’m a visual observer. If I want to have a permanent imaging setup I might need to make some adjustments to the shed.
  21. I had a look at M13 the other night using my 25mm EP. It was an impressive sight despite being swamped by the light from an almost full moon, which made it hard even to locate the stars which make up Hercules. So far Thomas has only seen photos. In fact we were talking about globular clusters on Sunday morning. He said "if you could go anywhere in the universe to see it close up where would you go?". We discussed all sorts of different sights that could be seen (given the ability to flout the laws the physics). We decided that; nebulae were best viewed from a distance, likewise galaxies, black holes were too scary (and who knows what might happen?), the solar system was 'old hat' (voyager, cassini, et al had "been there and done that"). But we thought that positioning yourself right in the middle of M13 would be pretty cool! Sorry, this is getting way off topic!
  22. Sounds great. Will have to speak with the fun moderator for permission to attend!
  23. If you look anything like your avatar I'd be scared too!
  24. My first astro photography target - AR12546. Just took delivery of a T ring adapter for my DSLR - desperate to try it out on something!
  25. Great advice Louis, thanks! Unfortunately it's well past his bedtime before any of these things become visible at the moment, but it leaves me free to use his scope, I guess! I guess with galaxies there's something mind-blowing about being able to see something outside of our own galaxy. I think that's what captures his imagination. His world is pretty small and revolves around school, meal times, friendships, swim club, family etc. To be able to directly look at stuff which is light years or millions of light years away is quite a thing for him (and all of us I suspect!) - even if it is an indistinct "grey fuzzy". Having said that, I think we'll move on to the easier DSO's in the autumn & winter.
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