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  1. Errr, yeah, OK. I seem to have opened a can of worms, but why? Ambermile: Is your answer what I pointed out about the relatively small market? Astroman: Excellent! I`m NOT pointing my "rip off" astronomy finger here, I just want to know.....
  2. Just a rhetorical question from someone who knows little of the subject! What is so special about them? It seems that to add the words "long exposure" and "megapixel" bumps the price WAY up! Surely, £250 digi video cameras are long exposure, and dont need "cooling". Is it something special about the chips, or are they modified versions we get in our (i.e. consumer) Fuji and Olympus digital cameras? These have been "megapixel" so long now they don`t use the term in marketing them anymore! I do realize that the market for specialist astro cams is far smaller than consumer digi cameras, but would it make that much difference? I was looking at the Atiks and Starlight Xpress and their prices are daft enough, but when you look at the Sbigs and Yankee Robotics, well........ :shock: :shock:
  3. A review of Starrynight Enthusiast coming shortly...... Cheers Steve!
  4. Ditto. This is my pathetic excuse with the digi camera pressed up to the eyepiece (hence the blur from the mount shaking ) 1 of several I took and the best believe it or not!
  5. C,mon. The sky was clear as a bell last night, at least down south! The moon drowned out nearly everything though, but WHAT a moon!
  6. I would recommend a planetarium program too, and an excellent FREE one is Stellarium. I`ve reviewed it on the Equipment Reviews section, together with a link.
  7. Steve, give us a review of Starry Night Enthusiast, I`d like to see how someone who knows how to do it would see these things. Remember Stellarium is FREE though...
  8. Hi all from the newbee with no cluebee! Now as a newbie, I of course wouldn`t know my Elnath from my elbow, or my Butterfly Cluster from a moth or more importantly, where they are in the sky! I got to thinking, "Wouldn`t it be great if there was some program that would give a planetarium type view of the sky, at THIS precise time and THIS precise place?" Well, there is, it`s fantastic and best of all it`s TOTALLY FREE!!! Welcome to Stellarium! (Download it here) http://www.stellarium.org/ Of course, the `net is full of 2D star charts and there are plenty of software progs out there, and no doubt many are very good. But for sheer simplicity and ease of use, plus the ability to customize it to a huge degree, I think it takes some beating. It gives a 360deg view from where you are (using a generic "ground", more later) and you just use the mouse to move it around and up and down. The scroll wheel zooms in and out on a feature, and clicking on the feature will bring up it`s details. Bring up the "Search" and start typing "Aldebaran" for instance. At the first "A" it`ll bring up all objects that begin with "A". Add the "l" and it will narrow down to all objects that begin with "Al" etc, etc. Once you have got your required object, click "Find" and the sky whizzes round to where the object is. Brilliant! All the stars, galaxies, planets etc are customizable so they only show up depending on the "brightness" parameters you input. This means that you can have a very scant sky with only the very bright objects showing, right up to a very crowded sky that is choc a bloc with objects! You can set a "twinkle" rate for the stars, and even add "x" meteors an hour! You can set the constellations to show, even constellation art superimposed over it to show why they thought it was a Bear, for instance. You can add "atmosphere" which gives the sky that "milky" glow it has on certain nights, and in the evenings. The sky slowly darkens in real time. Your location is set using Lat/Long, or a small map appears and you can click on a nearby city to set reasonably accurate coordinates. You can also set up numerous "Home" locations if you wish. As noted, the sky revolves in real time. Leave the program running for a few hours and when you come back you will see that everything has rotated in time with what is happening in the "real" sky. It also has a fast forward (click 2 or 3 times to really speed things up!) and rewind button. It has "night mode" that turns all buttons and writing red. As I said earlier, your "home" is a generic ground. It has a choice of "grounds" (or even none if you wish) and more can be imported, even the Martian surface! (Your lat/long stay the same of course...) but the best thing is you have the ability to import your "own" ground. I haven`t gone into this much yet but it seems that you can go outside to your normal viewing area and take a 360deg "panorama " and import it. So your house/garden/shed will be "superimposed" in front of the sky. I must point out that the procedure to do this seems quite "in depth" and I would suggest that a working knowledge of image programs and manipulation would be a very good thing..... A full list of the many configurations available is here http://www.porpoisehead.net/mysw/stellarium_user_guide_html-0.8.0-1/stellarium_user_guide.html. It can also be set up to control various telescopes, I.e. LX200, but again I haven`t really looked into this. It is an "Open Source" program which means that anyone can contribute to it and improve it. This can only make the program even better as time goes on. You lucky bods with "GOTO" systems etc won`t need it, but for us skint fellows slowly turning R.A. and Dec knobs more in blind hope rather than judgement, I think it is a boon. For those who haven`t tried it, I can thoroughly recommend it! (.....And hope this is in the right thread.... )
  9. Oh I see..... So what do you do for magnification? Do you use a barlow or something?
  10. Oh yeah, fully understand. What I should do is get off my backside and make `em myself. But it`s easier to sit and type and moan... It`s a shame there isn`t more competition in this particular sector. That also tends to keep the price down.... Totally off subject: Can someone tell me what "Prime Focus" means? As in "picture taken with Toucam at prime focus".
  11. Yeah, that is plain crazy. I realize that in the huge world of astronomical "widgets" £140 could be considered "reasonable", but these things (like all hobbies) seems to be priced on their <i>desirability factor</i>, not on their true <i>worth</i>. Now I bet I`m putting myself up for a major shoot down here, but IMO I bet these leave the (Chinese) factory for around £30 to £35 a pop. All the rest is basically mark up. Yes, I know there is taxes, packaging, transport, storage etc, but all the same I feel that if Alan at Skies the Limit can make a profit at charging £70 odd for them, then someone is making a very healthy (cough) profit at £140! To me it`s all about percieved value. I looked at the STL motors and thought to myself "are these worth £70?" And the answer was Yes. £70 is still a lot of money, but I thought that it was a reasonable price to pay for this particular item. I didn`t feel ripped off. I do feel ripped off paying £140 for basically the same item, knowing that someone (Skies The Limit) can make a reasonable profit for half the amount! And I bet Alan at STL doesn`t have the buying clout that Synta (Skywatcher) does. I`m fully aware that ALL hobbies and pastimes are market driven and we the public in the western world DO love our widgets and gadgets, and drool over the glossy ads promising a better lifestyle if we only had this item in our private ownership: Of course the price is always based on the "desirability factor" (i.e. what they can get away with), NOT it`s actual worth. I`ll get off my soapbox now..........
  12. (Revised and put into the correct thread!) Quickly I will say that I didn`t have a chance to try these drives because they don`t fit my Skywatcher EQ5! Please read on... Compared to the Skywatcher drives being a ridiculous £140, these drives at £75 seemed far more reasonable. But surely some corners had been cut? Certainly not from what I could tell.... They arrived very quickly after ordering and I was pleasantly surprised at the weight of the parcel. A nice "heavy duty" feel to it! All items were were well packed in bubblewrap bags. The only thing missing was fitting instructions, but I knew that before I ordered the item. The instructions are availabe as a pdf from Alan at the Skies The Limit website. I unwrapped each motor and they looked very well made and as I said before they were of a nice weight. No nasty plastic gears inside! The hand controller looks identical to the Skywatcher one and again, looked very well made. The battery "box" was a plastic skeleton which holds the batteries, and this is then slid into a nylon type bag. This bag did seem a little "cheap", but if this is where the corners had been cut, I can live with that! There were a couple of little things that, in my opinion, gave these units an edge over the Skywatcher ones. 1) The declination motor had a little plastic cap to cover the gears. This gave the unit a "built in" look whereas the SW dec motor gears are exposed, giving it an "added later" look. 2) The cables that connect the motors to the hand controller are curly. There would be plently of "give" if a stray hand were to accidently swipe into the cables. The SW are straight. A stray swipe could at best jog the mount, or more seriously pull the cables out of the motors, possibly leading to damage. So, on to mounting the motors...... Unfortunately, they don`t! They "seat" perfectly where they should go, but there is no way they can be secured to the SW mount without major surgery to the mount or motor housings. For instance, the R.A. motor is secured by 2 bolts passing through the motor housing and screwed into two holes tapped into the EQ5. These tapped holes are on the Skies The Limit EQ5, but not on the SW mount. The Dec drive is secured on the STL EQ5 by a short bolt that passes through a hole on the dovetail bar mounting plate. This hole <i>does</i> exist on the SW EQ5 dovetail bar mounting plate, but would have to be filed out to nearly 1/2" long to take the bolt! Alan DOES point out on his website, <i>Although our motor drives are intended for our telescopes we believe that they will also work with other brands. Feel free to try one and return it if it doesn't fit your brand - we will refund your money.</i> so there is definately no hoodwinking going on! I spent a weekend pondering the problem, even considering epoxying them in place. But I have only had my scope for about 2 weeks and was very reluctant to start modifying (i.e. drilling and filing into) the mount which would of course invalidate the guarantee. With a heavy heart I have had to return the drives for a refund. It seems that not all EQ5`s are created equal! Otherwise, if you are happy to "modify" your mount, they can be obtained from http://www.skiesunlimited.co.uk/ Postscript: I have had no choice but to order the no doubt very good but overpriced SW units from Sherwoods Photo, who tell me they are "<i>hoping</i> to get some in by the middle of December"!! AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!! :) :(
  13. Oops! This is meant to be in the "equipment review" section. Can someone move it there please?
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