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cathalferris

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Everything posted by cathalferris

  1. I've not been terribly busy with the astro stuff in recent months, with various work-related things and also having moved to Switzerland from Ireland. I'm a bit out of practice too. Last week, one of my friends here in .ch gave me a lend of his Orion Atlas EQ-G mount, as he was not getting the use of it. I don't have the permission to disassemble it (yet) but I was asked to give it a bit of tune-up. My friend knows it'll get back to him in a better state than he got it in.. The mount was slightly binding on the worms, and needed a little bit of tuning with the worm positioning. Not that hard of a job. It's one of the mounts that has the 9-pin d-sub handset connectors, so it's not a new mount. I suspect it's one of the first European examples of the EQ-G. I have a Synscan handset in preparation for the arrival of my AZ-GTi, whenever TS get their shipments from China, and I obtained the right cable to attach the handset to the EQ-G, both to test the mount and to see if the handset actually worked or not.. I have also borrowed the EQ-DIR cable to see what all that fuss is about Last night, being a clear Saturday night, with a nice air temp of ~25-20 degrees, and few clouds, it all suggested that it might be a good night to spend out on the balcony with various bits of equipment. I chose the night to familiarise myself with the EQ-G, and also to try the TS130 triplet for planet video capture, see how it performed. I put the Pegasus Astro motorfocus on the TS130 Photoline triplet apo, and mounted that on the EQ-G. The main camera for imaging this evening wasthe second ASI224MC I have, with the help of a ZWO ADC and a 2x Televue barlow. I put my 50mm guidescope+ASi224 guidecamera on the apo to act as an electronic finder, as well as an ordinary right-angle finderscope. I did the polar align with the Synscan handset as I do not have view of the Pole from the balcony. (My AVX and Starsense plus the Celestron ASPA really helps out with that mount.) Setup was issue free. I used my Pegasus Astro Powerbox (v1) with the mount and scope, plugging both of my ASI224 cameras into the USB hub, as well as the EQDIR cable. I needed this box to run the motorfocuser. Seeing was moderately poor to be honest, not a great night to try and get useful planet data. Still, it was worth setting stuff up. I had great fun pointing and focusing and generally getting familiar with things, and I got enough video to show these: About 25 min of Jupiter, 3 min videos at 97fps, 320x200 capture area, 1/125 sec exposure I think, 300 gain (iirc) on the camera, and I get this reversing Gif from that data: Then I tried Saturn, exact same optical setup, but instead now going with 1/30 second instead of the 1/125 from Jupiter. Nothing spectacular, but pretty enough: Then I remembered Neptune was in the area, so I took a 3 min video of that: Then, late into the night as it was almost setting, I remembered that Pluto existed and was a thing that was above the horizon, so I pointed the scope (removing the ADC) to Pluto, and I started taking 4 second exposures for a live stack. 2m48s later I had this on screen, I added the labels I got from Cartes du Ciel, just so I could be definite about which red smudge was actually Pluto. This is far from pretty, very noisy and a terrible image, but it is an image that has Pluto in it, taken with a 130mm scope from my balcony. I'm quite happy with that even if the aesthetics are poor: I call this a successful evening, and a validation of a proof of concept I was curious about regarding the usability of the TS130 for planetary capture. I do have a resurrected-from-the-dead CPC800 that might give better planetary stuff, but I do like how contrasty the Jupiter captured looked on screen. The EQ-G gave me an insight into why people like using mounts that are too big for their equipment. I found it to be very stable, not too badly affected by people moving in the apartment building as I put three Aliexpress-sourced vibration pads under the tripod and they work very well indeed. The EQMod stuff is interesting for sure, and I think I may end up getting myself an AZ-EQ6 or something in the future. I also think I'll be selling onwards my 12" Dob and my Quattro 8" scope, the Dob is just not best suited to upper floor apartment life and the TS130 will give me similar captures with a flatter field than the Quattro. I'll hold on to the CPC800 as it's in such poor physical condition I couldn't sell it anyway. Feels weird to consider pruning out some of the hardware A very successful and enjoyable night, and I'm happy with how the evening went with the testing of the equipment, and I'm also reasonably chuffed with the quality possible with a 130mm scope in mediocre seeing; bodes well for nights of steady skies..
  2. I've recently earned my amateur radio license (EI4IWB), and today I tried seeing meteor scatter for the first time. I pointed my EAntennas 13 element dualband 2m/70cm Yagi towards the Graves radar, tuned the SDR to 143.050, and watched the waterfall. Lovely short pings from small meteors so far, certainly makes for an interesting intersection between the astro and the radio hobbies! I have a spare 144MHz antenna that I am not using, and I may set that up as a consistent meteor tracker if I get the time and inclination to do so. Either way it's pretty cool to see meteors this way as well. I'm just kicking myself I didn't think of this for the Quadrantids.
  3. Yeah... Why did I have to pick such capital-intensive hobbies.. Mountain bike (XC/DH), kayaking, astronomy, PC gaming - and a new Covid hobby of Amateur Radio.. The ham radio stuff is nifty, and I've been licensed for only 3 months. But it can be a money sink as well.. A cheap good antenna is ~€500 (I got a Folding Antennas hexbeam, as well as a DX Commander, and an Aerial-51 807-HD, all antennas for different things), and 50m of very high quality coaxial cable like Messi&Paolini Hyperlex-10 to feed that antenna is €170 *for the cable alone*; and a proper high-end solidstate amplifier such as an SPE-Expert with 1.5kW (!!) output is near €5000.. and the radios themselves (new) vary between €500 and €10000. I'm also waiting for payday
  4. I'm actually the other way around for the advice. I got a UHC first, then an OIII. I based that decision on the knowledge that if I could only get one filter, I'd get the one that would give the best improvement on the most objects, and the Lumicon UHC fits that bill for me. I later got a Lumicon OIII secondhand at a really cheap price as it was degraded at the edge but pristine in the middle. The OIII definitely does give a darker background than the UHC, but I've preferred the view and the colouration in the UHC. I've also now got a H-Beta filter, but haven't used it that much. I found that UHC in a smaller scope gave more useful views, precisely as it dimmed the stars that bit less, and the OIII filter I had allowed a fair bit of red through to the eye. Then again my OIII filter is a degraded Lumicon that has the "rust" so it is fairly obvious that it's not performing at best. Still works very well, but better at small exit pupils <2mm as the degradation is only around the perimeter of the filter - hence why I still use it and have not consigned it to the scrapheap.
  5. As per the Calsky.com main page this evening: !CalSky.com - farewell. The service will be shut down in a few days. more I had been a subscriber since mid-2011, and I will miss the site and the services. A very tough decision to make. I can only wish the site admins and the site runners all of the best in the future endeavours.
  6. Oh I have a small stable of scopes as per my signature, the most commonly used one of late is the CPC800 that I resurrected from dead, that has corrosion on the tube and replacement mount PCBs due to water damage. About as grab and go as I need at the moment, optics are good enough in it. My 12" dob is in storage, and I have an 8" newt that comes out every so often. I'm not stuck for optical devices, just waiting on that replacement tube.
  7. The supply chain problems are painful enough, but it could always be worse. I have an open order with Teleskop Service for a replacement OTA tube from a 130mm apo. The tube was ordered in September 2019, and still has no visibility of having been built and shipped from China, it had a lead time of 6 months from last September.. (a cat knocked the OTA over when I had it objective down temporarily, landing on the focuser wheel, and the main tube <-> focuser adapter jumped two threads and effectively cold-welded the two components together. An engineering shop couldn't unscrew them, so only a replacement of the OTA main tube and that adapter could work. At least it would appear that the objective and focuser didn't get jarred too much. Been waiting now for well over a year to get that scope up and running, and Mars looks lovely right now..)
  8. That's excellent to hear. Please feel free to isolate as appropriate if needed though - safety of self and staff trumps a temporary blip in business - especially with how the (sane and realistic) projections are looking for this thing.
  9. I used one of the closed-cell packing squares, chopped to fit under the 500P base, as a buffer between the base and the handtruck plate. That way, there was no slack in the listing of the scope from the build location, and it was quite a lot easier to position into the observing location. There was much less tilt of the handtruck needed to lift the 500p from the ground, and that meant much greater control of the whole thing when moving. Compression straps such as these types ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silverline-449682-Tie-Down-Capacity-Breaking/dp/B003H0YMSQ ) are fantastic for quick reversible immobilisation of things. I have a handful available from years of tying kayaks to roofracks, so they were re-purposed for 500p transport. I do miss the 500p to be honest. But, I'll be putting the pennies away to get something of an equivalent size at some point, dependent on the living situation at that point. If apartment in Switzerland it'll be a cpc100 with hyperstar, if somewhere else than a driven 20" from the Dobson Factory I think.. Best of luck with the dealing with the family illness - that is a whole lot of not-fun for everyone involved.
  10. One solution to the power cord issue is to use a battery source and mount it on the base. I was using one of these https://www.lidl.de/de/ultimate-speed-powerbank-mit-starthilfefunktion-upbs-12000-a1/p288766 as my power source, and I had it taped to the altitude motor casing (with tape over the blue LED. This one gave enough power for about 5hr of observing. It did take a little time to cable-tie things up and out of the way so that the cables would not get sheared between the rotating parts of the base. One of the larger Celestron LiFePO4 batteries should give a few nights worth of observing. My plan-B power source was a 110Ah SUV battery with a fuse and 12v socket on it. That did the job but had the risk of dragging cables. Having a power source on the scope mounting really removes one of the pain points of this type of scope, and makes for a less stressful observing session. It's also worth noting that some other owners of Stargates have mounted their power source at the rear of the mirror cell, as part of the necessary extra counterweights that the scope design needs when used with a paracorr and Ethos eyepieces.
  11. While I had a 500p (before returning it because of the problems with the mirror) I used a high-capacity handtruck. I bought one with a longer base, that would extend under the base triangle with ease. This made it very easy to move the completed scope from place to place. Something like this: This is a "Master Sacktruck with Pneumatic Wheels" and the larger diameter tires do make it easier to move about on lawns and other rough ground. It's really important to note that if moving the assembled scope, that the side bearings are not actually connected to the base. When I moved mine, I ensured that I had the scope strapped together so that there was no relative movement when tipping the scope to get it moving.
  12. I recently had the same conundrum. I had updated my main scope to a 20" Dob, and I wanted to get the best widest field. This led me to a choice of getting either of an Ethos 21mm, or an ES-100 25mm, as I wanted a 100 degree eyepiece for this role. I already had a 31mm 82 degree Celestron eyepiece but that focal length was too large an exit pupil for my eyes - hence the shorter focal length and wider FOV requirement. In the end I went for the ES eyepiece, as it's got just that much more of a true FOV. In that 20" scope the difference was an FOV of 65.2' against the Ethos' 54.5'. Regarding aberrations it's being used with a Paracorr in an f/3.94 newt and my own eyes have a little bit of astigmatism anyway (awaiting a new prescription to get some astro-specific contacts) so I was happy enough to go the ES route. Using that eyepiece over the past few clear evenings, I've been happy with that decision. It would have been a much harder choice on which to buy if TV had made an Ethos 24 though..
  13. A note on the RPi 3B+ - there are apparently problems with transfer of large files across the wired network to/from USB disks. I've run into this on mine at least. Seems to be an issue with the network card driver based on the reports I've read so far. Rather annoying at the moment, getting tempted to get a RPi3b instead until it's solved. I've mine set as a NAS with a handful of services running on it for my rather large home network - pi-hole, motion, Plex, samba server, smokeping, deluge. The difference in power draw means the Pi pays for itself within the year compared to the little PC I had running those services instead. Those services are fairly heavy on both cpu and network!
  14. Question - must the voltage be 13.8v, or would 12v be enough if it doesn't dip under load? A half-decent PC PSU would be well able to consistently deliver >20A at 12v, and generally low RFI given the use inside the PC case faraday cage. Also those PSUs should maintain 12V under load. It may be a cheaper option if you're willing to solder a few connections for the power plugs. This is definitely the route I'm taking to power items if/when I get myself any permanent observing area.
  15. Ah, that would be the site that in August 2012 likely had their database quietly cracked and the list of valid user emails exported off-site to be used by spammers. I had an account on there, with a site-specific email used for the registration. Then, when I started to see emails from spammers going to that specific email address, I raised that query with the admins on the site. Their first reaction to being told that they may have had a breach of some type was for them to permaban me from the site. That was a rather suspicious move at the time. There were other users of the site that confirmed similar behaviour with their own site-specific email addresses suddenly receiving spam emails. Given how poorly they appeared to have their site secured and run, it would not surprise me in the slightest that they have run into what looks like a breach. If they come back up - treat the situation as though they have had a data breach. If you use that username or password anywhere else on the net please make sure to change those passwords, and prevent your other accounts getting abused.
  16. I'm just chasing down a bit of a personal curiosity, if anyone else had a scope similar to my first proper scope, that would have been made in Scotland in the very early '90s. My first "real" telescope after my 60mm Tasco was one imported new to Ireland from Scotland, back in late 1990 or so. It was a 222mm f/5.6 Newt, bought from an ad in the back of Astronomy Now. The scope was fairly simple in construction by current standards, but was huge and amazing by my standards as a kid of the time. The tube was built of a blue Hammerite painted sewer pipe, with the mirror glued to a felt backing, glued to a metal plate that had the collimation bolts attached. The finder used remounted 50mm binocular optics and there were 18mm and 25mm "volcano-top" kellners provided. The mount was a basic German Equatorial, with ~3" setting circles and manual slowmotion controls. There was a little engraved plaque on the side of the polar axis. The plaque on the GEM was, as far as I can remember, "Solis Scientific, Glasgow". It cost a pretty penny too, somewhere in the £800 range. Still managed to see Stephan's Quintet and the Shoemaker-Levy-9 impacts on Jupiter with it so I have plenty of fond memories. I got curious recently to see what happened that company, and the people involved, and if anyone else had purchased one of those scopes. I found a listing here of the company but unsurprisingly the company itself is no longer in existence. There are references also to a Mr John Braithwaite who was a director of that company, and may have been the person that actually made the scope. So, did anyone here have any experience of Solis Scientific and their telescopes, built in Scotland in the late '80s and early '90s?
  17. This is my realistic money-no-object scope: https://www.astromart.com/articles/article.asp?article_id=829 A 28" f/2.75 light bucket, no ladders, driven, artisan-level build quality, big-name optics. Plus, it would be transportable by myself thought I think I would need a small trailer. We can all dream!
  18. I used have an ETX-70, and I was able to align pretty much every time in the daytime by doing the following: Level the tripod, such that the mounting plate was level in all directions. Attach scope to tripod, approximately north. Switch on, and perform a fake alignment, just selecting "okay" when prompted for stars. Select something bright such as the Moon or Jupiter or the Sun, and goto. Loosen the azimuth clutch and sweep by hand in azimuth until the bright object is in view, and re-tighten the clutch. The goto will have set the appropriate altitude if the level and location were correct. If needed, zero in by loosening clutches and moving by hand, as the handset thinks that it is already pointing at the target, you're just ensuring that this is the case. Done. I could align on the Moon and then goto Jupiter and have it in the eyepiece, then goto Saturn. Saturn was hard to see against the background of the sky, but mag 0 and 1 stars were possible daytime. It's a nice party trick. This method of daytime alignment relies on the build quality of the mount to be good enough that the azimuth plane is close to the tripod plate, and that it's possible to loosen the azimuth clutch. At least with the FOV of the ETX, it wasn't that big of a deal. It should be easy enough to get your scope day aligned by either using this method or adapting it to the specifics of your mount.
  19. ^ Indeed, my UHC and rather decrepit OIII filters have gotten to the point where the handwritten numbers have faded almost completely off. I should document those, or track down the original sale numbers. The OIII filter I bought used and cheap, as the coatings were deteriorating around the extremity, but the center portion was fine. The center portion is also the only part that would be used at moderate to high magnifications after all. Sounds like it might still be a better operator than the current offerings from the same company.
  20. One wonders if those threads have been hidden pending a possible lawsuit by the new owners of Lumicon. It would be pretty standard business behaviour to take legal action against a forum where the postings (especially when moderated) may materially affect the business. I wouldn't expect to see those threads again anytime soon, and that's a pity. I think that Lumicon as a brand will be killed very effectively by this kind of situation where the new products are seen to be substandard. Lumicon have only one real choice here to survive - the new owners should take great pains to fix the problems and to be seen to fix those problems that the customers are seeing. The Lumicon brand will be seen as worthless by the community otherwise, and the fact that the threads detailing the issues are hidden does not bode well for decent customer service for Lumicon customers.
  21. Books ordered, just waiting now for the next two Annals to be picked and sent on their way..
  22. This is excellent news. The postage from the US was preventing me from purchasing in the recent past. Seems like I have my Christmas presents to myself sorted out now...
  23. Still love the app and the site, regularly used. Slight oddity noted today: 17th: Moon listed as "Waxing Gibbous" and 100% illuminated, 18th: Moon listed as "Full" and 99% illuminated. Full moon is 09.27 on the 18th according to the Virtual Moon Atlas. Presumably a corner case where the phase state is probably generated at one time of day and the illumination fraction at a differing time? Definitely not important in any way for me, just an interesting observation.
  24. I worked out the brightness of my lasers at different distances, and to a plane at 30 thousand feet, at 30 degrees altitude, it's really no brighter than a car headlight beside me. The beam dispersion means that the beam is large enough at that distance to be of absolutely no issue what so ever. I'm careful about my laser pointing, but definitely not worried about momentary illumination of planes at cruise. My laser beam is a circle of 18m diameter at that distance of 18km, and I can recreate that with shining the laser through an eyepiece at a large wall, and taking a picture with a camera, to compare with other nearby lights. Certainly worth a try yourselves, and you'll get a better appreciation of the reality of things. It's definitely not as dangerous as the media states, for planes at cruise. I would be very careful of planes on approach or takeoff though, those distances can mean a tighter beam with surface brightness enough to startle a pilot, and we don't want that.
  25. The 5mw green is easily and cheaply available on eBay, generally delivered for less than €15. Plus, the 5mw is under the watermark for danger. You won't be popping balloons with it! If you're handy with a soldering iron, you can rig up a better housing and switch, and a gentle heater. The ones I own, don't work particularly well under about 10 degrees Celsius.
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