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About Nyctimene

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    Star Forming
  • Birthday 27/07/52

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  • Interests
    Stargazing, music (lute, harpsichord, early music), reading, gardening, cooking, travelling, scuba diving, sailing
  • Location
    Germany, Odenwald

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  1. I feel for you, Rune, and am hoping for some better nights in Norway during late summer and autumn. The only working anti-slug method (in my eyes) is an anti-slug fence (keeps them away since 2007):
  2. What an extraordinary warm and balmy midsummer night yesterday! At 22h15min CEST the temperature was still at 26° C, the sky partly cloudy, and the lawn (usually a dew magnet) completely dry - I've never met such conditions here up to now. But, pointing the 5" Heritage at Jupiter, I found the seeing to be really awful; the two equatorial belts could just be made out with V=81x, without any details. Saturn was not better. The celestial disappointment was, however, compensated by the lights of up to six fireflies hovering over the lawn and along the garden wall; a lovely sight, that always indicates to me the beginning of the (for me) most beloved time of the year. Half an hour later, the fireflies suddenly disappeared - why? - seeking shelter from a upcoming thunderstorm? - going to bed with their freshly found mating partnesse -- ?? (Some of them reappeared later, but not the whole group). I savoured these precious tropical evening hours, that brought back memories of the Seychelles and the southern skies with their wonders, many years ago. Hoping the summer will hold more such enjoyable nights for all of us! Thanks for reading Stephan
  3. A Red Dot Finder/Telrad/Rigel combined with a RACI finder (and SkySafari Plus or Pro with the finder's TFOV added) Not to wait for the perfect sky or the perfect place - just go out, when it's clear; there is always something to look at (e.g. preparing star hopping routes in moonlit nights) A lightweight grab-and-go set (frac with a 24-8 mmf zoom, stored indoors) Refining your home observing site (light shields; shed; ramps; observing chair...., for me, always in progress). There was a very interesting article on this on the CloudyNights forum by Roland Beard (08/09/07); can't find it at the moment, sorry. Stephan
  4. This morning, I was out for an unplanned session with the new Skywatcher Heritage 130 P Flextube. The waning moon's crescent hung over the eastern horizon, and despite a sub-average seeing, I was able to observe the "Lunar Buzz Saw"- phenomenon on the floor of Sinus Iridum. Near sunset, the Jura mountains cast jagged shadows, giving the mostly still illuminated crater floor the appearance of a curved saw blade. I had read about this clair-obscure phenomenon some months before (do not remember the source), and observed it now, by chance, for the first time - a very pleasing sight! Later on, I found an excellent drawing of this in Harold Hill's book "A Portfolio of Lunar Drawings" (p.88). Here's a LPOD photo: I continued with the crater Caroline Herschel; near it, the summits of Mons La Hire were still lit up on the already darkened moon floor. Delisle; Mons Delisle and Diophantes with the conspicuous Rima Diophantis. Aristarch; Herodot; Schröter's Valley. The session ended with a view at the Gruithuisen area with its craters and domes. Observations were made with the Seben Zoom 24-8mm, and the UWA 6 mmf, giving 108x. A first summer session - flip-flops instead of Moonboots, and the birds morning chorus; a good start of the day. Thanks for reading Stephan
  5. During the last three nights, I was out with my newly acquired scope, a Skywatcher Heritage 130 P Flextube ( Dob No. 5 - as it seems, I can get not enough of them; but a very understanding and supporting wife!). Conditions were not the best, slight to moderate haze, seeing at average. Last night, I started from Mare Crisium; small craters as Fahrenheit and Picard Y could be spotted easily. Nearby Firmicus and the adjacent Lacus Perseverantia were distinct. Langrenus; the crater trio Bilharz, Atwood and Naonobu was complemented by a nice craterlet area. Petavius showed its central mountain and a prominent rille. In Mare Fecunditatis, Messier and Messier A displayed the "parrot"-shape, with ejection material plumes perpendicular to the two long "tail" rays. I finished with Plato, and was able to make out two craterlets on its floor. - Saturn showed the Cassini division, but just at the ansae. The "double double" was easily separated. All observations were made with the Seben Zoom 24-8 mm and a Baader 2,25x Barlow, giving mags of up to 182x. I am very pleased with the little scope - the quality of it's optics is excellent, giving perfect Airy discs and diffraction patterns. The slop of the helical focuser was easily cured by 5x1cm PTFE plumber's tape. Vibrations stop after three to four seconds; and the collimation is spot on, when re-and extracting the upper part of the OTA. The secondary is somewhat prone to dew (mostly from exhaled moisture, which I afterwards directed sidewards with the palm of my hand). So some minor improvements have to be done. A very good scope for outreach and as a second (-or third-) grab-and-go. Very contented, and so to bed. Thanks for reading. Stephan
  6. Almost never had dew problems with my 13,1" Odyssey (solid tube); rarely (once or twice a year, and only on the secondary after observing more than three hours) with the 18" and the 8" truss tube dobs, which are both fitted with light shrouds. No dew heaters installed; a fan, or (with the 18" and it's Sitall secondary) a small heat pack in a bag hung under the secondary cage for a few minutes are always enough. Stephan
  7. Very good news, Alan; I hope that you soon will regain your health, strength and flexibility completely- but go slow, very slow, over a couple of months up to a year (a retired neurologist's advice ). As far as scoping goes, I'll second the advice above to go with a SCT or Mak. In addition, two ultimate solutions with absolutely fixed eyepiece positions come to my mind: Russell Porter's "Springfield mount" for Newtonian scopes: and the Coudé configuration for refractors: A German amateur and professional telescope maker, Manfred Wachter, built about 50 years ago about 150 Coudé s, mostly 150/2250, but up to 200/3000 mm, that were used very successfully by several Astronomers associations for outreach. Rare instruments (never seen or used one), but excellent build quality Could be a nice project for an experienced ATM... Stephan
  8. Have a look at this: I built this device during an afternoon from scrap, and it works very well with my 10X50 Zeiss Jenoptems, giving more freedom of movement compared to a tripod. Stephan
  9. I was lucky to spot the transits through thin haze, but during rather good seeing conditions with the 18" Obsession and 10 resp. 6 mm Orthoscopics, giving mags of 205x and 341x. When I started observing at 22h25min CEST, Jupiter showed a lot of details within the equatorial bands and a very obvious GRS, but both moons strangely were not easy to make out; Io could just be glimpsed repeatedly for a few seconds; Europa was easier at least during the last fifteen minutes before the end of the transit and showed whitish bright. The shadow transits, however, were very contrasty and obvious, Io's shadow was more conspicuous and "larger" than Europa's. A very nice sight, especially after Europa had just resolved from the planet's disc and was separated from it by a tiny gap. Some upcoming clouds, so I went over to the moon; with the good seeing conditions I counted 10 craterlets on Plato's floor, down to 1,0 km diameter (at 341x). Tried to split Antares, but it was way too low, scintillating in rainbow colours. A nice hour of observing in an early summer's night; some bats and the first (sedentary - female) glow worms. Hope some more were able to spot this event. Thanks for reading Stephan
  10. Spotted Comet Johnson this morning at 02.00 CEST with the 80/400 frac through thin haze. Nothing spectacular, at V=50x mag just visible with averted vision; coma diameter about 8'; a few times, the false nucleus appeared at the limit of vision. No tail. Somewhat disappointing views over the last weeks. Went over to Saturn, and finally to "La Superba" in CVn; a famous Carbon star, that appeared to me in a nice orange colour. Stephan
  11. That's my strategy for some winter targets - to observe them early in the morning in September/October (I don't like frosty nights and the need of three layers winter dress!) Stephan
  12. Still three hours of astronomical darkness here at 49°37' N left; so I took out the 18" Obsession at 00h15m; average conditions with NELM 5,7 mag, SQM-L 21,18; rather good seeing. First to Arp 271, a nice close galaxy pair. The slightly brighter 5427 (12,1 mag) appeared round, with brighter middle; directly S adjacent 5426 in contrast was extending 2,5:1 N-S, with stellar core region. Between them both a 13m star. With the different shapes of both galaxies, a rewarding view! Then again to the 5846 group (described in my earlier post of April 30); with 18" and the 30 mm 77° AFOV Wild Heerbrugg eyepiece (Swiss military surplus optics - swords to ploughshares!) many members bright and in the same field of view. At 200x (Baader Zoom Mk III), 5846/5846 A showed the feature of the "mini-M 51" very clearly. 70' N of the group was the 4:1-elongated 5854, easily with direct vision. At 01h15 the eastern sky was lit up by the (still hidden) moon; so over to some more relaxing views - Albireo, lovely as always; M 57 "glaring" bright (but could not spot it's central star with a 6 mm Orthoscopic; never seen it; the same went with IC 1296 (15,4 mag) nearby). I finished with M81/82, bright and in the same field of view, and 3077. (IC 2574, Coddington's Nebula, was elusive as always and not visible). Quite satisfied, and so to bed at 02h. Thanks for reading. Stephan
  13. What about a good quality 2x Barlow? With it, you could reach mag 342x with your zoom, enough for the usual weather and seeing conditions and for a 10" scope. Stephan
  14. Just stumbled across a CloudyNights post on Carbon stars and was pleased to find a list sorted by B – V index (the higher the number, the redder the star will appear). When observing Carbon stars, I often was somewhat „underwhelmed“ by the look, finding more orange and salmon colours than really ruby red (the best up to now was R Leporis). Could be a nice project for moonlit nights; here's the link to the CN article: and taken from this, here's Dave's list : Stephan
  15. You only live once... How about an 18" f/4,3 carbon dob with a total weight of 23 kg? Have a look at this: Sorry, but the detailed version is available only in German, as it seems. Daniel is a well known German amateur astronomer and a blessed telescope and mirror maker. Well,the price..., but its a joy to look at the photos (you have to scroll down to the end of the page). High end Dobsons at their best! Hofheim Instruments build a 16" for less than half of the price, not quite as sophisticated and without exotic materials: You asked for a high end Dob; one of these could be a lifetime scope. Stephan