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About Nyctimene

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    Star Forming
  • Birthday 27/07/1952

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    Stargazing, music (lute, harpsichord, Early Music), reading, gardening, cooking, travelling, scuba diving, sailing
  • Location
    Germany, Odenwald
  1. A gain of 0.5 mag NELM means on average, that you can spot twice as many of astronomical objects of any given type-and that's a lot! (the volume of observed space doubles). Stephan
  2. +1 for an 8" Dob without GoTo. A "lifetime scope", which you will learn to master within a few months. Hunting down some elusive DSO's is a lot of fun. Enough money left for accessories; if you want to take up sketching, an equatorial platform will do. Easy and quick setup, easy to transport to dark sky areas. At f/6, no problems with eyepieces and collimation accuracy. For good reasons, my 8" f/4 Hofheim Instruments traveldob is, at the moment, my most used scope. Observing seated will add at least 0.5 to 1.0 mag to your NELM (Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude). No experience with an ironing stool; there are a lot of DIY solutions on the net. Stephan
  3. Back on The Hill

    A good read, Iain, under cloud-covered skies here in SW Germany. The Collarbone nebula is one of my favourites, and I can make out it's tiny disk (25 arc sec, acc.to SkySafari) regularly even with my 8"f/4 Hofheim dob using 200x mag, in 5.6 mag skies; better, with ring structure, in the 18". When I first heard of the "Collarbone nebula", I was imagining (-retired physician-) a very oblongated and warped nebula, some kind of celestial bone, until I realised, whereof it has got it's name - the localisation in Orion's torso..... ashamed....;-) Stephan
  4. just a general rant

    There has been a discussion on this here a while ago, with some nice graphs (5th post: "Is the UK getting more cloudy?") https://stargazerslounge.com/forum/29-observing-discussion/?page=4#ipsTabs_elTopic_281822_elTopic_281822_firstPost_panel Stephan
  5. Gettìng facts

    "The Cosmic Perspective" (by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider and Volt) is equally comprehensive (extremely - 816 pages) and basic in it's way to present complicated facts in a very clear and understandable manner. It's pointed at students of two-semester courses in astronomy and includes additional online material. Not cheap (150$ new), but you can buy used or get the 7th edition at reduced prices. This book would accompany you for years of your way into astronomy - for the price of a medium-class eyepiece. Have a look: https://www.pearson.com/us/higher-education/program/Bennett-Cosmic-Perspective-Plus-Mastering-Astronomy-with-Pearson-e-Text-Access-Card-Package-The-8th-Edition/PGM19644.html Stephan
  6. Most memorable observing moment?

    Comet Hyakutake in spring 1996; glorious sight under 6.0 mag skies; green-blue hue, with a tail spanning 40 degrees from almost zenith downward south. Better than Hale-Bopp later. Eclipse 1999 through cloud gaps - downpour ten minutes later. Stephan
  7. M81 & M82?

    Yes, without moonlight and a NELM (=Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude) of 5.5 mag or better most certainly. Under such conditions, they are rather "easy" with 7x50 or 10x50 binoculars. July 2015, I spotted M 81 constantly with averted vision, and M 82 for seconds with an excellent Docter 8x21 foldable monocular (-well, some experience helps). M 81 is, as Phil Harrington describes in his wonderful book "Cosmic Challenge" (p. 28/29) even visible naked eye under extraordinarily good conditions and with the outstanding keen vision of a very experienced observer. With 12 million light years, it's the most distant object, that can be seen without optical aids. Good luck with the hunt during the next New Moon period, and Clear Skies! Stephan
  8. M81 & M82?

    The first step of my star hop routine differs slightly from Stu's, and involves the 3.8 mag star Upsilon U Ma, which forms together with the equally bright star 23 U Ma a (not quite) "parallel" line to Beta U Ma (Merak) with Alpha U Ma (Dubhe). Both stars can be made out easily to the "right" of U Ma; when you follow the line "upward" (as you are doing with Merak and Dubhe to find Polaris) you get the exact direction to spot the "triangle" described by Stu, when you follow it for the distance Upsilon - 23 U Ma. From there, the same way to the "Line" and to M 81/82. Works very reliable, because it gives you the correct direction and distance to the triangle. Stephan
  9. New to this site

    Hello and welcome, Deadsky and son, to this friendly forum! As Charic said above, steer away from the Celestron 114/1000. The optical system (Bird-Jones; or Jones-Bird - the same) consists of a spherical mirror and a correcting built-in Barlow element, and is rather difficult to collimate even for the experts. The equatorial mount is reported as weak, wobbly and complicated in use. For beginners, a Dobsonian or Alt-Az (=up-down/right-left movements) mount type is much more suitable. Another vote for the Skywatcher Heritage 130 P Flextube; I'm very pleased with it (bought it last summer). Excellent optics, decent mount, very easy to use, can be fully collimated; excellent value for the money. It's easy to store, to transport (to dark sky areas) and to set up. Two links are added (just in case you don't know them): https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/463109-onesky-newtonian-astronomers-without-borders/ and Neil Englishs report: http://neilenglish.net/a-newtonian-travel-scope/ With 5" aperture, you don't need a moon filter; I rarely use a moon filter even with my 18" f/4.5, as I switch rapidly to higher magnifications, thus the image brightness is dimmed. Take yourself time with your decisions; read and ask here. A planisphere, the Pocket Sky Atlas or a red light torch might serve as a birthday present for your son. Enjoy the learning process, and Clear Skies! Stephan
  10. Yet Another Newbie!

    Hello, Pete, welcome to this friendly forum from a German stargazer and dobsonaut! Reading your posts, I appreciate the way you've already done your "homework" (polar aligning, using the setting circles, reading, successful observing, and so on) - that's a good way to start with this "learning hobby". Astro Baby's Collimation Guide is still one of the best; here's an additional one for collimating with a Cheshire (I'd avoid a laser): http://www.propermotion.com/jwreed/ATM/Collimate/Chesire.htm Some examples of optical aberrations (eyepiece or Newtonian reflector) are shown here: http://umich.edu/~lowbrows/reflections/2007/dscobel.27.html Hope this helps; and continue asking! Stephan
  11. New telescope

    Hello, Daniel, welcome to the forum! A 5" Maksutov is a rather specialised scope for lunar and planetary observing. Have a look at the Skywatcher Heritage 130 P Flextube; lots of reviews, excellent optics, decent mount, cheap and versatile. Add a Seben Zoom 8-24, a Baader 2,25 Barlow and an UHC filter, and you have an excellent start with the hobby. Stephan
  12. Which planisphere?

    Stephen, You are at 51.57 N Latitude, so exactly the latitude the planisphere is laid out for. Nice dark sky areas close by,according to this: www.lightpollutionmap.info Enjoy! Stephan
  13. 'The experienced astronomer '

    To become a connoisseur of Bordeaux wines, that's a loooong way - but a BEAUTIFUL one! The same goes for visual observing (-and more so, I guess, for astrophotography). So, be patient, stay with the bright objects at first (moon, Pleiades, Hyades, Orion nebula); and you'll notice, how, by and by, the handling of eyepiece changing, focusing, using the slow motions etc. becomes second nature. Start always with the lowest magnification (= use the eyepiece with the highest number). Use a pair of binos for a first orientation; and enjoy! Stephan
  14. Planetary nebulae - what's the knack?

    Not incompetence - inexperience! As a newbie long ago,I would have been very proud of having observed M 1, 31, 42/43 and 81/82 within the first four weeks, as you did. The Eskimo nebula is well within reach of your 8"; you will be able to observe it even without a prism or UHC filter (the same goes for M 57); try to spot a star image, that is not quite as sharp/focused as the neighbouring stars; then crank up the magnification. Of course, a decent UHC filter (don't scrimp on this - Astronomik filters get good reviews) will help with the details and the "Eskimo hood". You can also try the "Cat's Eye Nebula" NGC 6543 in Draco, mag 8,1; good luck with the hunt! Stephan
  15. Which red dot finder?

    Baader Sky Surfer III. Compact, dew-resistant (long lens housing protecting the optical window), anti-glare coating of the optical window, so better contrast. At the lowest setting, still a bit bright under dark skies (but can be cured by a tiny bit of developed 35 mm photo film covering the LED outlet). Works fine with the 18" and a 10x60 Baader RACI finder; a second one is attached to the 80/400 frac, and is very useful in it's additional purpose as a solar finder. Affordable at 32 GBP (FLO). Stephan