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About Nyctimene

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

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  1. Last night, I observed (again) this nice galaxy group in the easternmost part of Virgo with the 8" f/4 traveldob. Rather good conditions at 01.15 CEST: NELM at 5.8; SQM-L 21,27. After a little warming up with the globular M 5, I took 110 Vir as a guide star (easy to recognize by a close pair of 10mag stars 4 arc min SE) to 5838. This galaxy (10,9 mag) appeared as a bright spindle (4:1) with NNE-SSW orientation and a conspicuous stellar nucleus. 5846 30 arc min SE was bright, round with a brighter central region. The companion 5846 A could not be spotted (both together form, observed in the 18", a "mini-M 51" constellation) Close to the east was 5850, fainter, round, but still directly visible. To the west, the chain was completed by the small and fainter (12,5 mag) 5839 and 5845. 5831 was directly visible, but faint, diffuse. I finished with the 10,5 mag 5813, a bright, round galaxy that is nicely embedded in a triangle of 11mag stars. Saturn was rising at 02.30, but very low in bad seeing, the Cassini division could be glimpsed just for seconds. All observations were made with the Baader Zoom 8-24 mm, mostly at mag 100x. My new Astrogloves proved to be very useful in the cold spring night. Two satisfying hours; and so to bed. Thanks for reading Stephan
  2. Good advice above, especially on visiting star parties; nothing better than experience "hands on" with different scope types (and sizes!) As an add-on present, I'd suggest some useful tools for ongoing stargazers: a planisphere (showing the sky view for any date and time); a (dimmable) red light torch, and a good star map; many forum members are using the Pocket Sky Atlas (Sky and Telescope). Online: With these cheap and simple tools your partner (and you?!) could work your way to the stars. As a next step, you might put some (already existing) binoculars to astronomical use; or you buy some. A lot of good advice on this from a forum member here: Have fun; keep asking; take yourself time; and finally a warm welcome here from Germany! Stephan
  3. How about the Skywatcher Heritage130 P Flextube? With a f/5 focal ratio you would not need expensive eyepieces; for travelling, it could be mounted on a lightweight AltAz mount/tripod combo. Small and rugged enough for bus trips. There is a huge thread on this scope (Astronomers Without Borders scope) on the cloudyNights forum: OneSky Newtonian - Astronomers without borders - Beginners Forum - Cloudy Nights Stephan
  4. Billy, very little requirements regarding maths; one of the reasons I've chosen this book (school maths was pure horror for me). In this book, the maths are presented in little sub-units called "Mathematical Insights"; you can read or skip these, as you like. When I am able to follow the logic structure presented there for solutions - analyse; solve; explain - I assume, almost everybody can. The book is aimed at a non-STEM audience, is online supported, and makes use of a lot of pedagogic knowledge and hints (summaries, quiz questions, wavelength icons added to pictures or graphs and so on). It contains the materials for a two - semester introduction course in astronomy. With 1150 pages and 3 kg weight (my 2010 5th edition in German) somewhat of a small Leviathan, and not well suited for reading in bed, but a good everyday companion on the desktop. Hope this helps Stephan
  5. If you want something really comprehensive, that covers all aspects of astronomy, and is written very readable, have a look at: "The Cosmic Perspective" ( edition; written by Bennett/Donahue/Schneider/Voigt). It's written for a non-STEM audience and not cheap, but will give you months of enjoyable reading. Albeit, it does not go into details of stargazing. Stephan
  6. Your Midnight Mistress ---?? (- I'm using a plastic cover for garden furniture for my 8", that lives in the shed) Stephan
  7. Your problems seem to be related to the low surface brightness of the objects on your list, as Peter mentioned above. The visibility of these objects suffers very much in light polluted areas. M 97 and 108 can be very tricky even for experienced observers. I'd suggest you to start with open clusters and globular clusters, e.g. M3, M13 (which you've spotted), M 92, M44, M 67; later on M4 and M 80. If you want to spot galaxies, try M81/82. Make yourself familiar with the terms of surface brightness, and try to get information on this for your observed objects. I'm using the Night Sky Observer's Guide (very recommendable), as Stellarium and SkySafari don't give the values. Sockgoblin's list of additions above is spot on! Try to take your Dob to a dark sky area; here's a map: Take yourself time, a LOT of time, keep asking here, and enjoy the journey! Stephan
  8. Hello and a warm welcome to this friendly forum from a German dobsonaut. Your scope will give you and your family great views and years of pleasure. Clear Skies Stephan
  9. I'm almost always using a combination of several sky maps when observing (one of the pro's of an astro shed, where you can spread them on a large table). First, to get a rough orientation, or, with a smaller scope, the PST or a German equivalent, Karkoschka's "Atlas für Himmelsbeobachter" (with useful descriptions of DSO's). Next, the Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas in combination with the "Night Sky Observer's Guide", which gives detailed descriptions of the visual appearance of more than 2000 DSO's and covers scope apertures from 4" up to 18/20". SkySafari 5 Pro works fine when using it with the smartphone directly at the scope, as you can change the apparent field of view for all scope/eyepiece pairings; and with the 18", it helps to identify those faint smudges in Abell clusters quite easily. No problems with dark adaption any more since I'm using the light shield "Red Eyes Cling Xtra Dark" from Very recommendable and available for tablets sizes as well (the Xtra Dark is important). Of course, no affiliation with these. Stephan
  10. Spring is galaxy time; so the Leo galaxies NGC 2903; both Leo triplets (M 95/96/105 and M 65/66/ NGC 3628) to start with. After warming up, of course the Virgo cluster with Markarian's Chain; I've described one way approaching it here Jan.29 (Observing-Deep Sky-Help on some dso's). Clear skies, and have fun! Stephan
  11. My experience since December, spot on! Welcome to this friendly forum from Germany Stephan
  12. Congratulations, Stu, and thanks for the detailed report! Thanks to the heads up here and the excellent star map linked by Dave I managed to spot 2014 JO25 from the rural Odenwald region in Germany. Conditions were quite good; clear sky, NELM 5.6 mag, SQM-L 21,1. With my 8" f/4 traveldob at 27x mag, I found the asteroid at 22.50 CEST after a five minute's search. The extremely fast motion (3°/h) was immediately obvious, especially when passing stars nearby; when I switched to 50x and 100x mag, it was almost as looking at a clock's minute hand; very impressive! It was the fastest motion of a celestial body I ever have observed (satellites don't count). It dwarfs my champion up to now, comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock, that flew by in April 1983 with an apparent motion of 20° a day (-by the way, with 2.9 mag, 1° coma diameter easily visible naked eye as a large, diffuse blob; very impressive as well). IIRC, my first asteroid ever.... (I'm more in DSO's). Stephan
  13. Hello, Marie, glad, that you have - at least for the moment - steered away from the scope decision and got a good pair of bins for your Denali trip. I suppose, having read your CN post, the Celestron 8x56? Good bins will accompany you for many years and are, as wide field instruments, complementary to telescopes; so money will never be lost. I'm still using the Hertel+Reuss 8x30 bins, that got me into Astro 1968, and they are still in good condition! As you mentioned above, it's for you, as for all starters, not easy to pinpoint the stars and constellations. You'll need a good star atlas; many on here use the Pocket Sky Atlas. You might, as a budget solution, also download for a printout one of these: You can also get some apps, as Stellarium or SkySafari for your smartphone. A good tripod (s/h) and an adjustable seat will add convenience. For image stabilization on the budget, you might even think about building this: It's simple to build, cheap, and it really works well with my 10X50 Jenoptems. Have fun with your bins, and keep reporting here! Stephan
  14. The equipment of Bradfield, this very successful comet hunter (18 comets; and always the single discoverer) is shown in the video below; just for the techno guys on here. Enjoy these scopes, that might have been used in the world of "Riven"! Stephan
  15. Whilst most of my scopes live in the shed at almost ambient temperature, I keep all of my eyepieces indoors, to keep them warm and dry. During breaks when observing, I always put a cap on the eyepiece (eye side) to avoid fogging and keeping the lens slightly warmer (rest heat). Sometimes in winter I carry an eyepiece or two in my coat pockets. Trying to avoid breathing at the lens surface is very important; learn to breathe downward or to the sides, or to hold your breath (some diving techniques, in my case, are helpful). I have no experience with warming eyepieces up (by means of heat pads, electric baby bottle warmers, electric heated pet blankets....) The famous Australian comet hunter William Bradfield used this device with success: Stephan