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About Nyctimene

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    Star Forming
  • Birthday 27/07/52

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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. Review of the Light Shield "Red Eyes XTRA Dark Cling" (Sirius Astro Products) Since using SkySafari, running on my two Sony Android smartphones, I was always annoyed by the amount of the grey-white LED backlight disturbing my night vision, even in Night Mode. Following the usual suggestions, I tried to block this backlight by using a deep red sheet of acryl, applying two layers. The results were not convincing, and I was always struggling with the stubborn sheets, when using the smartphone directly at the scope. About ten months ago, I stumbled across an article on the CloudyNights forum dealing with red light issues, and found a member's vote for the abovementioned light shield. There are two sizes available; a smaller size suited for cellphones (3"x5,25"), and a larger version for iPads and other tablets (6"x9"). Prices are affordable: 5,95$ resp. 13,95$. I at once ordered the smaller sheet directly from this website: http://www.siriusastroproducts.com/index.html Payment (by credit card) went without problems. Delivery (to Germany) was within a week, in a small extra envelope. I cut the sheet according to the display size of my Sony Xperia Z Compact. The soft and flexible vinyl material immediately clings (one side) to the display and stays there without slipping during use, even in a jacket's pocket. Yet it can be removed without any residues, and put on repeatedly without losing it's "clinginess". Fingerprints and dirt, which seem to impair the adhesive function slightly, can be washed away with water and some detergent, restoring the "clinginess" to it's default state. I'm using SkySafari Pro with my smartphones. For optimal function with the light shield, I switch to the Night Mode (which displays the toolbar comfortably), and adjust brightness using the smartphone's display settings. You can go down to very low (almost "Namibia-suited") light levels. Alternatively, there is an app: "ScreenDimFull" with even more functions available for Android. The light shield suppresses, contrasting with red acryl or SkySafari's Night Mode, completely any backlight (LED-) illumination of the display, which is of immense value, when observing faint, extended Deep Sky objects as galaxies and gaseous nebulae with low surface brightness. Even the typing of numbers and letters, when I'm using the "Search" function, highlights these now just in a somewhat brighter deep red colour (in SkySafari's Night Mode, they appear shortly black on white!); not really annoying. The display's sensitivity to fingertouch is in no way impaired by the light shield's vinyl material. During use, I almost forget the existence of the light shield. It clings unremittingly to the display; only during one cold night (-6° Celsius) it was within an hour slowly losing it's "clinginess" and behaved finally similar to an acrylic sheet (recovering rapidly in higher temperature). Within nine months of use, the vinyl surface has got some scratches, but they don't affect the view. The corners show a very slight delamination (about 1 mm), resulting in white light transparency, again not visible any more in the dark. At the scope, the combination of smartphone, SkySafari and the "XTRA Dark Cling Light Shield" replaces more and more the traditional paper atlases and maps (so my very nice collection is gathering dust....); but I still need the comprehensive description of objects and the drawings found e.g in the Night Sky Observer's Guide. Below a picture, comparing the"XTRA Dark Cling" (above) to a deep red acrylic sheet. Very recommendable! Thanks for reading Stephan
  2. A lightweight travel scope, e.g.the Sumerian Alkaid 8" (7,5 kg total), or its bigger brother, the 10" (12 kg)? Stephan
  3. Skywatcher Heritage 130P flexitube

    I'm very pleased as well with this small and very capable scope. Just in case you shouldn't know (and for others interested), here's the link to the huge thread on this scope (called the One Sky Newtonian) from the CloudyNights forum: https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/463109-onesky-newtonian-astronomers-without-borders/ and the excellent report by Neil English: http://neilenglish.net/ Have fun; and Clear Skies! Stephan
  4. Starguider 8-24mm budget zoom eyepiece

    The Seben 8-24 came in this strange looking case (reminding me of some "plaste" objects produced in the former German Democratic Republic until 1989 -even the colour! - and the design called "formschön"); and carries the marking MTZ 8-24. Some kind of time capsule, this look! Stephan
  5. Starguider 8-24mm budget zoom eyepiece

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Geoff! My two zoom eyepieces, a Baader Hyperion Mk III 24-8 mm, and the Seben Zoom 24-8 mm, are rattling, when shaked, the Baader to a lesser degree. IIRC, Baader claims this as proof for not pinched optics. I've never noticed any negative effects of this on image quality. Both zooms need refocussing, when the focal length is changed, e.g. from 24 to 20 mm with the Baader, in all of my scopes, even those with short focal lenghts as 400 mm. In temperatures below 0° C, the Baader zoom mechanism gets rather stiff; no experience on this with the (new) Seben up to now. The Baader Zoom is my most used eyepiece. Stephan
  6. Hello, New from WA state USA

    A warm welcome to this friendly forum from a German stargazer! Your 6" f/5 scope is a very capable and versatile instrument, easy to handle, and will give you years of observing pleasure; so resist aperture fever (at least for the moment...). Take it to a dark observing site, and enjoy even more! Good luck with the Eclipse! Stephan
  7. Which way is up?

    Point the dob, using a rather high magnification, at a bright star and bring it into the center of the field of view. Where the star exits the field of view, there's West. In a Newtonian scope, North is located 90° counterclockwise to the West (assumed that no other optical elements than eyepiece, filter and Barlow (non-erecting) are used). In SkySafari you have to switch to flip "both" , as you mentioned already above. Perhaps you took a background star erroneously for Titan? Hope this helps Stephan
  8. Red dot view finder

    It's best to use a combo - the RDF (or Telrad/Rigel) gets you into the field roughly, and the finder (best a Right Angle Correct Image=RACI finder with an illuminated reticle eyepiece) will show enough detail, so you will be able to locate your target with the main scope, using a widefield eyepiece. Always check the finder - main scope alignment before (and sometimes during) an observing session! Stephan
  9. Binocular Sky Newsletter, August 2017

    This morning, 01h10min to 02h20 min I spotted Eddie's Coaster with the 80/400 FH frac at 20x. Despite the bright moon (three days before full moon; NELM 5,0 mag), and partly clouded skies, the lines of the Coaster, now already familiar, could be seen easily. Two of the above mentioned accompanying open clusters, Berkeley 62 (9,3 mag) and NGC 559 (9,5 mag) were spotted using averted vision, and 50x mag (Baader Zoom 8mmf). Even with another vintage 8x40 bin, the asterism's lines were clearly defined, but very faint in the eastern part. So, I guess, in a moonless night with average or better transparency, the asterism can be seen with 8x30 bins. A quick look at some Cassiopeia open clusters (M 103, Tr 1, NGC 654, 663, 457), the Double Cluster with the tiny "Cyclops" at 50x mag and the winter harbingers Pleiades, Hyades and, up from now, "Davis' Dog" finished the session. Thanks for reading Stephan
  10. My Seben 24-8 zoom works quite nice in my smaller f/5 scopes, whereas my Baader Hyperion Zoom MkIII can be used up to the 8" f/4 Hofheim traveldob. I'm pleased with the Seben - rather small, lightweight, good for any grab-and-go set, and for a very reasonable price. No worries about damaging or losing one, when doing outreach, or observing early (with some wine or single malt remnants in the blood circulation....). When I want perfect on-axis views, I always return to my Orthoscopics. Stephan
  11. Davis' Dog, binocular asterism in Taurus

    Silver Astro, I just did the reality check with the 7x50 bins - definitely the two rear ones (as can be suspected already from Stellarium); they stand out clearly more prominent. Nice to revisit the dog, located so conveniently between Pleiades and Hyades. Had also a look at the Auriga clusters, the Flying Minnow and the Cheshire Cat. Eddie's Coaster was again outlined clearly with 7x50, and with the 14x100 (3,1 kg handheld - ouch!) some of the accompanying clusters could be spotted in the cloud gaps. Must use the tripod tomorrow; more clouds at the moment. Stephan
  12. Binocular Sky Newsletter, August 2017

    Yes, Rudi is his name. Good luck with your DIY project; this poor penguin's guts will come to a better second life in caring expert's hands and will give you a nice widefield scope! My Blue Penguin (a Skywatcher Infinity 76, for newcomers; tagged) is sitting obediently on a chair in the office room, and is giving now and then some neighbour's children a first look at the moon, together with the 80/400 frac. Stephan
  13. Binocular Sky Newsletter, August 2017

    Well, the waxing gibbous moon, setting here 02h15min CEST, might have played it's part.... (I was observing at about 02h30min CEST, and the SW horizon still was lighted up). So I assume, that you don't have to wait until winter to spot the Coaster; spare your time then for looking at "Davis' Dog". By the way, what about the Blue Penguin - is it still pointed at the bird feeder...? Stephan
  14. Binocular Sky Newsletter, August 2017

    Last night, I spotted Eddie's Coaster through haze in an unexpected tiny cloud gap for half a minute with my 7x50 vintage Japanese "Pallas" bins. Enough time to show the asterism's lines quite clearly. A nearby isosceles triangle of 5 mag stars (32 Cas, HR 342, HR 233 at the tip) just N was helping. SkySafari displays five open clusters along the coaster, giving occasion for fantasizing a little widefield scope scenery: westernmost King 16 (10.3 mag) as a father/helper, pushing the cart Berkeley 4 (10.6 mag) close by with children to the starting point; another cart, Berkeley 62 (9.3 mag), is bumping up with people enjoying the ride; to the east, cart No 4, NGC 559/C 8 (9.5 mag) has just finished the ride - and below to the south, the last cart, Czernik 3 (9.9 mag), just had an accident and sprang off the rails..... I'll try to spot them all; they should be doable with the 80/400 frac and I hope they enrich observing Eddie's Coaster even more. Have fun, and clear skies Stephan
  15. Binocular Sky Newsletter, August 2017

    Thank you, Steve, and Silver Astro, for the hint! I've just looked up this asterism with SkySafari Pro, and it displays (in my eyes) more prominent than in Stellarium, and extending further to the east. Must give this a ride with the 10x50 Jenoptems; and I guess, once found, it cannot be made "unseen" any more, when visiting Cassiopeia (the same goes for the scope view of the "Smiling Cyclops" asterism in 869, the western cluster of the Double Cluster). One more fascinating target in this splendid constellation! Here's a link to a Sky and Telescope article about the "Smiling Cyclops" (3rd topic). Have fun! http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/hidden-gems-in-common-objects/ Stephan