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Everything posted by stuming

  1. Hi all, Just thought I'd post to say I received my Skyprodigy 130 last Thursday, and have sold my Skywatcher 130P on to a mate who has an interest in astronomy but has only just moved out to a place where he can practice it. So, the upshot is my purchase has brought another person into the hobby! So slight justification. Anyway, here in SE London the weather has been rubbish. Well, cloudy anyway, but on Friday there was some broken cloud and patches of visible sky, so I thought I'd give it a go. I levelled the mount and set everything up. I had to choose the semi-automatic alignment method as there are various obstructions in my garden. Basically, I slewed the scope to a patch of sky in the North where I could make out a couple of stars and hit the align button. The camera took a picture, processed it (it found 96 stars) and "solved" it, i.e. matched the stars to its database, in about 30 seconds. I repeated this for a patch of sky to the East-ish and then towards the south. At the final align it did some more calculations, lasting about 1 sec, and then said alignment complete. Total time: about 2.5 minutes! I was very very impressed. My "old" scope would never have been setup in that time. 25 minutes if I was lucky and if I didn't mess something up. For a start there weren't that many stars to choose from with the naked eye. The finder scope on the Skywatcher magnifies about x10 I think, and it frustrated me that the one star I was aiming for that I could see with the naked eye, turned into about 40 through the finder scope. Anyway, clouds were starting to roll in so I just tested how accurate the GOTO mount was. I asked it to slew round to M42 (obviously), Betelguese, Polaris and others. The ones that weren't covered in cloud apeared dead centre in the eyepiece and the scope moved very quickly. I was really impressed. It certainly seems to be in a different league compared to the Skywatcher mount. So I was setup in less than 3 mins, and I spent another hour looking at M42 and generally having a good time. I then had to attend to kids and the tea and stuff, but I left the scope tracking, and when I manaed to get out again it was still spot on. Anyway, I'm happy with my purchase. I really can't wait until tonight as the reports are for broken cloud again. May get an hour or two outside if I'm lucky! Thanks Stuart
  2. Hi all, I've been on this forum for a couple of years now. Had my first telescope as a present but have always been interested in astronomy. Inherited from my Grandfather I think. I have a Skywatcher 130P with a selection of lenses and filters that I've built up over the years. Well, two years. I'm based in the outskirts of London so I'm realistic about what I'm likely to be able to see, but my plan is to take the scope to darker sites and see some properly interesting stuff. So, I've just stumped up the cash for one of Celestron's Skyprodigy scopes. Why? I work and have an 8 year old child. Myself, I don't get much time after cooking and bedtime stuff to go out and observe. Nowhere near as much as I want to. It basically goes like this: get home and set up the tripod, level it etc, attach the scope and leave the box of lenses outside. Sort out my daughter, homework, tea for her etc, bed time. Start cooking me and my wife's tea. Eat. Right, now it's 10.30 and I've got 90 mins I reckon. Then it's either gone cloudy, or hopefully I can start the alignment procedure. This will take 30 mins minimum. It's a goto scope and even after setup I'm not 100% I've got it right. I have in the past forgotten to turn daylight saving on / off. One of my best nights I saw a galaxy! From SE London! No idea which one as it randomly came into view while I was looking for a cluster. Point is, for me, this: I don't have time to do this properly. I will never be so dedicated as to spend my entire evening setting things up and astronomy will not be my only hobby. I'm sorry. But, if this scope can set itself up in 3 minutes, and I can take my daughter outside and show her the Orion nebula, then I think that's worth the money personally. What do the professionals do? They have scopes linked to computers that will just look at the object they input. That's how it is. I'm not saying star hopping is wrong, or old fashioned or anything like that, it's just technology moves on. You either want to use it or you don't. Either way, if you enjoy what you're doing, what's the problem? Cheers Stuart
  3. Hi all, Was checking out Jupiter and Uranus last night. Uranus was an obvious blue-ish disc: quite pleased to get that one. I could see some banding on Jupiter so pretty pleased with that also. Went in and had my tea then came out again about midnight. Last night the goto on my scope was pretty inaccurate. I don't know if it wasn't levelled properly or if it had taken a knock, not sure. Even so I had a good look around (and used Starmap HD) and thought I'd have a go at the Pleides. I looked up and I could spot them with the naked eye. I was impressed by this as I'm based in SE London which isn't the best for light pollution. Checked them (it?) out and thought on a whim that I'd have a go at a galaxy. Andromeda was the obvious choice but I wasn't holding out much hope what with the light pollution and the inaccurate goto. Anyway, punched it in, and was looking through the finder scope as it slewed around. When it stopped I could see the faint smudge of the galaxy through the finder scope already! I was amazed! Averted vision allowed me to see more, and then I went to the scope's EP. While I can't say I saw it in photographic glory I started to make out the shape and spent about 1.5 hours on it. My first galaxy ... I'm very chuffed! Stu
  4. I was out last night just before 10.30PM showing Saturn to my father-in-law. Conditions were rubbish, loads of high hazy cloud, so we only spent a few minutes out there. We were looking up and noticed a bright dot travelling, I'm guessing, from the West to the South East. To the right of Saturn at the time anyway. I said "Oh, that must be the space station" as I'd seen it a couple of weeks before, but of course it wasn't once I checked on Stellarium. Couldn't find any satellites that matched either. I've just edited this post because I didn't check the date on the OP. I was going to say this must have been the shuttle, but it couldn't be could it. Anyone got any idea what we saw? SE London location looking at Saturn. The dot moved roughly as described above. Stu
  5. Hi all, I don't do much imaging. I just want to do basic moon shots using my DSLR attached to my SW130P on a AZ GOTO mount. I've got all the bits so this is not a question about how to do things. What I'm worried about is how much my heavy camera (Canon 20d) unbalances my scope. The motors can still drive the mount but only a gentle push on the front of the scope pushes it down. I'd like any ideas for balancing the scope at the other end. How can I attach a weight that will counterbalance my camera? Remember, my mount is the most basic one with just an all-in-one motor / telescope mount, with no counter weights. Cheers. Stuart
  6. Well, in case anyone has the same problem, I've "solved" the issue of the metal bush being pushed out of the hole byapplying super glue to the brass bit, letting it soak in a bit and then pushing the brass bush back. It seems to be a reasonable temporary solutiion. Would still like anyones opinion on other suitable mounts though!
  7. Hi all, I got the above mount as a package with my SW 130P and I've been very happy with it, being a beginner. It's not the most rigid thing in the world but it works well for the stuff I'm looking at; planets, moon, Orion etc. Unfortunately, one of the legs has a problem: the thumbscrew that you tighten up to lock the extended leg of the tripod pushes out the threaded brass bush it's in when you tighten it, as opposed to locking tight against the leg. It's not unusable yet: I can tighten it enough to use the tripod, but I can see it getting worse. Anybody got any ideas to stop this happening? Is there the option of a new, more sturdy mount I can buy? I still need / want to use the Synscan GOTO part of the mount though. Any thoughts? Thanks Stuart
  8. Hands-up from me as well. I saw Venus and Mercury together for the first time on Saturday night (well, Mercury for the first time ever). Managed to spot Venus and then got the bins out to try and find Mercury. Found it pretty easily really. Got the scope up and running and had a go on Venus (bright full disc) and then Mercury (dimmer but with an obvious crescent). Looked good despite the outlet of a condensing boiler pretty much directly in the way. Good feeling to have joined the 1% club!
  9. Wikipedia now have an slightly updated reference, including a link to Astronomy Now: Comet Siding Spring - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [edit] Said Google, meant Wikipedia
  10. That may be true Nick, and it would be a shame if this was taken away, but to most people the fact that the BBC and other media have written that you found it, it's probably pretty much wrapped up the their minds. Stu
  11. Hi there, For what it's worth I've got the same scope as you and last night I got some very nice views of Saturn and two of its moons (Titan and Rhea I think). I'm not saying this to gloat! Just pointing out that you should be fine to get decent views of the planets. I'd start with Saturn as it's obviously distinctive and relatively easy to view. Last night I started with a 15mm eye piece giving an mag of 43-ish and could focus it to a crisp "London Underground" sign that seemed about 3-4 mm across. I put in the Barlow for more mag and could focus, less crisply, and got a bigger view but with no more detail. I put my scope out at about 9.15 and left it for about 45 mins (while I played Uncharted 2. So it might have been out there longer!). When I went out it was very damp though the skys were clear. The only time I've had problems with dew (or ice) were when my eye pieces became misted up and I was then unable to see anything of the planets. They were fuzzy and unable to focus on. This happened at the end of the session after I'd viewed other stuff successfully. I wonder did you view the moon, Orion and the stars first and then found you couldn't view the planets? Perhaps dew was the problem. I'm in SE London and the light pollution is quite bad but I seem to be able to view the planets pretty well. Well, Mars is a pain, but that's the case for everyone. Good luck! Stu
  12. Hi, I posted the stuff below in the "Imaging / Hints, Tips and Tricks" forum. I really need a bit more info about software and, of course, which camera to go for, so I thought I'd report it here. Just to reinforce my "neewbie" status! Here's the original post: Hi all, After promising myself that I wouldn't go down the (expensive) route of astrophotography, I've decided that it might be nice to get some pictures of planets etc. and so I'm looking out for a cheap but effective Webcam. In order to keep the costs as low as possible I'd like to use the computer equipment I currently own. This means I'd need a Webcam that works with a G4 Apple Powerbook or a G5 iMac. It can be either Firewire or USB, but I think I'd prefer Firewire as this would allow me to use the Astro IIDC program which only works with Firewire cameras, and I understand it's the best Mac software out there. So, can anyone recommend a Apple-compatible Webcam? Also, given that I've got Apple gear, what software would people suggest? I have had a trawl around the net but most articles seem about 10 years old or so. Thanks in advance Stuart
  13. Hi all, After promising myself that I wouldn't go down the (expensive) route of astrophotography, I've decided that it might be nice to get some pictures of planets etc. and so I'm looking out for a cheap but effective Webcam. In order to keep the costs as low as possible I'd like to use the computer equipment I currently own. This means I'd need a Webcam that works with a G4 Apple Powerbook or a G5 iMac. It can be either Firewire or USB, but I think I'd prefer Firewire as this would allow me to use the Astro IIDC program which only works with Firewire cameras, and I understand it's the best Mac software out there. So, can anyone recommend a Apple-compatible Webcam? Also, given that I've got Apple gear, what software would people suggest? I have had a trawl around the net but most articles seem about 10 years old or so. Thanks in advance Stuart
  14. I used to do motorcycle courier work. I soon discovered the meaning of cold after traveling 45 minutes up the M1 in freezing fog, to discover that when I got of the bike at the other end, sheets of ice were cracking off my bike gear a falling to the floor. I invested in heated insoles, heated gloves and a heated jacket liner, all made by Gerbings. While I don't do the courier stuff anymore I still commute on my bike and through this winter I have been toasty. They connect to the 12V battery on the bike so could connect to a power pack. The insoles connect up to a socket in the jacket and the gloves connect via a plug in the jacket sleeve. The battery connects to another plug on the jacket liner. I've also got a dual heat controller which allows me to set the temp differently for my gloves and jacket. I got mine from these guys: Heated Clothing from Gerbings I haven't got a power pack and I've only observed from my back garden so far, so I haven't used the heated stuff apart from every day on the bike. The gear isn't that cheap, but less than a new scope. Stu
  15. I think it'll be clear tonight also. Going to try and get M81 as suggested. Probably end up with Saturn again though. Might try using a filter on it.
  16. Well, didn't get out until 10.30-ish but all the cloud had gone so I thought I'd start with Saturn as a guaranteed "win". It was good, but I'm now getting a bit picky: it was very bright but showed no detail, and the rings disappeared into the planet. Would some sort of filter help get a bit more definition here? Then I tried M51 ... but basically I couldn't find it. I have a AtoZ Goto mount which I had levelled properly in the daylight, but I only did a single star allignment but it wasn't badly alligned. I started with a 15mm EP which would give me x43 mag but I couldn't spot anything fuzzy. I spent about 30 mins at this mag having a look. I had also checked on Stellarium where it was so I thought I was in the right area. Are there any techniques I can learn to spot M51? Was I using the correct magnification? I used Stellarium to work out that 15mm should give me roughly the right field of view. What routine do other people go through to find galaxies? I haven't seen a single one yet! Stu
  17. Thanks for the ideas guys. Now can you make the clouds go away please? Stu
  18. Hi all, I'm a beginner with a SW 130P and a range of EPs from 4mm upwards. I'd like to have a plan for observing tonight, to make the most of the limited time I have. I probably won't be out until about 9.30PM. I've viewed Mars and got some detail, plus Orion of course. I'd like to view Saturn again tonight, but what other targets would people recommend? I'm based in SE London so the light pollution is quite bad. I have a new filter that I hope will help though. I hope to be outside for a couple of hours. I noticed a thread about comet Siding Spring but I reckon that'll be impossible from my location and with my equipment. Any thoughts people? Cheers Stu [edit] Typos.
  19. Hi all, Any progress in fitting this focuser? I've been watching this thread as I'm keen to fit one to my Skywatcher 130P if it's possible. Cheers Stuart
  20. Cheers for the tips guys. Getting dark now, oh, actually it is dark now, and scope still indoors. Stupidly didn't even think to take the mount out and level it in daylight. Hmmm. Might look into these dew shields though. Are they cheap to make?
  21. Hi all, Been doing this for a couple of months now, and I'm aware of the need to let a scope that's been kept indoors time to adjust to the ambient temp outside, so what I've been doing is putting my scope outside when I get home from work. At about 6.15 or so. A basically level the base and mount the scope in the daylight which makes things easier. I then leave it there with the lens caps on the scope and finder. The trouble is that I'm now required to be a parent so it'll be sitting outside until about 10PM. A couple of times I've then gone out to discover that the body of the scope has a layer of ice over it. The optics seem fine but after a certain amount of time I start to get ice on the secondary mirror and then it's game over. Would it be better for me to put it out for less time, to stop the scope getting too cold? By the way, it's a Skywatcher 130P. Cheers Stuart
  22. Hi all, Just thought I'd post that if anyone here has a Mac, they ought to try Equinox 6 planetarium software. It connected to my SynScan goto mount with no problems at all. No driver downloads or anything. Worked first time. It's well worth a look, and they guy who's writing the software is really helpful with any questions you might have. Stuart
  23. Hi all been having a bit of success with the planets last night: saw the ice cap on Mars for the first time, and had some cracking views of Saturn and the rings. Stunning. I set myself a few targets last night and one was to view a galaxy. I chose NGC 2903 as it's meant to be quite bright. Could I find anything vaguely bright? Nope. Spent about 90 mins at the EP with no luck. It just looked like an empty patch of space. I'm now a bit worried that my location and the LP here are going to knock galaxy viewing on the head. Can smeone tell me if I'm out of luck? A few details: I have a Skywatcher 130P 650mm focal length plus various EPs from 4mm up to 25mm and a x2 Barlow. I view from my back garden in SE London and while it's not rural darkness, there are no direct lights shining in. Generally I was using goto function of the scope with a 15mm EP plus Barlow and then hoping to spot something then increase the mag. Any ideas? One final thing, after viewing for about 2.5 hours I went. In to warm up aiming to come back out at 2am for more of Saturn. I'd gently place the scope's lens cap on the end of the scope and placed a cap over the EP but I found everything to be covered with a thin layer of ice. Is there any way I can stop this happening? Sorry for all the questions! Stuart
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