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Geoff Lister

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About Geoff Lister

  • Rank
    Star Forming

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  • Interests
    Railways (full-size and model), radio-controlled model boats, and astronomy
  • Location
    North Somerset, UK
  1. Soleil, You mentioned that the Celestron package included The Sky software. Arguably, the best, and free, planetarium program is "Stellarium". http://www.stellarium.org/en_GB/ This program will show you what you can see from your location. When running, either press the "f6" key or move the mouse pointer up the left hand side of the window; this brings up the "Location" window. At the top right, is a long table containing the names of most of the world's major towns and cities. Select one near you, and tick the "Use current location as default" box at the bottom left, and close the location window. This will get you going. If you move the mouse pointer along the bottom of the window, you will see a group of icons that turn the major features off and on, and the right-most group let you move time, and watch the constellations move across the sky. There are many other features that you can add or adjust from within the menus behind the icons, and if you "muck it up" you can go back to factory defaults. By using this program before it gets dark, you can select the celestial objects that you want to observe, and the best time, and direction to see them. One of the newer features lets you add the details of your telescope (aperture, e.g. 130mm; focal length, e.g. 650mm; and eyepiece focal length, e.g. 25mm, 10mm or 3.6mm) and then turn on the "Ocular View" to see what is visible in the eyepiece. Geoff
  2. Probably a decade ago, I bought a Celestron Astromaster 130EQ-MD, and I found it a pain to set up. The motor drive just used a potentiometer for speed control, so accurate tracking was almost impossible. The counter-weights make the whole assembly heavy, and often catch on the slow-motion drive knobs. As mentioned above, the eyepiece is rarely where you can get to it easily. My next purchase was the Skywatcher Skymax 127, Alt/Az mount with Synscan GOTO, and I have found this very easy to set up and use. The Astromaster's OTA will fit on the Skymax mount to give more user-friendly view, and double the field of view offered by the Skymax's Mak OTA. Geoff
  3. The Skymax 127 can fit in a small space and is easy for transport This is my second one at my holiday home in France. The £50 webcam is fine for recording 640 x 480 stills or videos of the moon and planets. The red wine is an optional extra. Geoff
  4. I have a Heritage 130p and have not had any problems with dust. When collapsed, the cover seals the open end. An old shirt, draped over it, will make an additional dust cover. Geoff
  5. My 130p mount with enhancements:- The altitude scale and compass help find desired objects a little faster. The patio stool is lower than my normal table, but makes a stable platform.
  6. If you want a 114mm, it would be worth looking at the Skywatcher Heritage 114p Virtuoso, at £175. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/heritage/skywatcher-heritage-114p-virtuoso.html I have the 90p equivalent and I have found it very easy to use in all of its 3 modes. (1) unpowered, as a simple push-to Dobsonian; (2) powered with tracking, just point it towards Polaris, turn ON, point it towards the chosen celestial object (manually or with the up/down/left/right buttons), and the mount will keep that object in the field of view; or (3) powered and with a Synscan handset to get full GOTO. The mount uses 8 AA size alkaline batteries ( it is very frugal when tracking, but a bit thirsty when doing high-speed powered slewing), or can be powered by a 12V 1.5A plug-top supply sold for under £5 for powering flexible LED stick-on light strips. If you want fully manual, the Heritage 130p is also worth considering at £137. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html I use mine on a 60cm diameter, glass topped, patio table; so no tripod legs to hit / fall-over, in the dark.
  7. Hello Badweather, I have the Celestron Cosmos 90 WiFi and drive it with SkyPortal on my 8" tablet (no handset provided). I have experienced problems 2 (I need tactile feedback from real buttons), 3, 4 (tablet reverts to home hub very easily), 5, 8 (I added a power "Kill" switch to the mount), and aspects of 9. I am struggling to find any "pros". I have 2 other mounts with essentially the same drive mechanisms and overall shape. (1) Skywatcher Skymax 127, a 5" Mak. with Synscan GOTO; and (2) Celestron Skyprodigy 70, with built-in Starsense camera, modified to take the larger-diameter 5" Mak. Both of these get much more use than the Cosmos 90 WiFi. Life is too short, and clear skies too rare in this part of the world, to struggle with the overall WiFi/Tablet interface.
  8. Skywatcher Mak 150 tips

    A simple dew shield can be made from a piece of dark, dense foam, yoga/camping mat; with a few strips of gaffer tape and stick-on Velcro. Even a simple cardboard tube + tape, will help delay dew formation. Extra focus-knob sensitivity can be obtained by using a clothespeg to increase the lever arm when close to focus. I have 2 of the 127mm OTAs, in different locations, and, on one, I replaced the straight-through finder with its RACI equivalent; much more user-friendly, particularly for targets at high altitude angles. Geoff
  9. Eye Astigmatism help?

    I now find, with advancing years, that I need normal glasses to spot through the finder, reading glasses for the handset's keys and display, and glasses-off for the best eyepiece FOV. Several of my mounts have places to hold eyepieces, but nowhere to put a couple of pairs of glasses.
  10. My 250PX is like the one in John's photo, above, but with the Synscan GOTO. I tend to set up mine on my patio, with power ON, well before dusk, do a "brightest star" alignment as soon as I can spot the first bright star (e.g. Vega, Arcturus or Altair), go in for tea and a warm-up, and come out again, perhaps an hour later, with the second alignment star still close to the centre of the eyepiece. When not in use, the OTA (retracted and vertical) and base are kept in an unheated garage, with the rigid cover and "shower cap" in place and the whole OTA covered in an old bed-sheet. This seems to keep the mirrors clear of contamination. Geoff
  11. Plate solving

    If you Google "plate solving astrophotography" there are several useful links. I quite liked the "Plate Solving for Dummies" at http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/archive/index.php/t-104367.html
  12. The Bristol AS public viewing evenings (most Saturdays) are worth going to. I went a couple of months ago, and met John, and several other keen astronomers with a selection of telescopes. The observing site is in Failand, on the Chard side of Bristol, along a path from the B3129 Weston Road. If you use Google Maps satellite view, there is a marker for B&W Equine Vets, and the observatory is about 150m NE of the marker. Probably about 55 miles / 1h 20 mins. (mostly M5) from Chard. Geoff
  13. Skywatcher Synscan GOTO Question

    Synscan's "PAE" (Pointing Accuracy Enhancement) function in the "Utility" menu may also help to reduce GOTO errors after the swap. Geoff
  14. Eye Astigmatism help?

    I am short sighted and have astigmatism, and, at 66, I have a much-reduced focal range (accommodation). I usually observe with my glasses on, but for wide-angle views, I take them off. I also find that, if I am using averted viewing of faint objects, I find it better without glasses. Geoff
  15. Moon filters

    I find it easier to observe the faint fuzzies first and leave the Moon to the end of a session. My eyes adapt faster going from dark to light, than they do going from light to dark. Geoff