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Geoff Lister

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About Geoff Lister

  • Rank
    Star Forming

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  • Gender
  • Interests
    Railways (full-size and model), radio-controlled model boats, and astronomy
  • Location
    North Somerset, UK
  1. New telescope

    Hello Daniel, You mention the 127mm Mak., on an AZ5 manual mount. I have the same Mak., but on the Synscan GoTo mount. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/az-goto/skywatcher-skymax-127-synscan-az-goto.html This uses the same mount as Alan's first suggestion (above), the Star Discovery having a slightly larger mirror (150mm V 127mm) and a shorter focal length (wider field of view, but lower magnification with the same eyepiece). A few nights ago, I was looking at Uranus, and I think that I would have struggled to locate it without the GoTo. The GoTo tracks the object, whereas you will have to keep turning the AZ5's adjustment knobs to keep the object visible, particularly at the higher magnifications. Geoff
  2. 2 star alignment question synscan az mount

    I use Synscan's "Brightest Star" alignment, and have also wondered if the time duration to do the manual slew to the first star, and also between aligning the 2 stars, can affect GoTo accuracy. "Mognet" has covered the basics, and I also try to start with the OTA pointing North, and both mount and OTA level. Whilst slewing to the required azimuth, I can save time by setting the altitude scale pointer to the value shown on the handset. Choosing a second star whose name is at the beginning or end of the alphabet, saves time when stepping through the handset-suggested names. I found that, having aligned on the first star, and accepting the Synscan-suggested second star, it was often behind a roof, fence, or tree; requiring a restart of the alignment process . I sometimes use Polaris as a second alignment star, but only if it differs, significantly, in both azimuth and altitude, from the first star. If the automatic slew to the second star does not place it in the FOV of my finder, then I tend to start alignment again, as the algorithm does not have a "useful" fix on the first star. I decided to do a bit of homework to speed things up. I used Stellarium and produced a table of 24 bright stars (rows), setting the date for the middle of the month, for each of the 12 months (columns). I advanced time at dusk, with Stellarium adding the names of the stars as they would become visible to the naked eye. For each month, I selected 3, 4 or 5 of the 24 stars, (avoiding any "hidden" ones), that would give a good Alt/Az separation, and noting, in the table, their general direction (N, NW etc.) that month. Printed out on an A4 sheet, this makes alignment easier. For me, Sirius is only good in February, but Arcturus features from April to September. I did not include Polaris in the table, as I know where it is at a gap in the roof line. Geoff
  3. Which planisphere?

    I have the Philip's 51.5 degree one for the UK and the 42 degree at my holiday home in the south of France, but neither get much use. I tend to use Stellarium on my laptop to plan an evening's observing; and sometimes, when outside, SkyPortal on my tablet.
  4. GO-TO Mount advice for quicker set

    I am happy to be proved wrong, but as far as I can see, the Celestron Skyprodigy 70 mount, with its long OTA, has the same basic electro-mechanical setup as that of the Skywatcher Skymax 127, with the heavier, but more compact, OTA.
  5. GO-TO Mount advice for quicker set

    Another suggestion, based on my recent purchase. Celestron's Skyprodigy range, with built-in Starsense & GoTo, goes from a 70mm refractor, at £200, to a 6" SCT at £1300, and using the same Az/Alt mount, (but with a specific plastic cowl over the dovetail clamp, sized to be a snug fit on the telescope tube). I have a Skywatcher Skymax 127mm MCT with Synscan, and the mount has similar mechanicals to the Skyprodigy. I bought the 70, for just under £200, delivered, and, having checked that it worked, undid the 3 small bolts holding the cowl, cut the ends back by about 12mm, and re-assembled. I now have Starsense for 70mm, 90mm & 120mm refractors, 90mm & 127mm MCTs, and a pair of 130mm Newtonians; all using the same mount. If it's early evening, I tend to use the Synscan's "Brightest Star" alignment, as soon as I can see a suitable 1st star with the naked eye (the mount does an automatic slew to the vicinity of the 2nd star). If it is properly dark, and I can see lots of stars, I use the Skyprodigy, which tends to be slightly faster.
  6. Following on from mark81's comment; if you are planning on using it, congratulations, you have a very good starter setup, and I am sure that we will be able to help you get the best out of it. Geoff
  7. Hello Nicole, It looks like one of these:- https://www.firstlightoptics.com/az-goto/skywatcher-explorer-130p-synscan-az-goto.html I had a quick look on eBay, and there was one at £54, with 10 bids, and 4 days to go. It's difficult to put a value on it, but £54 seems a bit low. I would have thought that £150 to £180 would be more realistic, but others on this forum may know better. Geoff
  8. Baader zoom 8-24 , YES or NO?

    I have a Mk IV, with matching x2.25 Barlow. The Barlow screws into the zoom body, much like a filter; unlike the Celestron/Skywatcher Barlows, that are more like a slide-in 1.25" extension tube with a lens at the bottom.
  9. All I Want To See Are Planets

    I have found that the high USB2 data rates do not work well along long cables. The Skyris-236C is a USB3 device, so will be more sensitive to cable length and quality. It would also be difficult to "stay outside working the scope" if you could not see the resulting display. The link, below, gives details of the webcam that is shown in the garden setup in my second photo, earlier in this thread. I believe that I needed a x2 Barlow to achieve focus with my 10" Dob. http://www.orion-xt10.com/philips-spc900nc-webcam.html Geoff
  10. Syn Scan question.

    At the end of last night's observing, I parked my mount in the "Home" position, and cycled the power and then responded with the "Yes" option to "Restart from Park?" question. I stepped through the setup options and re-entered the correct time, and then the system wanted me to "begin Alignment". Clearly, I did not want to do this, so I stepped through the options and selected "Sidereal Tracking" and then "Automatic Tracking". I exited back out of the "Setup" menu, and then selected the "Show Position" function in the "Utility" menu. I believe the RA/DEC displays showed static readings, but the Alt/AZ were incrementing slowly, indicating that the mount was moving. Sirius was showing, nicely, well above the horizon, towards the south (roughly 180 degrees Az and 15 degrees Alt from the "Park" position) so I selected Sirius for the GoTo target. With my Startravel's 600mm fl, and a 24mm EP, Sirius was about half-way between the centre and edge of the FOV. It is possible that I could have skipped one, or more, of the tracking steps, but this seemed to give me adequate GoTo, without having to repeat the alignment. Geoff
  11. All I Want To See Are Planets

    Unfortunately, the "interesting" planets are only going to be visible before dawn, and not in the evenings. I have just run Stellarium for Indianapolis, and Jupiter (with Mars very close below), will rise from your south-east horizon at about 4:00 tomorrow morning. I have a Skywatcher Skymax with a 127mm Maksutov optical tube, and Synscan GoTo. Its long focal length is good for viewing planets, and the whole assembly is very portable. I believe a similar setup is retailed in the USA using the "Orion" name. I liked it so much, that I bought a second one for my holiday home, 8 degrees further south, in France. The setup above has the eyepiece replaced by a basic webcam, fitted with a 1.25" adaptor, and feeding a laptop. This works well for recording short videos of Jupiter. Geoff
  12. The 3 main moorlands, Bodmin moor, Dartmoor & Exmoor are all good dark sites. Here are another couple of links with more information http://www.darkskydiscovery.org.uk/ highlights Bodmin moor & Exmoor https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/guides/top-5-dark-sky-locations-in-great-britain/ mentions Exmoor https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/stargazing-in-the-south-west has some additional sites in Cornwall
  13. Skywatcher Mak 150 tips

    They do this for refractors, https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-focusers/skywatcher-auto-focuser.html and with this https://www.firstlightoptics.com/astronomy-cables-leads-accessories/hitecastro-dc-focus-controller.html it could be controlled by a computer. It could probably be adapted to work on a Mak.
  14. Skywatcher Mak 150 tips

    I've seen a couple of photos of a remote focus system, using a motor/gearbox assembly bolted on the side of the backplate, and a belt drive engaging with the rubber splines on the focus knob. I think this was connected, by a thin cable, to a small box with a battery and in/out pushbuttons and some form of speed adjuster. This reduces the mount vibration induced by touching the focus knob, but is not automatic. Geoff
  15. Skywatcher Mak 150 tips

    There is still some slack in the adjuster, so it is sometimes necessary to pass the focus point and then reverse the direction of knob travel. The peg just gives a slight edge in landing on the focus sweet-spot (after the mount vibration has finished). I was aware that Skywatcher produced a dual-speed Crayford assembly as a retro-fit for their refractors. As far as I know, the focus on the Mak. is performed by moving the primary mirror cell, whereas a Crayford focuser moves the eyepiece. It should be possible to also move the eyepiece on a Mak., but I am not sure if the OTA's backplate would take a focus tube. A Mak. is, by its design, a short OTA; so adding a rear focus tube would negate some of that advantage, particularly if observing close to the zenith. Geoff