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About Bodkin

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    Star Forming

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    Watching the sheep in mid Wales.
  1. Excellent skies here in mid Wales, though it was just the binoculars for me. M101 was clearly visible in 10x50s and the Veil was a lovely sight in 11x80s. The nebulae in Sagittarius jumped out from near the southern horizon like they used to from my old observing site in France. It was one of the darkest nights I have had since moving here and for some reason I enjoyed it all the more for sticking to binoculars.
  2. Back in the eighties I bought a Celestron Comet Catcher (small Schmidt newt). It was advertised as being suitable for cradling in the arms and was just about usable in that fashion. Under really dark skies the Milky Way was spectacular, but it was never stable enough to spend time with with individual objects. The view with a small photo tripod was far superior and it was not much extra to lug around. I certainly miss having such a simple and satisfying scope and may well be inspired by your project to find a modern version of the Comet Catcher for myself.
  3. I had one of those experiences last night, but I've been observing for thirty five years so I know that I'll get past it. I almost fell off the scope ladder twice, clattered around the house and woke my wife and somehow managed to misalign the finderscope resulting in failed attempts to find anything for at least an hour. I finally managed a success with Caldwell 17 and packed up before I risked my life any further. What made the night a success ultimately was not C17, but spending ten minutes just sitting in a chair and taking in the sky with the naked eye before going to bed. Spending some quiet time with the universe is a marvelous hobby.
  4. An old Losmandy GM8 for sale. I bought it used from Telescope House in the late nineties and it has seen little use since then as I prefer alt-az. Not used for the last ten years and will probably required a little fettling to get it working well. It is not the Go-To model and does not include any tube rings. Initial price of £300, but I want to stop it gathering dust, so I will pass it on for any offer I get after a week or so. Collection from mid Wales or just outside Cardiff (Penarth).
  5. A lot of this seems to be personal preference it seems. I have owned 10, 12 and 14 inch dobs and the ten inch was best for me. I gave away the 14 inch last year because I preferred the portability of the 10 inch. Also I found the higher quality of my smaller dob outweighed the increase in brightness in the 14. I would caution against going for something really large unless you are quite sure. I have a 20 inch and it only gets used very rarely whereas the smaller scopes are regularly under the stars. My personal perspective, but I am sure you will have great enjoyment whichever way you go.
  6. It is a new challenge for me. It is good to have something to consistently fail at in the autumn before I can get on with failing to find the Horsehead in the winter.
  7. This was my first proper observing night of the season, which says something about the weather in mid Wales recently. Just a short session of a couple of hours, but it was great to get back under the stars and build some enthusiasm for observing again. I only used the F6.5 ten inch dob with a single 24mm eyepiece. Object targeting usig David Ratledge's book and star hopping using Stellarium on a tablet. C44 - A barred spiral in Pegasus. Easily visible with a strong elongated form, but no sign of the arms. A good start. C15 - the blinking planetary in Cygnus. Very bright and easy to find using Stallarium at the eyepiece. Clearly lived up to its name for me, with strong apparent changes in magnitude from direct to averted vision. The circle of nebulosity becomes very clear in averted vision, but in direct vision it is swamped by the central star. C43 - edge-on galaxy in Pegasus. Another easy find. Strong elongation with the strong hint of the dust lane in averted vision. C30 - Galaxy in Pegasus. Stumbled a little in finding it, but it is pretty bright when tracked down. Nice elongated ellipse with a brighter centre. No fleas tonight. C12 - Galaxy in Cepheus. Faint, large galaxy in a rich field of stars. Nice mottled texture across the face of the galaxy, but no specific arms seen. Apparently this is a starburst galaxy with an unusual strucutre, presumably caused by a recent merger of galaxies. C51 - Irregular galaxy in Cetus. Nope, nothing, not a hint. C18 and C17 - Galaxies in Cassiopeia. These two satellites of M31 are favourites of mine. C18 was easily seen and C17 was found after a little searching and not seen with direct vision. Under my best skies C17 is directly visible to me, but the transparency was still pretty good. A few other things were viewed; M33 with NGC604, Mirach's ghost, M31 and friends. A good start to the season. The focusser seemed to give up the ghost over the summer, but this was not a major hindrance as could clamp it in place and I prefer not to change eyepieces anyway. I am totally converted to using Stellarium on a tablet in the field, but I am probably well behind the curve on that realisation. Clear skies to all. Jonathan.
  8. The 14 inch has gone to be used by an astronomical society. I am very happy with the outcome!
  9. I managed an unexpected few hours of observing last night between twilight and the clouds arriving. I got out my 'goldilocks' scope which is a ten inch, longer f-ratio (6.5) dobsonian and set to it. First to Coma Berenices which was nicely placed due south. A couple of globulars to start; M53 which was bright and easy with a few stars and nearby NGC5053, which is much fainter but still clearly seen. I know that if I can see 5053 at all the skies are very good so I pressed on. It is some time since I was out with a scope so I the aim was to drift wherever I fancied. A few degrees to the northis M64. The black eye was nicely visible and it made a very pretty sight. Further in the same direction to NGC4565 another favorite of mine for this time of year; a beautiful thin shard with the hint of a central dust lane. Next it was down into the centre of the Virgo galaxies (M60,M59, M58, M59, M89, M87, M86, M84, M88, M100, M98, NGCs.....). On a good night it doesn't matter where you are pointing in this area, there always seems to be a galaxy in view. After this it was down to the deep south. A quick glance at Jupiter and on to M104, the Sombrero galaxy. Quite a special object with its pronounced dark band easily visible. Panning across to the west I took in the bright galaxies in Leo (the Leo triplet, M96 and M105). Lots of structure visible in these with the ten inch. I often forget how effective a moderate aperture can be at making brighter deep sky objects more than featureless smudges. Up to Ursa Major to take in the sights. M108 and the Owl nebula were lovely. Signs of the eyes of the Owl were visible with an OIII filter. A few more galaxies en route to M51. Very clear spiral structure here, which indicates how good the sky was last night. Even M101 showed traces of spiral structure, though only just with averted vision. The clouds were starting to show up now so I went into overdrive so that I could catch as many favorite objects; you never know when it will be clear again in mid Wales. So M81, M82 and NGC 3077 in Ursa Major, then M63, M94, NGC4490,M106 and NGC4449 in Canes, finally M3, M13, M5, M92 and M56 to close out on a few globulars. A failure on M4 through the trees on the hill to the south was the biggest miss of the night, but overall a night to remind me why I love spending time under the stars.
  10. I would happily throw in a couple of starter eyepieces to help a beginner get started.
  11. Hi all. Does anyone feel able to house and use a 14 inch dark star dobsonian? It is available for free to a good home as long as it is picked up from Llanwrtyd Wells. Fairly barebones; simple focusser and telrad base. My ten inch is my grab and go scope and this one is just too big for quick sessions. It would be nice if it stays in Wales so I am offering it here first. If you are interested PM me. Jonathan.
  12. Thanks for the appreciative comments. I have decided to keep it after all. In fact it is now being restored; the paint has been removed, worm wheels cleaned and brass polished. Unsure whether to respray with original black crackle or a shiny colour. I may even smooth and polish it to a high shine. All I need is a 6 inch f15 refractor! From for sale add to wanted add within a week.
  13. My ancient (owned since the 1980s) Fullerscopes mount is for sale. Hardly used over the last ten years as I prefer a dobsonian mount for my 10 inch and it is overkill for my 6 inch mak-newt. I was intending to put a long focus refractor on it, but the permanent space in the garden is going to the 20 inch. It comes with dual drives and a VFO with hand paddle, one counterweight and rings for a 10 inch , if required. The mount is dusty, but has always been kept in a dry location. I have no idea what these old mounts are worth to people. I will start off at £300, but am open to offers. Collection in person from mid Wales.
  14. I am going to try to sell this big fellow again. It is a solid tube scope made in the UK by Darkstar, probably in the mid to late 1990s. The build is that of a traditional dobsonian with a plywood rocker section which provides a solid foundation and smooth movement. The mirrors could do with re-coating, but are still quite usable. I have added a new Telrad finder and a new Skywatcher dual speed crayford from FLO. The optics are not great though fine for deep sky work, but probably a quarter wave or so. I recently re-sited the diagonal which improved the image significantly; I used to think the optics were closer to a half wave, but they seem better than that. From my pretty good location I have seen tricky objects such as three of Stephan's Quintet, the Flame nebula, M51's arms, NGC 5053, C17 and much more. The previous keeper to me used it for galaxy hunting and amassed an impressive catalogue of observations. The scope is just too big for me to use frequently and I tend to get out the ten inch instead and the twenty inch is getting a permanent site for when I want to go deeper. I hope it could make a good instrument for someone else. Obviously this is too big to post, so it is pick up from mid Wales (Llanwrtyd Wells). £250 or offers. Open to trades.
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