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Everything posted by Girders

  1. Like Peter, I've got the 114 Newtonian version (but may have gone for the Mak90 if I'd found it at same price). I've added the synscan WiFi and found it works well - although for planets you can find by sight the tracking on the mount is sufficient and I only hook up the synscan if I'm hoping to see something else (rare in my light polluted skies). I've never been tempted to use a tripod with it - just varying sizes of garden table. It has a reputation for racing through batteries so a DC adapter if you'll have an outside socket is an essential - or power tank type battery if you'll be using away from home.
  2. Interesting discussion. With very limited experience/equipment for astrophotography it hasn't really been an issue for me - all my lunar/planetary shots are single images - not really capable of being greatly improved by processing. But I think my guiding principle (for me) is that I want to replicate as closely as possible what I can see through the eyepiece. I have however had a similar dilemma with the northern lights. A few years back we had a great trip on the Hurtigruten Norwegian coastal ferry and saw some good (but not hugely strong) displays. Camera's capture the colour much better than the human eye - but the colours are genuine and very real, it's just our eyes do colour vision very poorly in low light. So I've got wonderfully colourful images - with almost no processing done other than noise reduction. But they have little resemblance to what we actually *saw*. Of course we have to 'show off' the best looking ones but I always make sure I explain to people that unless you are very very lucky they rarely look as colourful as that to the eye. And I think that's the important bit - to try not to set people up for disappointment when they try to repeat your view/image. Pic attached hopefully - left side the 'original' as per the camera and the right half is a quickly photoshopped version much closer to what we actually saw.
  3. I'll not weigh in on the benefits of the scopes suggested by others far more qualified than me. But I would give back to your comment regarding involving your almost 4 year old. My daughter has been involved in our stargazing since she was just over 4. In fact it was her interest in space that motivated out telescope purchase. And the big thing I've learned (fortunately before our ourchase) was that motorised tracking on a scope is a HUGE benefit if you are sharing viewing and (in my experience) essential if trying to let a little one view. You can manage fine without for the moon but the magnification required for the planets means they move across the field of vision too quickly. Even if YOU can manually track when viewing the kids won't be able to (at that age anyway). It just takes them too long to focus through the eyepiece and it's gone before you can be sure they ever saw it. And that's not even including the accidental nudges. If you can stretch to something with tracking (full go to not essential) I'd really reccomend it it intending to view with small children. And a smartphone adapter for live viewing rather than through an eyepiece makes a huge difference too. Great for the moon although tricky to line up well enough for planets. There have been a few threads on here talking about observing with small ones that will give more info on balancing the technical aspects with the specific needs of youngsters.
  4. Yep, I was going to suggest one of the scopes with the Virtuoso mini Dobson mount. Goto can be added later but I found tracking to make a huge difference to my early experiences.
  5. Glad it was helpful. And it's good to wait and not have to buy something under the pressure of Christmas. As various people on here told me - the stars will still be there when you and he are ready for a scope.
  6. Firstly - it's great that you're doing that. Meteorites. My 5 year old loves holding them. And what kid wouldn't love to hold a piece of a shooting star. The Camp Del Cielo ones in particular make a definite impression due to their surprising weight. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/meteorites.html
  7. Hi Jenb, I was exactly where you are now about a year ago with my then 4 year old daughter. After lots of research on advice on here I went for a Heritage 114p with the Virtuoso mount (which has motorised tracking). It doesn't have Goto (computer/smartphone control but you can add that later for around £60) https://www.firstlightoptics.com/heritage/skywatcher-heritage-114p-virtuoso.html At £175 it's a fair bit above your budget (and I started out with a 'hard' £100 limit too!) but I was really glad to have the tracking. Looking at the planets with high magnification they drift so quickly that it was really hard to handover to my daughter before we got round to setting the tracking up. She loves getting out to use the telescope but I really hadn't appreciated how rarely we would be able to get it out. Between clouds (and wind which makes it wobble too much), and the times of the planets rising and setting, and the long days over summer, combined with a 4/5 year old's bedtime restrictions makes it really tough. In the year she's probably only been able to view (a very tiny) Mars and (a very tiny) Jupiter a couple of times - and (a very very tiny but with visible rings) Saturn once. With my later bedtime I've been up and out there at all hours, but most of her experiences have been focused on the moon. Which she's fine with, but it's important to manage expectations. And viewing through eyepieces is tricky for the wee ones - even getting the 'one eye' viewing right it's still hard to look straight down the eyepiece. I often use a smartphone adapter attached to the eyepiece to show the image one the screen - which is great for the moon but can be tricky to position for the planets. It has certainly kept her interest in space going, but if I'm honest I think there are other more cost effective and interesting ways to do it. If you can get out to a true dark site on a moonless night - even without a telescope - it's amazing to see with the naked eye. And even standard binoculars will be a revelation. She also really enjoys watching any launches we can find on youtube etc - and some historical ones too. And every so often Nasa offers the chance to have names added to an upcoming space probe. Lastly (for now anyway) she's loved being able to hold meteorite samples. I got small collection 'from her' for my birthday and Christmas last year and she likes being able to hold them. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/meteorites.html I'm happy that as she gets older I've got a scope she'll get use out of over the years, but it's the other stuff that's really kept her interest for now. Hope that's of some use, David
  8. This sounds like something I've encountered sometimes when using the wifi adapter attached to my SW Virtuoso mount. The issue was to do with a dialogue box / warning on my android phone. The phone needed me to acknowledge that the wifi network I was trying to connect to did not have internet access and that I wanted to connect anyway. If I missed the chance to say "Yes" it was a hassle to track down the setting and I think I just disconnected and reconnected and made sure I was paying attention to the phone when trying to connect. Hope thats some use.
  9. I'd forgotten about these, but came very close to buying one. I was struggling to find reviews and then got the chance of a deal on my Heritage. You might be able to find some more info on them one year on... Compact tabletop dobsonians available in 5" and 6" https://www.bresseruk.com/astronomy/bresser-messier-5-dobsonian-telescope.html https://www.bresseruk.com/astronomy/bresser-messier-6-dobsonian-telescope.html
  10. Interesting question - and although the general request for recommendations in that kind of range as a first scope come up often, I can't recall many where they are "downsizing" (for want of a better word). I'm happy with my Heritage 114p Virtuoso and find the tracking (and adding goto with the skywatcher wifi adapter) very useful. Quick to set up and easy to store. But that's on the basis it's my first scope. And although I'm happy with my choice, I would definitely like "more" scope. I'd love to go for a SW 200 dob, but haven't for pretty much the reasons you sold yours. I can live with the compromise I've made because I've never really known better, but I think it would be very hard to go "back" from a 200 dobsonian to something in the 100 to 130 range. I know plenty here rave about the Mak 127 from various manufacturers, but I don't know whether that would be closer to what you aim for. Good luck, and I'll follow your choice with interest.
  11. I’ve got this very similar one... https://www.amazon.co.uk/Solomark-Universal-Phone-Adapter-Mount/dp/B0188KP6T8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1534028121&sr=8-3&keywords=Phone+telescope+adaptor It is great for the moon but tricky to align well enough to look “straight down the eyepiece” to make it reliable for planetary viewing. And most of the options available give little ability to set the distance from the eyepiece (again making it difficult for high magnification). Im also not sure if it’s due to the adaptor or phone camera quality (old iPhone 4) but it’s no use for me for picking up stars at all. sorry - iPad won’t let me attach pics, but the one in my avatar was taken with it. My 4 and a half year old can now use the eyepiece but the phone/adapter combination is still our first choice if I can get it lined up. But do be aware of its limitations.
  12. I’ve been there with the 4 year old - although it’s my first scope that was bought with her in mind rather than an upgrade. If it had just been for me, no question I’d have gone for a 200p dob, but when I thought it through and took advice on here I realised that having motorised tracking was a must for anything that involved a “handover” between me locating a target and her looking at it. I went for a Virtuoso 114p which is a small tabletop dob with tracking but no goto (unless you add the Skywatcher WiFi adaptor). We used it a few nights before we got the power and tracking running and found it really frustrating, but once we could track it was so much better. I just don’t think a non-tracking scope is workable for people taking turns at viewing - especially when one is a small child. But I don’t think the 114p would be a sufficient upgrade for you (I’m planning to upgrade myself before too long). I have added the WiFi adaptor for goto but in fairly light polluted skies it’s been of little benefit really. My other big lesson from working with the wee one is how difficult it is for them to work viewing through an eyepiece. I’ve got a smartphone adaptor which can be a bit hit or miss and takes work to get properly aligned for planets but works well for the moon. Finding one that works with your new scope (or considering a camera to laptop option) would greatly increase ease of use and limit frustration. Good luck getting your daughter involved - my little girl loves looking at stuff and made us wake her at 1am on holiday last month so she could see Saturn. And if you haven’t found it yet, give her a look at some of the planet songs on YouTube...
  13. Thanks for the link. And, yep I've been there. I went for pointing it at a nearby streetlight.
  14. I'll follow your posts about this with interest. In particular I'm curious how quickly/reliably you can get it satisfactorily lined up with "smaller" targets. I've got what I guess is a 2D adaptor: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Solomark-Universal-Phone-Adapter-Mount/dp/B0188KP6T8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1531171440&sr=8-3&keywords=telescope+smartphone+adapter It's fairly good for lining it up for the moon, but getting it perfectly centred (and at the right eye relief distance) for Jupiter/Saturn/Mars is very problematic. Great when you manage but more often than not I give up on it before then.
  15. Sunshine posted in my "Six months in" thread: "And if it will reassure you, ive been in the hobby for two decades and am just now imaging for the first time, you beat me to imaging jupiter, i will be looking to do that tonight, so score one for you sir! love the images!" Well, that was worth the wait! If it takes me two decades to turn my blurry little striped dot into something close to your image, I'll be more than happy with that! Well done!
  16. In the hope that it may help/reassure anyone starting out now... I've had my little scope for just over six months now, and after a fair bit of frustration, poor weather and a little more expense than planned, in the last two weeks I've finally got to where I wanted to be. It's been a bit of an up and down journey but my main goal was always to get decent views of Jupiter and Saturn and with some helps from the forum I got there. Big learning points along the way... My 4.5 inch tabletop mini dobsonian (Skywatcher Heritage 114p Virtuoso) is as small a scope as I'd consider for starting out. I'd nearly gone for the Heritage 100p and although it's not a huge difference I really wouldn't want anything with a smaller aperture. I've only recently added go-to with the skywatcher wifi adapter. It's handy but not essential for me. Tracking on the other hand, for me anyway, is a must for any future upgrade. Sharing viewing sessions with my wife (and at times my 4 year old daughter) without tracking losing objects while taking turns caused no end of frustration. Don't get frustrated if seeing conditions and planetary positions conspire against you. For months Jupiter was a bright white blob with 4 moons for me. It's only recently that I've been able to see the bands and a glimpse of the great red spot. But it's not that I'm doing anything better or differently, or that there was anything wrong with the scope. I just had to wait... and wait... and wait until things fell into place with timings, positions and conditions. Take the time to work out and note which eyepieces/combinations work well. I now know that for my scope my 6mm with 2 x Barlow is my default option for planetary viewing (giving 167x magnification). Smartphone adaptors are great for the moon and really let my little girl be involved, but they are a bundle of frustrations for planets and stars. It's really tricky to align them correctly for smaller targets - and even fixing them using the moon before switching fails more often than not. I've had some success but not with any consistency. Even at my low points I've never regretted getting involved. I reckon I've spent £150 on my scope plus £100 or so on a couple of eyepieces, barlow and power cables plus £60 for the wifi adapter. So just over £300 for about 30 hours of hands on scope time (did I mention the weather's been bad?). I can live with £10/hour - especially as I know I'll get many more hours in the future. Anyway, six months later and I'm still here, still learning, and still getting set up when the sky allows. And I've got what I was hoping for. (The pic of Jupiter is slightly better than it was in the scope, but Saturn was much clearer/sharper visually.) Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way.
  17. Thanks for the great answers - exactly what I was looking for. I'll have a look at Stellarium to see what's likely to be visible from my location when I'm there and I'll get the wifi adapter ordered.
  18. I've had a SW Heritage 114p since November and have enjoyed lunar and planetary observing (weather permitting). My sky isn't dark enough so DSOs aren't really a viable target, so I'd not got round to adding a WiFi adapter to the Virtuoso Mount. But I've got a week away at a relatively dark sky area and am tempted to add the Go-to function, but I'm not sure whether (even if I'm lucky with the weather) my score is capable of showing much. Any thoughts on what my 114mm mini dobbson is likely to show (factoring in that during summer in Scotland it's never truly dark). I don't want to throw £60 at the adapter and find it's of limited use. Thanks in advance, David
  19. I think the problem with ebay - for a beginner at least - its that you will inevitably find yourself at times unable to get the scope to do (or appear to do) what you expect to see. At that point it can be very difficult to tell (even with help on here) whether it's something you are doing wrong or if it's a problem with the scope. And while with 'proper' retailers or fellow 'proper' hobbyist astronomers you can probably easily go back for advice with eBay it's *likely* to be someone who bought or was given a scope and never/rarely used it so can't tell you if it ever worked properly, or help you with any problems you're having. I suspect eBay can be useful once you know what you're doing but even then there are other options where you can be more confident what you are buying has been looked after.
  20. The Heritage 114p with Virtuoso mount has positives and negatives. I've had mine (in Glasgow) for 6 months now - although observing sessions have been weather limited. Positives: If the best scope is the one you use, it can't be beaten if your main plans are for back garden observing. You just pick it up, cart it outside and put it on a table. Let it cool for a but and you're good to go. No tripod to set up or bits to put together. The motorised tracking of the mount is a huge plus even without full goto. If you'll be regularly observing with someone else there is nothing worse than having to relocate an object each time you "switch". I believe goto can now be added very easily with the Skywatcher wifi adapter (around £60) which combines with your smartphone (this is my next purchase). Negatives: Although fantastic for the moon, I've struggled with Jupiter. It shows a good size disc and the moons clearly but I've only got glimpses of the bands. My skies aren't dark enough anyway but I suspect the smaller aperture will limit any use for galaxies etc beyond the "easiest" ones.
  21. I've had my Heritage 114p Virtuoso since November and enjoyed some good backyard sessions (not many lately though due to weather). In June we're getting a few days (and more importantly nights) away in rural northern Scotland where the skies will be significantly darker than my light polluted location outside Glasgow. I know in the Scottish "summer" there's limited proper darkness but I'm still thinking it will be worth taking the scope on our trip if I'm prepared to put in a shift in the early hours. But transporting it on a 3 hour car journey is a worry... And although I believe the primary mirror is fixed I'd rather not have to delve into collimating on arrival. Is the original packing box my best option or should I be looking to get a carry case? It's not a common size (500 length x 114 diameter) so I haven't found one made to fit - and I don't want to pay silly money. And yes, I know that if I take the scope I'm just going to jinx my whole holiday with clouds and rain. Thanks David
  22. Thanks Geoff - very useful to know what some of the alternative options are for this mount (it's not always easy to find OTA weights in specs).
  23. I've got the Heritage 114p - the same Virtuoso mount but with 114p newtonian scope. I've been very happy with it - although as a beginner my use has been limited. It seems well built and it's quick and simple to set up - I can't imagine there's anything better as a truly portable "grab and go" as I can literally just pick it up and carry it outside and onto the garden table. The concept of the tabletop mount works (fairly) well for me but you do need to be aware that regardless of how solid the table is (or whatever you sit it on) it still depends on the ground/surface underneath - decking with a little too much bounce in my case. You do also need to work out a seating/standing arrangement that gets you at the right height for viewing. Tracking has been fine for visual, but I think I read somewhere that as it's movements are very small up/down left/right rather than a true equatorial movement it isn't the best for long exposures? I believe it also happily works with the Skywatcher wifi adaptor to provide go-to control via tablet/phone instead of having to buy a synscan handset. This is next on my purchase list! The 114p has been good as a starter scope (had it since November) but I am now thinking of upgrade options and trying to find what the best scope I can get that will keep under the virtuoso mounts payload of 4kg. Lastly, I have seen the mount and 90mm mak turn up individually on Astroboot (been tempted to go for the mak myself)
  24. I've always noticed them now and again, and yes looking through high magnification eyepieces with small exit pupil definitely makes them more obvious. Generally nothing to worry about, but as mentioned above if *lots* suddenly appear *in normal vision* ie not when looking through an eyepiece you should seek *urgent* attention particularly if you are very short sighted. I get regular warnings at eye tests that as I'm so short sighted I am at a much higher risk of a detached retina - the early signs of which would include lots of floaters. If it detached it can be re-attached if treated in first few hours so don't mess around if you fall into a similar category and notice them suddenly affecting your general eyesight.
  25. Ok, I'm a bad stargazer. Even for a beginner. I know I shouldn't do it for loads of reasons including temperature variation, double glazed glass etc etc. But last night I did. And it was pretty much exactly the same as all those nights I'd spent out in the cold... Now I do have a good excuse. I've got a really stinking cold so there was just no way I was heading out into the freezing Glasgow night at 2:30 am even though the same stinking cold had woken me up and I could see Jupiter nice and clear in the sky. As my RDF battery had recently run out I thought I'd pop downstairs and set the scope up on the dining table and view through the double glazed patio doors and use it as an opportunity to replace the battery and re-align the finder. And my views of Jupiter were almost as good as I've ever had before. OK, so the banding wasn't clear - but it never has been. The planet was a crisp circle with the moons clearly visible around it. And I'm pretty sure I'd have got a view of the bands if I'd had the time to settle into it before my 4 year old also woke up needing cuddles. Now I'm sure if you have a big scope or are interested in DSOs etc then observing from indoors will be hugely unsatisfactory, but with my little Heritage 114p it was very comparable with "the real thing" and keeping cosy inside was a huge bonus. Of course I'll be back out in the cold the first chance I get, but if similar circumstances arise again I'll definitely be giving it another go from inside.
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