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  1. Thanks for this Stu - I have been meaning to do this for a while now. I will probably have plenty of cloudy nights ahead of me as I just received a new scope and I am anxiously waiting for first light. To make matters worse it is a 'grail' scope found NIB from an estate sale for pennies on the dollar. I may never see the sun again...
  2. Welcome from New York Old Man!
  3. That is one serious set of plates! What OTA are you planning to use this for?
  4. I totally understand your concern (and share it). For my TeleVue NP127is and Lunt 100Ha which are both heavy scopes I use the larger Losmandy dovetail and dual clamp saddle plate. It would be a very bad day indeed if either of those hit the deck because of a weak point in the mount. I still think the Vixen style would technically be fine however I'm not willing to test that on my gear. :-)
  5. I have always wanted a Mak and this is not helping me one bit. :-) Thanks Mike!
  6. Nebula, In addition to what Celestron has posted on their site you can check out the Nexstar Resource Site firmware page http://www.nexstarsite.com/Firmware.htm It should have info on what firmware is available for your scope and some tips on how to do the upgrades. I see you have already purchased it but aside from clean optics I would be mostly concerned about the electronics. Run it through the alignment procedure and see how the motors run, if the GPS gets a fix, etc. Bad electronics that are out of warranty can quickly get very expensive to repair.
  7. I am not sure that the limiting factor of the Vixen vs. Losmandy style is the dovetail itself. You should consider where the potentially weakest link is in the mount. For me it was the single clamping point on the saddle itself so I switched up to from a 3" saddle plate to a 7" that has 2 independent clamping jaws. I was not comfortable having my scope come crashing to the ground with the inadvertent turn of a single knob in the dark. This is especially true if you observe at public star parties - I have seen (and thankfully stopped) hands groping for any knob to turn trying to find the focus knob on many occasions during public events. As long as you have a good quality saddle plate I would guess the Vixen dovetail should be OK for up 20-25 pounds of equipment. You do have me curious now and I'll see if I can find and post the actual rated specs for each type.
  8. MikeV

    Hi, from Memphis!

    Hi there and welcome. While I am also new to this forum I’ve been in the hobby for a some time now. Prepare yourself for a fun and amazing journey!
  9. Carole - I am about 35 miles outside of the city on the south shore of Long Island. Because I am ALL the way south the skies to the south over the Atlantic are noticeably darker than the dome of light to the north. "Noticeably darker" is relative however and it's all still pretty bad. John - I'll take you up on that when next I visit. I actually make a point to visit local clubs when I travel and I am always pleased to find that the amateur community generally shares the same passion and spirit no matter where you are. I will check out your club site over the weekend. Mike
  10. Here's a link to a statistical weather chart that you can use for some preliminary location scouting: Mike
  11. After a successful excursion to Southern Illinois last summer (see my avatar) I am planning to go to Chile in 2019. I usually don't book tours as I like the flexibility to change my plans on the fly as the weather dictates. Right now the based on the 5 year cloud cover statistics I think somewhere north of Santiago is my primary target area. If you haven't experienced a solar eclipse I HIGHLY recommend you do so if you have the opportunity. It is worth the time, effort and expense. Planning is everything - typically you to start at least a year (or two) in advance to make sure you book hotels and flights. MikeV
  12. Yes - which is why I travel and got into solar h-alpha viewing :-). I live about 35 miles outside the city and it helps a little but its still pretty bad. You can view the brighter objects, planets, the moon and enjoy colored and double stars, etc. That still did not stop me from building an observatory in the back yard as it removes the setup and cool down when I can find the time to get out an observe. I toyed with doing some narrow band imaging but I simply do not have the time for that with my current job. Thanks for the warm welcome all!
  13. I have a 12" RCX 400. It is a beast and it mostly lives on a pier in my observatory. I highly recommend installing a set of Peterson Get-A-Grip Ergonomic Handles on both sides of the fork arms - it makes a huge difference compared to the tiny hard edged handles it comes with. The 12" RCX is a fantastic scope optically and if you do wind up getting it I can make some recommendations on how to deal with the sometimes fiddly electronics.
  14. I also use a Lens Pen with excellent results. You can get them in multiple sizes and they come with a fine brush on one side which you can use to remove any particulates of the surface first.
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