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Everything posted by 2Karl

  1. Here it is next to my trusty 130SLT. As you can see, it's somewhat larger! It's shoulder height on me (although I'm not the tallest of chaps, 173cm) I had an idea to observe and sketch every Messier object over the course of however long it would take. Is that something people would find interesting?
  2. I'm hoping the extra aperture will bring out more details in the deep sky objects than my 130mm newt.
  3. I am now the owner of a brand new Skywatcher 250P 10" Dobsonian! After spending a while building it, collimating it and marvelling in its splendour, I got sad at the fact that there's nothing but clouds in the sky. Still, someday soon, you can expect some DSO sketches. Thanks to the kind folk at Tring Astro for their help and advice.
  4. Phillips guide to the night sky is good for 'target of the month' ideas and is published every year. this, combined with stellarium is generally what I use.
  5. Just to add the the great suggestions here, try looking at Mizar and Alcor in Ursa Major, then upping the power and splitting Mizar. you could also aim for Eta Cassiopeia for another nice double. The double cluster in Perseus is one of my favorite things to look at in the sky, go in on low power and see how many stars you can count.
  6. I use these things for my 130SLT : https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01IN4E4BA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_qW.sDbR3M06JC they're Lithium ion, but AA sized, and each has an individual charging port, so you plug them into the supplied 4 way micro-USB cable, stick em in a USB port and then let them charge. usually lasts me a couple of nights before I have to recharge them.
  7. See if your phone has an "advanced camera" setting where you can adjust the exposure time/ISO settings etc. If you reduce the glare you may well get a clearer image, and if possible turn autofocus off and set the manual focus to infinity
  8. 2Karl


    All free hand, although I used Gimp to invert the image and added colouration to the main stars. Computer was only used to adjust colours, not to add any detail.
  9. Looks great and I'm sure the photograph does not do the view justice. When you get tired of planets, or just fancy something different, why not try pointing the scope at some double stars? I always find it a wonderful experience to discover that stars you thought were single points of light with your bare eyes split into two or more when you look through a telescope. Albireo is a favourite of mine, but also check out Epsilon Lyrae and Mizar.
  10. 2Karl

    Double Cluster

    Thanks, I had fun with this one. Very difficult sketching at the eyepiece but I was pleased with how it turned out.
  11. 2Karl

    Double Cluster

    Second attempt at a sketch. Skies were clearer for this one.
  12. 2Karl


    This was my first attempt at a sketch. Was battling clouds the whole time, so that added to the challenge. Let me know what you think.
  13. Also to further my collimation obsession I received a Cheshire in the post today. I've used it and collimated my mirrors (previously I was using a laser collimator but I thought I'd try it this way too). After collimating with the cheshire I tested with the laser and found that everything was in order. Guess the real test will be tonight.
  14. I shall add to the list. Weather looks good for tonight too...
  15. Last night finally gave some clear skies to observe from my back garden. I'm lucky enough to live in an area with low light pollution and so DSOs are something I like to observe (even though my 130mm aperture doesn't always like them). I also had a mission for myself last night - ignore the go-to function of my scope and find the targets manually. I still set the alignment up as usual as a fall back, but I've found that when I slew to targets near zenith with the NexStar SLT the tube can hit the legs of the tripod and mess up the alignment. After aligning and checking the focus (I've been paranoid about collimation recently, and the focuser on the 130SLT is really not the best - however my tweaks and fiddling during the day seem to have paid off as I got a nice sharp focus on Polaris and clearly saw his little companion), I put in my Meade Zoom and headed for Albireo. I rather love double stars - the idea that a single point of light to the unaided eye reveals its secrets when viewed through a telescope really makes me feel privy to hidden knowledge. Albireo has the added bonus of that beautiful topaz-sapphire colour split, so it's usually a first view on any night of observing. However, the stars I had planned to observe were a little over towards the corner of the summer triangle. I slewed round to Epsilon Lyrae and popped in the barlow. This was the first time I'd viewed the double double. The joy of splitting it once was raised exponentially when I pushed the scope up to 200x power and split the stars a second time. It really is a sight to behold and I cannot believe I waited this long to look at it. As I was in the vicinity, I thought I'd set myself a bit of a challenge and visit M13. I had to use the go-to in order to find it. I've viewed the Hercules cluster many times before but was always content to just see it as a fuzzy patch. Well, not tonight. I was determined to try to resolve some of the brighter stars in the cluster. Of course the problem is that the barlow increases magnification at the expense of light loss. So I needed to weigh up my options. In the end I went for the maximum magnifiation I could get without the barlow, which was around 80x. It was difficult, but after time I fancied I could make out a few pinpoints of light amongst the cloud. I did pop the barlow in and out a few times to try and get the best view, but I found at the highest magnifications it felt almost like my vision was swimming. One to return to when I get a bigger scope I think, for comparative purposes if nothing else. Then the neighbours turned their lights on full blast and obliterated my dark adaption. Thanks guys. Not to be put off, I pointed my scope at the dumbell nebula and waited. Clouds had swept in so I was just stood in the dark hoping they would pass and trusting the tracking features of my mount. Eventually the clouds dissipated and the nebula was still visible in the scope. I slapped the barlow in just to see what difference it would make, but took it out again and reverted to the 8mm zoom. I observed the nebula for a long time. It's something I've been returning to night after night, and one of the first things I'm going to sketch once I get my easel sorted out. Eventually I decided to take in some big views of the stars and I replaced the Meade zoom with my newest eyepiece, the 2 inch OVL PanaView 32mm. The sheer quantity of stars visible through this 70 degree AFOV eyepiece is staggering. Just sweeping over the milky way, and realising that all those countless stars are still within our own galaxy, and there's countless other galaxies out there, many with even more stars... Makes you ponder the insignificance of mankind. I'm sure Lovecraft would be proud. As I wheeled across the sky I decided to come and settle in on Andromeda, because who doesn't love M31, right? Through the Panaview the central bulge is clearly visible, and averted vision tonight yielded fleeting glimpses of the wider disk of the galaxy. It's a tremendous sight to behold and has always been a favourite of mine. I spent a long time practising, looking at the location of where it should be in the sky, staring at darkness and flicking my eyes left to right, and was able through averted vision to see the galaxy unaided. By the end of the night I fancied I could just about make it out when looking at it dead on with Mk.1 eyeballs, but this might have been my mind playing tricks. While in the general area I decided to locate the double cluster without assistance from the mount computer and it was a pretty easy find. The Double Cluster is hands down my favourite thing to observe in the night sky. All the hundreds of pinpricks of light, the almost filament like structure of the areas where the stars are not resolvable by my equipment, just everything about it looks utterly beautiful. I don't think I could go a night without spending at least half an hour gazing at it. Tonight I spend MUCH longer than that, taking in the full width in the Panaview, zooming in to focus on a single part with the Meade... I just love everything about this object. I decided at this point to look at Arcturus. I have no idea why. I looked west, and there he was, big and orange in the sky, and I thought, sure, why not? So the barlow and zoom went back in and I slewed round to the red giant. I was staggered by how bright it appeared in my eyepiece. After the faint DSOs I'd been observing it was akin to someone shining a torch in my eyes. Of course, if I was checking on The Guardian of the Bear, I should probably check in on The Bear as well, and so I star hopped across Ursa Major's back, splitting Mizar along the way. Then I left the telescope alone and spent a long time just looking straight up at the milky way. The structure was clearly visible, arcing across the sky as Cygnus flew past. I don't know how long I'd been watching before I turned back round towards the north, and witnessed a beautiful meteor (presumably a Perseid) come streaking across the sky leaving a glowing green trail behind it. I decided to have a quick tour of Cassiopeia. I hopped across the Vain Queen's body, splitting Eta Cassiopeiae on the way, but I was drawn to a bright patch about 5 degrees beyond Caph, following the line from Shedar. A little research told me this was likely Messier 52. I don't think I need to explain how good it feels to stumble across a stellar object without the aid of a computer and then consult star charts to find out what it was. I'm starting to realise why a lot of people say go-to mounts are not always the best thing All in all, a tremendous night observing, and proof to anyone out there that even with a modest scope, the sense of wonder upon seeing these things is just unrivalled. Of course, I'm still eyeing up that 10 inch Dob...
  16. Hi all, It's been a long time since I posted anything on here, had a lot of stuff going on in my life but that seems to have calmed down now... and I find myself with a bit of extra cash, which leads me on to... I've been observing the skies for a few years now with my trusty Celestron NexStar 130 SLT. I've been mostly using the Meade zoom eyepiece and Revelation Astro 2.5x barlow to observe planets, double stars (I have a love affair with albireo) and deep sky objects (I'm fortunate to live in a relatively dark area - when there's no clouds the milky way is clearly visible), and I recently purchased a superb OVL PAnaview 32mm 2" eyepiece which gives me the most satisfying view of the double cluster... but I've been thinking of stepping it up a notch. First of all, I am interested in trying out astrophotography as a side project (I know, I know, I'll end up getting sucked in), but more than that I want a bigger aperture so that I have a better chance of resolving some of the details of the DSOs I'm observing. After spending probably way too long looking around I've found a few potential candidates, but wanted to get some advice first. The SkyWatcher Explorer 300PDS NEQ6 PRO is a pretty tasty looking morsel (300mm, EQ goto mount) at £1650 or thereabouts, the 250mm variant is about 300 quid cheaper, but I also noticed that there is, for an extra £400, a Maksutov-Newtonian variant, the SkyWatcher DS-PRO 190MN. It has less aperture than either of the other two - can anyone explain what the relative advantages of this scope would be over a standard newtonian? Also, Is there a big step up in what I will see from 200-300 considering I'll be upgrading from 130mm (in short, should I cool my aperture fever)? I did also look at huge aperture (500mm) dobsonians - they didn't have goto on them which isn't too much of an issue (when I use the goto function of my NexStar I always pay attention to where the objects are located so that I can learn the sky and locate them without computer assist), but I figure it's not going to be much use for astrophotography and not very portable. I also considered a mix-and-match approach, buying separate OTA and mount, but I'm not sure whether it works out more affordable to do it this way. To sum up, this is what I'm looking for: A large aperture (>200mm) 2" focuser which doesn't have the horrible slop that the NexStar 130SLT does Fine focus adjustment on the focuser Equatorial mount with tracking (possibly goto) Preferably a "future proof" mount which I could easily stick a variety of scopes on without issue What I'll be doing with it: Observing DSOs, stars, double stars, clusters Observing moon and planets (I have still never seen Neptune or Uranus) Possibly astrophotography in the future Help, advice, recommendations welcome. My budget is around £2000 max (but I'd prefer to spend half that amount if I can get away with it
  17. Well, there's hints of different colours there, so that's better than my observations a few days ago!
  18. As a leaving gift, my colleagues at work bought me a sketching easel. Guess I've got no excuse not to sketch my observations now! Any suggestions for easy starting points? I'm thinking double stars might be good.
  19. Men can be Jezebels too you know!
  20. Came home from the cinema rather late last night (watched Sicario 2: Soldado, which is very good btw), and was treated to the sight of Mars hanging low in the sky. It's not visible from my house so I loaded my telescope into my car and drove to the first point I could see it, which was a nearby side road on my estate, where I proceeded to set up. Putting aside any thoughts of how strange I might have looked pulling up and unloading a telescope at the side of the road, I turned my sights to the Red planet. My barlow and zoom combination had afforded me some great views of Jupiter and Saturn on previous nights so I was rather excited about observing mars for the first time. Big and bright the god of war loomed in my eyepiece, but unfortunately the whole "planetwide dust storm" thing really spoils the view (who knew?) A large orange pea, still strangely beautiful, but nowhere near as fetching as the images I was hoping to see. I tried with my blue and red filters but was unable to pick out any additional detail. I don't know whether it was down to the fact that the planet was so low in the sky and potentially subject to atmospheric distortion, whether it was my lack of experience viewing the planet, the fact that I'd managed to get fingerprints on my filters, or just the fact that a planetwide dust storm REALLY spoils the view. Still, I observed for a good while until the sound of some sort of bird/dinosaur/goblin shook me out of my trance and made me wonder how dangerous suburban UK is. I mean you hear stories about foxes, right? I span round to view Saturn and was greeted with a phenomenal view of the ringed planet. This time I was able to make out the Cassini division. Not clearly, mind you, not a strong dark line, but there was a noticeable shift in colour towards the outside edges of the rings. Again, I'm not sure if this was down to the seeing conditions, my optics or my improved viewing experience, nor am I sure if this might improve in time without a more powerful telescope. We shall see. At around midnight I realised that I needed to be up for work in 5 hours or so and decided to have another look at Albireo before turning in. The double stars looked as wonderful as they did that first night I saw them, orange and blue and clearly defined. Interestingly, I found I was better able to make out the Cygnus constellation than before, and also better able to make out the milky way. I put this down to increased experience combined with (perhaps) slightly darker skies as the nights get longer. I plan to continue observing mars over the next few days (weather permitting) to see if I can note any changes. Should I be able to see the polar caps or are they "dusted" too? Cleaning my filters might afford better viewing. Stay tuned!
  21. a friend got me an astronomical sketch book for my birthday, so I'll be trying to sketch as soon as I find some sort of table or easel to rest it on while observing!
  22. Truly remarkable seeing tonight, which has resulted in me staying up far too late and getting a headache - but it was worth it. I started off by taking a walk out towards a nearby village in the hope of catching Mercury and Venus with my binoculars (they're truly terrible, but they do magnify things). Alas, they had either dipped below the hill to the west (likely), or the sky was too bright to view them (dubious). I walked home and decided to look at Jupiter instead. I hit on the idea of taking my scope out into the road in front of my house; there's a streetlamp there, but it's an LED one and it didn't affect my views of the gas giant. My new barlow is superb, and combined with my new zoom EP it makes for some great viewing. I tried a variety of filters, but the GRS was either on the other side of the planet or otherwise hiding. I discovered that combining the 80A with the ND96 gave some tremendous contrast enhancements to the cloud belts. Really spectacular view. The view of the planet is actually improving with every observation, so I'm guessing my eye is getting trained. Next up was Saturn. I had heard that a yellow filter helps to pick out the Cassini division, but I wasn't successful here. Switching out to no filter gave me some more wonderful views, but again, no ring divisions as 200x. Maybe I just need more practice. I decided to retreat to the back garden before the neighbours decided I'd lost my marbles. The view back there was sublime. I often forget how fortunate I am that my housing estate is still bortle 4 due to the use of non-polluting lamp posts. I decided to have a quick tour of various Messier objects. Andromeda first, but the sky was fairly bright so I could only make out the core. Moving on to the wild duck cluster, I got to appreciate how convenient having a zoom lens is as I moved in and out to find the optimum viewing field. M82 and M81, two objects which have previously eluded me, were fairly easily found tonight. Again, I couldn't make out many details, but I guess practice (and darker winter skies) will aid me later on. Taking a break from the Messier objects, I thoguht I'd look at some double stars. As it happened, the first one I chose was so hauntingly beautiful that it became the only thing I looked at for the rest of the night. Albireo, also known as Beta Cygni is a orange and blue double star in the constellation Cygnus (obviously). I zoomed all the way in and drew a sharp focus when I hit on an idea. I had left the barlow inside - I won't need that for stellar observations, I thought. Well, shows how much I knew an hour or so previously, doesn't it? After plugging the barlow into my focusser and slapping the zoom back in, I zoomed all the way in, focusing to the point where I saw the Airy Disk - and it looked exactly like those pictures you see as an "example of perfect seeing". I know it's probably a minor thing to you seasoned veterans, but to me it felt very special; not only because it showed me my equipment was wonderful, but also because of the science of diffraction patterns and the sheer beauty of Albireo, all combined into this unique sight experienced by me and me alone. As much as astronomy is a lonely hobby, it does make for some great stories for those who care to listen. I could have stayed out there for hours, but this headache is really starting to pound, so I figured I'd write this report and then hit the hay.
  23. Spare a thought for me - Mars never gets high enough in the sky for me to point my scope at; I suspect a trip to borough hill is in order
  24. After what seemed an eternity of weighing up different barlows in my price range, I bought a Revelation Astro 2.5 and some OVL filters and I had the opportunity to put it through its paces briefly last night. Seeing was reasonably good, although I was observing across the other houses around me so there were a few times when the atmospheric distortion consipred against me, but I was able to get a nice sharp view of the gas giant, pairing the aforementioned barlow with the 9mm eyepiece which shipped with my 130SLT. I then spent an inordinate amount of time trying out the filters. First up was the yellow #12 - it deadened the glare a little and helped me see the cloud bands in a little more detail Next was the red #21. It just made Jupiter look angry. Next was the blue #80A - now this was something special. Deadened the glare and also brought out a strong contrast on the cloud bands which were occasionally flickering out of view due to the atmosphere (the barlow really does magnify everything, doesn't it?) Finally I tried the ND96. It's billed as a moon filter, but I figure I'll give it a go. Results were similar to the blue filter but with less contrast (although the hue was more natural) I then tried the filters without the barlow, and realised that with an 80A just on my 9mm and no barlow the view of the planet was still spectacular and more detailed than previously. A quick view then of the planet through the barlow with no filtering applied and then it very rudely disappeared behind some clouds, at which point I called it a night. My zoom lens should be arriving any day now, so it will be interesting to see the difference that makes.
  25. This was a great read, and seeing all the planets in one evening seems to be a great exercise! I've never even observed Neptune or Uranus, let alone all of the planets in a single night. Thanks for the report. Also I'm sure you've probably discovered by now that apparent magnitude is a logarithmic scale
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