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Everything posted by 2Karl

  1. Many many thanks to all the help and advice on this thread. The Baader came close to being my top pick, as did the ES, but in the end I went for a Revelation Astro 2.5 - some reviews I read on this site and elsewhere put it in a good class especially for the price. I also bought a lens cleaner and a set of filters, so I'm all set to view Mars!
  2. After carefully cleaning the battery cartridges and inserting fresh batteries everything's motoring along nicely. Just the sound of the azimuth slewing is much nicer, like you can hear it's working properly.
  3. So not a great night here. Lots of cloud. Anyway, I set to and get my NexStar aligned. Batteries are pretty dead so I opened a new pack and put them in, started the alignment process again. Slew speed didn't really seem much better. Well, I thought, I DID get the batteries from Aldi... Anyway, I decide that as the clouds are not my friends, tonight's goal should be some double stars. First up is Polaris (because how can you not?) Despite the cloud, I could easily resolve Polaris B. As always, a nice sight. Next I decided to have a look through the NexStar's "named star" lists and noticed "Arrakis". Well, being a HUGE fan of Dune, I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to see the most important place in the known universe. I hit the enter key and waited. I think I need to adjust the slew limits on my tripod because the tube was very close to the leg - I couldn't tell if it was touching or not. Anyway, the scope ended up pointing at... nothing much. Clouds? Or just not well aligned? I DID manage to find a faint double star. Whether this was the aforementioned Arrakis (also known as Mu Draconis).... well I'll have to get out tomorrow and verify. Next up, Mizar, rapidly becoming one of my favourite stars to view. I just love the fact that resolving Mizar and Alcor with the naked eye is actually pretty easy, but then when you look through the scope and realise that there's TWO stars in Mizar... It's a great feeling. I figured at this point that double stars aren't the only doubles and decided to try and find the double cluster. Now, halfway through the slew there was a loud POP and a horrible bubbling sound coming from my mount! I decided that it was best to shut it off and have a look. When I opened the case, one of my aldi batteries had exploded. I was about to curse the cheap goods when I realised that I'd actually inserted it backwards. Despite what John Pertwee would have you believe, inverting the polarity of the neutron flow doesn't fix all time-travel related sci-fi problems, it just makes your equipment malfunction and then the batteries to explode. After a bit of careful cleaning I was able to replace with fresh batteries and everything's working fine again. Note to self (and anyone else as stupid as me): don't replace your batteries in the dark!
  4. The baader is indeed in my shortlist. EDIT: I don't actually know if weight would be a concern - I don't know what the limits are
  5. OK so it seems that the ES 3x FE is front runner. How much does it weigh? I've heard tell that they're pretty heavy and might not play well in my 130mm newtonian
  6. I'm actually super unhappy right now. Might drive down to Dartmoor at the weekend. Heard there's good views there.
  7. Yeah It's true. In all my years, all the times I've had access to telescopes, I never once pointed those things at the ringed planet. Well, driving home from Milton Keynes last night there were road closures, and the resultant detours caused me to get home later than I had planned. I noticed Saturn was in a decent position for observation, and the seeing was good (even if the sky was a little light), so instead of going to bed, I did something I never have. I looked at the ringed planet. Using my 9mm eyepiece (the most powerful one I currently have), I wasn't expecting anything too radical - I'd be happy if I saw "ears" - but there he was in all his resplendent ringed glory, flanked by Titan and Rhea, and a fancied I could just make out Hyperion if I didn't look directly at it. In retrospect, I'm almost glad I waited this long before looking at Saturn. My age, experience and world-weariness allowed me to appreciate the majesty is a different way to how I might have reacted as a wayward teenager, and has left me with a thirst for more (incidentally I was recently contacted by an academic exam board to take part in a focus group, for which they'd pay me £75. That would buy me a half decent barlow...)
  8. That's interesting, I had made the assumption that "focal extender" was just another name for Barlow. What's different about them?
  9. Hi all, I'm planning on buying a barlow for my celestron 130SLT, and as with eyepieces there seems to be a bewildering amount of choice and more than a whiff of "emperor's new clothes" lingering over the more expensive options. My budget is limited in the short term (perhaps £50-£100), but I'm willing to spend more and not eat for a few weeks if it means getting a quality barlow which will last until my untimely death or the heat death of the universe (whichever comes first). Having said that, forking over 200 quid for something which provides a negligible improvement over a £100 offering is a mug's game, and I'd need a compelling reason to do so. To whit: I am seeking personal recommendations with justifications beyond "This is what I have and it's good" (what makes it good?, what are the benefits/drawbacks? how does it compare to other barlows?), or links to objective reviews (ie not thinly veiled sales pitches). Now, I have tried out a celestron X-Cel 3x barlow and it worked very well with the 25mm and 9mm eyepieces I got bundled with my telescope, but I want to get a few options before I splash out. On my list of "possibles" are the X-Cel 2x or 3x (I'm leaning towards a 3x rather than 2x as I plan to use it with a meade 4000 zoom as well as my bundled eyepieces and any other eyepieces I buy in the future, and the 3x would give a greater range than 2x, ie less "duplication" of power levels with/without the barlow), the celestron Omni 2x, Orion TriMag and Baader Classic 2.25x. As mentioned, I have tried the X-Cel out personally; The omni got good customer reviews, although some people have suggested that it's worth spending extra on something else; the TriMag seems to get a lot of love on forums; the baader seems good value from what I can tell. It's worth noting that I've not really be able to find reviews of these lenses beyond forum posts and amazon reviews etc. Any help or useful opinions would be appreciated. I'm not really interested in hearing about how I "shouldn't get a barlow", or how it would be better to "get higher power eyepieces instead"- I've made very careful consideration and decided a barlow is something I want to buy, I just need to decide which one. If it's important in your considerations, my aperture is 130mm, focal length 650mm giving a f/5 focal ratio. Also if it makes any difference I'm interested in branching into astrophotography at some distant point in the future, but that's a long way off right now. Many thanks!
  10. It's going to be my go-to start point for future observations, of that I am sure.
  11. It's been a fairly cloudy night here, but that didn't deter me. Decided to get out and see what I could see. Spent a long time just panning round the milky way because it looked so nice Then decided to do some proper observing. The first target was M11, the Wild Duck Cluster. It appeared as a fuzzy patch, but I still spent a good while in wonder looking at it. For me it's less about how spectacular something appears and more about how humbling an experience it is. Next up was the Hercules cluster. Same deal here, but I figure with repeat observations and darker skies these objects will appear a little more "solid" to me as time goes on. The final cluster I observed was the so called "double cluster" NGC 869 and NGC 884, and this was incredible! Very clear views. Couldn't decide whether it was better through the 24mm or 9mm eyepiece; with the 9mm I could see more detail but the reduced field of view meant that I couldn't see both clusters together. I spent a LONG time looking at the clusters through both eyepieces before deciding to observe a few stars instead. Polaris, oft overlooked, was the first on my list. Seeing the faint Polaris B next to the mighty Polaris A was a moment which made me smile, so I decided to look at another double star, Mizar and its partner Alcor. When I zoomed in on Mizar I thought there was some focusing issues but then I realised that Mizar itself has a companion star (I confess to not knowing this originally). Not only did I have a great time observing tonight but I discovered something I did not already know too!
  12. I'll never get tired of looking at photos like this. I hope one day to join the ranks of astrophotographers and take a few of my own.
  13. As some of you may know, I've only recently started observing through a half decent telescope and I've enquired about eyepiece recommendations while still being very happy with my current set up. One piece of advice that many people offered was to carefully consider which eyepieces to buy while still observing with the kit I have, which is solid advice, but left the question of how will I know which eye pieces I'll actually want? Last night I took my scope to nearby Borough Hill where members of a local astronomy group were gathering. This was by chance the single greatest decision I have made in my astronomy "career", and that is no exaggeration. Not only did I discover that there was a fellow astronomer just a few houses away from me (with the same hobbies and interests and even the same JOB), but I had the opportunity to try out many different scopes and eyepieces, as well as get solid advice from more experienced stargazers. I was able to view solar prominences and sunspots; I borrowed a 3x barlow to see how it would work with my current equipment (very well it seems; I was able to clearly see Jupiter's great red spot just with my bundled eyepieces and the barlow). I was able to see an astrophotography rig in action. I was also able to observe the moon through a 200mm Maksutov (producing the loudest "wow" of the night, apparently), and I was able to try out various 2" and 1.25" eyepieces on my NexStar 130. On top of all of that, some local families had come along for the solstice celebrations and it was tremendously uplifting to see the kids' (and adults) enthusiasm upon observing the moon and their thirst for knowledge about where the planets were, what the red spot was, whether there's life out in the universe etc. etc. I came away with a contentment that my telescope was a superb purchase, a couple of things for my wishlist (3x barlow and a 8-24mm zoom eye piece, and possibly some filters for moon viewing) and some new friends. My suggestion to everyone who isn't part of a local astronomy group (whether first starting out or not) is to join one or at least go along to a meet. If there isn't one near you, then form one; I discovered there was a fellow stargazer a few doors down from me, who knows how many more there are waiting to be discovered?
  14. Thanks for the kind words guys, looking forward to discussing everything I can :)
  15. Hi all, Someone from the CloudySkies forum pointed me at this place, so here I am, saying hi. I'm not new to astronomy, but I've only recently purchased a decent telescope (Celestron NexStar 130 SLT). There's loads I don't know so I'm looking forward to learning a lot, and if anyone's in the vicinity of Daventry in the UK and fancies a night under the stars, let me know!
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