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Ships and Stars

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Ships and Stars last won the day on February 18

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About Ships and Stars

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    Proto Star

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    NE Scotland
  1. Yes same here. I have a couple of decent-sized dobs but love my binoculars for those surprise moments when the clouds part or something suddenly pops up. I was so excited about the planets I was going to wake up my wife and tell her about the planets and invite her for a look, but common sense quickly prevailed I have some 20/40x100 binos but didn't have time to get them set up. Saturn at 40x in binoculars would have been great I reckon.
  2. Just had an accidental first light with the Pentax 20x60s, plus first views of Jupiter + 4 moons and Saturn, and it was a great!! Looked out the window, and saw a planet low on the horizon, so popped the binos on the tripod. Back to Stellarium to confirm. Jupiter! My first real view. After a few seconds of observing, I realised the faint stars were in fact moons. After some studying, saw four - Ganymede, then Io and Europa closely bundled together like a double star (I couldn't fully resolve the split through the bins but was apparent), and Callisto far off to 'starboard' on the other side. Saturn was clearly visible and tack sharp, albeit tiny. The rings were plain as day, again very tiny at 20x, and thought I could just make out the dark band or division. I didn't get a chance to hunt for any moons before the cloud moved back in. Looks like Titan would be the only contender there. Incredibly, I was looking through a fairly dirty upstairs window at a very oblique angle, about 30 degrees. Buildings would have obscured it from the ground or I would have thought about setting up the 300p. Good stuff! Seriously impressed with the Pentax 20x60s so far, have been using them for terrestrial for the past two weeks but first real astro tonight.
  3. Good call on the 300p! Welcome to the '300p club' haha. I bought a 300p flextube (non-GOTO) from FLO as well back in January I think. I love it, and that's from someone who also has a Stargate 500p. The 500p is no doubt pretty awesome, but for setting up quickly, the 300p is a doddle and not having to do an alignment etc, you are up and running quickly in minutes. It's also a doddle to 'steer' by hand with light pressure. I have also 'detected' the Horsehead from a fairly dark site with the 300p, so it is no doubt a capable scope. My best lunar views are with the 300p and binoviewers. Oh and the trusses have two presets, you'll notice them catching or clicking once on the way up before it's fully extended, that's the binoviewer preset so you don't need a barlow or glass path corrector with binoviewers and can get the full field of view - a really nice touch. Just to complicate things on the eyepiece front, I am a big fan (fairly certain most everyone on SGL has figured that out by now ) of the APM XWA 100 degree range and have the 20mm/13mm and 9mm. They are an absolute bargain compared to the other 100 degree eyepiece offerings out there and are compact with excellent optical quality for the price. I rarely use any other eyepieces now in my case and that includes the 17.5mm Morpheus which I keep mainly for the Horsehead or smaller Hb targets like the Cocoon. If I didn't go APM, I'd go Morpheus though, really happy with mine. The Tele Vue stuff is brilliant too, but getting seriously pricey as we all know and there's some good competition out there now from Baader, APM etc. PS make sure you've put the 2" (or 1.25") extension tube into the focuser - that may cause you to not reach focus depending on which eyepiece you are using. Most eyepieces need it from my experience. Have fun!
  4. After much consideration, I went all Astronomik and use a 2" OIII and OIII/UHC/Hb in 1.25". Didn't bother with any sort of sky-glow or light pollution filters, think the UHC tackles that job better anyway. In order of most frequently used for me, it's OIII, then Hb, then UHC. Usually the Hb is the least commonly used, but I like hunting for the dark nebulae with mine. All except the Hb were second-hand due to price. The 2" in particular are not cheap to say the least, and I felt lucky to find an OIII second-hand in like new condition. The 2" OIII is my fav, especially for larger nebulae. The Veil in particular is just stunning under dark skies with this and a wide low-mag 2" EP. I used the 21E when I had it, but the 20APM will have a turn in about three long months or so! The Hb works well on the Horsehead Nebula. I usually pair that up with a 17.5mm Morpheus. Perhaps surprisingly, I don't really use the UHC much, though it's good at revealing different levels of detail on objects like M42, all depends really. One issue I have with my UHC is that the stars will separate into green and red partially-overlapping points of light like there is some difficulty in focusing those two wavelengths in the colour spectrum or something. It's not horrendous, but once you notice it, it becomes more intrusive. Could be something with the f4 scope not merging light rays, but can't remember where I read about this phenomenon. At any rate, I call it the 'Christmas Effect'. Because I also use binoculars with filter threads, I'll mix 1.25" filters on different targets, i.e. UHC on one side and OIII on the other, or OIII/Hb, etc. The result is quite interesting, the brain merges the two images and seems to pick the best detail from both, sort of like having a 'super filter' system. In the future, I'd like to try the cheapest OIII/UHC and Hb that pop up second-hand against the Astronomiks and see if there is really that much difference. Same for a DGM NPB/cheapo brand-x/Astronomik shootout some night. I'd add Lumicon, but I'm hardly rich! Someone on here said they could see (detect?) the Horsehead with their cheap Hb, so perhaps I wouldn't sweat it too much if you don't want to fork out for Astronomik/TV/Lumicon at first, but I'm curious what sort of difference there is. If you buy the top ones though, there's not much second-guessing about quality and if you are getting the best view possible. Some of the cheap filters I hear can be terrible, as is the odd 'good' one. The DGMs are next on the shopping list, been wanting some for ages. If I was starting out, I'd splash out on a good OIII filter in 2" and build from there. The 2" OIII is sort of the workhorse filter for many.
  5. Excellent point - just swapped it out. Not much clearance in there, thank you Don!
  6. That sounds about right, but a lot of that goes into the focuser. They're not too heavy either. No problems with a CC in either my single or dual speed SW focusers in the 300/500p.
  7. It's the right time of year for something astro-related to be on backorder. I won't have true darkness here in NE Scotland again until mid-August at the very earliest, and that will be accompanied by a swarm of midgies in the countryside, as I found out the hard way last year. It was a horror show throughout the night without a stiff breeze! You could try the 13mm in the meantime and see how you get on?
  8. If work was steady and I was viewing from home, it would be second-hand TV as there's really no second-guessing quality and innovation. The 21E was slightly more immersive to use and in fairness, I only spent one night (albeit intensively) comparing the 21E and 20APM. There is a considerable weight savings with the 20APM as well, but the feeling of quality is not lacking, it's still a substantial eyepiece. I never looked closely at the ES92s, but then again, don't recall any coming up second-hand and that's normally how I shop. The 17mm sounds intriguing, but I won't be rushing out to buy one. Like @John says, eyepieces are a personal thing. Some don't care for the Leica zoom, but I loved mine and hated to sell it. I had to at the time to round out the XWA collection while still paying the bills. Not sure of the availability of the 20mm APM at the moment, astroshop is saying Aug 1 for delivery and direct from APM is similar. Someone else might have them in stock though. If you didn't like it for some reason, don't think you'd have much problem shifting it!
  9. I can't tell you about the ES offerings, but used to own the Tele Vue 21E and 13E (and a Leica ASPH zoom) and subsequently replaced those with the APM 20mm, 13mm and 9mm XWAs. I use them in both f4.9 and f3.95 scopes (12" and 20" SW dobs) Before I sold the 21E, I spent hours one night swapping back and forth, over and over, between the 21E and the 20APM, to the point I couldn't remember which one was in the focuser without feeling around in the dark. The 21E had a slightly wider FOV than the one mm difference suggests, and seemed to snap to focus slightly easier than the APM. The TV eyecup is softer and lower profile, I have to kind of lean in a bit with the APM eyecup or fold it down. The 20mm APM is c.33% lighter at 680g vs 1020g for the 21E. There is a corresponding size difference as well. Optically, I could see no discernible difference between the 21E and 20APM side by side, even viewing stars at the extreme edge of the FOV at f4.9. The APM did not seem better than the Ethos optically, but it's close, very close in my humble opinion. By the way, I was using an ES HR coma corrector, the CC settings for the 21E and the 20APM were virtually identical. The 20mm APM is £240.00. The 21mm Ethos is £819.00 as you are probably aware. That is a huge difference. Like ES, I suppose with the APM XWAs there is the ethical question of copyright and/or copying TVs design, but I don't know to what extent the designers of APM have done this. After testing the 20APM, I ordered the 13mm and 9mm siblings the following morning and the 21E went on ABS. I wasn't sure at first about ordering the 9mm, but it turned out to be a great move. It's killer on small galaxies, PN and lunar, and I've used it a lot more than I thought I would. If I had a home obsy, I might have kept the 21E and 13E, but I'm always dragging my scopes around Scotland in a rush to various dark-sky spots and the thought of dropping the 21E some night after tripping on a rock, or even losing it somehow when packing up and heavily fatigued in the dark was a constant point of concern and stress which took away from the experience. At 1/3rd to 1/4th the price, I do not have that stress with the APMs! While I do not have anywhere near the overall experience as John, Don and Gerry, et al have, I don't regret for a second buying the 20/13/9mm APMs. They are my go-to eyepieces.
  10. I try to buy everything second hand and then look after it well, that way there's no real hit on depreciation. I'm now at the point I have two dobs and a nice, but not over the top, eyepiece collection, with three main eyepieces that cover 95% of my observing. All sorted on binoculars! As long as I stay away from astrophotography...
  11. My best lunar views, hands down, have been through the 300p with binoviewers, just using bog standard revelation plossls or the 20mm WO EPs. And that's up against a 20" dob, single 100deg EPs and a slew of binoculars including 40x obsy bins etc. I've also bagged the Horsehead with the 300p from a dark site with relative ease, not as prominent of course as the 500p, but it was there. Quite a few galaxies as well!
  12. The 300p flextube is a great all-around scope, I have the non-GOTO version and it gets a lot of use at home. Portable enough to still be 'portable', fits in most cars fairly easily with plenty of aperture, imagine it will find a good home soon. I'd buy another one in a second.
  13. Pentax 20x60 S-series WP binoculars from ABS arrived just over a week ago, I've used them non-stop, mainly on ships and boats though have done some lunar. I seriously, seriously love these binoculars and primarily use them handheld, wearing glasses, with no issues. Compact power and quality sums it up. The optics are the closest thing to perfection I have used, despite the somewhat limited 2.2deg FOV which isn't at all bad like it sounds - probably a function of their small overall size. CA is very well controlled I though and only visible on high contrast views if you hunt for it. Feeling a bit greedy now with the growing collection, but each pair have their own niche. The 12x70 Celestrons (cheap and cheerful with glasses, decent optical quality and light-gathering ability) the 15x70 Apollos (heavy at 2.5kg but great FOV and take filters) and the 20/40x100 Helios Quantums (filters+aperture and power but quite a rig) The Pentax 20x60 are perfectly sized for my hands and weigh only 1.4kg, the same as the Celestrons and well below the c.2.5kg of the Helios Apollos. Will try and do a write up later in the binocular discussion section. PS apologies for the horrendous lens distortion on my phone which quickly and easily turns any circle into a nice ellipse! All the bins look squat or stretched out as a result, except in the centre of the frame.
  14. I think the Pros are fully coated optics vs 'multi-coated' for the regular binos. I don't think there's a lot more to them then that, but not 100% sure. The tripod mount and of course rubber outer shell are slightly different. I've only used an older pair of 12x70 Celestrons and a pair of 25x100 Skymaster obsy bins. I find them decent for the money even when compared to higher end binoculars like 15x70 Helios and Pentax, though these do start to pull away in quality. I sold the 25x100s because I couldn't reach focus in one eye due to the limit of dioptre adjustment but it was very close. Still have the 12x70s, great widefield views with tons of eyerelief for glasses. I'd be happy trying either the standard 20x80s or pros if not a lot more. Hopefully someone on here will provide a direct comparison!
  15. Just popped out with the SQM-L meter up here in NE Scotland. Looks like that's it for the summer. Darkness has dropped from the usual 20.30-20.35 to 18.89, sky still has a slight blue tint. I might try my hand at mirror making though. Good luck you southerners with your astro darkness catch up soon.
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