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Ships and Stars

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    NE Scotland
  1. Yes I think I will stick to SGL, ABS and think carefully about elsewhere, unless I'm really keen!
  2. I did get a used star atlas in as new condition for the princely sum of £3! I'm hooked on bargains, but sometimes buying new is ultimately less hassle of course.
  3. A brief rant and a 'buyer-beware' for other novice astronomers such as myself, or those that generally find a good bargain irresistible. Other than my telescope (thank the gods!), my last three used purchases online lately seem to be total duds or poorly looked-after. The first was barlow that appeared to be stored next to the kitchen hob of a busy chip shop. I did manage to disassemble and clean the grease to an acceptable level of use! Next was the binoviewer. Below is a photo of the internals described as used but 'optically fine'. Maybe the mirror breakage happened in transit (though it was very well wrapped in a protective case) but that doesn't explain the greasy black fingerprints on internal glass...?? Last was a used O-III filter that apparently de-laminated sometime in the Thatcher era, leaving an artistically-attractive off-centre crazed pattern, though probably not very effective as an O-III filter on a scope any longer. Fortunately the binoviewer and filter sellers have instantly accepted a refund, so it's hardly the end of the world, but I seem to spend half my time hanging around the post office queue lately sending stuff back. I think I will be slowly saving up for new items instead, as time is in short supply these days... Mini-rant over and buyer-beware - at least sometimes. Good luck all!
  4. Hey John, what are you up to say, mid-October? Ever flown into the lovely grey and damp city called Aberdeen? I might be able to suss a ticket. one hour west are some of the clearest skies in western Europe, Bortle one, if you can stand my conversation that long! Need to ok this with the wife, she still doesn't understand star charts, thinks I've dabbled with colour by numbers. Over and Out!
  5. Let me see what I can finagle with the estate owners. Miles of empty tracks, one or two discerning astronomers. No harm eh?
  6. Paul & Scarp - missed part of that - thank you for the 17.5/10mm Delos idea - that sounds right in my novice mind, I'd prefer to keep my glasses on, especially at night wandering around the scope because I will drop them and flatten them in short order! I don't think I'm going to be able to reliable squeeze more magnification than those EPs at 2m focal length unless conditions are superb, and if so, then will barlow if possible. I feel like I'm headed in the right direction now, a couple of EPs, then barlow/coma corrector. Much appreciated!
  7. I have some excellent spots here I'm familiar with from camping, open views, close to the road but far enough off to set up gear and walk around, and rarely any cars pass by after dark. Incredible skies. With a bit of luck, I could even persuade a kind estate owner to let us drive up a particular track I know to a hilltop spot for the best field of view. Might get them on-board as well!
  8. Thanks very much all! I will probably start out with something around 20mm, then perhaps a 13/14mm and go from there. Admittedly, I'm a bit of a Pentax nut, so those are very appealing at 70*view and £249 new. The reviews on the XWs are solid as well, no real complaints (for the 1.25" series - I won't lie awake now wondering about the rare 2" range!). Tele-vue or the APM/Lunt 20mm - that's one that escaped the radar, thank you. I will see how those look first and then think about which/any coma corrector. My novice eyes may not be too discerning and hopefully I'm too much of an amateur to notice what I might be missing, and save a few quid in the process, haha. I shall hold off on the zoom idea unless I find a used pair for BVs down the road a year or two - that's same generally speaking with camera zoom lenses vs fixed focal length primes, the primes almost always win on ultimate sharpness and image quality. Already there have been a few interesting used eyepieces come up within just the past week, so I'm sure over the summer my ship will arrive. I really appreciate your input - I'd be delighted if someone wanted to use the 20" dob and bring their eyepieces for a shootout when it gets darker again. We can drive out to some excellent Bortle 2 about an hour from me. The more the merrier! Perhaps I should organise my first NE Scotland Cairngorms 'star party' BYOEPs (bring your own eyepieces), haha - or *groan* . Cheers all!
  9. Hi all, this is probably old ground, but my head is absolutely spinning from all the information out there, so any first-hand information/experience etc is appreciated. I'm starting an eyepiece collection from scratch for my recently acquired 20" f4 skywatcher dob, which will eventually be used to hunt some of the more obscure DSOs under Bortle 2&3 skies, and hopefully Bortle 1 when I can get over to West-coast Scotland once or twice a year. I wear eyeglasses, though may try the screw-on Televue astigmatism corrector and lose the glasses for viewing, so eyepiece relief is not a primary issue, contrast and image quality is. I have the bog standard SW 10mm 1.25" and 2" 28mm eyepieces. To my novice mind, the 28mm actually isn't too bad considering it's a £30 eyepiece! I wasn't too impressed with the 10mm, but have only spent a very brief time with the scope and the collimation/overall image quality will no doubt improve once I gain experience with this procedure. I'm looking to build up a small set of quality eyepieces (2-3 for now), a 1.6 or 2x barlow and a nice coma corrector over the summer, budget willing. - Due to the fast nature of this scope, I have narrowed down my choices to either the Pentax XW line or the Televue lines between the Delites, Delos and possibly an Ethos or two if a real bargain comes along. As a long-time Pentax camera/lens fan, I noted with interest the excellent reviews on the 'affordable' XW line, tested down to f4. Sadly the 2" XWs are apparently no longer produced by Pentax and rarely come up for sale. Of course the Tele-Vue lines mentioned above all seem to get high marks. I have heard mixed reviews regarding super wide-field 100 eyepieces - for faint DSOs I have heard they can let in too many other stars, reducing contrast or even eliminating very faint objects such as the Horsehead nebula, even with appropriate H-beta filter which seems mandatory for this type of DSO. Are there any other excellent eyepieces besides the Pentax/Tele-Vue line that shine at f4? Any of the Meade, WO, Siebert, ES models, Vixen LVW, etc? I am assuming a Paracorr 2 coma corrector is probably going to be a requirement as well for a crisp image out to the edges. Would a Paracorr 1 or 2 allow a f4.5-tested Pentax zoom or Baader Hyperion Mk IV zoom to perform highly at f4? I am also looking at either a Televue 2" Big Barlow or a 2" Powermate for my barlow. Sorry for all the questions, life at f4 ain't cheap as I'm finding out! Clear skies all.
  10. Hi all, I am starting off my eyepiece/binoviewer collection and am very close to buying a somewhat pricey TS Optics 1.0 Binoviewer that (supposedly) due to its unique design does NOT require a barlow etc to achieve focus on fast dobs (20" Stargate f/4). It sounds perfect for DSOs because no appreciable dimming should occur, but can't find any reviews expect a CN review that claims a number of issues all around - a definite deal-breaker! Link to sales site: https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p10297_TS-Optics-Binoviewer-1-0-magnification-zero-optical-path-and-erect-image.html I am also looking at an Explore Scientific HR coma corrector as a lower cost alternative to the Paracorr 2. Does anyone have experience with this specific binoviewer, is it THAT bad as the CN review clamined? Would anyone know - is a coma corrector compatible with the TS 1.0 binoviewer? I hear coma correctors may not work/be needed with traditional BV setups due to use of 1.3/1.6/2x barlows etc, but the TS 1.0 seems to be uncharted territory. After I win the lottery, I shall get a Siebert Elite 45 2" BV, haha! Any info greatly appreciated! Clear skies all.
  11. Hi John, yes hoping I get many years use out of it and hoping others can have a look as well, especially if they bring nice eyepieces! So far it's been fairly simple to assemble and use, and after a few more sessions it should go smoothly. Dew heaters are a must as I've quickly learned, otherwise the night can be cut short in a hurry. The moon was extremely intense through the mirrors - wasn't sure if it could cause permanent damage, but it was borderline painful! Amazing though. My main desire it to observe DSOs, which is why I was lusting after this one. The Veil nebula is on my list if I get another go before summer. I think for a lot less ££, the 18" non-GOTO looks appealing as well. Should you find yourself wandering around NE Scotland with a selection of Ethos eyepieces, do call in! Cheers John!
  12. Wanted to quickly add I wasn't 100% sure this scope would work ok, so just being able to scan the sky in focus was a massive relief. It was purchased sight unseen, second hand (though never used) and apparently not covered under warranty as far as I know. That's why I was particularly nervous (and equally relieved) to quickly test it out. Once I've built up some time with the Stargate later this year, I'll write a more experienced review, though still far from expert, mind! Thanks all.
  13. Thanks Paul! Not too bothered about messing around with sun viewing, more of a DSO fella at the moment. Thanks for the tips on M13 and Veil nebula, hoping to get another go before too long! Hi Richard, when my back goes out for good, I'll send you a message regarding the 500p I'll see what I can coax out of the brighter nights, might get a few more sights in yet, thank you! The 500p has some known issues, but they do seem to be fairly popular. Most of the problems people have had are relatively easy fixes in my mind. It's a lot scope! I might look for a different shroud - it's the 500p one, but seems a right faff to put on. Admittedly, I haven't had a chance to do this in daylight so makes sense to tackle that way first. I don't think I'll try solar with the 500p, one mistake and my head would ignite! Thanks for the info, which astronomy shop do you use? Cheers all!
  14. Hi all, first light and first impressions with the big Stargate 20” dob. This was definitely a milestone event for me with such a big scope, albeit short-lived due to fatigue and cold, and work early the next morning. Disclaimer – I am new to astronomy, this is my first telescope in over 35 years since I had a little Tasco 60mm, which I used twice until the focuser fell apart. For what it's worth, I do have an extensive DSLR background and have done some binocular astronomy which has helped things a little. I love binos, but hankered for something powerful to view DSOs with, without the hassle of imaging complications. I’ve spent the past three months reading about telescopes and gear before settling on this dobsonian when one came up for the right price. Of course, I still have a LOT to learn, both about identifying objects in the night sky, and equipment. The good people here have already helped me out considerably. Thank you! I did my first ever collimation yesterday afternoon using the supplied SW eyepiece. The secondary was rotated about 20deg off, simple fix once I realised why I was staring at the trusses through the pinhole eyepiece, and not the mirror! I didn’t fiddle with the grub screws for the secondary. The primary mirror collimation took a bit of adjusting since it was removed from the rockerbox on arrival. I had to crank down the spring loaded-collimation knobs more than anticipated so the springs were almost fully compressed. Took about ten to fifteen minutes, relatively painless. I reckon I could always fine tune in the field. Last night’s ‘mission’ was to simply check collimation and focus, run through night assembly, and then randomly sweep the sky without GOTO or gizmos and hopefully relax and enjoy the views, and then get a few hours' sleep. After the family was in bed last night after 10pm, I loaded the Stargate into my van and headed to a nearby forestry car park under Bortle 3 skies. Split down into four component parts, base with GOTO drive, rockerbox with mirror, truss rods and top end, it’s quite easy to shift for someone in reasonable health (my back is a bit dodgy, but I was fine). Moving the massive mirror/rockerbox is always a little stressful for me, just make sure the area is clear of trip hazards, check the base is ready to accept it, firm grip, focus and lift away… It was quite clear but COLD last night, much colder than I expected, around -2C onsite. My body was well insulated with wool trousers and down parka, but my hands were going partially numb quite quickly, and heavy frost had started to form within minutes of parking up. Set up of the rockerbox/mirror onto the base and assembly of the trusses was fast, even in the dark with a LED torch set to one lumen firefly mode. The top end with focuser took a little persuasion but clicked right in eventually. The truss clamps were more troublesome in the dark, I’ll be buying glow tape or something to ID the tops and clamp locations on the truss rods. By this time, the frost was growing thick and the plastic flexy mirror cover already had frost/dew on it before I could remove it. I was exhaling clouds of moisture onto everything from the race to assemble. Not a good omen!! I quickly attempted to put the dew shroud around the frame properly, but gave up with numb hands and tossed it over the scope like a blanket and roughly attached the ends so it didn’t obstruct the mirror etc. I wouldn’t be observing at zenith because I didn't bring steps, so no big deal. Job done. I didn't bother with setting up the GOTO alignment and left my finderscope at home, so I just planned on slewing around and taking a casual look. I removed the mirror covers, popped in the 28mm 2” SW eyepiece, took a deep breath, and…couldn’t focus. Brain engaging for a second, I popped the extension tube in place. I tried again with a spin of the focuser wheel. Stars of all magnitudes filled the eyepiece! I had little idea what objects I was looking at, but I saw so many star clusters and double or triple star formations, while a few satellites zipped across the eyepiece. I was delighted to get everything in focus with the 28mm 2" – it seems like a wonderful eyepiece for the money. Yes some coma as expected, but not bothersome to me at all. Just for laughs, I swung towards the crescent moon before it dropped below the horizon and hunted for it until suddenly a huge flash hit my eye. Ouch! I was blown away by the intensity through the 20" mirror – I felt like I needed a welding mask to even quickly look at it. I couldn't look for more than a few seconds due to the intensity (my ND filer arrived this morning). I stepped away from the eyepiece and looked down at my parka – a bright crescent moon was projected across my chest! Not wanting to risk eye damage, I had one last peek with the 28mm and went for the SW 10mm to hopefully dim it a wee bit. I popped the 10mm eyepiece in and got some incredibly close views, but the mirror had not sufficiently cooled for sharp focus. Nevertheless, I can assure you I have never seen the moon in such detail, absolutely breathtaking! Suddenly, nothing seemed to focus well. A quick inspection revealed my secondary mirror was c.60-75% covered in frost, so I fired up the heater in my van about 50m away, whipped the mirror off with a screwdriver (mind the spring underneath!), and warmed the mirror until the frost was cleared, all in the dark, happy days! I reinstalled the secondary at the same index prior to removal, and all seemed fine. After that, the secondary mirror and primary remained crystal clear the rest of the night, but by this time I was cold and growing a little tired. I don't know what magnitude I was seeing down to with the 500p but the light gathering ability is absolutely immense! It is an astonishing scope by my novice standards, and I'm sure I have barely scratched the surface. Although this is a huge scope, you definitely don’t need one like this to have a lot of fun and enjoyment, so don’t sell the jewels just yet. I'm glad I kept my observation binos for times when I can't lug this scope around, and the appeal of a smaller, more portable dob in the future is still there. Last night would have been an equally great night with either of those as well. One thing I can say is you do NOT need a 20" dob to view the moon . When I get time to set up before dark for a couple of nights in one spot, get the GOTO aligned, appropriate filters in place, and can target DSOs, etc then the 20" will make more sense and see more of its potential in use. Still, the 500p revealed a ridiculous number of stars with standard eyepieces, no coma corrector and rough collimation. A definite light bucket as they say. So job done, got to quickly see some stars, nothing broken thank the gods, and went to bed just after 3am. It is a lot to take down and pack, but manageable. Must remember finderscope next time! Dew heaters, better eyepieces, coma corrector, barlow & binoviewers, etc are all on the shopping list, but it will take some time to replenish the piggy bank. Not in a rush, summer is almost here! Hoping for a bit more viewing before the nights are too short. Cheers all for your help along the way.
  15. Welcome! Newbie as well, SGL is a great site.
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