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Ships and Stars

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Everything posted by Ships and Stars

  1. I've always wanted to see the Magellanic Clouds in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Northern skies, I'd try for anything and everything wide field - if dragging a scope around isn't an option. I'd take my 15x70 Apollos with UHC/Nebustar filters, no question about it! I'd still want to take a scope if skies are that good. Kasai makes a folding 8" dob that looks interesting and will go as a carry-on for flights, but I know nothing of performance, etc. nor is it cheap!
  2. I've been looking at the wrong objects! Should have dialled in max magnification and gone for Mars! Hate missing the Veil when it's high up though. I think you're right about the conditions - I've heard others says when seeing is good, transparency might take a dip, and vice versa. Rare I understand to have both at the same time.
  3. Very good point actually. I've been receiving a largely unwanted crash course in transparency, or lack thereof, lately. We had five or six clear, really promising nights around this last new moon - unbelievable I thought! In reality we had stars but terrible transparency except maybe one or two so-so average nights. Did have a very brief 21.6-21.65 session with the Veil and the 12" dob which was impressive and fairly transparent, but it was short-lived and I drove a ridiculous distance for 25 minutes on the scope before I had to turn around and go home! Had the 20" set up at the 21.92 site for two nights in a row and could see lots of stars...sort of...through the haze. That was beyond frustrating. Hoping colder weather picks things up in that department, perhaps unusually humid here at the moment... Thanks Gerry!
  4. I'd love to go up past Inverness up to Sutherland or back to the Hebrides for astronomy. I was over to Lewis for work earlier this year, but didn't take a scope (was snowing anyway!). Loads of places over 21.9 towards Ullapool. Just tons. Regarding 21.5 vs 21.75 - if I'm not mistaken, a 21.00 sky is ten times darker than a 20.00 sky, but I need to check that - any thoughts @jetstream? I think the scale is logarithmic, not linear but I'm no maths expert! If that's right the extra .25 would definitely be noticeable. Bortle 3 can be good though, I've seen the horsehead with a 12" dob under B3 - just. Don't think most astronomers need super-dark skies to be happy, though it's certainly nice! A 21.5 sky is pretty good, don't think you'll be upset with that. A 21.75 sky will still show that much more, and will probably have minimal light pollution down to the horizon, as these places are far away from cities, though I can easily see urban glow low on the horizon 60-70 miles away from my fav spot. My best reading was a 21.85 from a spot I thought had better conditions on previous visits before I bought the SQM-L. So probably a solid 21.90 or more on an exceptional winter night when the air holds very little humidity. At that site the milky way stretches from horizon to horizon and it was hard for me at first to find constellations because there were so many bright stars. The milky way will light up the ground once your eyes are adapted and you can easily walk around without a torch. Any clouds show up in the sky as looming black voids because there is no light pollution bouncing off from underneath! The first time I saw clouds under really dark skies with good dark adaptation, I thought it was billowing smoke because they were black as ink compared to the sky. Anyway, 21.5 is nothing to sneeze at, you can see a lot and I'd almost give up darker skies once or twice a year if I could have 21.5 once a week! Almost... I'd say 21.15 and up with good transparency will give reasonably good views. Over 21.4 or 21.5 then it's probably going to be a memorable night unless you already live someplace like this! (not me unfortunately)
  5. Edit - I see this was an old post that recently got resurrected! Anyway, maybe it's helpful for Edinburgh folks etc.... I'm not down that way a lot, but Fife itself looks like E coast is by far the best up past Anstruther, but I do like a bit of elevation to keep the dew and mist off as it settles, plus it tends to be that much clearer with a little high ground. Beyond Fife if you want really dark skies some day, Kielder to the south and to the north, anywhere past Stirling or Perth just gets better and better. I like anything over 21.00-21.15 SQM real-time if it's close to home. Over 21.5 with a SQM-L meter, and game on! Over 21.75, nirvana. If you use it, take the LP map with a grain of salt - it's pretty optimistic. Supposed to be 20.8 at home and it's more like 19.8-20.2 if all the local lights are off. If the map says 21.5 then it's probably closer to 21.00 unless conditions are really good, i.e. low humidity, no cloud at all, esp high cloud/haze which is hard to spot at first. Am sure you'll weed out some nice spots!
  6. Hello @McEloff, I live in NE Scotland in your neck of the woods and mainly view DSOs such as nebulae and galaxies. I've really struggled the past two weeks with conditions - there's been lots of haze and thin, high cloud that's not easily detectable at night and it's not something a normal weather forecast will clock - they will show clear skies. Well, clear enough you can see quite a few stars and think it's good, but in fact it's been really soupy. That kills transparency for nebula hunting! A sky quality meter helps me with obtaining solid data on conditions. I was at a remote, almost pristine 21.92 SQM spot I know well last week for two nights - was really looking forward to it. However, I was getting readings of 21.3 under 'clear' skies, just soup. A few nights ago I went to a new 21.94 spot according to the LP map atop a hill at 500m and got 21.55-21.64, really was looking for 21.75 plus, but that's the best I've had so far this observing season and I've already racked up a ton of miles driving all over the place - very frustrating. The Veil through the 12" dob was excellent at that spot, but I didn't stay long (30-45 minutes) as I had a silly drive back home! Didn't feel worth it in the end and I was beat the next day. It's been quite warm and humid here lately, I think that's a big part of the issue with transparency, hoping the colder weather ahead will clear things up. If you can get your hands on a Unihedron Sky Quality Meter with lens (SQM-L) they are very useful for sussing out atmospheric conditions on a given night, and if that dark sky spot is really as dark as the map says. The Light Pollution map might show a certain spot at say 21.5, but in reality it will be lower to some degree depending on atmospheric conditions and local light pollution. Things get darker around midnight as more people and businesses switch off lights. A lot of people use NELM or naked eye limiting magnitude, but for me personally, that's too subjective and dependent upon my eyes and level of dark adaptation. Still, it's a decent benchmark if you don't have the meter. As mentioned above, these conditions could still be good for planetary observations, but I like a bitterly cold, clear night with little to no humidity in the air. As @jetstream says, looking over buildings can cause some wobbles because of heat thermals rising off of them. Open grassy spaces are best in my opinion. Collimation doesn't sound like the issue, and just shine a red torch on the secondary or primary to check for dew. My secondary is usually the first one to get dew on it. Colder weather on the way no doubt!
  7. Nice one Iain, I've only just observed the NAN clearly this year! Was using too much mag before - rookie mistake. There's so much nebulosity up there in that area, I should try and not get tunnel vision with the Veil and spend a bit mroe time soaking in the other nearby sights. Crescent nebula is a fav of mine, but I was unaware of IC 1318 in that area!
  8. Good job on the planets! That's an area I need to spend more time on than chasing faint fuzzies.
  9. I really like the Pentax for all-around use, they're great in the daytime as well and are small and light in comparison to the Helios. Much smaller and lighter, but still substantial, if that makes sense! I'm hooked on the Apollos for their filter threads however - my TeleVue Nebustar II filter arrived and I finally got to try it last night with UHC on the other side under 21.64 skies. The E & W Veil were easily in the field of view and Pickering's Triangle was very faintly visible - more dark adaptation would have probably brought that out more. But if you don't find and Apollos, it's still possible to hold some filters up to the eyepieces, so any decent binoculars will do! I plan on keeping my low-end Celestrons, they've been great.
  10. I completely agree! Glad to hear you made it out as well. I just returned from a rather long drive with the 12" and binoculars, the Veil was splendid at last! The view through the 12" almost felt like it was on par with the 20" from the last time I remember it nearly a year ago under decent skies. A short view tonight vs a very long drive, but worth it. Hoping we have some more good nights again soon.
  11. One possible cure for aperture fever is spending hours preparing and packing a 20" dob, batteries, step ladder, camping gear, food, coffee, stove etc around to your dark sky site 60-ish miles from home because the forecast shows two very clear nights, then have nothing but high haze with a few midges swarming around! Then return home, unpack and clean everything, haha. I saw a very hazy Eastern Veil for a few minutes Wednesday night, then gave up and got some sleep. Thursday night the same. SQM was showing a max of 21.25 instead of 21.75-21.9, that's how humid/hazy it was unless there was high cloud I couldn't see. Forecast tonight looking excellent again, but I'm packing the 12" non-goto dob and binoculars this time if I have the energy to drive out once the kids are asleep! It does of course give stunning views when everything comes together, but it can be frustrating when it doesn't! I'm seriously thinking about finding a semi-permanent home for the 20" dob in a shed or cabin, etc on a farm or estate somewhere remote so I don't have to pack it around all the time.
  12. My Nebustar II arrived today, can't wait to try it out! Never been so excited about a tiny piece of glass
  13. No joy last night! High haze moved in again. The daytime was brilliant though. Still a good evening but not much in the way of astro! I'll keep an eye out for E though.
  14. Nah, dob it is on second thought! Haha.
  15. I'm trying here! Along with everyone else. The weather today in NE Scotland was superb, hardly a cloud. Looks set to continue. I need to be away early tomorrow morning, so might stick to binoculars tonight and do a grand tour.
  16. Sounds like very good conditions there, especially if you were able to follow the wisp down from my novice perspective. Hazy views with the 20" here last night, getting readings of 21.3 instead of 21.8 or 9 on a stunning night. I'm set up again, forecast clear with a potential for repeat of high haze, humidity in the 90+ range. He who dares, wins! I think when we suffer poor weather here we live vicariously through your observations. No pressure! Haha. Might be a boatload of disgruntled astronomers emigrating soon to the land of lakes and big skies
  17. I bet the 130p would give a nice wide view under your skies but I'd go UHC over OIII at that aperture. I cycled around SW Ireland about 15 years ago and ended up staying outside Allihies for about a week (I was a poor but free man at the time!) Wasn't a cloud in the sky for days on end, I got fairly well sunburnt. Slept outside my tent one night because the milky way was just glowing and cast shadows, will never forget it. A wonderful place to relax, Allihies. PS I did a running review of three binoculars the other night, 12x70 Celestrons, 15x70 Apollos and 20x60 Pentax under 21.15-21.2 skies, good transparency but not super dark. East Veil was easily visible without any filters - once I'd sussed the location. With UHC on the Apollos, it was buzzing. OIII was too much, isolated but very faint. Pickerings triangle was very faint, West Veil the same as it's transposed with a handful of stars that mask nebulosity. You'll crack it with the 130p under the right conditions.
  18. I find low mag down to max exit pupil works best, and definitely OIII filter for scopes, UHC for binoculars. Higher mag however can boost contrast for light polluted skies. I actually prefer the wider view through my smaller dob, though the big one shows an incredible amount of detail under dark skies. I'll use the 31mm Baader or the 20mm 100 degree APM. I know the ES 25mm 100 degree gets poor reviews in general, but I wouldn't hesitate to take a punt if one turns up for the right price. The 21mm Ethos is of course awesome for this as well.
  19. I love the concept and you are correct, huge field of view. They do make everything that much easier to see vs naked eye, city or countryside. Under £100, I'll wind up getting another pair. When you get to dark skies, these are fun.
  20. I had the Kasai wide binos, need dark skies to make them shine. Otherwise any old binoculars will do more under urban skies by giving more contrast at higher mag. Under a bright milky way, then game on!
  21. I actually use them hand-held most of the time, but it's a workout! A tripod, any tripod, will help immensely The trigger grip looks interesting and is popular. Sorry if I got your hopes up on the filter threads! I'd ring FLO, the photo looks like there are threads, but it might just be the eyecup design. They don't mention it in the specs, but do for the Apollos. Sorry about that if I'm wrong!
  22. There's probably very little difference between the Stellar IIs and the Apollos. It looks like they have filter threads but email or ring FLO to check perhaps? Completely agree, binoculars have saved me a lot of frustration when an unexpected clear night or even a short break in the clouds comes along and I don't have time to set up the scope. I use them very frequently, they are my grab and go set-up. The Astronomic UHC-E looks interesting for binoculars, around £60, or just grab an ES or Baader. You can mix filters, a good way to test them out against one another on binoculars of course as they're side by side and you'll have the same dark adaptation. Too many choices can be difficult sometimes!
  23. Yes I've read about the blinking technique, think that's useful for isolating very small planetary nebula etc. Not tried it myself, but makes sense. I hear you on the filters. I only have one 2" filter, an Astronomik OIII, they are painfully expensive for a 50mm circle of glass. The 1.25" aren't exactly cheap either! It's one of those things - filters seem to be such a dark art (no pun intended). Do I go for a cheaper one that might have quality control issues or different transmission wavelengths than advertised, or go with the expensive ones that are a safer bet? If you go to the states, there are some good deals to be had on filters from what I've seen recently. Do the 15x70s you are looking at have filter threads? Some do, some don't. From my experience, filter threads are a must-have personally speaking. The North America Nebula (NAN) with UHC on the 15x70s the other night was stunning. I spent more time on that than the Veil. Speaking of which, although OIII is the way to go through a larger scope, the opposite seems true with binoculars. I could clearly make out the East Veil with UHC, but it was extremely faint with OIII on the 15x70s. I did side by side comparisons. I'll see how well the 1.25" Nebustar does with bins and my scopes, then will consider buying the 2" at some point...
  24. I was thinking I'd just hop on a flight to LA, visit Don and bring back a duffel bag of filters In my dreams. They are on sale! Much cheaper than here actually. Was tempted to order some and just take the customs/import hit, would still work out well. I do hear the UHC-E is kind of a middle-ground, so that still might be of interest for binoculars. I'm glad I bought the Nebustar though, that will see action in the dobs as well.
  25. PS the North America Nebula through binoculars with UHC filters under rural skies is almost like a neon sign. It just glows. One of the best sights I've had. Maybe hold your UHC up to one side of your binoculars from home? Otherwise head for the countryside when you can!
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