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Ships and Stars

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Everything posted by Ships and Stars

  1. Excellent Gerry, love the wolves part! My dad just bought an Orion USA Heritage 150p equivalent, think it's called a 6" Star-blaster or something like that. He's only tried it once but I'm trying to convince him to get two better eyepieces with slightly wider FOVs in the 24-25mm and 8-12mm range, maybe some flat field EPs. It doesn't take 2" EPs but still some low cost eyepieces would be a nice upgrade. He's talking about driving out of his area to darker skies some time, the LP is pretty bad where he lives. I had the 15x70s with filters out looking at NGC1499 two night ago under 21.15 skies, even caught the Veil very early in the evening. Tonight looking good! Setting up the 20" at home. Keep the reports coming! Was around -4C the other night here, quite cold by our standards but I love it.
  2. Thanks, M42 was looking great last night. I only used the 20x eyepieces but it was quite a display. M43 wasn't super bright, but my skies at home aren't that dark either. I find anything over 21.00 and especially 21.3 or so and it starts to get really good. Planning tonight's mission already including a return to NGC1499. I love my Apollo 15x70s, they're heavy for the size but I rarely use them on a tripod. I think a little bit of wobble hand-holding them really helps pull out faint nebulosity, then I'll pop them on a tripod if I really want to study something once I've located it. I'm going to give the big bins another go tonight as well if things work out, have to go for it when I can
  3. I'll make it to WA someday I hope! We don't get a lot of really clear nights here but when we do it's a big deal. Cold winter nights seem to be the best. We've a few good sights up here at 57N, but I wish Orion was a bit higher overhead. Ursa Major has a lot of galaxies tucked in there, plus M97 and M108 are very cool. Look forward to more southern reports! I'll read up on 47 Tuc again, I've heard the name but don't know much about it. Clear skies as well, cheers!
  4. Busy day but stuck my head outside tonight about 10pm to catch my breath. Oh my! Crystal clear from home and NO MOON. What to do...what to do...12" dob or bins... Went for the 20/40x100s on fork mount, took a little time to set up, racing to beat the moonrise and high cloud. Nice views of M42 and a decent hint of the Horsehead/Flame with the Nebustar/Hb filter combo but no cigar. Had trouble with the Rosette with Nebustar and OIII for some reason, should have been clear but...I don't know. Maybe it filled the FOV, maybe my eyepieces were fogging up, but there was definite nebulosity though no discernible edge. I can nail it in the 15x70s most every time. Swapped to the 15x70s for a quick scan. Two highlights tonight - the first highlight was my first confident view of NGC1499 California Nebula with the 15x70s and same Nebustar/Hb combo - looked like a faint glowing elongated cloud. In fact I thought it was a streak of high cloud moving in at first. Not in your face nebulosity, but definitely there. Cool! Under darker skies this should pop out quite well in both bins. The second one - the Unihedron SQM-L was surprisingly indicating 20.42 to 20.49. I never get that at home, but it was crystal clear out so no malfunction. I think 20.38 was my highest ever reading back in March 2020 and 20.15-20.25 is normal for a clear dark moonless night. Too short a session but fatigue and cold kicked in, I've a big day tomorrow. Checking forecast, tomorrow evening until 10-ish looking crystal clear again, hopefully more time on the 20/40x100s, still haven't used them a great deal and I have high expectations for them, eyes willing. PS if you like, check my comment lower down the thread - I managed to make it to a darker site just outside of town with great results a few nights after this observation.
  5. Nice one! I bet you have some stunning night skies out there. I'd love to see the Magellanic Clouds some day. Have fun with the 10" dob and keep up the good work, I love my dobs!
  6. This is brilliant. I bet the NAN and Milky Way would look incredible with these. I really like the concept. Wonder why more binoculars with interchangeable 1.25 eyepieces aren't out there, besides giant bins. Might be onto something here!
  7. Hi Barry, I made one from a black foam camping mat but another confession - I've never used it! It would increase contract though. Frequently too windy here for dew to form however Was gusting to 40 last night... I need to start using the dew shield to see how it affects contrast.
  8. Confession time for this faint fuzzy addict - first time I've seen Saturn or Jupiter through a telescope! (used binoculars before, but no scope - too low from home). Shame on me I left the bins at home tonight and set the 12" dob up in a passing place on a closed road near me but up high enough to get the views. Seeing was surprisingly good considering how low they are. First was the 13mm APM 100deg at 115x, quite sharp, then the 9mm APM at 167x, just stunning, moons stringing out from Jupiter despite the glow of the sun below the horizon. Banding on Jupiter clearly visible. Then 2x powermate with the 13mm APM at 231x, not as sharp but still ok! Dropped back to the 9mm APM, the evenings winner. To top off a great evening, this is the earliest I've ever been home from a viewing session! I can sleep tonight! PS I think John's post has turned into the temporary Great Conjunction forum - thank you John!!
  9. I've managed the horsehead with a 12" dob at a 21.75 site near me but it was faint. Astronomik Hb filter. I was actually using a bit too much magnification. 17.5mm Morpheus. A 25mm eyepiece would have offered a larger exit pupil (5mm vs 3.5mm for the Morpheus). Next time I'll use a simple 25mm plossl. I have seen it numerous times with my 20" dob under dark skies, the last and best view was in October this year from a really dark site in the Cairngorms, but it was low on the horizon. Still, I could make out the nose and back of the head. Seeing it in the big scope made it easier to see in the smaller one, knowing right where to look. I have some 20/40x100 obsy bins that take filters. My goal is to see it in those from a dark site. UHC on one side. Hb filter on the other. I think it's possible. I caught a very, very slight hint of B33 against IC434 with filtered 15x70s that night in October, but no HH. As John and others have said, dark, dark skies and excellent transparency, the right exit pupil and with that, the 12" ought to do the trick but it will be very subtle. The 20" will make it directly observable (but still subtle) under dark transparent skies, but I've never seen it from home in the 20" under 20.35 skies with excellent transparency. That's another goal. A hood to block out stray light and excellent dark adaptation are essential in my book.
  10. Lead acid batteries will last for years if you don't let them sit for months and go flat. When a lead acid battery drops below around 12.4 volts, sulfation begins to occur which coats the plates inside the battery with fine deposits and prevents the battery from taking or keeping a proper charge. The solution is to put it on a trickle charger or charge it occasionally. They are more maintenance than li ion, but everything has a shelf life and if the battery does pack it in, it's a lot cheaper to replace as all the wiring and sockets is independent of the battery as opposed to a li ion pack where it's all integrated. Anyway, that's my sales pitch! PS I do like to mess about with things and am fairly good with making stuff and I am CHEAP, lol, so if you want no fuss/simple then perhaps li ion is the ticket. A lot lighter as well.
  11. I just use a fused cigarette lighter socket that has battery alligator clamps on the ends of my cables - those just clamp directly on to the +/- battery posts. I'll stick a small plastic storage tub over the top to keep the dew off, or whatever's handy. You can get a two ciggie socket cable and run a dual USB adapter off one, and plug the dew heater into the other. The dew heater controller should have a power out port for the telescope. Each person's set-up is a little different, so you will have to look online for the right parts. I also have a charger for my laptop that plugs into a cigarette lighter. Beware of cheap three socket cigarette lighter adapters, the wiring is really small gauge for the load it has to carry. You want a good quality cable and socket (s) that's long enough to do the job. Maybe draw a simple diagram of everything you need to run, then see how many cig sockets/power ports you need and at what voltage. The laptop charger would be a separate item to buy if you don't have one. It all makes sense once you do a bit of searching online for the right bits! If others have a simpler solution, then naturally that's perhaps more attractive, but mine's not terribly complicated. I do visual only, but I'm sure I could easily run an astrophotography setup off mine in remote areas.
  12. Hi there, I went to Tayna Batteries UK and just bought a van leisure battery. They have the Exide 80 amp hour for £62 plus £8 shipping. That's a LOT of reserve power. With 80 amp hour, you can power everything you want for the whole night and then some, or just run the scope for at least 3 or 4 nights. I can even run a diesel heater and a 150W stereo most of the night off of mine. The drawback? Big and heavy compared to a li ion pack but not too bad. 27 x 22 x 17cm. A real workhorse and probably half the price of tiny 7 amp hour lithium ion pack. If you go that route, you'll need a decent 12v car battery charger as well. I'd just get one from screwfix, etc.
  13. Trying to get my daughter to take a look tomorrow through the dob if the clouds part long enough. My wife is onboard and wants to see them as well. Fingers crossed.
  14. Got them tonight! Was using the 40x eyepieces in the 100mm Helios bins on the new TS Optics fork mount, works really well. Nice and sharp. There were around half a dozen people waiting on the hill near town, blowing a proper gale with intermittent rain and quite cold. I set up on the leeward side of a high stone wall, or else it would have been impossible with the wind. Around 4:15 pm it was looking dire, but then a small sliver of sky opened up and... and... there they were. At 40x the rings around Saturn were nicely displayed, albeit quite small, and next to Jupiter, three moons Callisto, Ganymede and Europa were easily visible. I wanted to try for some more moons, esp Saturn's Titan, but it was a very short and sweet 10 - 15 minute break in the cloud before it closed up again. Hurriedly took an unfocused phone camera shot just as the cloud moved back in and a quick shot of the bins, and back home... Trying tomorrow with the 12" dob and some higher mag, weather permitting
  15. Thanks Don! Agree it's easier to use the APMs with the eyecup down, definitely. I may order a 7mm XWA this week, that would be 285x in the big scope, ever the optimist for our seeing conditions, but on the right night it will be great for small galaxies, PN, planets, etc in either the 12" or 20" dobs. I see APM Germany is showing a 5mm XWA (must be the 4.77) and the 3.5, it would be great to have the entire set, but I doubt I'd ever be able to really use them with our seeing conditions in my 20" dob (f4, 2000mm focal length). The 5mm would be 400x and the 3.5 would be 571x. It fun to think about it though. The 12" dob might respond a bit better with the shorter focal length to the 5mm, but I'd try the 7mm first. I appreciate all the information as always Don I have a friend in the states who just bought a scope, I'll point him in your direction for eyepieces.
  16. Or a pair for binoviewers?? The 11mm would be a lot lighter, so maybe not quite so bad...or have a 'leave it in the focusser' rule once set up.
  17. That was my best product photo, lining them up on the kitchen table, even used filters, The anodising seems to be decent, no scratches from the focusser tube yet. I've almost forgotten what the views are like since my last good clear night in October, but seeing was very turbulent. Just going to check the weather this weekend again now for this weekend, there's a chance...
  18. Yes, a substantial weight savings, especially on the 20 vs 21E. I weighed mine but can't remember what the difference was, but it's a fair bit. I'd like a widefield 80 Deg plus APM in the 25-27mm range for its exit pupil at f4, but don't think they do one. Nagler territory!
  19. I think they are the same John, that seems to be the verdict, but as you say, Don might know something in particular? Coatings could be different or some small technical detail but I'd guess being mass produced, they're all the same creatures. I might get a 7mm XWA at some point for small galaxies, was surprised how well the 9mm worked on them. With high magnification plossls or orthos it's hard for me to find objects and really easy for me to lose them... The wide FOV is handy there.
  20. Indeed! I was a bit proud when they arrived, so did a family portrait, haha
  21. I'm really happy with them for the money. They are the only eyepieces (besides my 10mm Baader Classic Ortho) that I have ever bought new after trying the 20mm one night against the 21E. I could easily live with the 20/13/9 and my powermate. I have an Explore Scientific HR coma corrector, a lot like the Paracorr with a tunable top, but to be honest, I don't use it that much in either my f4.9 or f4 scope. The f4 scope does show a noticeable improvement with a CC, but I only really notice if I'm viewing something like star clusters. When viewing nebulae, it doesn't seem to bother me at all. If I'm in a fast dash mood and changing eyepieces a lot, I'll skip the CC, if I'm relaxed and going for top views, then CC it is. The view with the 20mm and CC at f4 is very nice.
  22. I really like my APM 100deg EPs, the 20mm would be my favourite out of all my eyepieces. I have the 20/13/9mm set. The APMs offer near Ethos (some say equal!) performance at a price that won't make you cry as much if you drop one on the floor. 269EUR for the 20mm APM vs £819.00 for the 21mm Ethos. That's why I sold my 21E and bought the three APMs with the money. I loved the 21E but was a bit nervous using it in the dark. I change eyepieces and filters frequently and rush around a lot when fatigued, so it was only a matter of time before I accidently pinged it off the concrete one night with cold fingers or *gasp* it somehow rolled out of my van at a dark sky spot. Imagine a walker coming across this strange heavy black and green lump covered in frost, then googling 21mm Ethos...while I was at home sleeping the next morning The stuff of nightmares! So that's the main reason I sold the 21E. Lighter as well. My only complaint is that the eyecup isn't as comfortable as the 21mm Ethos I had, a bit too stiff, so you have to push your eye into it to get the full FOV and the 21E had a bit more immersive feel, but that was intensive side by side comparisons. With just the APM I don't think anyone would be upset. I would love it if APM made a 23-25mm 100 deg EP, even if the edges weren't perfect, just for larger nebulae. Anyway, really happy with the APMs.
  23. Thanks Gerry, this will keep me busy! HCG 55 sounds possible under the right conditions. Hopefully this weekend, but it's still pretty grim weather here at the moment. Weekend looking better. Been ages since I've had a clear moonless night, mid October I think.
  24. No I haven't yet Gerry - I couldn't sleep last night so did some research on it. Looks like a proper challenge, very faint! I looked on Stellarium with ocular view, they are tiny but high up, so looks like a good target if I ever get the weather. This weekend looking possible once the moon is down, but very windy again. Is there a catalogue of the ones in the Northern Hemisphere? I seem to recall you or Piero receiving a catalogue in the post. Might have been ARPs? But I will remember Hickson 55 now! These are excellent, some highly challenging targets in there. Thank you! PS I originally typed 'Stephen's Quintet, but now realise it is Stephan's not Stephens's. Sorry!
  25. I've signed it. We live in a dark part of town due to a couple of factors, the primary reason being me repeatedly asking local businesses to turn off their 12 (yes, 12) rear LED lights after they close. They used to stay on ALL night, and no one can see them except us. The streetlights in town near us have hoods, and it helps quite a lot to reduce overall town LP, though off is better of course. Crime-wise, I find when it's totally dark, people stick to the other streets and don't wander down our lane which ends on private property anyway. It's usually to use the toilet after filling up at the local pub When the lights used to stay on it invited people to wander down in our direction. Now that it's dark here, I set up a series of small hidden motion sensors around our property. They are linked via radio frequency (no wifi needed) to a handheld receiver I keep by my desk or bed that gently chimes when the motion sensor is tripped, so if anyone does come onto our property at night, I am immediately alerted. I simply mute the receiver or turn it off when out doing astro, so my wife doesn't go bonkers! It works extremely well and no false alarms. If my receiver does go off and I see some rogue villain lurking outside, I have a high mounted 4000 lumen LED floodlight (downward pointing of course!) I manually switch on for a few seconds to blast the intruders, then I switch it back off so they lose all dark adaptation They know they've been clocked after this and leave for the normality of the high street. This is a very rare event.
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