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Ships and Stars

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Everything posted by Ships and Stars

  1. I zigged when I should have zagged Iain, haha, had a play with the 20/40x100 binoculars on the TS optics fork mount, they work quite well, should be a treat under dark skies. Looking through the binocular refractors, I noticed my left eye has noticeable astigmatism, can't blame it on reflector coma, but it is tolerable. Might go the TV dioptrx route someday when it worsens. I think Sunday night might be ok, fingers crossed, that's still a few days out though if the forecast is close. At least I saw some stars again tonight, it's been ages with this weather, hopefully the persistent stretch of rain we've probably all had up north is gone now. Good luck to you this weekend!
  2. It's a struggle tonight Gerry! Drove to my local dark spot, rain set in. Back home and put the big dob away, clear. Got obsy bins out now and having a play, haven't used them with the new fork mount yet. Saturday night is looking clear all night, hoping to try again once the moon is down. That's the way it goes sometimes! If I had just set the 20" up at home, at least I would have caught NGC7331 and maybe some fleas PS I was looking at photos of NGC 7318, must be an incredible sight to see two galaxies colliding in real life (minus however many light years away they are!)
  3. Thank you! I've decided it's all or nothing until at least January 10th so going out tonight. The weather is showing a small possibility of a clear spell around 8pm tonight so why not. I was pleasantly surprised to easily fit the 20" dob in my small car. I've found the disassembled 20" fits as well in my car as does the 12" flextube. Amazing Now let's hope for a clear window of weather tonight, a bit of a gamble... if not, new moon January might be the last chance until the Autumn. If you don't see a report tomorrow, then the weather was no good!
  4. Thanks Gerry, I have everything but the skies I guess! Hope you've had better weather than we've had here. The 10BCO would be perfect for this. The 9mm APM is the highest mag EP I have (there's a Celestron 8mm plossl lurking around in my desk somewhere). I could barlow the 13mm APM but that would hang off the focuser quite a bit. I think mid-October was the last time we had anything approaching good conditions and I've been checking all the forecasts at least daily. Looking to shape up a bit hopefully by the end of this week, I might be able to squeeze in a quick session with the 20" before the moon pops up again. If not, January dear weather gods!
  5. Excellent, thanks Iain. I doubt now I'll be able to get the 20" out tonight or tomorrow, maybe this weekend if the forecast is reliable enough, but by then the moon will be up early evening. I think mid-January is looking like my best shot, I bet the 9mm APM will work well on this! Or barlow the 13mm... Cheers
  6. PS just checked Stellarium for January around the new moon on the 12th and 13th and Stephan's Quintet is still high enough to observe just after astronomical darkness. This month is shaping up weather-wise to be a DSO write-off, so hoping January is better.
  7. Thanks Peter, I suppose even if I get a hint of it in the 12" then I would call that a success. I don't think I'll have the kind of skies this week I'll need, but always the optimist! Forecast is showing partly cloudy tonight...with scattered showers. Meh!
  8. Thank you Doc! Sounds like the 20" under excellent skies is the way to go, kind of what I was figuring with these faint galaxies. I may skip it tonight and just go for a quick binocular tour if the cloud breaks. Hopefully Stephen's Quintet pops back up late spring before summer hits. I'll check Stellarium.
  9. Welcome, we've had terrible weather up here, you're not the only one! Might be a few gaps in the cloud tonight, fingers crossed, an 8" Dob is perfect to nip outside with. Have fun!
  10. Hello all, I'm normally focused on nebulae this time of year, but somehow I've managed to forget all about Stephan's Quintet near the Deer Lick Group in Pegasus - I've never seen either group. This time of year it is dropping quickly at my latitude. It seems 18:30-19:45 or so is the best time when it's reasonably high up, but I think now will be it until next year. The weather here has been atrocious with almost non-stop rain and wind since the last full moon, not even a break in the clouds for binoculars, but tonight and tomorrow night might have small windows of clear skies. Since this is looking hit or miss, I was going to try the 12" 'grab and go' dob under dark-ish skies (21.20-21.50) over the 20" dob, because I might not be setting up for very long. Has anyone had a good look and been able to resolve the galaxies in Stephan's Quintet? Or is it more of a faint smudge? I've read 200x is about right, but that's a fairly small exit pupil. Can you get a decent view with a 12" dob? Or is this one really difficult? PS anyone have problems with Stellarium? Mine keeps freezing up and buttons come and go, then couldn't close it. Really weird. Might uninstall and reinstall. Cheers all
  11. I used Suncalc for desktop if I want to see accurate solar positions, the twin to the equally handy Mooncalc that I use for planning dark sky trips when the moon is far enough below the horizon for faint DSO chasing. At my latitude, the sun only rises about 9.5 -9.8 deg above the horizon this time of year, with just under 7 hours of 'daylight', using the term very loosely, so if I actually want to see the sun, I have to climb a small hill south of our house around noon, or get in a boat and go about 2-3 miles offshore and look at the southern horizon. The sun won't directly shine on our house again until late January I think, and even then, it will only be for a few minutes. In the summer on June 21st, the sun here only hits a maximum altitude around 56 degrees but never really drops far below the horizon.
  12. Hi Peter, I've one eye slightly worse than the other, is there no dioptre adjustment or way to individually focus these? I suppose not, unless they sit in a threaded socket, etc. I had some Kawai widebinos, interesting, but sold them. Replacements are tempting!
  13. Excellent news - this covers a massive area -1350 sq mi. I'd love to see the whole of the Cairngorms up here follow suit. There is a dark sky park up on the NE side between Tomintoul and Glenlivet, but the whole of the Cairngorms should ideally be a reserve. That's a lot of doors to knock on though and a lot of people to convince. Well done to everyone involved in Yorkshire, bet it was a monumental task!
  14. Sounds like a nice observing session actually. Simple is good. Nothing worse than setting up the big scope and doing an alignment, then watching a wall of cloud move in. Well, except perhaps driving 40 miles to do that, then immediately taking it back down! My 300p flextube is broadly similar, sets up quickly, doesn't have goto, didn't want it on that one. Telrad and raci and I'm off. The weather here is utterly dire. Something like 36 hours of off/on rain and flood alerts. Next week not looking good either, maybe a small window Wed night. Glad someone is getting out a bit!
  15. Ooooh... what are you building? Any hints or still top secret? Are you modding an existing pair to right angle, or building from two refractors? Sorry! Caught my attention If there was a reasonable way to replicate the EMS I'd love to see it.
  16. The Morpheus are really good, but my one reservation about them is the max focal length of 17.5mm which only gives you a 3.8mm exit pupil, not fully optimal for fainter nebula and galaxies. If you are mainly observing planets, then that's something else - higher mag is the order of the day of course. I don't know how well your eyes dark adapt in your usual viewing spot due to ambient background light nearby, or what size they might dilate to (depends mainly on age but can vary widely), but in a nice f4.6 scope like yours, to get a 5mm exit pupil you'd want something around 23mm. If you have excellent dark adapted eyesight with a 7mm exit pupil, you could fully benefit from a 32mm eyepiece, while a 27 or 28mm eyepiece would give you a 6mm exit pupil. The 2" SW 28mm LER eyepiece is actually ok for the money and very comfortable to use. The 20mm APM still gives a 4.34mm exit pupil and 100 deg FOV for 269EUR plus shipping, an awesome eyepiece for the money and a great all-rounder. It's a lot lighter than the 21mm Ethos as well (and about 1/4th the price) but not tiny by any stretch. I checked the APM website, think they have stopped doing the discount on the 9/13/20mm XWA set. It's still a good deal in the grand scheme of things. If I could only buy one eyepiece though, it would be the 20mm XWA. Not sure on shipping times though, don't think they are back in stock until Dec 18th. On the other hand, you could always fill in the gaps with a 25mm plossl for not a lot. I have a couple of dirt cheap Revelation plossls now at £12.50 a pop from Telescope House (I bought 25/32/40mm sets for my binoviewers) and on occasion, I'll use the 25 or 32mm plossl for small, faint stuff. They work surprisingly well in both my scopes. Anyway, something to think about. Sorry to add to the indecision around eyepieces!
  17. Welcome! I had one of my best summers working in Portugal. I then stayed in the Algarve in Salema for a short while, visiting Sagres and Cabo San Vicente, great part of the world, very nice!
  18. Sounds like a superb scope Cedric! I've a 300p f4.9 dob and a 500p f3.95 dob, I had a couple of Ethos but sold them along the way and replaced them with 9/13/20mm APM XWAs 100 deg EPs which are pretty close to Ethos spec in my humble opinion. APM Germany is selling a set of 3 on a good discount, but even on their own, I consider them an absolute bargain. If interested, I'd jump on that before we leave the EU come January 1. I also use a 17.5 Morpheus which is excellent in fast scopes and gives plenty of eye relief. So that's the 9/13/20 100deg APMs, a 17.5 Morpheus and lastly, a 10mm Baader Classic Ortho (BCO) for small galaxies, plus a 2x TV powermate. That's all I use, but I'd like a widefield 30mm EP for the slower dob and a widefield 24-25mm EP for max exit pupil in the fast dob. Haven't used the Delos or Pentax XWs, but they both receive excellent reviews. On a budget but still requiring high quality, I'd look at APM or Morpheus. The APM Ultra Flat Field EPs also seem to garner praise. Televue filters aren't cheap, but the Nebustar is just awesome! I use that and Astronomik filters. Insanely expensive for small pieces of glass, but they just work and have tight quality control. Have fun! PS I've had a couple of Hyperions as well, and as John says, they don't like fast scopes, so I'd avoid those but the Morpheus are fine. The XWAs are brilliant though!
  19. I seem to get on well with fairly heavy binoculars handheld, partially I suppose because I did heaps of photography using a 500mm or 600mm tele lens handheld for about 10 years or so leading up to astronomy interests. Prior to that, I spent a lot of time target shooting from my early teens up to my late 20s, so I guess breathing control and holding somewhat heavy things as still as possible is a bit second nature at times. I'm able to use my 15x70s Apollos handheld for short 5-10 minute sessions on/off throughout the night and I'm no bodybuilder or bricklayer. In fact, I've only used them on a tripod once for about 10 minutes, specifically when I was trying to bag the Horsehead in October (close, but no cigar) I think they're around 2.5 - 2.7kg. My 12x70 Celestrons weigh a mere 1.4kg and are a doddle in comparison. Same with my 20x60 Pentax WPs (also around 1.4kg) I had 25x100 Skymasters at first on an AZ4 with an L-bracket. That worked quite well actually, wished I'd kept the AZ4. I've hoiked the 25x100s up to my eyes handheld on the odd occasion to look at something for 10-20 seconds, but that was borderline desperation, think I'd forgotten the L-bracket one night or something. Can't say it was relaxing! One of the main benefits of handheld binocular viewing for me (up to 15-20x max) is the complete freedom to move around the night sky without a tripod or any restrictions. However, I will shamelessly take advantage of anything stable around me that I can use to relax a bit and steady the views. That includes leaning up against my van, or rest my elbows on the roof of my car if I've taken that out to a dark site. Walls, fence posts, picnic tables, etc, whatever is around. If I really want to hold still near zenith, I'll lay on a foam camping mat, that works well. Anytime I can view handheld, that's my preferred option for unrestricted movement, but magnification and aperture/weight seems to vary quite a bit from person to person.
  20. Wow, thank you @Mike JW A lot of information there. I've been sidetracked with my giant obsy binocular project, just got a fork mount for that. I dug out my Watec 902 camera this afternoon, haven't used it but thought I'd give it a go again if possible. Livestream is still in the works!
  21. Wow, this is cool, nice project. I can't leave anything alone, am always modifying stuff. JB Weld is excellent if you need to epoxy anything on. You can even drill and tap it for threads. Extremely strong bond. I use it on just about everything. It will be the business with the carbon tube!
  22. I think the samples they are after are to assay various areas in advance of possible mining operations (someday). The US was talking about the same thing but only theoretically as I recall.
  23. This is a hard one actually, because most every bit of kit I drag along is all key to a successful night's observing. Some of it is a 'frustration preventer', some of it is just a sheer necessity. My 'official' three: 1.) Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas (Jumbo edition, spiral bound). The way they break down what to see vs time of year can be confusing at first. Nevertheless, it's a really handy field guide with lots of interesting objects and taught me my way around the night sky. 2.) Dimmable red LED torch from Antares, sold through RVO. While the build quality is definitely on the cheap side, it does the job and maintains that all-important dark adaptation while I'm fumbling around for eyepieces or flipping through the S&T Atlas. For what it is, it's a bit pricey at £20, though I guess it's a speciality item, so not a lot made/sold. 3.) Telrad for the non-GOTO 300p. Point and shoot! Perfect for observers with short attention spans like myself, or for chasing holes in the cloud to make the most on those partly cloudy nights. I can buzz around the night sky to different areas with the 12" dob as fast as I can using my binoculars on a tripod. A real timesaver and frustration preventer.
  24. I like Russian stuff as well - have a few old Zenit cameras going back to late 50s/early 60s. The TALs are well-regarded it seems, but I don't know much about them. I just picked up a TS Optics binocular fork mount which has a Vixen rail mount. It has an 8kg capacity, but I think it will hold more. My 7.2kg bins will stay put effortlessly at a 40-60deg altitude by only lightly tightening the altitude lock. Anyway, I was thinking it would also double up nicely as a great alt-az mount for a refractor. I like the wooden tripods as well though! I'm out with the 300p and binoviewers tonight but the atmosphere is pretty wobbly - moon looks like a flag blowing in the wind and stars are a ball of mush. Might be heat coming off the house though, so will give it another crack now
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