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Ships and Stars

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Everything posted by Ships and Stars

  1. I've been thinking about binoscopes since this summer as an alternative to a ridiculously large dobsonian, with the added benefit of stereo vision and a much wider FOV. If another 500p come up for sale, I'd serious consider trying to pair them up. Based on prevailing 1.4x theory of increased aperture equivalent, a 500p binoscope would be something like the equivalent of a 28" dob, but with only 2000mm focal length instead of 2850mm. I could still easily fit two of them in my van plus the mounting arrangement. The downside of course is collimation and complexity of design mating the two, but for the money, there's nothing even close to what that would be capable of. I'm not into night vision yet, that would be a later add-on years down the road for the ultimate semi-portable set-up.
  2. Excellent Gerry -I'm living vicariously through reports at the moment. No hint of clear skies for the past few days and none forecast for the next week. That's the way it goes sometimes! I like winding a good observing session down with the binoculars and one final long look at the skies around me before I call a stop to play. A good way to end the night (or morning). I haven't been able to use GOTO yet this year with windy conditions, but hoping to see some new DSOs when that's available. My last observing session - the SQM-L was only reading 21.35 and it was supposed to be 21.95 on an exceptional night where I was at. No moon, so thinking it was perhaps the aurora - can't explain that was because it was seriously dark. Despite this, I still had probably the best view of the HH I've seen, and it was quite low in the sky. I like to put a nice, neat number on things, but with sky conditions, it can be misleading. Enjoy those skies!
  3. Looks a beauty and the mirrors sound like real quality as well! I've seen their website several times, it looks like they turn out some well-crafted dobsonians. I think you'll have some fun with this one!
  4. Excellent! Very happy you were able to observe. The NE of Scotland around me is cloud city for the time being, probably until the 22nd... This October new moon is looking a write off for me. Galloway has some great skies as well, bet it was good. Looking forward to the report!
  5. The ancient night skies with zero light pollution, a vast milky way from horizon to horizon, shooting stars and the (very) occasional supernova like M1 Crab Nebula of c.1054AD must have inspired a lot of folklore (constellations in particular), superstition and awe, though on the other hand, they would have seen it on every clear night of their lives, good eyesight willing! The stone circles in my neck of the woods (typically recumbent stone circles in NE Scotland) are often regarded as celestial calendars or 'solstice calendars', though that in itself is a topic of great controversy. I'm inclined to believe they were at least partially constructed for that purpose. Certainly burial mounds like the passage tomb at Newgrange in Ireland were - the winter solstice sunrise is directed through a port above the entrance and lights up the central chamber. Not quite 'ancient' and off on a bit of a tangent here, but thinking of dark skies vs modern light pollution made me recall this map I saw a while back from the 'Terrible Maps' website... I know I know..,sorry
  6. HI all! Things have been busy so I haven't checked in lately but back on the radar. I've sent Paul a message - happy to extol the wonders of Cairngorm astronomy!
  7. We can do binoculars! I think the 12x70 Celestrons might work, tons of eye relief. Have to see if the IPD will work at minimum setting. I might be starting her a little bit young, but she has been able to point out nebula and galaxies in books for awhile now. Pre-school age but very curious about the world around her, like mom and dad
  8. I can see the financial side is alluring to some, but places like this in the world are rapidly disappearing. Hope the development is minimal, but I rather doubt it! Reminds me of 'space mountain' on South Uist. That was built before I frequented these parts, but am sure the older locals are still divided. Maybe this will be a low-impact space centre, if such a thing is not a contradiction in terms...
  9. You can't go far wrong with the 21E! A beauty.
  10. Regarding condensation, one thing I try to do with eyepieces is place them in a waterproof roll-up kayak/canoe bag or similar before I bring them inside. That way they can warm up without becoming a moisture magnet. My worst nightmare is to look through one the next day and see internal moisture stains, should it bead up inside. To note, once they've been inside long enough to warm up a bit, I will remove them as soon as possible to naturally air dry without caps. I've cleaned the primary on my big dob twice in the last year because it's so easy to remove (single locking collar underneath, off in about 20 seconds). The first time it just needed a good clean, the second time was after a windy night and a ton of light dust settled on the mirror - I used a rocket blower first to remove the bulk of it, but gave it a very gentle rinse afterwards at a 45-60 angle in the bathtub. All good. Otherwise as mentioned above, I'd leave it unless it's obviously mucked up or you're feeling bothered enough that it stays on your mind. Again, shining a torch on any mirror and you will instantly see tiny particles here and there - that's happened within minutes of reinstalling a perfectly clear mirror, nothing to worry about. I don't think any mirror looks spotless when a torch hits it at night. One last thing, I do hear after use in the Spring, pollen can build up on the mirror and this can affect the coating if left for an unspecified period of time, so I will rinse mine at the end of observing season here in Scotland in May for summer storage.
  11. We've had a lot of cloud too - was surprised we had a clear moonless window last night. I'll gently steer my daughter towards an appreciation of the night skies and astro but don't want to drive her away from it. I think living in the same household, they'll get enough growing up around my pile of gear strategically scattered throughout the house! If my wife's not busy she'll pop out for a look without much protest.
  12. I'll need someone to help me pack the big dob into the van in a few years! No seriously, if she takes a bit of interest from time to time I'll be thrilled. I think the key is letting her have a look through the 500p sometime when's she's a little older from a dark sky site at things like M42, M57, Rosette, Veil, Whirlpool, Markarian's Chain, etc. If that doesn't stoke the fire, then I'll leave it!
  13. North Uist was one of the short-listed sites for this spaceport. I have to say I'm very relieved it's not going there for a number of reasons, but now it's well on its way to being fully approved for a remote part of Sutherland. Mixed feelings and probably more than a few arguments from the 59 crofters who own the entire peninsula as a single managed estate I believe. The for camp says money is needed and the population is dwindling, the against camp is obviously concerned about the permanent and substantial change to the landscape and way of life, Probably the last of their current concerns, but the location is bang in the middle of the darkest area of night skies in mainland Britain... I hope they switch the lights off between launches. The proposed maximum is 12 launches a year. A pristine area, and I often get the distinct feeling we're running out of space here on terra firma. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/09/remote-scottish-peninsula-could-be-host-to-spaceport-two-years-mhoine-peninsula-in-sutherland
  14. If my daughter walks away with some appreciation of astronomy and the nights skies, them I'm happy if she doesn't take too it like I have (probably a good thing at times!). My wife is actually pretty accommodating on the whole and just ignores my telescopes which I'm very happy with! She actually wanted to be an astronaut when she was younger, even well into her teens, so there is more than a passing interest for her but her work schedule leaves her drained by the time the stars are out, if she's not still typing away. On occasion she's popped out for a look at the moon which is breathtaking if you've not seen it through a decent scope before. My daughter's still a little young for camping, we were going to camp in the garden but she bailed out on me after an hour and wanted her bed! We'll work on that before we venture too far afield...
  15. @scarp15 yes I'm not sure how long my daughter will keep any level of interest, but she does have a passing amount at the moment. I'll try the moon again and she keeps talking about Saturn, but that's really low in the sky with the buildings here. The pipe, eh?? I kind of like that...
  16. Clear transparent skies early this evening out walking with the family. Pointed out Mars, Saturn and Jupiter to my small daughter who seemed really excited. Vega and Deneb were just starting to show in the dusk. At home I asked my daughter if she wanted to see her first galaxy in real life. (Andromeda naturally!) so after an enthusiastic response, I raced to set up the 300p as cloud was soon due. Going through a quick collimation and cool down, I located Andromeda in the 9x50 RACI and set focus with the 20mm APM. Went inside to retrieve daughter who decided if it was dark outside, she wasn't going because there were monsters out there. Hard to argue with that line of reasoning. After much pleading on my part, she put on her wellies and out we went. I think she expected fireworks and amazing colours that she'd seen in astro photographs I'd shown her from Hubble or La Palma, etc, so being rather unimpressed with what she saw through the eyepiece, she soon demanded to go back inside and insisted she only saw stars, no galaxy...I think in hindsight with the 100deg EP she was holding her head off to the side and looking past it. Maybe. I'll have to manage her expectations next time! I did momentarily drag my wife away from her laptop and endless workload out to the scope after that. She seemed marginally interested at her first view of a galaxy, and I did get some verbal exclamations from her - she stayed at the eyepiece for a brief while which says a little something, and she was able to spot M32 as well when I hinted there were actually two galaxies in the FOV. Anyway...since the scope was set up and cooled, dad naturally stayed on for a solo hunt. Spent a lot more time on M33 again, getting eyes adjusted etc. M32 was coming through clearly as well - quite bright. Poking around for M110 - that finally came through as a very faint patch, but still relatively well defined. Next, the OIII went on the 20mm and over to the Veil. Decent enough views of the E & W Veil, with a patchy hint of Pickering's Triangle/Wisp. Actually, the E & W Veil tonight were pretty darn good under the prevailing LP (19.8-20.2 sqm normally, perhaps up to 20.35 on an exceptional night). I should note we are luckily in a 'dark spot' in town without street lights or direct LP, shielded by taller unoccupied buildings that don't have their dozen (yes 12) exterior LED lights on pointed at our house...because I complained incessantly until they got tired of me moaning! There is no one in the buildings at night and very little crime around here, so I also promised I'd keep an eye out for any funny business. The squeaky wheel does get the grease sometimes! Anyway, after the Veil, I thought I'd chase up the Crescent Nebula since the OIII filter was in place. Bumping the dob around slightly below Deneb, I caught a faint patch of something and stopped and concentrated. Not 100% but it was starting to materialise. One small trick that works for me is to quickly swap eyes - for a fleeting second or two, my other eye seems to give a bit more contrast and larger dark-adapted pupil I think. That confirmed it was the Crescent, but not too impressive I have to admit, having seen it recently under very dark skies with the big dob. Still, it was a hit... After that I started seeing wisps of high cloud popping up, so quickly over to M57. It was quite small naturally with the 20mm, so I went all out and dropped in the 9mm APM XWA (note: I love this eyepiece for PN and most galaxies - it's killer. Almost didn't bother buying it). After a nice eyeful of M57 at 167x though with a rather tiny 1.83mm exit pupil I popped the OIII on the 9mm and that made a huge difference - the Ring Nebula was totally isolated against the sky background and seemed to really glow. The OIII certainly did the trick with contrast, even at that small an exit pupil. Not a necessity on M57, but does offer a different view worth trying. For my grand finale, I thought I'd be a bit silly and put the 9mm on the 2x powermate for a bash at 334x (hey don't know till you try!) but by the time...cloud had rolled in. The future plan is to gently chuck, er, nudge, the family in the van along with the 300p and nip out of town about 10-15 minutes to set up at my nearest decent dark sky spot in the 21.2-3 sqm region, which is a big, big step up from home. I think that will make enough difference to interest my daughter and wife in some of the brighter sights, especially if I shamelessly bribe my daughter with biscuits. Also, we'll be able to see the Milky Way which I've promised her, so that might be the best approach without any scopes or bins. If you made it this far - give yourself a pat on the back and thanks for wading though all this - I've written a book this time!
  17. Thank you randomic! Yes the cameras I'm lusting over are getting horribly expensive in a hurry. I've been chatting to vlaiv and Adam J over on the other camera forum - I think I'm going to continue using my wonderful D810 for now and bin the daylights out of it (6x6) and see what that does. Vlaiv pointed out Sharpcap might not work with DSLRs but he's dug up a link to a ASCOM driver for DSLRs! Amazing. This whole idea might work after all!
  18. Excellent, thanks again. I'll start with the D810 and keep my eyes out for a deal on a dedicated camera if the need still exists. The D810 is a brilliant all-around camera anyway. I bought it new about five years ago, been flawless, and have three spare batteries so I can image for long periods nightly. Shall look into the ASCOM link - appreciate you looking this up.
  19. Excellent! Looks like I'll be hanging onto the D810 for a while. Sky flats are no problem. Next step - learning how to bin... I have a bit of reading to do now. Thinking Sharpcap is the way to go over DSS live, that will be my next decision. I really appreciate the information! I'd be lost otherwise.
  20. Thank yuo. I realise I'm not going to have true astrophotography quality, esp with an alt/az mount, but my main goal is to view fainter objects from home by live stacking/EEVA and capture some record shots of what I've looked at. Image quality is always a bonus though! Thanks very much for the information @vlaiv and @Adam J
  21. Agree Adam - I'll probably start that route again. I had good luck with it earlier this year actually. It has a ton of crop modes, from 5:4 down to APS-C. I'll have to think about a dedicated astro camera as the FOV/larger sensor I'd like is going to cost me. Hope work stays busy!!
  22. Thanks very much Vlaiv - I was doing hundreds of 6" exposures with the D810 back in March without any problems. It also has 5:4 crop mode, a mid-range crop mode between full-frame and aps-c, and of course, APS-C crop mode itself which reduces files sizes and gives a nice well-illuminated image. I will at least start with that since it is in hand. I was able to image some very faint galaxies earlier this year from my relatively bright home with good results.
  23. No it shouldn't be, my mind is racing now. I just looked at the ZWO ASI 071MC-PRO. Perfect FOV but a lot of money as with the 294! I wonder if decent astro cameras hold their resale value very well, or if something better comes out each year...
  24. I will start looking for a Sky Watcher CC Adam! Thank you.
  25. Not the cheapest hobby eh?? I agree real estate over performance, though it sounds like the 294 would give a bit of both. The TS newton CC and reducer is a beauty but yes, that's also a lot of money! Wow, maybe I'll live with a bit of coma this year...or lose some FOV. I wonder if I could just keep plugging away with my Nikon D810 and stack those? It has a tethering option. Huge file sizes though (36 megapixel) A dedicated astro camera is bound to be the better option.
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