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Ships and Stars

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Everything posted by Ships and Stars

  1. Hi Adam, I have the Explore Scientific HR coma corrector, but think it has 1.05 or 1.15x barlow effect, so the wrong direction there! I looked at the 294 just now, looks awesome but yeah, a bit much money! I'd have to sell a few bits, but need to do that anyway. I do like the 294 as well though - good suggestion. I will think on that, I like the FOV very much.
  2. Thank you Adam - a larger FOV is preferable. Yes indeed, galaxies and PN are definitely on the list, globulars too. I'd like to image/stack/live view the smaller nebulae that will fit into the FOV but realise at 2000m focal length, I can't have it all!
  3. Hi all, any suggestions on an excellent, yet 'affordable' dedicated astro camera for live stacking on a 20" 2000mm f4 dob with alt/az goto tracking? In other words, for EEVA viewing real time on a laptop? The alt/az tracking mount can do up to 6" sec subs with a DSLR without star trails. I like the ZWO ASI 533MC-PRO but I don't know anything really about astro cameras and this is really absolute maximum budget - less £££ is better of course! Is the 533 overkill? Looking for max field of view, quality output and ease of use. Do focal reducers work, or do they create more problems? Ideally this post complements my other post in the EEVA section which asks a veritable slew of novice questions... Thanks for any camera suggestions...
  4. Hello all, really excited about this idea, but lots of questions. I'd like to share the views though my 20" scope rather than me simply posting observing reports telling everyone how great last night was...(assuming it was clear! ) Therefore, I'd like to try live streaming EEVA from my 20" f/4 Stargate dobsonian so friends, family and of course other astronomers can view online. Ideally from a dark sky site using 4G+ data if possible, otherwise from home with the downsides of light pollution, but also the benefits of mains electric and broadband. Viewers could also perhaps request certain targets like faint galaxies or nebulae online. I used a full frame Nikon D810 DSLR back in March set on interval mode, and found I can stack photos in DSS (not DSS live yet) up to 6-8" exposure max on this alt az goto mount without star trails and get some great results quite quickly. This scope naturally gathers a ton of light, and I think EEVA would be nothing short of spectacular, especially under dark skies. @Victor Boesen and @randomic kindly suggested OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) last night for the live streaming 'platform', then Twitch as the live streaming 'channel' anyone can watch from home. I downloaded OBS and signed up for Twitch, easy enough. However... I've never done any EEVA before so kindly asking: 1.) ** Update on the camera aspect - going to stick with the Nikon D810 for now as aps-c to full frame astro cameras are downright expensive!** Which dedicated astro camera would provide excellent results - naturally as cheap as possible but with a fairly wide field of view? 2.) Would something like a 0.5x focal reducer in 1.25" or 2" give a wider, faster FOV and still keep decent image quality? Or a no-no with insanely fast focal issues/edge distortion, etc? 3.) Which live stacking software (on Windows 7 or 10) is easiest for astrophotography dummies like myself? Which one does the best job? 4.) My old laptop is getting replaced soon. What are minimum specs in the RAM/processor/graphics side of things? I've an SSD to swap in, so covered there. 5.) Would I be able to see colour in nebulae and planetary nebulae after a few minutes of live stacking? Or never? 6.) Would I be able to live stream from my campervan using 4G at a dark sky site, or am I dreaming? Is broadband the only viable option? 7.) An interesting idea, or a waste of time and money? Honest opinions welcome. Any help on any of the questions above would be much appreciated, or any other important, key aspects I might have missed here. Cheers all
  5. Thank you both, I'll have a look at OBS and dig around online on how to do this. The main problem is I don't have an observatory, at home would be possible if I set my laptop up in the van next to the scope like an outdoor computer room. If I was at a dark sky site with 4G+ data, wonder if that would have the speed to stream video? I've two leisure batteries and a couple of li-ion power banks so plenty of off-grid juice to run things. I'll start a new thread tomorrow and ask which camera would be a good choice for this application.... PS back on topic, the supply chain is stop/start in many retail areas. Kayaks/paddle boards quickly sold out this summer and many retailers are struggling to restock it seems, even now.
  6. Going slightly off-topic (but not entirely) would it be possible to live stream video footage/stacked images from a telescope? I assume there's some fancy astro EEVA camera (Atik/ZWO etc) that's up to the task. The idea being those that don't have a scope can view the feed online from home... Would be interesting to stream some footage from the 20" dob if that's possible with an alt az goto mount.
  7. Excellent job Mark, it makes a huge difference having some wheels on this size scope. I'm still trying to figure out an elegant solution for mine, but the base is a thin circular cast metal affair so not much area to work with. You'll be up and running quickly with this set-up
  8. Thanks, yes there are a number of good viewing spots with decent parking well off the main roads in the Cairngorms as well as the Eastern Glens off the A90 - Clova, Tarfside, Glenn Doll etc. I've found it to be pretty safe with no problems, and people are used to seeing the odd car or van parked up with all the walkers and campers about. Up near the Lecht wold be great, snow permitting in the winter of course if the snow gates are open (and a handy cafe right at the top! - same as Glenshee). Great elevation to dodge the dew but generally quite windswept of course. Large areas around there showing anywhere from 21.75 to 21.94SQM, so a solid Bortle 2 going on Bortle 1. About as good as you'll get when the wind isn't howling and transparency is there. Gets bitterly cold of course, but I wear a cheap insulated boiler suit or a thermal undersuit for drysuit diving, easier to move around in than the boiler suit.
  9. Welcome to SGL, you will find a lot of helpful folks here. I use binoculars (Celestron 12x70s, Helios Apollo 15x70s, Pentax 20x60s and Helios 20/40x100s) and telescopes (a couple of dobsonians) and think binoculars and telescopes complement each other well in the arsenal. I could just make out the rings of Saturn with 20x60 Pentax WPs a while back, but I mean just barely - more of a sense that they were there than an actual view but others may have better impressions. I'm not sure an extra 5x magnification will improve that a great deal, but I can't knock it until I've had a go. I haven't tried the 20/40x100 observation binoculars yet on the planets (shame on me!) but that's on my list for the next clear night from home. I mainly use binoculars for widefield views of the Milky Way, constellation sweeping, travel, terrestrial etc. My fav for astronomy are the 15x70 Apollos under dark skies with UHC/OIII/Nebustar II filters or Hb on certain targets under the right conditions (California Nebula is one). Views are excellent, but not many binoculars come with filter threads and a pair of good filters will bump up the price up a fair bit. Celestrons get mixed reviews when compared to more expensive offerings, but most owners seem happy with theirs. I've been happy with mine for the price. The Helios line are generally well regarded, especially the higher end Apollos and Lightquest lines. I had the 25x100 Celestron Skymasters, they were ok but I couldn't use them with eyeglasses and the dioptre adjustment available on those wasn't enough for me to reach focus in one of my eyes. The eyecups started to split pretty quickly as well. Otherwise I was happy with them for the money. I used a Skywatcher AZ4 tripod which struggled a little pointing at high altitudes, but it was still certainly usable and smooth. I'd say the APMs and Helios are good options if you want to go a bit pricier than Celestron for some big binoculars. If you want to drop £1000 plus, then some observation binoculars with interchangeable eyepieces are within reach which would allow for better planetary views. One thing you will need for big binoculars is a tripod or parallelogram mount to hold them steady, not a cheap wobbly camera tripod for small DSLRs, but a proper heavy tripod to hold them rock steady. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to see something faint or tiny with giant binoculars wavering all over the place! I do use my 15x70s handheld, but only for short periods or if I'm laying on my back. I did use the 25x100s handheld a bit for a quick glance at something, but only for a few seconds at a time. Not very useful unless you are built like a rugby player. @BinocularSky is a walking goldmine of binocular information, not only the equipment, but what you can see with binoculars - Steve may weigh in here! This is just my opinion, but I'd be inclined to skip the 25x100s and instead go for some decent 15x70s plus a small telescope like a Heritage 150p or a 200p Skyliner (or bigger works too - a 250p, or 300p...sorry) dobsonian with a couple of good eyepieces etc. I'd hate to be without both binoculars and a scope though!
  10. I worked down that way in February. I took binoculars but should have taken the 300p, skies were excellent. I was doing survey work on an absolutely massive farm, the farmhouse I discovered was abandoned/unoccupied so I parked in the steading courtyard in my camper - it made a perfect windbreak yet still gave excellent views of the skies. The farmhouse was on a hill as well. I think they were going to demolish the farmhouse sadly. That would have been a dream location for retired/work at home astronomers or someone willing to commute to the nearest towns. I may well have to make it to Drumroamin, it's still around a five hour drive for me, though motorway for most of it, smooth sailing compared to the bumpy narrow cart tracks I frequently navigate up here. It would be great to finally meet some other astronomers
  11. There are probably a number of different routes to sorting a quality rain/outdoor cover. There is a brilliant seamstress near us that does a lot of wedding dresses and alterations, but I think she's a bit bored with that and likes different tasks. I've taken all sorts of items to her for repair. A scope cover would be an absolute doddle for her to make if you provided material. It's basically a big sack with a cord or drawstring and some strategically placed velcro. Likewise I was thinking about finding a good motorcycle cover for the 500p on those rare occasions I leave it set up for a few days. I've draped a two-man mountain tent rainfly over it with success for temporary passing showers. My 300p flextube lives under a baby buggy raincover when parked outside and inside to keep dust off. Really heavy PVC material with elastic all round the edges. Lots of different things could be used as a scope cover, just a matter of trial and error vs the ease of ordering a purpose-made scope cover at a higher cost I suppose.
  12. Thanks all, I'd love to set up a star party - but the thing is weather of course and getting a good night or two - still quite possible. The main thing for me is time and family commitments, I feel like I'm pushing it just to get away late after the children are asleep. I was shattered the next day after this but happy! There were still quite a few targets I'd like to observe, the wind Saturday night/Sunday morning was horrendous so that's part of the reason I ended up using the binoculars so much. If I had goto operating, then I have two or three pages of targets waiting to be ticked off. Doubt that will happen this season. This stretch of A93 south of Braemar down almost to Spittal of Glenshee has some excellent skies, but it's a glacial valley and the sides are quite steep. Still, I was able to get a good view of most of it, though Deneb set fast on me. There are lots of parking places along the route, but this year there are also a lot of people, full stop. My plan for the past few years is to write several big estate owners or ask farmers and see if there is some way I could park the 500p in an outbuilding, etc. That way I could drive my small, faster, much more fuel efficient car out to use the scope and pop back home without much fuss. My van is great, but it's a slow lumbering contraption that easily turns a 1:30hr drive in a normal motor into a 2hr drive on twisty roads and gets through a fair bit of diesel in the process. Filter threads are nice, but as Peter notes, if you want to try it out, there are a number of temporary solutions to see if it works for you. Because the filters are mounted on the outside of the occular in most instances, the mirrored surface means you will need a hood or some way to seal out light as they will reflect anything around you and you'll lose contrast. If someone wants to try filters, there are probably a number of ways you could temporarily mount them, depending on how desperate you are PS one of these days I'll write more detailed observations in my reports, but I was absolutely shattered after this one - I didn't leave home until 9:45 or 10pm, and wasn't viewing until 1:15am or so, then was literally at it until dawn. Good, but it takes it out of you for a few days afterwards!
  13. A pair of binoculars is perhaps one option? I love mine for wide field views of the night skies and it gets as much use as my telescope, plus it's great for terrestrial use as well. The Milky Way looks wonderful under good conditions. My main binoculars are 2.6kg, but I have some Celestron 12x70s that weight half that. They have a tripod bracket for a small light tripod to steady things up. Quite portable, but the tripod really helps wee ones hold them steady. The Heritage 130 or 150 are very nice but agree the base could be lighter. Those are scopes you could have years of use from and not be bored... Tough decision!
  14. I do enjoy the long jaunts when everything comes together, but at the same time I'd like to find a local farm or rural lockup nearby to park the big dob so I don't have to lug it around all the time. Perhaps next new moon I'll take the 300p, weather permitting of course. I've also taken several trips already this month that didn't pan out, but that comes with the territory I suppose. A local dark storage spot for the 500p would be wonderful! I'll do some checking around. Thanks all!
  15. Thanks Baz, I was exhausted but had a long kip yesterday in some beautiful countryside, I woke up and realised it was 6pm and raced home! Wife not overly impressed with my extended absence, I'm usually back in the wee hours, but all's well today
  16. Uhc, you can suss it out much easisr. .The name of the game is contrast. Filters don't make things brighter, they provide contrast, Hb works in a big scope but everything is ultimately a compromise with filters as you drop in aperture. Hb is a struggle in bins. The Uhc in bins will let tons of useful light in at smaller apertures, the Hb is needy, as is OIII. Those filters will do the job, but in bins less contrast needed.
  17. Edit - I've added a few more details here over my initial post which was very brief due to fatigue at the time. Finally firing on all cylinders with the 500p after many recent nights of frustration. A two hour, 70 mile drive in my lumbering old van on twisty A and B roads to clear, very dark skies in the camper to Glenshee A93 south of Braemar between the distant light domes of Dundee and Aberdeen. Left at 10pm expecting a goosechase. Much darker than this would require a four hour drive to the west coast of Scotland, probably around Applecross on up. Wind howling, so no goto, van parked as windbreak. Seeing rubbish. Transparency brilliant. Veil absolutely stunning with the 20mm APM XWA and Astronomik OIII. All of it, really excellent views, still breathtaking to see under these conditions. Crescent nebula excellent as well, lots of detail, but best part, finally saw the cocoon nebula after two years. Not through the dob - no no - through the bins with filters! No mistake to my mind, as there are a few star clusters in that part of the sky that could be misleading through binoculars, but the cocoon was residing happily down the end of the dark lane. Orion cleared the hill, so that's Hb filter on the Morpheus, took me a minute, somethings not right, an ha, finderscope off, centred that...and the Horsehead was right there. Probably the best view I've had. Could make out the nose and back of head (mane?). Nae bad. Or is that neigh bad? Sorry... M42 and M43...on fire. Chased up Andromeda with the bins before I trained the scope on it. It extended across the 15x70s fov, m110 on full display, m32 tucked into the glow of m31, so a quick nip over to m33. I left it at that, no need for a scope on those tonight, especially given my fatigue by this point. 3 or 4am I think. The galaxies were amazing though! Feeling unstoppable at this point due to a dangerous mix of ego, fatigue and caffeine, I trained the filtered 15x70s on the Horsehead - went with UHC and Nebustar combination as I thought the Hb on one side would be too restrictive. A bit wobbly to concentrate handheld, so I set up the tripod and had a steadier look. Could just sense the dark lane against IC434 but no horsey. In hindsight, I do want to try the Horsehead with Hb filter on one side of the binoculars again. If I had my 20/40x100 Helios binoculars with Hb and Nebustar or UHC, I'm fairly certain it would have been possible. Money well spent on fuel tonight.
  18. My first filter was off ebay, an old Lumicon OIII. The coating had heavy rust as you say - it was very mottled and just looked awful. The seller refunded me and said keep it. I still have it somewhere. Nothing against Lumicon at all, I just bought an ancient one on a gamble. After that I lucked out on a nearly new 2" Astronomik OIII on ABS which is brilliant, then slowly added 1.25" OIII/Hb/UHC Astronomiks. A couple of weeks ago I picked up the 1.25" Nebustar II, a winner, though the normal Astronomik filters are excellent IMHO. An interesting observation - I was using my Apollo 15x70s the other night with the Nebustar on one side and UHC on the other,and looked at an aerial tower with red lights in the far distance to focus my bins. The UHC showed the red lights, in the Nebustar, total and utter darkness - the red was completely blocked by the Nebustar but plain as day in the UHC. The effect was pretty startling when using both eyes! Does show how effective the Nebustar is at blocking reds. 100% effective in fact... Any of the Astronomiks OIII/Hb/UHC seem to be excellent filters, though I haven't tried the others. The DGM NPB has always intrigued me, as has the Baader UHC-S or Astronomik UHC-E as a wider sort of medium band filter for binoculars mainly. I think UHC filters get a lot of use for light-polluted areas, I do the same, but in fact under dark skies they come into their own. The NAN through binoculars with UHC was mesmerising a few weeks ago, just plain as day. What a difference it made.
  19. Hi Magnus, the East Veil should be visible with 10x50s but it helps to know right where to look and what size. A UHC filter will probably work better than OIII at 50mm aperture, but without filters it may be a struggle. Completely agree on the MW brightness overhead - I took some sqm readings pointing directly at the brighter parts and away the other night into brighter patches. I was getting around 0.15 to 0.20 sqm difference with just a couple of readings. After this report above, a few nights later I did make it to a 21.60- 21.65 spot with my 300p and the Veil was amazing with 20mm APM and OIII, but I couldn't stay long as it was already quite late when I arrived. I then used the 15x70s with UHC and Nebustar filters and could make out the E & W Veil fairly easily, with a faint Pickerings Triangle and a very faint hint of wisp, not bad for handheld binoculars. The view through the 300p was one of the bet I've had though. Wish I could have stayed longer or even tried a sketch. The observing season is early though, I might slip away tomorrow night for an hour or two locally if I can...
  20. Ah yes think those are fixed focus for marine - they've probably led a hard life at sea! If you can pick up some cheap binoculars with low magnification and central focus like another pair of 7x50s or something similar they'd probably work well both at sea and on land when you are ashore. Even though the ship's lights are bright, you still might be able to view some stars way out at sea when conditions are calm because you'll be far from other light pollution sources, then when you are in a port somewhere fairly rural with good skies, maybe dark skies away from the harbour? If you're Southampton I'd probably look towards the New Forest for stars if you get a chance. Have fun! PS terrestrial is correct term for viewing objects on land. I guess at sea it would be simply marine viewing, dolphins, etc
  21. Is there a central focus wheel for the bins, or is each eyepiece adjustable for focus? Is there a model or make on them? And a number like 7x35 or 10x50? If they are ships binoculars, they might be some non-adjustable focus type for easier use and they may have taken a knock during rough seas or handling which will put them out of 'collimation' and give double images. Sounds like they've take a knock perhaps, but there is one more thing to try - that's flex the bins in and out on the central hinge so the eyepieces line up with your eyes perfectly (inter pupilary distance or IPD I believe). All else fails, tell the Captain any real ship would only use Fujinons and borrow those! But only when he's in a good mood
  22. I think you'll like it! I was pleased. It won't be big bright views with OIII like through the 12" dob, but it does work and a few weeks ago was also the first time I've seen both E & W Veil in the same FOV. One thing to mention is any stray light will reflect off the mirrored filter coatings, so a hood or towel is recommended unless the eyecups seal out the light well. Have fun!
  23. I have indeed. I started using UHC and OIII together before I went to UHC and Nebustar II and was able to see the Veil with 15x70s quite easily under a fair bit of LP. Your brain will merge the two different images (UHC/OIII) into one composite - it's a really cool effect. The OIII will block a lot of light with 70mm of aperture, so don't expect miracles of course, but it does work. Same old caveat applies, the darker the skies the better, especially using filters on binoculars. With the NAN and Pelican, I realised I never had a decent view until I saw it a few weeks ago with UHC/OIII in the 15x70s, it was practically glowing under 21.15 skies! Filters can make a massive difference with binoculars, all the large areas of nebulosity in the Milky Way are that much clearer.
  24. Agree with all the above, a red dot finder like a telrad or rigel is great to have, so much easier, faster and more intuitive to just 'point and shoot' than trying to use the finderscope. I have the Telrad which is great, but I would go with the Rigel in the future as the base is much smaller for my Sky watcher dobs. I've a Cheshire and cheap laser collimation tool. I used to use the laser exclusively because a laser must be more accurate, right? Well, perhaps not. I'm hearing now I should trust the Cheshire over the laser. I've actually never had a problem with either, and my dobs seem to reach a nice sharp focus. I don't know your budget, but a comfortable chair or stool of some sort is a must for good viewing so you're not all wobbly trying to look in the eyepiece, but that's something you might be able to cobble together at home. A dedicated astro viewing stool is pretty expensive for what it is IMHO. I use an old plastic adjustable chair from IKEA I saved from the bin - I just leave it outside as no one would look twice at it. My star atlas of choice is the Sky and Telescope jumbo pocket atlas. It's spiral bound for field use and I still use it almost every viewing session. If there's something in there I want to learn more about, I'll just google it in this day and age. The included 25mm/10mm eyepieces may quickly leave a bit to be desired, especially the 10mm. I never used my 10 & 25mm very much, or at all, but I did use the Sky-Watcher 28mm 2" eyepiece quite a lot when I started and I still have it. It's really a decent eyepiece for the money (you could probably find one for a tenner) and really comfortable, especially if you want to observe wearing glasses. Beyond that, the BST Starguiders get good reviews and aren't silly money. I like APM and Baader eyepieces as well. The wide 82 and especially 100 degree eyepieces can get ridiculously expensive in a hurry however, easily more than the price of the scope! But they're not a necessity by any means, especially if you wear glasses when viewing, and that's something for a different thread altogether. Main thing is to collimate if needed, get comfortable, focus on the stars until they are nice sharp points of light and have fun. Your first views of the moon will be something else, especially if you've not used a decent sized telescope before. Very bright!
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