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Everything posted by Vondragonnoggin

  1. While considering the solid tube for dual mounting is interesting, I personally find big newts awkward for visual use on GEMs and starting AP with a 1200mm focal length newt on a GEM after doing visual with a Dobson base is a bear of a switch. The GEM needed for such a big tube will be costly. I’m more a fan of barn door trackers and slr lenses for starting AP or a 60-80mm refractor at F/6 on a beefy enough GEM to have a capacity of over twice the weight of the 60-80mm refractor. Going from manual dob to AP is drastically different. You could ease into the process with a goto dob and some EEVA activities though.
  2. Some places in Texas still have dark skies but the big cities in Texas are no different from light polluted big cities everywhere. Since you have a 2x barlow already and the very nice 25mm Plossl, you are getting a 12.5mm equivalent when using the 25mm in the barlow. You might try an eyepiece in the 14-17mm range. Barlowed would give 7-8.5mm equivalent with more eye relief than the current 10mm Plossl. I find the Skywatcher 10mm is a good eyepiece but do not like the short eye relief and prefer larger eye lens with longer eye relief. Barlows increase eye relief unless they are telecentric design power amplifiers (focal extenders). A good 17mm is a nice jump down from 25mm and should have adequate eye relief as well. For a next jump in magnification, an 11mm would be good. In a barlow it would be a 5.5mm equivalent. Three eyepieces and a barlow giving you 25mm, 17mm, 12.5mm, 11mm, 8.5mm, 5.5mm magnifications. Plus your 10mm as well and 5mm with the 10mm in a barlow. if the barlow has the lens element that unscrews and can be screwed directly on the bottom of an eyepiece barrel, it will give 1.5x amplification. So you have magnifications for the following focal lengths - 25, 17, 16.6, 12.5, 11.3, 11, 10, 8.5, 7.3, 6.6, 5.5, 5 millimeters All out of 4 eyepieces (25, 17, 11, 10) and a 2x barlow Another option would be to get a Televue 2.5x Powermate. Three eyepieces (25mm, 17mm, 11mm), a 2x standard barlow with lens element that can be screwed directly on the eyepiece for 1.5x, and a 2.5x Powermate will give you a very large number of magnifications. Focal lengths of 25, 17, 16.6, 12.5, 11.3, 11, 10, 8.5, 7.3, 6.8, 5.5, 4.4 millimeters. All those and you never have to use the Skywatcher 10mm Plossl to get any of that. You can tuck it away in a drawer.
  3. Astrozap makes a shroud for the flex-tube. FLO sells it too. Keep the cap on the top of the tube and the shroud on and no dust worries. Really helps with stray light in light polluted viewing locations. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dew-prevention/astrozap-light-shroud-for-skywatcher-flextube.html
  4. You can do EEVA eventually with the goto. Most EEVA exposures less than 30 seconds and generally faster than that. You might consider a non-goto flex-tube also. It’s a little heavier actually than the solid tube, but with it collapsed, you can stuff the tube into a tighter space in a vehicle to drive it somewhere darker to view. The solid tube and fully extended flex-tube will keep collimation duties about the same. Collapsing the flex-tube will definitely make you need to do collimation again. I used to keep mine extended for that reason. I only had to carry it down three stairs to my back deck so it kept collimation very well, but as soon as I collapsed it and re-extended, it needed collimation for sure. I traded mine a few years back but it was a great scope for many years to me. I decided to try a few different scope types. Refractors and Maks now, but really enjoyed the flex-tube dob while I had it. It was traded for a Twilight II manual alt-az mount.
  5. You should be able to get some nice open clusters and asterisms in your light polluted location. If you can get enough magnification on them, some globulars in a 150mm will still look very good. Count out galaxies and all but the very brightest nebulae. Maybe core of M31 with a very low power view like your binoculars, or M81/82 might still show for galaxies. I like open clusters quite a bit and zooming in on M42. Some of it around the trapezium stars is still very nice looking with a UHC filter. Ring nebula is pretty bright. Swan nebula in summer. Lunar viewing is great. I didn’t get real interested in it until I started binoviewing and bought a used William Optics binoviewer and put a couple 20mm eyepieces in and viewed the moon. A whole new kind of fun. Don’t get me wrong, single eyepiece is also great for lunar, but two eyes and higher power than my binoculars could give me has been really thrilling. If the planets will have scarce views for an extended period of time, you might check out some reading in the EEVA section and see what some folks are doing with small telescopes in heavy light pollution.
  6. I used Sky Safari Pro up to version 3. Great app but the continual charging for updates got to me and I switched to Luminos which was a version 2 I think. I’m now at version 9.5 and have never been charged for an update. Amazing app. 8 years now of free updates. Observing lists. Ability to add notes, telescope control, ability to add equipment and FOV. No issues and satellites updated frequently. https://wobbleworks.com/luminos/
  7. I almost bought an Istar Phoenix with R35 lens. Actually ordered it and then cancelled the order after 5 months wait and no delivery in sight. Ales was having issues lens deliveries at the time and was very nice about it, but I didn’t feel like waiting any longer and bought my Astro-Telescopes AT152 from a classified ad. Moonraker Telescopes has an amazing “Wide Boy” 6” F/5 that you can get with either a Jaegers lens or Istar R35 lens. A bit spendy, but then his scopes are works of art in fit and finish. Someday....
  8. The plane reflection is from ground lights. The show up all the time with Night Vision eyepieces. Birds, planes, satellites, just about everything reflective. I’m not imaging with my intensifiers though. Just visual. more concerned about the larger picture here. Space X is the first, but what happens when other countries or even communication companies competing start launching their own thousands of satellites? I don’t think this has been thought through enough on potential negative impact in all areas. Only the positive impact and cash cow considered as majority of thought. Lots of people mentioning that there are great ideas for space debris cleanup, but no one wants to donate for the unprofitable cleanup tasks. I would rather have seen a working model for cleanup launched first and proven, then I’m guessing a lot more support for this venture by the public. I know it’s a lot more than bringing memes and cat videos to the masses, but really, are devices to utilize the new high speed internet infrastructure going to be passed out for lower income communities also? We’ve seen what good intentions in lowering packaging and material costs has brought us and the landfills and sunken sites full of toxic material with half lives of thousands of years for the sake of bringing lower cost energy to the masses. Plastic storms and islands of garbage three times the size of France. What could possibly go wrong?
  9. I was out last night with my Startravel 150 and a Williams Optics binoviewer. Highest I took it was 150x with a semi-apo in the diagonal and this was the first time I had tried that scope above 50x. It was actually some great views with a pair of 9mm BST Planetary EP’s. I used the 1.8x GPC with the Binoviewers to achieve focus. The previous owner told me he hand picked the scope after testing three of them and said it was surprisingly a good figure for that model. He was right. I usually use my mak or 6” F/5.9 achro, but the F/5 was actually putting up some stunning views in my opinion. 6 bands on Jupiter. Not large enough image scale to see the blue eddies in the bands, but what a steady view with no shimmer at all. Saturn was the same with several bands visible, Cassini visible but not Encke, 5 moons around Saturn although two of them I had to use averted vision to get them to blink in. Unbelieveable steady views though. Maybe I’m just too impressed by anything I’m able to see where views are very steady and some amount of detail present. I even pointed at a few nebula with no filter and was able to make out the Lagoon, Triffid, Omega, and just barely a haze for the Eagle, a few globs, and Wild Duck cluster was stunning. It surprised me. I normally steer people away from high power views with the short tubes, but maybe I’ve just been echoing advice from other members that don’t use short tubes and frequently debate best apos. I guess I’ll change the advice to “try it if you feel like it. The worst case is you’ll find you don’t like it at high powers”
  10. My last three scope purchases were short achromats. I use a mak for high power views but occasionally point the 152mm F/5.9 achromat I have at high power targets and crank up the magnification. The other two are the 120ST and 150ST Skywatcher scopes at F/5. planetary/lunar targets and double star targets have always been low priority targets for me even since my first scope which was an 8” dob. Just more interested in OC’s, GC’s, nebulae, galaxies, dense starfields, and rich hydrogen regions of the Milky Way. Much like solar observation narrows to a small portion of red spectrum, I’m using Night Vision eyepieces and filtering for narrowband Ha in 3nm, 7nm, or 12nm or filtering for near IR in 610nm, 640nm, and 685nm. Galaxies generally filterless as well as planetary nebulae. This is essentially all red spectrum viewing. CA problems are non-existent really. For globs, the high power views are quite revealing using longpass filters to cut light pollution and give a darker more contrasty view with the night vision eyepieces. I bought the achromats to use with the night vision eyepieces and saw no point to buying apo’s if I’m filtering out all but red spectrum because the Intensifier response is strongest in red and all but non-existent in blue (GaAs Intensifier) Generally it’s low power views though for nebulae, open cluster, sweeping the Milky Way and looking at dense star regions. The billowing hydrogen clouds of the Milky Way are revealed very well even in Bortle 7 zone LP. Night vision eyepieces are most often 27mm focal length oculars and I employ focal reducers to get brighter views and wider fields or barlows to get higher power globs, galaxies, and PN’s. A lot of times it’s just native focal length though so fast optics are brighter to start with. Next year I’ll probably add a Quark Solar filter and get more use out of the achromats. I still like the achromats with my regular eyepieces as well and still use those at times with UHC and OIII filters which also kills the CA. I don’t mind the field curvature or SA in them and I only have two AFOV’s in the night Vision stuff. 40° in my smaller gen 3 tube devices, and 65° in a much larger Gen 3 Intensifier tube device. The 40° view in particular really misses some edge aberrations or makes them more tolerable. Mostly the boost in what I’m seeing overpowers the aberrations so I find it a good compromise. The 152 F/5.9 probably has the best figure for all around use through medium and high powers. If I’m Lunar/planetary viewing I tend to make a whole night of it and dedicate the time to it with my mak. The achromats get a lot of flak on forums it seems, but can provide some very nice observing in my opinion. Even without the night vision I really liked them. Second scope was an AR127 F/6.5 and I enjoyed the views as much as my 8” dob. I also used it high power on planets sometimes taking it up to 240x and up. I liked it with a semi-apo filter for cutting CA a little and still having a proper color look as opposed to a yellow shift of some CA filters. A 495nm longpass is more effective at reducing CA but then shifts color to a lot of yellow. The AR127 was a little bit before I got into Night Vision astronomy but really influenced a love for refractors. The mak was bought after selling the AR127 to a friend of mine with a bunch of AP gear I wasn’t interested in anymore. He needed a good scope so I just made it a package deal. I bought the mak right after and that was seven years ago. All other achromats came after tha mak. I have only one ED lens scope. It is an AT72ED. Gets used a lot for the size. Two Binocular Telescopes as well that are fast achromats. One 70mm F/6.2, and one that is 100mm F/5 but is listed as 100ED while claiming semi-apo performance but really no better than the F/6.2 70mm in CA control. Enjoy them up to 48x max for Milky Way sweeping. Im a big fan of them for cost and cost/performance ratio. Not against apos or ED doublets, but think the achromat still has a place in observing and the market. I should also mention that I’ve found I’m easily pleased by most equipment and tend to overlook a lot that the more discerning viewer might not be able to overlook. Mounts have to be really solid though.
  11. I’ve seen some interesting use of the xx1332 coupled to security cameras. Sort of an enhanced video astronomy approach. They’ve been really useful for meteor detection. Some gen 2’s also good for viewing the more dense HII regions of the Milky Way. In addition to the filter selections PeterW gave, you might try a 642nm longpass to both cut light pollution and still let hydrogen alpha wavelength through. I’ve seen some good video of billowing gas clouds with gen 2+. I always wanted to try one of these old Mullard/Philips tubes with the big 50mm window. Very interested to see how you fare with it.
  12. From the original post: ”Even with their miserable resolution they are still the most sensitive and offer near live experience opposed to 5-10min stacks of 15-30sec subs. And with advantages like long cable transmission and simplicity of setting up, I still enjoy using mine, even though I got myself a digital one.” I think this describes video astronomy cameras since 35mm film would be nowhere near live viewing.
  13. Definitely not obsolete. Some even don’t need to have pictures at all so using a screen grabber is not necessary and are ok with the lesser resolution to get that closer to Live view the cameras give. Traditional video astronomy is also convenient to not need a laptop with its use. My very first attraction to EEVA type viewing was after reading an article about using Video goggles with a Mallincam right at the scope. No CRT or LCD monitor needed. Just those video glasses that emulate viewing a 50” screen 10 feet in front of you. I like the idea of a 7” LCD side mounted close to the focuser that can twist to 90° for viewing at same angles an eyepiece is in a diagonal. I am patiently waiting for CMOS cameras to bring noise down at higher ISO to an acceptable level to get a live view with a dslr that has a flip out monitor that twists to 90° - on a manual mount. I think we will see it within the next 5 years or so. I am a Night Vision EEVA user and would like a CMOS dslr sensitive enough for live view with broad enough response to use visual narrowband filters like UHC, OIII, Hb and also to see the reflection nebulae like Merope and Witchhead which night vision can’t pickup yet. I’ve still never seen the Witchhead. I can pick up the Horsehead in my 72mm scope but not reflection nebulae heavy in carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide/oxygen or any gas with spectrum wavelengths below about 550nm. I’m still stubbornly refusing to use tracking mounts. It’s what decided the debate on night vision vs camera EEVA 6 years ago for me. Back then Video Astronomy was still very popular. I would have never known about Night Vision astronomy without first seeing video astronomy then doing further research.
  14. Some discussions on the Astrozap 152S and 152L petzval (Same as Bresser) https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/173485-astrozaps-5-and-6-achros-any-good/ and the SGL Member review for the F/5 petzval
  15. An older review of the Astro-Telescopes version 1 F/5.9 vs Explore Scientific AR152 F/6.5 https://www.scopereviews.com/page1y.html
  16. Yes. All the F/5.9 scopes (TS, Altair, Astro-Telescopes, Canadian Telescopes, and probably a few others) are Kunming United Optics manufactured and just varying differences in focusers and finish. Some have 3” focusers and some 2.5” focusers. These are now at version 3 of production and they substantially dropped some weight from original 25 lb OTA to 18 lbs for version 3 production.
  17. You might be able to find reviews of performance by also searching for Astrozap 6” F/5 petzval achromat. Astrozap used to sell the same telescopes as the Bresser models for both 152S and 152L as well as both 127S and 127L.
  18. I have both the Startravel F/5 (light blue older model) and the Astro-Telescopes branded version of the v.1 F/5.9 The newer version 3 F/5.9’s are much lighter ringing in at 18 lbs for the OTA while the version 1 is 25 lbs. I bought the older Startravel 150 used recently as it is only 13 lbs for the bare OTA and the particular specimen I have was hand picked out of three of them and has excellent optics. The AT152 F/5.9 is too much for me sometimes with the weight and probably will be sold, but very reluctant to sell as that one takes high power very well. I am mostly using them low power right now with Night Vision eyepieces and narrowband Ha and longpass near IR filters. No CA issues with 610nm, 640nm, and 685nm Longpass or 3nm and 7nm Ha I use with the Night Vision eyepieces of course. When I put some regular eyepieces in though, they are surprisingly very solid performers. The short stubby body is great for height swing from horizontal to zenith. Just right for my adjustable chair. I’m using them on a T-Rex alt-az Mount with Atlas pier extension on an Avalon T-Pod 130 tripod. The mount is way more capacity than the scopes so everything very steady when viewing and it has slo mo handles for easy movement with clutches locked. I’ve never tried the Bresser petzval achro but haven’t heard any big complaints except that changing the focuser might be difficult as I think I read the rear lens element is built into the focuser. I could be wrong about that though. It should give some advantage theoretically for CA control over a standard doublet. For regular eyepiece views I use a Baader Semi-Apo filter but I believe a more effective filter would be a 495nm longpass. The 495nm longpass shifts color to yellow on stars and I prefer the more natural look of the semi-apo even if less effective for CA control. UHC, OIII, and Hb narrowband nebula filters should make the CA a non-issue really in viewing nebulae with regular eyepieces. The semi-apo also has the neodymium element of it that helps with contrast on Jupiter even if some contrast loss from CA because of the short FR. For 6” F/5 achromats, the Bresser 152S, Skywatcher Startravel 150, Celestron Omni XLT 150R, and older D&G lens built telescopes should all give some good performance for very reasonable prices. The longer Explore Scientific AR152 F/6.5 and the KUO built versions of the F/5.9 (Altair Astro, Astro-Telescopes, Canadian Telescopes, etc) are both pretty great for cost/performance ratio and probably a little more capable of higher powers with clean views than the unfiltered F/5 offerings, but filters like a minus violet or 495nm longpass or even the semi-apo (or just the Baader Fringe Killer by itself) should help you go higher powers with cleaner view even on the F/5’s. I have a mak 150 also and usually pick that one if primary targets are going to be Lunar and planetary, but if I have one of the 6” achros out for viewing anyway, I will still go for just about any object I think it capable of reaching if the atmospheric conditions are good. I just really like the refractor view and steadiness I get with them (and the mak when thermally equalized). The widefield view is amazing with low power eyepieces too. Good Milky Way sweeper.
  19. I’ve had my eyepiece collection completed for about 4 years with exception of a Meade 56mm plossl bought this year to try some afocal night vision experiments with (that have been successful, so a good investment). I bought a used Startravel 150 refractor this year to replace the last scope I purchased used about 4 years ago also. It was an Astro-Telescopes AR152 v.1 which is a 25lb OTA. The new to me Startravel is a more reasonable 13 lbs for bare OTA. Going to sell the 152 refractor. I can only manage a 6” scope anymore and about 15 lbs for OTA. Back is shot from multiple injuries. Can’t really see any new purchases needed. Maybe a newer high spec Intensifier for one of my Night Vision eyepieces that still has an older tube in it, but definitely no hurry on that. I know there are some newer lines of eyepieces that are better than what I have but I really like the ones I have now and see no urgency for a replacement. My high power scope is a mak 150 I’ve had about seven years and is pretty forgiving on eyepieces. The Night Vision eyepieces cured my aperture fever. They really show a lot in a little scope. Even from Bortle 7 backyard skies.
  20. I kept my 25mm Super Plossl that came with my Skywatcher and later picked up a second one for $15 from classifieds and use them for binoviewing. They are excellent eyepieces.
  21. 23mm Axiom LX is a nice eyepiece. I bought mine used also and used it in my Skywatcher collapsible 8”. For the heavy eyepieces, I found some varying weight magnets I could stick on the bottom of the tube opposite the focuser side to balance it out a little better. 1/4 lb, 1/2 lb, 1 lb, etc Guess that would 115 grams, 230 grams, 460 grams or so by using combinations of the magnet sizes it was easy to balance the dob with heavy eyepieces. Never experienced issues or focuser problems or anything. The 8” Skywatcher dob is pretty hardy. The magnets just allowed me to use less tightening of the tension handle and made movement a little smoother.
  22. For sure - if you have tracking, get anything that provides utmost clarity in the center of the FOV. I only had a tracking mount briefly. A CG5. Was trying AP. It was not for me. I’m into very simple setups and least fiddly observing. No patience for AP. I have encoders and a Sky Commander XP4 Flash on one of the mounts and I’m too lazy to even do a two star alignment most of the time. It has slo mo handles but tracking with an alt-az mount with slo mo handles is a bit like trying to make curves on an Etch-A-Sketch.
  23. Wide angle eyepieces are particularly suited for planetary in the 8” dob the OP has. It is a manual mount and needs to be nudged to keep an object in view. Having a wider field, well corrected eyepiece allows for longer drift time across the FOV between nudges. I had that exact telescope as my first scope. I used a 6mm Radian as highest power and used a 2” telecentric barlow if seeing was particularly steady enough for highest power in the dob which was about my limit in exit pupil size also. In an 8” F/6 that would be 1mm exit pupil with a 6mm and .5mm with it in a 2x barlow. Telecentric barlow won’t increase ER also. Some don’t like the tall stack, but I can use the 2x telecentric with a lot of eyepieces and made more sense to me to buy vs a dedicated 3mm which I would only get a chance to use extremely good seeing. I get good seeing quite a bit in my area but it’s not good enough to take an 8” to 400x very much. Most of the time the 6mm did the trick on its own and I also have a Baader Zoom I can get to 4mm equivalent with the telecentric and also keep a wide FOV for longer drift times between nudges.
  24. I put a 10” polymer grab handle on my iOptron mak 150. Much easier to carry and mount
  25. Paired with a camera these Photonis XX1332 gen 2 tubes might be cool for an EEVA setup https://www.abex.co.uk/esales/optical/philips/image-intensifier/xx1332/0e543_8027_a/index.php this site has info on meteor imaging and some suggestions on what works well and includes ccd’s paired with the xx1332 Intensifier https://www.imo.net/resources/metrec/ Im guessing here though, that Photonis which took over Philips awhile back, May have some large intensifiers with newer tech available in the UK that could be converted to an eyepiece or intensified camera setup with a live view screen.
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