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About franticsmurf

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  1. Nice sketch. I just missed the GRS tonight and the seeing here is poor too - the turbulence is as if I have a blow torch going just under the scope. Dave
  2. I like M44, too. If you have dark skies, some of the other Messier objects M3, M53, M64 and M65. Also you have some double stars (Castor if it's not too low, Algieba, Mizar and Alcor, Cor Caroli). I'm jealous as it's solid grey cloud here in Swansea. Dave
  3. I voted for Saturn, too. I was fortunate enough to be able to get the 'wow, that is amazing' response from my girlfriend and her dad last year. I did a quick tour for them, looking at the moon, Orion's Belt and the Pleiades. But the real pay-off was when I centred Saturn and left them to it. I have to admit it was the first 'wow' object for me, too, after I'd got my first proper scope (also a 127 Mak). It still does it for me. Dave
  4. Being relatively new to astronomy, I haven't had the opportunity to become a gear collector yet. I have resisted the temptation to upgrade, increase, expand etc while I learn the basics and find out exactly what aspect of astronomy fasicnates me most. I guess that makes me an astronomer (in answer to the original question). When I'm observing, I'm that astronomer and I always will be. But during the day, in work or when the clouds roll in, I'm a virtual gear collector. I've already planned my next upgrade (and I'm working on the upgrade to that, too!) A hobby is for enjoyment and what ever brings that enjoyment is ok.
  5. I'm a relative noobie too. I've had my Skymax 127 for about 8 weeks. Great choice as a first scope. I've had fine views of Mars, Venus and Saturn (wow) and a few of it's moons. I'm eagerly waiting for Jupiter to pop up into my garden's field of view. Resolving double stars like Castor, Algieba and Mizar are all well within the scope's capability (depending on eyepiece choice). Some of the brighter Messier objects (Galaxies M81 and M82, Nebula M42 in Orion and clusters M44, M45 and M36-38) are easy on most clear nights (although this does depend on how dark your observation spot is). If you remove the angle finder, the tube in which it fits to the scope is threaded to accept a T mount, which is how you would attach a DSLR. Space Cowboy is right that it probably isn't meant to take a heavy weight. However, I once attached a Nikon D300 and nothing has bent (although it probably strains the gears and motors too much so I won't be doing it again). It seems happy with the smaller D40x. There's a dedicated Social Group for Skymax 127 owners, (see the Communities>Social group drop down menu at the top of the page) . Dave
  6. On Wednesday night I had arranged to take the scope over to a friend's house, deep in the beautiful, dark countryside so show her and her dad the night sky. Everything was packed up in boxes and off I went. Only to arrive 20 minutes later without the tripod and mount! Grrr! A swift journey home and back again ensued and while there was still some light int he sky, I managed to set up in the back garden, cerfully positioning the scope so the only streetlamp for miles around was obscured by a thick bush. (In any case, it's one of the thoughtful streetlamps that only shines downwards). I decided to line up on the moon and tour a few sights before ending on Saturn, which they had both expressed an interest in viewing. I was really pleased by the "wows" coming from the observers as they took their turns. I changed eyepieces to increase the magnification and the "wows" increased. Even the dog was impressed, although he wasn't quite sure what he was impressed about - it just felt right to him. We ended up looking at Saturn and Titan - with a clear view and no turbulence. Only a wisp of high altitude, thin cloud spoiled the end of the session. It felt great to be able to share the same sensation I felt when first looking through my telescope.
  7. I was a 5 year old too, when I decided I was going to by my first (and currently only) scope. It was in the boot of the car after I'd picked it up during my lunchtime. I don't think I really achieved anything worthwhile in the office that afternoon. Then it was cloudy for a few frustrating nights! I observed my ceiling a lot waiting for the clouds to clear! That was two months ago. I'm still a 5 year old some days when I know it's going to be a clear night.
  8. I was out having a look at the moon and stars this evening, trying to get a few images with my DSLR. I could hear a rustling in the bushes behind me but I was taking long exposures of M81 at the time and in any case, I'm used to the cat turning up unannounced. But the rustling got louder and closer and it definitely wasn't the cat. The head torch went on and I fully expected to be face to face with a rat. Instead, I got a friendly look from a hedgehog. It wasn't a bit concerned about me or the light. It didn't curl up in to a ball. It just sat there and watched me watching it. I grabbed the camera off the telescope and shot 300 subs @ 90 seconds each... er... no, wait. I took a few snaps with the onboard flash and then went indoors to google what I could give it to eat. I ended up handing over some dog food. The rustling stopped and I went back to observing the night sky. After some lovely views of M81, a couple of double stars and Saturn (with four moons), I checked once more on my hedgehog chum. It was happily feasting on the food.
  9. My first ever view of an astronomical 'thing' through a telescope was Venus, way back in the mists of time (some time in the late 70s). Prompted by a little section in this month's Sky at Night programme, I went looking for Venus again in the evening sky. I was hoping to spot Mercury, too. I was intrigued by the statement on the programe that only 1% of the population had knowingly seen Mercury. For the last few nights I've been thwarted by low cloud in the West. My view of the Western horizon is obscured by several trees and a bungalow so the window of opportunity for observing Venus is limited. But last night, from the back bedrom window, there they were. I saw Venus straight away. I set the scope up in the bedroom, looking through double glazing, and managed to observe Venus and the fainter Mercury but inevitably, the image quality was very poor. I set the scope up in the garden where I could just spot Venus between the branches of the tree. Had there been leaves, I would have had no chance. Mercury had disappeared behind the bungalow. I was rewarded with a lovely view of the evening star with a hint of a phase. It took me straight back to those days as a kid when I was using my neighbour's telelscope to view it. Even down to the mad rush of the planet through the field of view (as I hadn't enabled the tracking on the scope). I may have to find a dark sky sight suitable for viewing them both with the telescope this weekend.
  10. Mars is very close to the Behive cluster at the moment, so quite a sight in the wider field of view of binoculars.
  11. Could be some sort of roof mounted anti collision light which you can't quite see directly from your vantage point? Do they have an air ambulance service there?
  12. There ought to be a support group for us.
  13. Just had a quick squint outside. High cloud. I might wait for a few more minutes but there's an early start for work tomorrow.
  14. I've read a lot of posts where people mention their 'Dark Sky Site'. My garden is pretty good for a suburban location, but I'm hemmed in by trees, bushes and houses. Short of cutting a groove through the kitchen extension and house roof, I have to wait ages for Saturn to pop into view at the moment. So I thought I'd go and find my own Dark Sky Site. I had some ideas and visited them during the day to get some orientation, find a flat, dry spot, safe parking and to make sure it wasn't some fly tipping hotspot. Last night, I tried it out for the first time. I wanted to take some wide angle long exposure photos of the sky with my DSLR so I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to try out the practicalities of observing in a remote spot. This time, I didn't take the scope. I walked away from the car in the pitch dark with only a small head torch to see me safely across a road, ditch, mud pool, another ditch, some water pools - none of these had been there when I did my daylight reconnaissance. Eventually I got far enough away from the road that the car lights wouldn't disturb me and I wouldn't stand out like a sore thumb. With everything set up, I started taking photos. It felt weird. I'm used to walking in the dark (hiking off mountains after I've stayed a little too long) but this was different. Standing around, I became aware of every little sound. Distant sheep, owls, the sound of traffic crossing a cattle grid on a road I know to be at least a mile away. But what surprised me most of all was the amount of light pollution still visible. From my spot, there were two major glows in the sky from built up areas I know to be several miles distant. There was a thin layer of high cloud that made viewing conditions poor but when I checked the photos later on the PC I was amazed at how much they'd picked up the street light glow. I think my site would be ideal for observing with a narrow field of view, which would cut out most of the horizon glow. But my hopes of seeing objects near the horizon to the west have been scuppered. I'll have to try out alternative sites for photography.
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