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Everything posted by tomw28

  1. Pocket Universe is good, as is planets. Sputnik! is good for ISS passes and iridium flares. As for non-Astro, F-SIM Space Shuttle is brilliant. Have a look at my review: http://stargazerslounge.com/astro-lounge/140676-f-sim-space-shuttle-app.html
  2. If you go for the EQ3-2 you will need to get a polar scope to go with it. I have that mount and for a couple of weeks I tried using it without a polar scope and it was a complete nightmare. The polar scope makes life much easier and more enjoyable.
  3. Thats not how barlows work. Instead theres a very small, but very scary and angry man in the middle. You have to give the barlow a good shake before use, just to wind him up a bit more. He then scares the photons and makes them go either side of him, therefore spreading the cone of light out. Thats why the barlow doesn't work as well after a while, because the small man is tired and less scary to the photons. If you give it a good shake mid session that seems to help though
  4. What I normally do is put all my eyepieces and filters in the tube, put the end cap on and give it all a good shake. That seems to get most of them out. For the really stubborn ones some old bits of sharp scrap metal and a few stones does the trick. I keep them all in a bucket and them sprinkle them on the Christmas tree at the end of the year. It looks great and saves a fortune on the electricity bill!
  5. Don't worry PNB, you'll get there. Have you watched the autoland demo? That helped me a lot.
  6. Clear in the midlands, but very gusty wind and pretty poor seeing mean I've given up for tonight. I was hoping to try using my new eyepiece, but the wind was causing so many problems it'll have to wait. I think tomorrow is forecast clear (don't know about wind) and CalSky says monday should be "Perfect Conditions". Fingers crossed!
  7. Hi all, I was wondering if any of you who are lucky enough to own an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch have seen an app called F-SIM Space Shuttle? The app puts you in control of the shuttle about 5 minutes before landing, the point at which the commander would normally take over in real life. From there you have to fly around either KSC or Edwards Air Force Base and line up with the runway, hopefully touching down gently at just the right spot on the runway. If that's to easy then you can always set up some turbulence, wind or set some systems to fail for that extra challenge. The graphics are unbelievable, using high-res pictures for outside the shuttle and a 3D cockpit that lets you have a look around the flight deck, which I find in itself interesting. I never realised quite how cramped it is in there! There's also an external view on it's way, hopefully in the next few weeks I'm told, that is pretty spectacular! It's a really well made game, with some brilliant features like a HUD thats a carbon copy of the actual orbiters, a really clever scoring system (can you beat my score of 1,055,817!) and real audio from an actual mission to help you land the shuttle. Hopefully that will keep a few of you busy for a few hours (maybe days )! You can download it from iTunes (F-SIM Space Shuttle for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store), it's £1.79. Good Luck!
  8. That's a great price! Give FLO a ring though, they usually try to price match (they did with mine). You can't beat them for service.
  9. How long have you had your scope? Give it a good couple of months before upgrading the EP's, just so you can find out exactly what you want the EP's for (planets, clusters, nebulae). Don't just jump in, the £80-£100 you spend now could be added to the money you'd have in a few months to get a really nice EP that does what you want, rather than a handful of average quality EP's that don't what you want. As for filters, get a cheap lunar filter. They can be got for less than £20, and without it you'll be walking around bumping into stuff after looking at our nearest neighbour! For other more expensive filters, again wait until you know exactly what it is you want to see in more detail.
  10. Really? I thought the 150PL had a rack and pinion focuser. The 150P has a nice Crayford which I was told is a much better focuser?
  11. I know I'm biased towards the 150P on EQ3-2, but I really do think that sounds the scope for you. The OTA is small enough to fit in the car easily, and the mount and tripod fold away small enough to join the OTA in the car. Set-up takes 5-10 minutes, and by then the mirror is nearly cool enough to start observing. I would go for the EQ over the dob base as its good for tracking manually, gives you the option of picking up a £20 webcam at a later date to getting some stunning pictures and generally makes life a lot easier. If you do opt for the EQ mount, I highly recommend getting a polarscope for it. While roughly lining it up works ok for a while, once you've got a polar scope you wonder why you didn't get it in the first place! You should also get a moon filter, otherwise you'll be walking around bumping into things after a quick look at the moon! Believe me, I speak from experience As for eyepieces, wait a few months to decide what it is you need. The supplied ones aren't as bad as some people say, and are easily good enough to help you decide what to get next. And if your still not completely sure, give FLO a ring, Martin will tell you all you need to know.
  12. With the mak you'll get a higher magnification from an EP than with the 150. The mak would also be more forgiving on cheap, not great quality EP's due to it being a much slower scope. The negatives are that as it is only 4" so DSO's wouldn't be great, and larger objects may not fit in the FOV that well. The 150 (either P or PL) would be much better for DSO's compared to the mak, but maybe not quite as good for the planets. The 150 also comes with a much sturdier mount, the EQ3-2 rather than the EQ2. I would go for the Explorer 150, but I enjoy the challenge of searching out the faint fuzzies, while still getting decent views of planets. If only planets and the moon are more your thing, the Maksutov is certainly worth considering.
  13. I've got Sputnik! but I'm not that impressed by it. The timings aren't often that precise, 15-20 seconds out on some flares which is pretty useless, and the brightness of flares and ISS passes seems out by quite a lot when compared to Heavens Above. The alarms are helpful though.
  14. I'm not sure how much of a bargain it was, but I was quite pleased with a "mint" condition 6mm TMB Planetary for £35. I had been trying to justify £55-£60 on a new EP for planets and the like, but that's a lot of money for me (I'm a student). Please tell me it was a reasonable deal!
  15. I have the shorter version of the PL, the 150P, as my first "proper" scope. So far it has delivered more than I expected and for £250 (as it was when I got it) I doubt you could find better value. Depending on personal preference, you could get an extra couple of inches on the 200P dob. You really would have to decide if you want a dob or EQ mount though. Having owned a small 3" minidob before the 150P on EQ 3-2, I prefer the EQ mount for the ability to track and I prefer how the scope is held and positioned in the mount. If you do opt for the 150 on an EQ mount, think carefully about which tube length to go for. When I was getting mine I was warned away from the 150PL due to the length on a mount that isn't really that heavy duty. Even with the P there is a lot of vibration, so I would imagine it would be even more of a problem with the long tube. Another option if you were to focus on planetary and lunar would perhaps be a 4" Maksutov like this Maksutov - Skywatcher Skymax 102 (EQ2). It may not be great for DSO's, but should be good on the bright planets and the moon. Good luck!
  16. I got the 150P on the same mount in February, and have only just taken the plunge on EP's. I'm really glad I have waited though, as otherwise I would have got the completely wrong thing as when I brought the scope I thought I would be most interested in DSO's. While I do think this will be my long term interest, I made the descision to get a TMB planetary EP as I (and I'm guessing I'm not alone!) seem to have become slightly obsessed with Saturn recently. It'll be interesting to see what the ISS will look like through it as well. With the supplied 10mm EP some detail can be made out (solar panels, Shuttle at the right time) if trackinng was good, but the detail was never crisp. Don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting miracles from a £40 EP of flea bay, but from the reviews that I've read the difference should easily be noticeable. Definatley wait a few months before upgrading though, it would be a shame to have spent a small fortune on completely the wrong thing.
  17. Stellarium and Pocket Universe are my favourites.
  18. I gave my dad his first look through a telescope at it last night. I put in the 10mm EP (75X) and I tracked it through the finderscope to keep it reasonably steady for him. He was amazed! "You can see the shape and everything" he screamed for the whole neighbourhood to hear!
  19. I use CalSky. I've got it set to email me every morning with Iridium Flares, ISS passes and the weather. The weather is usually pretty accurate which is nice!
  20. I think so and if its polar aligned it should track quite well, certainly well enough for a 2-3 minute video. Tom
  21. Firstly I would like to thank everyone on this forum for helping me to decide to buy the Explorer 150P. I am very grateful for your help and I look forward to being able help others when I'm more knowledgable my self. The scope was ordered from FLO, who were also really helpful, with the warning that the delivery may be some time. As it was, this wasn't a problem and it arrived just under a week later, in two huge boxes. As the scope is partly a birthday present, I was meant to wait a couple of weeks before opening it. As you can imagine, that didnt rely work, and less than a day later the box for the mount and tripod was opened. The mount was easy to set up, and to me felt extremely solid and well built, although the only thing I can compare it to is my old mini-dob. My only critisism would be of the setting circles, which look and feel flimsy and appear to be there for show more than anything. The next day, Saturday, I quite unexpectedly sold my old scope, leaving me scopeless. Guess where this is going!! After a bit of begging, being helpful and generally being nice, it was agreed the new scope could be opened! After opening and checking everything, the scope was attached to the mount and the business of collimating began. The secondary was quite a lot out, and it was harder than I expected to get that positioned well. After a few minutes though it was centred and angled correctly, just leaving the primary to be aligned. This to was out by a considerable amount, but I found it a lot easier to correct this than the secondary. The OTA felt very reassuringly solid, yet light at the same time. However hard I tried, I couldn't find a fault with it! As the day continued, and the forecast not looking ideal for the evening, I lugged it all out into the garden to align the finder and decided to take a look at the moon. Due to the finder being spring loaded on one side alignment was extremely quick and easy, making it time to have a look at my first target, the moon. Using the supplied 10mm EP and barlow, I was absolutely blown away. The detail, even at 3:30pm, was mind-blowing. The views were almost photographic, so good I could hardly take it in. It felt as though I could reach out and touch it, one of the most powerful moments I have had in astroy. As it began to darken, I began to wish I wasn't going out, especially as it was staying completely clear. Just before we went out though, it was just dark enough to be able to locate Jupiter. If the moon was good, Jupiter was even better. For the first time, I could see detail on the surface, and it was brilliant. When I got back, happy as Leicester had beaten Derby 2-0 (sorry but I had to mention that!), it was starting to become cloudy, but before the cloud completely covered everything, I had a quick look at the Orion Nebula, Andromeda and the Pleiades. Even though my vision was nowhere near dark adapted, the two fuzzies looked brilliant, brighter and crisper than I had ever seen before, while the Pleiades where as mindblowingly beautiful as ever. The thing I noticed most about the scope was the crispness and cparity of the views. The Crayfor focuser felt very smooth and precise, and the focus lock was also very helpful The build of whole thing has really impressed me and I can't wait for some more clear skies! Thanks for reading my ramblings and I'll update you with my next session. Tom
  22. Good question, I cant really decide. I suppose there are 3 or 4 things for different reasons. Purely because they are stunning, the Pleiades take my breath away without fail every time. The scale and distance of Andromeda I find uncomprehendable, which for me is as special as something like M45. Then you've also got the beautiful things in our own solar system, such as the moon and Saturn. If I had to pick one though it would be M45. I think...
  23. Have a look at this primer. http://stargazerslounge.com/primers-tutorials/84192-primer-understanding-choosing-filters-visual-use.html Hope that helps, Tom
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