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Everything posted by Gasconman

  1. I'm not an astro-photographer but I am a semi-retired professional photographer and a photography tutor. Celeron processors are low-end, low-cost, and are usually used in budget laptops. I certainly wouldn't recommend such a chip for intensive image processing; a 4 core 3 GHz processor would be preferable. I would also recommend a minimum of 8 Gb of RAM for high demand photographic tasks. That's not to say that that system above wouldn't work at all, but you would probably find it tedious and frustrating when performing demanding AP tasks (and maybe even prone to freezing).
  2. There is an explanation of SkEye's Indirect Mode here, together with a tutorial on aligning: https://lavadip.com/media/SkEyeIntro.pdf I found that the steel OTA of my Explorer 130M was interfering with my Moto G6's magnetometer. Fixing the phone to the top of a 30 cm long GoPro holder I had lying around solved that problem. The holder is similar to (but not the same as) this (
  3. Explanation and instructions for SkEye Indirect Mode can be found here https://lavadip.com/media/SkEyeIntro.pdf
  4. Maybe a 57mm flip-up rifle scope cover from eBay would do the job? Most are from China but there is a UK seller on there. Unless the dog can reach the top of your scope with its mouth, you should never have the same problem again
  5. But the whole point of it is that the phone has to be aimed at the sky, perpendicular to the OTA in both planes, otherwise the 'Push-To guidance' isn't going to work. If you use a decent phone holder, like that Manfrotto I'm using which has a pretty fierce spring and dimpled rubber grips, there's no way the phone is going to drop out.
  6. Yes, that was the first method I used. However, I found that the phone blocked the view into my RDF. The angled dual camera bracket was the only way I could think of to offset the phone slightly to the right.
  7. OK, guys, thanks a lot for the help. I'm going to accept the gift with thanks. I just didn't want to take it from her and deprive someone else of the opportunity if it was going to be of no use to me.
  8. How do you fix it in place? Did you add something to it to make it wide enough?
  9. Someone has offered to give me a Bhatinov mask that she no longer needs. The total diameter of the mask is 14 cms and the section with the cut outs is 10 cms in diameter. The diameter of my OTA is 15 cms. I could easily cobble something together to make it fit the end of my scope, but would it still work properly? I'm not imaging at the moment so I don't have any immediate need for this, but I may do in the future, and you know what they say, "Never look a gift horse in the mouth"
  10. Oh really? That's interesting. I'm learning more about this new hobby every day!
  11. I just bought my first telescope and accessories from FLO and I received excellent advice and service. Highly recommended.
  12. Of course. Convenience is a huge factor, which is why zoom photographic lenses are so popular.
  13. I’ve found two apps and a couple of pieces of photo kit that I think could be a big help to other raw beginners like me. But before I get into detail on those, I would just like to mention my experience with my red dot finder. The Sky-Watcher RDF which came with my Sky-Watcher 130M failed on its second outing. As I was reluctant to accept a replacement, FLO kindly gave me a voucher to set against the cost of a Baader 30mm SkySurfer III. I don't have a reticle eyepiece so, to make sure I was setting up the RDF accurately, I first sighted a target about 2 kms away from me using a 25mm eyepiece, getting the target in the centre of the EP as best I could judge (in daylight this is). I then adjusted the RDF until it fell on the target. I then swapped the 25mm EP for an 18mm and found that the target was off-centre slightly, so I re-aligned the scope and made further adjustments to the RDF. Finally, I changed the 18mm EP for an 8mm and did the same again. At the end of this, my RDF was absolutely spot on. OK, moving on to the apps, the first is called PolarAligner, the second is called SkEye. PolarAligner comes in two versions, free and paid for. The ‘Pro’, paid for version (which is cheap enough) has a ‘Daytime Alignment’ setting which I don’t think is available in the free version. Using ‘Daytime Alignment’, you lay your phone down on its back, on your mount, and parallel with the axis of the mount. You then adjust the azimuth and altitude positions of the mount with the aim of centring a white cross against a red target. Et voila! When you’ve done that, your mount is pretty much polar aligned! And in daylight! I lay my phone along my EQ2 mount axis by resting each end of the phone on the bottom of the two tube rings, holding it there with an elasticated hair band, kindly donated by my partner. See the image below taken in my home at around midday today. SkEye is a free app which is similar to other sky map apps, except that it allows you to enter a target object and then shows you in which direction to move your phone in order to find that target. After you’ve selected your target, the app creates a circle with an arrow projecting from it, the arrow pointing in the direction in which you have to move the phone. When you have located the target, the circle brightens and expands, the arrow disappears, and the target is shown inside the circle. To put the two apps into use, I swapped the tube rings on my mount, placing the one carrying the ¼” tripod screw at the front. After daytime aligning my mount with PolarAligner Pro, I fully tightened the azimuth and altitude settings on my scope and then fixed the OTA in place. In my case a Sky-Watcher Explorer 130. The two pieces of photo kit I happened to have in my collection of bits and pieces were a spring-loaded smartphone holder with a ¼” tripod bush, and a dual camera photo bracket. The latter is about 25 cms long, and has a ¼” tripod bush at the centre with two 1/4" tripod screws on either side, each adjustable along a length of about 7 cms. I fixed the dual camera adapter to the front tube ring and then attached the phone holder to the right side of the adapter, as per the pics below. Then it was simply a case of putting my phone in the holder and making sure that it was exactly perpendicular to the OTA in both planes. When I fired up SkEye and searched for Polaris... bingo!... I saw Polaris located in the circle as you can see in the photo below... so 10/10 for PolarAligner. Using SkEye in a phone properly fixed to the OTA like this, you have yourself a brilliant ‘PUSH-TO’ facility. You can then obviously refine your target fix with your properly aligned RDF. PolarAligner cost me £2.49, SkEye was free, and, as I said, the two bits of kit I already had. But you can get a tripod-bushed phone holder from £7 upwards, and the dual camera bracket is available on Amazon for £9. So, say £20 in total. And for that you get a brilliant polar aligning aid together with a Push-To sky map screen which makes operating your scope so much easier, especially if it’s an EQ2 mount like mine. I hope this is of help to all absolute newbies like me
  14. Just a comment from a newbie who knows little about astronomy kit but knows a lot about lenses, having been a professional photographer for many years (and I'm now a photography tutor)... zoom lenses can never be as good as a series of prime lenses.
  15. I found that rotating the scope within the tube rings to reorient the eyepiece was quite easy to do, so viewing is not an issue really; it's everything before that that's the problem (plus taking my eye from the eyepiece to try and locate the slo-mo controls.)
  16. Good point! Thanks! Hmmm, how does one test a tripod, ALMOST to destruction?
  17. Thanks for that, Alan. However, I'd still have to search, align and sight it and it seems that doing that in the dark is what's causing my problem.
  18. I don't think so TBH as it's the searching, sighting, and aligning in the dark that's the problem. Viewing through the eyepiece whilst standing is fine.
  19. Thanks. To answer your first question, it's the searching, sighting, and aligning in the dark that's the main issue. As to the tripod, I have the lower legs extended by just 30 cms. I'm a retired photographer and now a part-time photography tutor, so I have a good understanding of tripods and, I have to say, my tripod seems reasonably firm - a lot firmer that the head! However, I will try a concrete block on the accessory tray to see if that makes any improvement.
  20. Thanks for your opinion re EQ2 v EQ3-2, Geoff, much appreciated. Just for general info, we vertigo sufferers always have more problems in the dark because we learn to compensate for the mess-up in our inner ears by using sight as a balancing mechanism. Regarding the German Equatorial Mount in general terms, I fully understood the potential handling problems before I placed my order. However, I’m a bit of a techie and I love a challenge and the thought of having a mount that compensated for the Earth’s rotation seemed cool. It still does, and indeed setting it up and swinging it around to look at terrestrial targets in the daytime doesn’t cause me any great problems. In the dark however, that’s a whole different issue. So an equatorial GoTo that eliminates searching, sighting, and aligning in the dark may be the answer. But, I take your point and I've just found a club here in France just 15 kms from my home. I'm going to email them as I see that they have a meeting on the 26th of this month.
  21. Just to put you in the picture, I'm fortunate in that I live beneath Bortle 4 skies, on latitude 44, with plenty of room to get a 360° view of the sky from our property and so I'd been considering taking up stargazing as a hobby for quite a while. However, I never did as I thought it might be a waste of money (you know, use the scope twice and then have it end up gathering dust in the corner of my man-cave). But then, recently, I received £400 I wasn’t expecting, so decided to take the plunge and, last month, I bought a Skywatcher Explorer 130M from FLO, together with a couple of BST Starguider eyepieces and a Baader red dot finder. I really like the scope and had a big emotional hit when I saw Jupiter and Saturn for the first time. So, now I'm starting to get hooked. The problem I have is the EQ2 mount. (A) It wobbles when I focus or get too close to the eyepiece and (B) and far more important, I'm finding that using it out there in the pitch dark triggers my vertigo - that's the inner ear problem that causes dizziness, not fear of heights For example, after being out observing last night for an less than an hour, I had to give up as I felt quite nauseous. And this has happened on each of the three nights I've been out (although last night was the worst). It seems that looking up and searching for objects, trying to locate the clutch knobs and properly align the scope, trying to locate the slow-motion controls or engage the motor, all combine to trigger the dizziness. I got so frustrated because it seemed like all I was doing was fiddling with the scope and making myself feel ill when all I wanted to do was look into the eyepiece and wonder at the universe. So, now I have a dilemma. Do I give up, take the hit and sell the gear (which would be a huge shame)? Or would I find the solution to my problem in an EQ3 PRO Go-To mount? And, if I went that extra mile and shelled out as much as I have already on the EQ3-2 GOTO, power pack, etc. would I find it to be more stable than the mount I have now? Or, on that latter point, maybe the wobble is caused by poor handling due to my inexperience? Thanks in advance for any advice, especially from anyone that owns an EQ3-2 mount.
  22. Thank you! Yes, clear skies still forecast. Really looking forward to my first time out observing. I'm fortunate to live in rural south-west France, with an unobstructed 360° view of the sky.
  23. Bonjour a tous, OK, total newbie here, taking a cautious, but exciting, first step into astronomy, I have just received a Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M together with some BST Star Guider eyepieces and I have it set up and ready to use for tomorrow night which is forecast for clear skies here. In the meantime I'm trying to get my head around a few issues. If I want to match the view of the sky in Stellarium to the view in my scope's eyepiece, should I select both Horizontal flip and Vertical flip in the Telescope section of Stellarium's Ocular settings?
  24. Me too (using Firefox). However, it works fine in Chrome. Cool !
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