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Everything posted by MikeP

  1. Crikey Phil and Gordon, they were quick responses. You both seem to have confirmed my suspicion that I was letting the day time photography choices wag the astrophotography tail. I wait with interest to see what suggestions the experienced imagers offer. Thanks Mike
  2. Weather here has been miserable, so I've been thinking ahead about what I need to buy for imaging. My first thoughts were to buy a Canon 400D body, link it to my laptop and control it with Image Plus. I'd also buy Photoshop, if it (Elements) is not bundled in with the Canon. Whilst the DSLR is primarily for imaging, I'd also use it for other purposes and hence would also buy one or more lenses. When I came to add up the cost, it was not far short of £1,000. Assuming therefore, that my budget would end up somewhere in the £1,000 to £1,500 range, would I do better to go down the CCD route - not to save money, but to have more appropriate equipment for imaging? (I don't really need a DSLR, since I have a small camera which is OK for holiday snaps and the like). I live in a semi-rural area with local dark skies, but with sky glow from Gatwick to the West and Croydon / London to the North. I'm only interested in imaging DSO's. I've mentally dismissed web cams, since they seem to be more appropriate for planets and other bright objects - please tell me if that is incorrect. If you consider CCD to be preferable to DSLR for this budget, could you provide me with pointers about choice of cameras / software or where to look for unbiased advice please. Thanks Mike
  3. MikeP


    Could you tell mw what WSN software is please? Mike
  4. WH, Your unfortunate incident has given me an idea. When I move my scope from one end of the garden to the other (about 50 yards allowing for windy paths), I carry the tripod, the mount, the weights, the OTA, laptop, the power supply, eyepiece case and a box of bits. Its a lot of trips. I've got several old golf carts, so now I'm wondering how I can adapt one as a telescope trolley. Must remember not to leave it behind my car though. Mike
  5. Possibly not relevant to this discussion, but I'll pass it on anyway ..... always PARK your scope. I tried several times to use the GOTO with no success. A few nights ago I tried again and was about give up when I thought I'd see what happened when I parked it. My assumption was that it would point roughly towards Polaris (my polar alignment was done with a compass since I find the polar scope an instrument of torture for my back) - it pointed absolutely nowhere near. I switched off the mount, manually rotated the scope to a position that looked right to me and then switched on again. For simplicity, I did a one star alignment on Vega and then tried to GOTO the Ring Nebula. Success - the first DSO I have ever seen. OK, it wasn't slap bang in the centre of the eyepiece, but good enough for me. Don't ask me why it worked, I could rationalise a reason, but I didn't care - I was as happy as a pig in the proverbial. I found Albireo and the Dumbell Nebula and found my way back to the Ring Nebula. I can't wait to try again in a more open bit of the garden, weather permitting. Rest assured, I PARKED the scope before switching off. Mike
  6. Darren, Sorry, I meant that I'd use the Skywatcher as a Dobsonian i.e. not on a equatorial mount and not having the benefit of GOTO. The ED80/ED100 would be on the HEQ5/EQ6 using the GOTO and tracking mainly for imaging. Mike
  7. Mike, Thanks for posting this. I've watched the first four segments and found them interesting and pitched at a level that is neither complex nor condescending - unusual for TV programs on physics. Mike
  8. Darren, I have the 250mm equivalent and its about as big as I'd want, given that I don't have a permanent shed / observatory. You are quite a bit bigger than me, so you may find it is OK, but I'll bet you'll still find it a struggle. I'm in the same position as you - interested in using the scope for visual observation and then moving on to imaging. However, I'm fast coming to the conclusion that the advice given to me to buy two scopes was very wise indeed. You need aperture to get enough light to see otherwise dim objects - a reasonably big Newtonian meets that need. For imaging, the light falling on the CCD chip is cumulative and hence smaller aperture is acceptable by varying exposure time and stacking images - my thoughts at present being that a refractor is much more convenient for this purpose. I'm a complete beginner, so the more experienced hands may offer you a different view, but if I were in your shoes, I'd probably buy the Skyliner 300P and an ED80 or ED100 on an HEQ5 Pro or EQ6 Pro. That will eat up your £1,500 although as KK says, there are some other significant spends needed. Whatever you buy, I look forward to seeing it/them at Kelling. Mike
  9. Kai, I may have mis-remembered but whatever it was, it did also include shipping, which isn't cheap on such a weighty item. Mike
  10. Kai, I completely agree with you. However, Synta are in business to make money, so providing the extra weight at no cost is probably not on. They could increase the cost marginally and include the extra weight or be upfront and offer it as an extra for anyone wanting to use heavier eyepieces and / or imaging gear. At least that way you would be alerted to the problem and wouldn't have to make a separate order when you discovered it. Mike
  11. Kai, I can't find the bill for the counterweight. From memory it was between £20 and £30. Quite a lot for a lump of metal, but something home-made would have looked pretty ugly. In fairness, the scope did balance with two weights and as Steve said to me, a little bit of resistance isn't all bad. However, since I wanted to image at some time in the future, I decided to buy an extra weight. I wonder how many weights are provided when the EQ6 is shipped with the 300mm OTA; I can't believe that will come anywhere near balancing. Mike
  12. Hi Kai, Perhaps I've misunderstood your question, but my SP250 EQ6 Pro was supplied with two counterweights. It did just about balance with the standard eyepieces, but certainly wouldn't with 2" eyepiece and / or camera attached. I bought a third weight and it now balances easily. Mike
  13. Matt, Ant is correct re the difference between 8" and 10" - it doesn't sound much but in effect, everything seems 25% bigger and heavier. My 250PX takes up a fair bit of space and can be awkward to lift onto the mount until you get used to it. Also, I found I needed three counterbalance weights to balance it - which indicates to me you'd need an EQ6 mount. I spent around £1,300 for scope, mount and (good) eyepieces. Since then, I've probably spent a further £250 on bits and pieces. It really does add up quickly. Steve at FLO is great to deal with and has a good range and pretty keen prices even before a discount. I'd always look there first. Mike
  14. A warm welcome if you are a Wolves fan Matt. A tepid one if you are a West Brom fan. No, a warm welcome anyway for anyone interested in this hobby. An exile from Dudley. Mike
  15. Amen to that WH. Just replaced mine with a right angle finder - much easier on the back and the neck. Mike
  16. Back in the mid 50's, my junior school used to distribute "lucky bags" at Christmas. They contained sweets and things, but also contained a little book of facts and figures, provided by (I think) Andrews - the makers of liver salts (whatever they are). It contained a list of all the planets in the solar system and their average distances from the sun. There may have been other astronomical trivia, but that is all I remember. It was that little book that got me interested. Does anyone else remember it? Just recently, my neighbour visited Patrick (he's known him for some time) and took my "The Sky at Night" book that I bought in the mid 60's for him to autograph. I'm sad to relate that the handwriting is a little shaky, but I will treasure it forever. Mike
  17. Hi Kev, Not doing well. Trying to collimate at present, but struggling. I hope to have improved by the party, but time is running out. Mike
  18. Grant, I use this one with my EQ6 Pro. http://tinyurl.com/39fdos Bit more expensive, but Maplins deliver pretty quickly. Mike
  19. Kev, Just did a Google but didn't spot anything obvious. However, one thing I noticed was a suggestion that you turn off antivirus software when you install the driver. I doubt it will make any difference, but I guess you'll try anything at this stage. Mike
  20. Thanks Russ and Gaz. I have a second dovetail. I'll attach it, it should make handling the OTA much easier. Do you know where I can get the necessary bolts? I've not had too much problem with the image dancing when focussing, but I can see the advantages, so I'll add an electric focuser to my wish list. Sorry Martin, I seem to have nicked the thread. Mike
  21. Martin, I have a 10" Skywatcher on an EQ6 Pro mount. I'm 5'7" and 57 years old and I don't find the mount too heavy to carry. I break it down into tripod, mount, 3 counterweights and the OTA. The most difficult for me is the OTA. It is easy enough to carry using the dovetail bar as a handle, but lifting it onto the mount is quite awkward, but with practice it gets easier. I don't know what the load limit is for an EQ6, but it seems to handle my OTA and counterweights - each one being 5.1 kg. When it is set up, it is as solid as a rock. Mike
  22. Steve, I bought a Dell Inspiron 5100 for use at work several years ago. I've had no big problems with it. Service pack upgrades and normal Windows updates have been effortless and I've run some fairly meaty software (make sure you have plenty of memory installed). At the time of buying, I was warned that the hinges on Dell laptops are weak and have a tendency to break. Even Dell themselves mentioned it when they phoned me to try to sell me an extended warranty. I've been careful with how I handle it and had no problems. The laptop gets quite hot. Since it has cooling vents underneath, I always make sure they aren't obstructed. The only problem has been with the supplied transformer where the cable from the output side has "slipped" in some way to reveal a bare wire. I taped it up and so far it hasn't got worse. Sound like prices have plummeted - you don't want to know what mine cost. Mike
  23. I thought an example of Steve's service would act as a nice counterbalance to some of the recent views expressed about other less satisfactory suppliers. I phoned him yesterday at around 4:30pm and ordered a red dot finder. The post lady delivered it this morning at 9:30am. How good a service is that!!!! Mike PS I originally typed "red light finder". Thought it didn't look right and changed it, thank goodness.
  24. It looks as though the 400D will be supported. See the bottom of http://www.dslrfocus.com/Purchase.html Mike
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