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MercianDabbler

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About MercianDabbler

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  1. Yes I like the ST80 a lot. I bought it a few years back when having read the reviews I thought it was pretty much impossible to go wrong at the price and I haven't changed my mind. There are plenty of occasions when I am happy to pop out with the ST80 but the time to put together the bits for the bigger scope, level it and do even a quick polar alignment would have put me off heading out at all. I also love the wide field - it takes so much less time to find what I'm looking for in the ST80 than it does with the SP102... especially on nights like last night when the moon was making most o
  2. I decided to brave the moonlight and pop out for a while with the grab and go setup (ST80 and Manfrotto tripod... plus folding chair) this evening. Mostly revisiting things from other recent sessions. On previous sessions I'd found that the mount had a bit of wobble in altitude which made aiming a bit of a pain - I could centre an object, clamp the head and then the thing would move slightly in altitude as soon as I let go. I thought this was all down to the quick release mechanism and was planning to make a dovetail that could be screwed directly to the head in place of the quick release
  3. I like that AZ head. At the moment my ST80 lives on a Manfrotto 055 tripod (bought for camera use but overspecified with one eye on grab and go telescope use) but I am still using the ball head that it came with. It is usable but a bit of a pain so I'm canvassing for better options. A video camera tripod head is another thing under consideration but the need isn't great enough to make me want to splash out on a new one, whichever option I end up going for. FWIW my other scope is a Vixen SP102 (1000mm F10) on a Super Polaris mount that I bought from BC&F in London in the late 1980s.
  4. The best telescope is the one that you will actually use. If lugging it to a park is a definite requirement then I suspect that the 80 would be more practical. Just because you might physically be able to carry a 102 (plus heavier mount most likely) across town, I think the novelty would wear off pretty quickly. Remember you will also need eyepieces and a bunch of other odds and sods like extra clothing layers, a tablet to run Stellarium maybe... it all adds up. My ST80 plus baggage still takes me at least two trips between the house and garden but I could maybe organise myself enough to
  5. One of the middle two... but with stars of unequal brightness. Definitely no gap because a potato generally comes in just one part... a gap would clearly imply two potatoes. Yes, that diagram is very useful and I'm not really trying to start an alterative terminology system
  6. Thanks for that - looks useful. I have an Android tablet so the app is not going to work but the images can go onto my SD card. This is a better option for me because the internal storage on my tablet is pretty much full so installing an app usually involves me deciding which other app I can remove. Neither set of images seems to be the right way up compared to what I see in the scope but I'll figure it out.
  7. That's the one I've been using. I quite like it but it doesn't really simulate the terminator very well so I usually end up turning the illumination off. I also find it too easy to rotate the Moon, which is useful for an atlas but somewhat pointless when using it to compare with what you see in the scope. Thanks... I must give that one a try.
  8. I was popping out to the shed to use some metalworking tools and noticed the absence of clouds. The Moon was a serious drawback but I convinced myself that I should not keep using it as an excuse to leave the sope indoors and hatched the plan to revisit a Algieba with the SP102, but avoiding any electrical appendages to keep the setup time somewhat sensible. It still took me 40 minutes to get to the point of looking at anything interesting... the actual scope bits are fairly well organised now but there is always something missing - specs, items of clothing, head torch or whatever. Polar
  9. It's cloudy tonight so at least I could get this question sorted... it turns out that there are horizontal and vertical 'flip' options stored with each the telescope in Stellarium (which makes sense... well it does once you have seen the answer). I had both the SP102 and ST80 set incorrectly. Neither was set the same but both were wrong. Now I need to redo the screenshots but hopefully that's one more problem solved. It's amazing just how many ways there are to get things wrong in this hobby.
  10. Thanks. It's tricky to know what is realistic to put on the target list with the ST80 but I still think it's useful to get familiar with the locality of the target faint fuzzy... even if I don't actually see it. That way I might stand a better chance when the bigger scope is out and the conditions suit (good conditions will happen one day... I hope!)
  11. Clear Outside was unexpectedly promising a few consecutive clear hours last night so I decided to use the opportunity. Since my last decent session I've bought a used 9mm TV DeLite from Andrew Robertson of Kelling fame and was keen to try it out. It wasn't a completely clear picture and the clouds didn't really disperse on schedule and it was a good while after 8PM when I finally got outside. I went with the grab and go setup of Skywatcher ST80 and Manfrotto camera tripod... plus the luxury of a folding chair. While I was waiting indoors I spent some more time working on my target list an
  12. I use fingerless gloves but they are nothing special. I think the key is to keep your body core, arms and legs warm, then the extremities will be OK. I had a scarf and hat with me last night too but took them off because I was warm enough without.
  13. After reading a few reports of good conditions on Friday night I decided to brave the cold, live with the moonlight and cart the SP102 outside for a couple of hours yesterday evening. I set up further down the garden than usual to avoid my silver birches which interfere with the view to the south. The mains extension lead just about reached and I mostly managed to avoid tripping over the various garden features that make this a rather cramped location. I just did a quick levelling and polar alignment with Polaris vaguely near the centre of the polar scope. I didn't bother with the RA driv
  14. Thanks both. I uprated the dew band and made some of the hastily done fixings more sturdy ready for the... ahem... 'clear skies' last Tuesday. I was ready. Unfortunately the skies weren't. In future it will be powered up from the get-go but when testing it I wanted to be sure that there was some actual dew for it to clear.
  15. Not an original idea, but I really recommend layers for the cold. Keeping your hands and feet warm is not all about gloves or socks. Ice was an issue for me last night but I don't think I felt cold... Tee shirt, thermal base layer (long sleeved), cotton checked shirt, hoodie (also handy for blocking out neighbours' lights), body warmer and finally a thick jacket. Two pairs of trousers, hiking boots and socks. I have fingerless gloves but these are somewhat poor, being a sort of knotted string construction intended for cycling but my hands were OK. Oh, and a beanie hat too.
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