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mikemarotta

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Everything posted by mikemarotta

  1. Beautiful pictue. It is an area that I view often and read about even more. But I am not sure about what I am looking at. What is the field of view ? It looks like maybe 10 degrees of arc, if those are Antares and M4 at 1.2 degrees separation. Thanks! Mike M.
  2. Perhaps we should have a meta-discussion on how to give advice on buying your first telescope. It is a common question and reliable answers already exist, available for citation. The article from Sky & Telescope warning against "hobby killers" might be the best advice initially: not what to buy but what not to buy. In this case, the original poster already gave a monetary figure. However, lately, I have taken to listening to a different drummer. Rather than refractor-reflector-dobsonian-goto, I start with the cost of deciding. How much do you earn per hour? How much discretionary income do you want to invest in the telescope and all of the kit and gear that it requires? Divide Price by Wages and that is how many hours you should invest gathering information and reading. "I did this. Do what I did." misses the fact that the interrogator is not you. They do not have your eyesight, your living arrangements, your income, your lifestyle, your education, or your physical strength, among all of the very many possible parameters. "I did this. Do what I did." reflects cognitive dissonance: the desire to justify a choice that cannot be easily changed. I tell newbies "I did this, don't make my mistake." In fact, I made several expensive mistakes and gave the telescopes to the Goodwill where they might serve some social benefit on their journeys to new homes. They just were not right for me, though, indeed, they were perfect for hundreds if not thousands of other happy customers. On the other hand, unlike @dweller25 I would recommend the "eyepiece" (ocular) kit that the original poster asked about. I bought mine because I saw other people at star parties with the same accessories. They had different kinds of telescopes. One was homemade, beautiful wooden tube. But they had the same box of lenses and filters. And the original poster found a restricted set, not the full array, but a core group, even better. Given that the choices that were roundly offered cost far less than the stated budget, the ocular-and-filter set seemed like a good option. I could not help but notice that even the affable @Tiny Clanger ran short of patience. It is understandable. That is why as a parent who survived our child's teenage years, I took the time to use private messaging to open a line of communication, ask questions, and make suggestions, including finding a local astronomy club, and a short list of retailers in their city. As closely as I aligned with @John on the problematic nature of contrary engagement, the fact is that astronomy is a science and its practice rests on technologies and we come together in society to share our appreciation and enjoyment of our hobby. In astronomy, physics, and sociology, not all answers are equally valid. Right and wrong exist. Trades group jargon about "dobs" (and all that) delivers not much, especially to someone whose initial iniquiries evidence a lot of passion but not much background at that moment. I confess to dropping the ball in my reply to @Knighty2112 about the smart phone goto. A colleague of mine in information systems selected something similar for his son. In that case, however, there was no question about the technology (which was secondary) but also about the engagement of the parent with the child. I read the rave reviews on these when they came out. I read the ads, read the articles. I would never buy one for myself. And in this case, considering the context of the original poster, it seemed clear to me that this is a person who can (a) find the planets and (b) wants to learn the sky. The cellphone option seemed like both a burden and a crutch. But I was too terse, and that was my own failing. Anyway, the current status as I understand from our PM exchanges it is that the local club is gaveling soon and the original poster is looking forward to meeting people who can answer all of his questions. (The OP also has my personal email address if they want to follow through.)
  3. I do not always make drawings. I will at least enter verbal notes, but every now and then, I just go out to view and enjoy. I will lie back in a chaise longue and use a binocular or just enjoy the sky naked eye. I try to apply all of the math and physics that I can to my observing. I work as a technical writer, usually in information systems. However, I am on a project now in optics and lasers. That provides some context to my hobby time observing at night. Best Regards, Mike M.
  4. Well, you do a bit more than that! I visited your website and was greatly impressed with your photographs of doubles. You have an array of nice work on display. Best Regards, Mike M.
  5. G'day, mate! You did not get the answers you need. First of all you need to find an Australian retailer to buy your telescope from. They will be able to help you with customer support, and they will stand behind their products. SECOND: You need to do some background reading. This is like buying a car: sports car, van, 4-cylinder or 6, long drives or short commutes? Go to your local library or visit bookstores (used books, especially), and visit more than one of these discussion boards. Read and ask questions. On one of the boards that I visit one of the Moderators, one of the leaders, just asked for help buying their first telescope. This is not something to jump into. The telescope that everyone wants you to buy -- spending your money for you -- requires frequent maintenance. You have to adjust it periodically. That's why they told you to get a "Cheshire." It is an alignment tool. But not every telescope needs that, only REFLECTORS with mirrors. The other kind, are REFRACTORS with lenses. They also need adjustment, like anything else in life, but not as nearly often, and maybe never as long as you own your telescope. And when you do need to align a lens system, you usually take to the shop and have an expert do it. You got hit with a lot of buzzwords about "aperture" and "Dobs" and "fast" telescopes. Without getting too technical right now, a telescope is a SYSTEM: 1. A main lens or mirror in a tube. 2. A tripod and mount 3. Eyepieces. Having one eyepiece is like having a car with one gear. It works... sort of .... And when you listen to them talk among themselves, they all admit that the MOUNT and TRIPOD are as important as the telescope itself. That's why I recommended that you visit the websites and the stores of retailers in Queensland and near Brisbane. You need to do some window shopping in order to gain the knowledge you need to make a good choice. Finally, if you fall in love with the hobby as we all have, your first telescope will not be your last. It all depends on the seeing conditions. The Cassini division and the Great Red Spot are not guaranteed sights. You did not ask if the person lives in the city or suburbs or country. A reflector needs collimation. Can the person asking actually do that? You think it is easy. I found it difficult and abandoned reflectors for refractors. The questioner asked about what they knew to ask about (planets) because living in Australia, they take the Magellanic Clouds for granted. A small refractor might be just the ticket. We do not know. You gave some sound advice, Heather, no doubt about that. In this case, for myself, I hear warning bells when someone says "that's what I did." Is that cognitive dissonance? Are you justifiying a decision that you cannot change? I would not recommend the first telescope I bought. It was a mistake. And it was very similar to the one you recommended. Maybe it would be OK. Asking more questions might suggest some alternatives. So, it is hard to use. And it has come from the UK. The person asking is in Oz, mate. Maybe they have a tablet. Maybe they do not want to use their phone for this. It would help to find out more about the person's context. You gave the right advice: slow down. Then you buried the person in buzzwords and jargon. The last line is salient advice, probably the best way to start the conversation. All good points. And when told the negatives they will be incomprehensible. You do not realize that you are speaking a foreign language. Fast ... slow... spherical... parabolic... f/8 ... diagonal. The one thing you said that could help was "iceinspace" and I was able to find it: https://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/index.php You were doing so well. And then you fell into jargon. But you were not alone in that.
  6. Well, not being a photographer, my experience is that those who have The Eye do well and others are on a learning curve. As a photographer first, you bring to this much of the learning that is otherwise hard-won (and sometimes hardly won). I managed some snapshots, but that's it. As a writer, I have worked as a reporter and had seminars in photography for news. Other than that, it's not what I do. But I know how it is done and, again, I know that those who have experience and talent are rare and highly regarded. So, welcome. We look forward to the fruits of your new hobby. Best Regards, Mike M.
  7. Welcome to the forum! I, too, am looking for a mount and tripod to carry an 8-inch Newtonian and (separately) a 115 mm apochromatic refractor. The supply chain is still very much impacted by the pandemic and inventory is hard to find all over. You just have to keep shopping. You have some nice telescopes. Your stable of instruments provides you with a lot of options. I also chose my current telescopes for their portability. If I may ask, where in Ohio do you live? I know the state well having worked in Dayton, Cleveland, and Columbus over the years. Do you belong to a local club? Best Regards, Mike M.
  8. Thanks! This was a lesson for me, for sure: It's a poor workman who blames his tools. You are getting quite a lot of good use from a telescope than many people dismiss. You also have astro-photography skills, which I have not even attempted. All in all you deserve a round of applause. Thanks, again. Best Regards, Mike M.
  9. Well, you know, you can multiply or divide but 3XBarlow with an 8mm ocular is like using an (8/3 mm) eyepiece: like 2-2/3... pretty tight. So, focussing will be touchy. But, yes, the 3X gives you options. The important thing is to keep at it. Go out when you can. Read went you cannot go out. If I may ask, what books do you have? Do you read any other web discussion in addition to this one? We can all recommend books, lots of books, trust me on that. You will need the stargazer books like Turn Left at Orion, but also telescope books like Philip S. Harrington's Star Ware. I just borrowed S. Barlow Pepin's Care of Astronomical Telescopes and Accessories from my local library. I also cruise the used bookstores and leaf through many just to see what speaks to me. I found a recent edition of a standard one-year university text at a good price. But I am a bibliophile and I prize my copy of a book by Henry Norris Russell. In the UK you have a surfeit of books by Patrick Moore and even a series edited under his direction. We all have our favorites, but it is like eyepieces: your eyes are not mine and the book that works well for me may not be friendly for you.
  10. My first adult telescope in November 2014 was a Celestron EQ 130. It took a lot of getting used to. I posted criticisms of the design and construction. It arrived not perfectly collimated and after a few years, it was just unsatisfactory. I bought a collimation eyepiece and was not successful. I donated the telescope and its original everything and the collimator to the Goodwill. My worst experience was trying to put one of the Celestron fillters in the 20mm eyepiece. The two they send you are not meant for their own kit. The eyepiece came apart I held a handful of small lenses. Fortunately, I was not the first person in the world that happened to and I found a website for putting it back together. All of that being as it may -- and there's more sad stories untold -- that telescope taught me a lot about observing. I learned a lot preparing to view when I went out. (Taking flying lessons in the 1990s, I learned that pilots spend as much or more time planning the flight as flying the route. That's good advice for astronomy, also.) I saw things that I never saw before, of course. The Trapezium in the Orion Nebula is a perfect example. Now that I know it was not the sharpest image possible, it makes no difference because the image was what it was and I identified what I was looking at. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars... I tracked the moons of Jupiter... Saw the phases of Venus, and eventually even the Andromeda Galaxy. It's all out there waiting for you. See below, but at some level, your telescope will cut through the city sky and you will see very many stars in the telescope that are not visible naked eye. So, make the most of the telescope and ignore the nay-sayers. Galileo changed our view of the universe with much less of an instrument. When you are ready for your second telescope, you will get a lot more from it because of what you learned from the EQ 130. On the plus side: Celestron customer service is great. Also on the plus side, the Celestron Lens & Filter kit. I agree with the comments above that you have most of what you need in the 10mm and 20mm and with a 2X Barlow and a 40mm (I would go with 32 mm) you will have most of what you will use actively from 40mm (16.5X) down to 5mm (10+2X) for 130X. That being as it may, you will also need some kind of "Moon filter" also called ND=neutral density or you will hurt yourself on the Moon, seriously: it's that bright when fuller. Different people have different opinions of the other filters. I have used them all and really am not active with them, but it can help to block this or that when you want to see Saturn, Jupiter, or the Moon somewhat differently for details. The reason that I bought the kit in the first place is that at club star parties I saw other people with other kinds of telescopes with the same kit. It seems to be acceptable to many. I did buy another telescope (several) and I did buy other oculars ("eyepieces") paying as much for them altogether as I did for the EQ-130. But I still use the Celestron kit and I seldom use the others. You will find the comment above that there is no sense in buying a great eyepiece for a mediocre telescope. The EQ-130 will not be improved with a 250 UKP 82-degree waterproof ocular. I still use the Celestron EPs every time I go out with my midrange and beginner refractors. Why? Because lenses and mirrors and tripods and mounts and eyepieces are totally irrelevant against the seeing conditions of your sky. I live in the city. Right now, Saturn is at opposition and Jupiter is closing. Unless I travel to a dark sky site, my view will be whatever it is as much with the National Geographic 70 mm "department store" telescope as it would be with the Apochromatic Extremely Low Dispersion Triple Lens 115 mm refractor and an 82-degree 7mm ocular. That's life. Think of Galileo. One recommendation: One of the first things I read online was from a guy who turned the wrong knob and his telescope slipped from the mount and hit the deck with the sound of shattered glass. As you can see, the control knobs are the same for the two axes and the mount. You want them to feel different in the dark.
  11. Only Titan for sure. I often check the Saturn webpage at Sky&Telescope to see which moons are where, but I never had the confidence to declare a small star to be any other moon. (https://skyandtelescope.org/wp-content/plugins/observing-tools/saturn_moons/saturn.html) What I would need would be observations two or three nights in a row to at least roughly track their movements. Moon Period (from The Planets by Patrick Moore 1st edition, 1962) TITAN 15d 22h Iapetus 79d Rhea 4 d 12 h Dione 2d 17 h (I just plucked the four largest. All are listed with more data. Iapetus was tagged with a question ? mark.) Nonetheless, congratulations to you and your very nice telescope.
  12. You got a nice telescope and a good binocular. I use both all the time when I am out. Very often the binos help me verify a naked-eye view before I search with my telescope. But I also just lay back in the chaise and look with the binocular. It is a different experience, entirely. Your telescope was an enviable catch. Ask here about "eyepieces" (oculars). Your instrument came with two, I believe (or should have if you bought it used) plus a 2X Barlow. Those should give you a good range of views. You will find that easy clusters such as the Pleiades and the Beehive (as well as the Moon, of course) require the wider views. With stars, you usually do not gain much with more magnification. They are just stars. That said, though, if you take to chasing binaries and other deep space objects (DSOs), you will appreciate having more power. But first things first. I will also underscore the comments about your own bad weather being caused by your having purchased a telescope. Now you have time to chat here and to read. The stars are pretty at any magnification. What makes viewing them satisfactory is understanding what you are looking at. Used bookstores and your local library will be easy resources. Many people belong to groups such as the British Astronomical Association and the Society for Popular Astronomy. I subscribe to several magazines -- and my own national professional society just bought Sky & Telescope -- and personally, I get the most from Popular Astronomy magazine. Best Regards, Mike M.
  13. I had the same experience the first time I went to a club star party at a dark sky sight. I grew up in the city and I usually live in cities. Once it got dark, I could not find anything. The club outreach person came over with his green laser and spent time with me getting me oriented. Just enjoy your embarrassment of riches and keep us posted. Best Regards, Mike M.
  14. You got some good replies and on the surface, they are unarguable. It does depend on what you want the magnification for. Allow me to suggest Ronald Stoyan's "Visual Astronomer" webpage. (It is not https secure, but here it is http://visualastronomer.com/ ) He recommends making the most of all of your available magnification. Just for example, if you are chasing binary stars, image quality is not the most important factor. All you want is two Airy disks that separate the objects. I would not normally view at 220X, but I must put a 6mm ocular in with a 2X Barlow to split the "double-double" in Lyra using my 102mm refractor from my city skies home. It is not a loss but rather a benefit to be able to verify what I have read about. I do agree with rl that much of how you see is individualized. Numbers are guidelines. The eyes of young people have different pupil responses than do those of adults and older adults. As we age, we can get near-sighted and then far-sighted again. Expectation has a lot to do with what you see. So does experience. I agree with that. We do most of our seeing with our brains. The eye just supplies information. The brain makes sense of it.
  15. Half a loaf is better than none. You seem to have good logistics with your garage being convenient. I have to port my instruments out of my office, down the hall, through the kitchen, out the back and off the porch. We are looking for a new home now and my wife included a shed for my gear on her list of amenities. So, you got some viewing in. That's what's important. Sky & Telescope magazine has some convenient web pages for Jupiter and Saturn. I check them before or after for what I am going to see or have. Jupiter's Moons -- https://skyandtelescope.org/wp-content/plugins/observing-tools/jupiter_moons/jupiter.html Jupiter Red Spot -- https://skyandtelescope.org/observing/interactive-sky-watching-tools/transit-times-of-jupiters-great-red-spot/ Saturn's Moons -- https://skyandtelescope.org/wp-content/plugins/observing-tools/saturn_moons/saturn.html Keep us posted on your successes. Best Regards, Mike M.
  16. I gave up on collimation this winter and donated the reflector and the collimator to the Goodwill. But, alas, I could not pass up a bargain and I bought a factory-reconditioned Bresser 8-inch (208 mm) Newtonian reflector, which is also an f/3.9 and therefore a challenge to collimate. So, I decided to face the music, pay the piper, etc.,etc., and I bought tools. I bought two different Cheshires just to compare them. I will let y'all know how it went when it goes. Right now, the telescope is in the shipping carton along with the calibrators. The telescope needs a mount and tripod (and a finder). But, that being as it may, the postal service did deliver the goods, all from Agena Astro in Cerritos, California:
  17. You are quite the hound dog, Jack Russell! I am impressed with your hands-on ability. Myself, I tend to work with paper and pencil. The mechanical stuff is a challenge. I saw a YouTube video about this guy who always bought WHITE telescopes so that his SO could not easily tell how many there were in the house.. and he kept one in the car. I agree with Alan64. I have found that whatever else about Celestron, their customer service has never let me down. They exceeded my expectations. Astronomy is a small market. Most of the sellers work hard at customer service because there is no second chance to do it right: people walk away and shop elsewhere. Allow me to recommend that you reach out to the local astronomy club. The stars at night are big and bright.
  18. Perhaps a galaxy not so far, far away... You might have resolved a brighter patch of the Milky Way. It surely did not look like this, but the picture is an indication. Allow me to recommend that you seek out a handbook or two and a website or three. There's a zillion guide books, but the one that works for you is the one you need. Myself, I often browse the used bookstores and your public library is an option. You can try before you buy. As for websites, there's a lot those, too, and we all have our favorites. I like Sky & Telescope magazine's offering: https://skyandtelescope.org/interactive-sky-chart/ They have a separate one for the Moons of Jupiter https://skyandtelescope.org/wp-content/plugins/observing-tools/jupiter_moons/jupiter.html and the moons of Saturn https://skyandtelescope.org/wp-content/plugins/observing-tools/saturn_moons/saturn.html The snapshot is from the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University, co-sponsored by NASA. Nominally chartered to serve professionals, they also deliver a lot to amateurs, like "The Sky Tonight." https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/current-night-sky Best Regards, Mike M.
  19. Congratulations, Blue Sky. The best telescope is the one that gets used. You seem to be off to a good start. I understand about the city lights. But unless you are under the lights of that big Ferris wheel or something, you can probably find a lot to look for even in London. In the classic handbook, Turn Left at Orion, the author had his Ph.D. from Harvard and had taught at MIT before a friend showed him the stunning double stars of Albireo from within the New York City metro area, Fort Lee, New Jersey. You might try for it. Best Regards, Mike M.
  20. Welcome! You will find that there are no dumb questions here. Tell us a bit more about your 6se. Did it come with just the one eyepiece, the 25mm? Have you started shopping for additional oculars ("eyepieces")? When do you do most of your viewing? If you have the freedom and opportunity to be out in the early morning, you will find the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn together about 2:00 or 3:00 AM over the coming weekend the 24th and 25th. Best Regards, Mike M.
  21. Well, you are never too old and in fact, as hobbies go, it is usually older people who have the resources and the time. It was very good of you to read and lurk before deciding to join. That usually makes for a better bond than being surprised. Tell us about the Short Tube refractor: make, etc., what eyepieces it came with, etc. What you have seen so far... If you don't mind my curiosity. We're all beginners here at some level. I had to google "ST80" and I've been doing this about five or six years. So, you will not be surprised to learn that I always take my binoculars out with me, just to lay back in the lawn chair and look. The famous American baseball catcher, Yogi Berra, of the New York Yankees, was known for unintentional witticisms, among them: "You can observe a lot just by watching." (And nothing personal, but I worked for Kawasaki and Honda. You will find that it is the same with telescopes: makes, models, brands, pros and cons.) Best Regards, Mike M.
  22. Welcome to the forum. When your telescope arrives, let us know and especially when you actually get to go outside with it. (See below.) If you received the standard package, then you have the two eyepieces, 25mm and 9 mm. Allow me to recommend that you consider adding the Celestron Lens and Filter Kit. I bought mine when I saw other people at star parties with much larger or more expensive telescopes and with the same kit. Celestron is not the only label. The same kit comes from other brand-name retailers. Also, ask questions here. I say that because some people tend to settle in to a few eyepieces and not use others. It is a personal preference. You may find that a larger eyepiece 32mm or even 40 mm plus a Barlow lens will deliver much of what you want from your first telescope. But, first of all, get to know the instrument you have. No kidding! I bought myself an ED APO in April... Still waiting for two clear nights in a row... and then I went ahead and bought an 8-inch Newtonian. It's raining now and I don't expect it to quit until January. (The Newt is still in the crate in the garage, no sense in listing it in the signature.) Meanwhile, I do have two erstwhile instruments that I can run outside with in the few moments when the sky is clear. One night last week, I got in four hours between 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM.
  23. I looked up your telescope. I was a bit out of focus myself by the label "dobsonian." Usually, it refers to a larger mirror, 8, 10, 12, inches or more. But, of course, John Dobson was equally famous for his simplified mount. He demurred against all praise and said that it was just a lazy susan. I suggested that your telescope's tube might need extra time to adjust to the ambient temperature. That is true, but yours is not a large tube. You have a nice 5-inch Newtonian reflector. I know that Meade calls it a "Dobsonian" and they are not incorrect in that this is the "lazy susan" mount. Myself, I would call it a tabletop Newtonian with an Alt-Az (altitude and azimuth) mount. It is a nice scope. It should reveal a wide range of targets, from planets, to double stars, to clusters. Keep us informed as you discover more in the sky. There's a lot out there. Trust your own instincts. I read back through the responses and I am not going to engage in side discussions but some of the advice was based on personal experiences that might be different from your own. Am I correct that you bought the telescope used as-is and you did not get the 26mm and 9mm eyepieces that it comes with? (The Meade website says that the model is discontinued. So, I assume that you bought it used.). The arithmetic for magnification is TELESCOPE divided by EYEPIECE. Your telescope's focal length is 650mm and 650/8 = 81.25. So, that's a nice magnification, very up-close. As noted by others, you can do more. There are some rules of thumb. A lower limit could be Aperture times 0.2 (or divided by 5), so that your lower limit could be 26. An upper limit could be 10 times that. But effectively would be limited by the actual sky (light pollution, haze, etc.), so maybe 130X before you lose resolution and start seeing your own eye floaters. But it depends on you, what you see when you use your telescope. Astronomy can be an expensive hobby and we all are willing to spend your money for you. If you are looking for other oculars ("eyepieces") ask around and take it all with a grain of salt. A lower power (32 mm or 40 mm) added to a 2X Barlow may give you some other options. The 2X Barlow will double the effective magnification of your present equipment. The lower power will give you a wider view of things like the Moon and the Pleiades. Coupled together a lower power and Barlow will give you a range of viewing options. But overall, reading is the thing. Make use your local library and used bookstores as well as website discussion boards like this one. Do you have a local club in your area? Whether you get more kit and gear or not, your BST 60-degree 8 mm is a good piece of glass. Enjoy it.
  24. We used to. I moved here in 2011. This year has been especially cloudy and wet. Looking back over my logs, A week of cloud cover was unusual, maybe a couple of times in the winter and spring. This year, I have not had a cloudless week since early April. Realize, though that Texas is a big place. We can have a snowstorm in the north and a tropical storm in the south on the same day in March or November. The west is high desert. The east is coastal marshes. The distance from the University of Texas Austin to the University of Texas McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis is the same as Paris to Prague. or just short of Edinburgh to London.
  25. I agree about the Moon. However, I question the major premise. Regarding sunlight as experienced on Earth, the UV does the most damage to your eyes, not the IR. Nature here: https://www.nature.com/articles/eye2015266 US National Institutes of Health here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872277/
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