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Posts posted by PeterStudz

  1. Interesting, thanks for posting.

    I have a Skywatcher Skyhawk 1145p. Obviously smaller than your telescope but apart from the mount (it’s an EQ1) I’ve found it surprisingly good. Although I’ve learnt to live with the wobbly nature of putting it on another mount.

    And I have been thinking of doing an upgrade similar to yours using an AZ GTi. How is the tripod now that you’ve modified it? Is it nice and steady?

  2. Another thumbs-up for the BST StarGuiders. I have the 25mm, 12mm and 5mm. Initially purchased for another smaller telescope. The 5mm gave great views of Jupiter & Saturn last year when conditions allowed. In fact on one very good night I used the 12mm plus cheap 3x barlow (Bresser, purchased for £28, again for another telescope) for 300x on Jupiter. I could actually see some of the swirls and details around the Great Red Spot. For high magnification this combination has surprised me. 

  3. For an old phone, like the iPhone 4, that’s good! Thanks for sharing.

    I have a clone of the Orion Steadypix. Works very well the BST StarGuiders that I mostly use. When the eyecup is removed it holds onto the eyepiece very securely. Once I found the sweet spot I also added a tiny screw on the holder to lock left-right movement. See pictures. Now I only need to adjust up-down when I install the holder. 

    As @Stu suggests, I install the phone in the holder then eyepiece before I put it on the telescope. It’s fiddly at first bit becomes easier and second nature after some practice. I practiced in the daylight, taking pictures of upside down chimney pots, branches and pigeons. If you have a solar filter then the sun is good as practice. It’s obviously far easier to spot any issues/improvements in daylight. 

    Often I’ll install the holder on the phone indoors, in the light, so I can see what I’m doing, then take the phone attached to the holder outside. If you do this then make sure that the phone is in a position where the camera lens can’t dew up. And another tip - make sure that the lens on your phone is nice and clean before you start. If you are like me the lens can get covered in finger prints, dust and other detritus.



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  4. On 13/01/2022 at 17:26, Mr Spock said:

    I upgraded the stock focuser for my 250 FlexTube with the Lacerta Dual Speed upgrade kit. Cost £67-ish and works perfectly. 

    Turns it into a classy super smooth Crayford. You can't beat those for visual 👍



    Thanks for posting this. Until now I never knew that this product existed. Just tried to see if I could buy one and I can’t find anyone that has stock. So looks like I’ll have to wait :(

  5. Just come in from a quick lunchtime solar session. I only have a cheap white light film filter for a small 4.5 inch reflector but even with that it’s a lot of fun. My daughter is also off school with COVID, so it’s something for her to do too. The sun is obviously low in the sky right now and we didn’t have much time before it slid behind a big tree. 

    But as mentioned above and even with this low tech setup, sunspots look so much better than the photographs I’ve seen. There’s a kind of 3D quality in the eyepiece that you don’t see in photographs. And of course it’s ever changing, never the same view.

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  6. Everyone seems to be looking at the moon at the moment. And it’s not surprising given the conditions. I spent the first half of the week stripping down my Skywatcher Skyliner 200p, flocking the whole tube, drilling holes for a handle and painting anything Matt black that was at all shiny. Scary stuff! Quickly put it all back together so I could test. I felt nervous having it all in bits, although I had a strange issue with the primary cell (sorted out today), but the telescope might not have been quite collimated when these shots were taken.

    Also managed to see Thor’s Hammer for the first time (circled in red).

    Single shot pictures taken with my iPhone 12, cheap no-name smartphone mount, standard camera app, cropped and processed with the standard camera app.










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  7. 34 minutes ago, Kon said:

    Moon is looking even sharper tonight. No light haze as last night.

    Yes, similar experience for me. I had a brief session last night, although after a hard day flocking I was tired and more concerned about testing and just seeing if everything was still OK. 

    Been observing this evening and the moon does look great. Now in for dinner, back out soon :)

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  8. @Kon it’s been mentioned quite a bit on this forum in the past but was originally suggested by a guy on CloudyNights. Basically a couple of washers cut from a plastic milk carton and fitted under the secondary adjustment screws.


    My understanding is that It’s supposed to make adjusting the secondary screws smoother and prevent the screws digging pits into the back of tree secondary holder over time. 

    • Thanks 1
  9. I’m far from an expert but I have the same telescope and that looks like mine when it’s collimated. Although it can be hard to tell with camera angles like this. Proof will be in the observing.

    As I you might know my 200p was kindly gifted to me, but it came without a base, which I’ve now constructed. There were other issues too which I’ve slowly dealt with. And I’ve had both mirrors out, bobs knobs & milk bottle mod added to the secondary.

    Today I’ve taken the thing to bits in order, amongst other things, to flock the tube. At the moment it’s just a bare tube. I’ll try and do the flocking tomorrow- scary stuff! I just hope I can get it all back together!

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  10. 1 hour ago, clafann1 said:

    Thanks for your bits, so, what I'm seeing is really what is supposed to be...

    Good to be informed...

    That depends!

    What make/model of telescope have you got?

    Is your reflector collimated? It needs to be spot on for planets. 

    Your location makes a huge difference. Go to a very dark site and you’ll see much more. 

  11. I have a 4.5 inch & 8 inch reflector. As for Jupiter I could certainly make out banding plus (when facing earth) The Great Red Spot on my 4.5 inch. Sure, it was small and far better when viewed in the larger telescope but it can be done.

    Seeing plays a big part especially, like this year, when Jupiter is so low in the sky. And personally I haven’t had good seeing on Jupiter since around mid-October. I last looked at Jupiter last Tuesday and on that night it didn’t give me much more than a fuzzy ball. 

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  12. What a lovely report. And wow! When I started and first joined this site I didn’t appreciate observing reports and didn’t find them interesting. Now I think that they are great and really appreciate people taking the time to write them up.

    I didn’t even think that the likes of the Horse Head was possible with and 8 inch dob in the south of England. Really makes me want to take my 200p to a nice dark site. Well, it’s only a matter of time before I give it a go.

    I do know what you mean when you say that you were “buzzing”. The first time I say a galaxy in my telescope I was buzzing so much that it took an age for me to get to sleep.

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    • Thanks 1
  13. 23 hours ago, Dark Vader said:

    ^^^ What he said. I'd love to get something like that, but my phone camera won't do 1 sec let alone 21 😄

    Sounds like it’s time for an upgrade 😀. From my understanding the stock iPhone 12 camera app when in NightMode takes 3 second  (possibly 3.3) exposures and then stacks to make anything up to 30 sec maximum. The iPhone 13 is supposed to improve on that. And Android smartphones can do similar and more. Modern smartphone cameras have some interesting and clever low light tricks. 

    Mind, some of the pictures I’ve seen you take of the moon are very good!

  14. Thanks for the nice comments! I do enjoy trying to get the best of what I have. And also using bits and bobs form down my shed left over from previous projects in order to do a bit of DIY modifications/improvements.

    And as @MalcolmM says - I’m also impressed with the stunning images posted on this site. Some of which I hardly thought possible. But also those using more modest gear. I know that in the past I’ve taken smartphone pictures and thought that they weren’t good enough to post. This is a mistake.

    You could argue that a modern smartphone is an expensive bit of high tech. Which of course it is. Although I had the iPhone before I got into astronomy, so it is a case of using what I already have. And these days it’s something that virtually everyone owns. 

  15. Had a go last night taking a picture of the Orion Nebula with the little Skywatcher 1145p. Came out OK I think for a single shot on a phone plus small telescope in my rather light polluted Bortle 7-8 sky.  I’m sure it would be better at a site that was actually dark. The wind was playing games with my wobbly EQ1 too. 

    Skywatcher Skyhawk 1145p, EQ1, StarGuider 12mm, iPhone 12, single 21 second exposure. Cropped plus a little basic editing. 


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  16. Had a nice session with my 10yr old daughter before bed last night. The Met Office app did forecast some clear sky’s so it wasn’t a surprise, although not before a heavy shower. Maybe it’s just me but some of the better seeing seems to occur immediately after rain.

    Since last year and due to the weather, it was the first time we could get a good look at Orion. While the telescope was cooling we used our binoculars to do a little tour of the region around Orion. The Hyades cluster looked fab as did the Pleiades. In fact I’d say that the Hyades looks best in binoculars. She’s starting to know Orion and its stars quite well and it was interesting giving her instructions on star hopping. Binoculars are a great way to teach and learn your way around the sky. They also allow your eyes to get use to the dark without hanging around getting bored which is definitely an issue with children. Well, adults too.

    Finished off by observing the Orion Nebula in the telescope. Seeing was decent even for Southampton although terminated a little early as some clouds rolled in. But just before that we were treated to a bright meteor with an orange glow to end the night.

    All, in all about 1 hr 45 mins of observing which is plenty for a 10 yr old. And it wasn’t even cold which does help too.

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  17. I’m most jealous, well done! I had noticed a brief spell without cloud here too but I was just too busy with work.

    Out of interest. During the last “spotty sun” at the beginning of September I was surprised how much my daughter enjoyed observing the sun and it’s spots. She also had a friend over who was equally impressed. And her friend isn’t nearly as interested as my daughter. You could tell from the “wows” and series of questions, not all of which I could answer. There was certainly more interest than something like the Orion Nebula. 

    Some of this was down to the fact it was warm, no waiting around in order to get eyes use to the dark, we had a BBQ going and I gave a long lecture on the dangers of looking at the sun. Kids love anything that sounds risky. I also rammed it home by using a magnify glass to burn a hole in a bit of paper and then light the BBQ. All a lot of fun. 

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  18. Thanks for the nice comments. 

    Just as I thought I’d have a little free time to finishing the OTA a load of work came in. Don’t you just hate it when that happens! I just need a couple of free days maximum - I think! Will probably be early in the New Year.

    I’ll try and post some pictures as I strip the OTA down and flock etc. I’ve got most of the bits I need together now. I have a feeling that there are pits where the secondary adjustment screws meet the holder. At the moment the secondary is a pain to adjust. Eg as soon as I get it bang on and tighten the screws it slips out of position again. Will probably do the milk bottle mod but will see when I take it apart. 

    And happy Christmas!


  19. On 08/12/2021 at 17:20, wookie1965 said:

    The only thing stopping me is the weather and only have a few days before it ducks under the horizon. 

    I tried at the beginning of December. From my garden Leonard is not in a great  position so I’ve only have a few chances.

    I got up at 4am. It was clear then with only a few high clouds. I quickly setup and allowed some time for cooling. And it was chilly.

    On that morning Leonard wasn’t far from M3, so I planned to hop from there. Quickly found M3 which was a nice sight, especially after not seeing it for some time. Maybe I lingered too long but as I was looking at M3 clouds suddenly rolled in - and that was it. Typical! 

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  20. At last, the base is finished! Took a while for me to paint as during the summer and early autumn my daughter (me too) got into observing Jupiter and Saturn. And it was at every opportunity. From camping in the garden to late nights, whenever it wasn’t cloudy. Somewhat fortunately most of this was during the school holidays, although it did tire me out! Work also got in the way too.

    Painting would mean at least a week off as I would need to allow the paint to fully cure. Unpainted It also allowed me to fiddle with the setup. I’m really pleased with the textured ABS sheet on Teflon/PTFE pads for the azimuth bearing. Hardly any stiction even at high magnification. Tried some other possibilities but nothing that I tried was better than this. 

    The altitude bearings took a bit more effort. Just running on PTFE pads there was too much stiction for my liking. Some dehydrator sheets (basically PTFE paper) which I had at home and stuck to the sides of the trunnions with PTFE tape worked perfectly. The last picture shows what I mean. Initially this was just a temporary installation but it’s lasted so well that I’ve kept is as is. 

    I’ve also made the rocker box easy to remove from the ground boards without tools. I thought it might be easier to transport via car this way and  if necessary, it allows possible future modifications. 

    Just got to give the OTA some more attention. I intend to take it apart, give it a good clean and flock. Probably add a handle. However, I already have a primary mirror solution. More on this later. 






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