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Everything posted by PeterStudz

  1. What ever you buy you’ll probably believe that maybe something else would have been better. I think that’s a common theme with people starting out. But just make the best of what you’ve got and have fun. I actually enjoy finding stuff that I can’t see with the naked eye. Can be frustrating but It’s quite a skill and thrill when you do find what you were looking for. And my daughter can now find the brighter objects with a dob, getting it to the centre of the eyepiece. Harder than you first imagine.
  2. This is true. Although it’s nice to have a shared interest however small. And as @Kon pointed out it’s often “quality time”. Sometimes little things like my daughter coming into our bedroom at 12:30am and saying “daddy, I can’t sleep, can we see the planets”. The planets being Jupiter and Saturn.
  3. We just use a cheap inflatable air bed. It’s provided enough insulation during late spring, summer and early autumn. Although this September has been warm and dry so far. Alice is also an outside person which helps. Some children aren’t. Although a negative is that much observing is done during the winter. Even in early May the telescope was coming back inside with ice on it. Getting/expecting children to hang about outside when it’s -2C is a tad too much. Even with lots of warm clothing & hot drinks.
  4. Well, my wife thinks I’m just a big kid Another thing that’s helped is using a smartphone camera as an aid to observing. These days children are media driven. I’ve used the example of the Orion Nebula before. At first it was just a fuzzy grey “cloud” through the eyepiece. Alice was not impressed. But hovering my phone camera over the eyepiece showed colours. This image (without taking a picture) had my daughter literally jumping up and down. We’ve even got pictures of globular clusters, galaxies that you couldn’t see with the eye at the eyepiece and of course the moon. She’s shown these picture to friends, teachers at school (during the pandemic that was via zoom). Some of her friends have come over to look in the telescope on the back of these pictures. The teachers have been impressed. Now, I don’t even consider these pictures astrophotography but it’s something fun to do and it keeps an interest going.
  5. To make it more fun and child friendly I try (when possible) to make observing an event. Eg camping in the garden, making cups of hot chocolate, toasting marshmallows, with the telescope just part of the event. Some of the garden camping has been done without a tent. Then we can look up at the sky (dark adaption comes naturally), search for meteors, scan the sky with binoculars. Of course this is more a summer thing when most DSO aren’t in a good position and the sky isn’t truly dark. But Saturn and Jupiter have been great fun. Alice hasn’t got bored at looking at these. Eg to get her to look in the eyepiece for more than 5 mins we played “who could spot the Great Red Spot first” as it appeared on the edge of the disc. You can get the timings of this in apps or the internet. Then watched as it slowly tracked across the planet.
  6. I’m relatively new to this having started out last December as my then 9yr old daughter had a interest in astronomy and I thought that a telescope (well, telescopes, we now have two) would be a fun thing that we could both do. This has turned out to be the case but it’s been hard work. One event that got more excitement and “wow” than using a telescope in an urban sky was going to a truly dark site. Sure, this was in Crete but maybe travel somewhere in the UK where the sky is dark. And I’m mean dark. Before Alice did not understand what “dark” was. After all, it was so dark in our garden that daddy had fallen down the patio steps while setting up Seeing the Milky Way and a sky completely full of stars is stunning even for an adult. The Andromeda Galaxy could be seen with the naked eye and was even better in the small binoculars that we had with us. DSO that we couldn’t see with an 8 inch reflector in our Southampton garden were visible with the naked eye. She still talks about it now. And no telescope necessary. And don’t forget the sun when there’s sunspots. With a decent solar filter and precautions. I’ve got a better reaction and “wow” from Alice than most DSO. And of course it’s during the day with all the advantages for children that brings.
  7. Yes, @Dark Vader is correct. I use a cheap phone mount. Getting the sweet spot does take trial and error. But once I found it I screwed/glued everything down. Possible for me as I use the same make of eyepieces. Many people recommend the Celestron NexYZ as this is easy to adjust in all axes. However, it’s expensive. I did splash out on this mount but for my small telescope I found it far too heavy. With this, plus a standard iPhone 12 the weight is almost half a kilo. This weight would throw everything off balance, pulling on the draw tube/optical train and making images noticeably blurry - the weight was basically putting the collimation off. But if you have a more substantial telescope it might work for you.
  8. @Kon Like you I prefer the visual aspect over photography. I’m happy to spend a couple of hours outside in the freezing cold observing just one object - changing eyepieces, waiting for my eyes to adapt, using adverted vision, waiting for the object to move higher into the sky where it’s darker, hoping for the seeing to improve… I rarely look at more than 3 objects during a night. But it’s hard for kids to appreciate that. My daughter is a little older than your 6 yr old which helps. One way I got my her to take part in this is to make observing an event - eg camping in the garden (when it was warmer), making hot chocolate, toasting marshmallows, learning a load of info about the “fuzzy” object we are looking at and then telling a story. Jupiter and Saturn have been a big help. We have been looking at both at every opportunity since the middle of June. For these there’s no need to get dark adapted, the weather is warmer and she hasn’t got at all bored at looking at them. Last night was a great example as we also looked at the moon, then Saturn and finally Jupiter. With Jupiter the GRS was due to appear and we played “who could spot the GRS first” as it appeared at the edge of the disc. Then watched as it moved towards the planets meridian. Interestingly, with Jupiter and Saturn, we haven’t bothered taking any pictures/videos. Just observing has been more than satisfying so we don’t really need to. I consider the picture taking more of an aid or part of observing. A good example of this is when, back in January, we first looked at the Orion Nebula in our little 4.5inch Newtonian. Looking through the eyepiece it was just a slightly disappointing fuzzy blob (not helped by the light pollution in our bortle 8 sky). Then Alice asked if we could take a picture. Not expecting much I hovered my phone camera over the eyepiece. As soon as I did colours popped onto the screen. Even without taking a picture this view had her literally jumping up and down. Of course the disadvantage of doing this is that it ruins all night vision, so best left towards the end of a session.
  9. @Shipmate it is a tad worrying, especially in parts of the UK. In order to get a proper dark sky I’d need to drive a long way. And then there’s the issue of British weather - I could get there and find it cloudy for the week - although that’s really something else. And I have friends in their 50’s, mostly those who have lived and been brought up in London or it’s suburbs, who have never seen the Milky Way.
  10. I think that smartphones with these features (and future phones) are potentially a way of creating an interest in astronomy that would otherwise pass by some budding astronomers. I know that my daughter has shown our little phone snaps of the night sky to her friends and teachers. The teachers have been impressed and some of her friends (on the back of the pictures) have come over in order to look through our telescopes. The other thing that I find interesting. She hasn’t got much of an idea of what “proper” astrophotography” is, although I’ve explained how the space pictures she’s seen in books are done. To her all she/we are doing is taking pictures that happen to be taken of the sky. For some people that simplicity will be appealing.
  11. These are just single snaps. And thanks for the nice comments guys!
  12. I had another go at sunspot observing yesterday lunchtime. The benefits of working from home. Managed to get a closeup of sunspot regions 2866 & 2868 by cranking the little Skywatcher 1145p up to 200x - the limit of where it can go. Skywatcher 1145p on EQ1, Starguider 5mm plus 2x Barlow, BAADER AstroSolar filter, basic no-name phone mount, iPhone 12, Imaged rotated with added yellow filter.
  13. If I had the time again I’d still go for a Dob. What I was trying to say is that there’s no “best” solution that fits everyone. There’s also good and not so good features. And some of it is what you get use to. I’m also quite handy with DIY and was able to improve/tighten-up the mount somewhat. Using a smartphone and a Dob you’ll still be able to get nice pictures of brighter objects like the moon, star clusters, even the Orion Nebula. You can also play around with video.
  14. Sorry for the long post but hopefully this might be useful. About 10 months ago I was in a similar position. My 9 yr old daughter had an obvious interest in astronomy and I suggested getting her a telescope for Christmas as I thought it would be something we could do together and it would further fire her interest. Just for the record, we are in a city, Southampton, which is classed as Bortle 8 - so significant light pollution. I did some research (although unfortunately I didn’t find this wonderful forum) and decided that a 130 Dob - the Heritage 130P was top of the list - would fit. However, at the time I didn’t appreciate that there was a big shortage of telescopes and I could not find anything suitable. And for me I wasn’t confident on the second hand market, not helped by the ones I did see going for silly prices. So, partly in panic I opted for a Skywatcher 1145p on a wobbly EQ1 mount, which suddenly became available at £175 and sold out in under 24hrs. At first I thought that I might have made a mistake but in the end it wasn’t a mistake at all. And my thinking was that if it turned out a lemon I could always sell it and buy something else when supply improved. Then last April we were kindly gifted an old Skywatcher Skyliner 200p without a mount and I successfully constructed a Dob mount for it. But we still use the 1145p. On Christmas Day the night sky was clear and the moon in an ideal position so I hurriedly put together the 1145p. Even for me the whole thing was a big learning curve and it took a while to fully appreciate a EQ mount. But looking at the moon had my daughter so excited that she ran inside for the star charts that where also part of her Christmas gifts. Of course it wasn’t going to be that easy. A few things that we quickly discovered. For a 9 yr old just learning to look through a Newtonian isn’t that easy. Especially when it’s the blind leading the blind. Eg…. * Does she wear her glasses or not? * Locating objects and using a red dot finder. * Learning to focus. * Eyepieces - there’s even a knack just looking through an eyepiece. Sometimes she’d say “but I can’t see anything”. * Getting her eyes adopted to the dark. * In winter it’s cold. Getting a child to sit in the dark when it’s -2C isn’t easy nor fun. * When the weather gets warmer the sun obviously sets later. Then you have the issue of having children up at silly hours - they do need sleep! * British weather is far from ideal. Many nights are clouded out or have poor seeing. We quickly discovered that using a smartphone as an aid (I’m not taking astrophotography) was a big help and had the advantage that if she got cold she could pop back inside the house. Little need to get her eyes adapted to the dark. An example was the Orion Nebula. Through our little telescope in Bortle 8 it was just a rather disappointing grey smudge. But even holding the camera up to the eyepiece, looking at a live image (not taking a picture) revealed colours. That image literally had my daughter jumping up and down! We also used the smartphone camera to she objects that were impossible to she with our eyes through our small telescope, eg galaxies, even snapping an image (if smudgy) of 3 galaxies at once - the Leo Triplet. She showed our images to friends and teachers at school (at that time via zoom lessons) who were obviously impressed. Kids these days are media driven and love to see pictures even if they are no where near astrophotography level. I invested in better eyepieces and a cheap motor for the EQ1. The motor meant that we could keep objects centred in the eyepiece with little drifting which was a big help. It also meant that we could take longer exposures with our smartphone. Something that’s not easy using a Dob. We also got a solar filter which meant that we could look at the sun, obviously during the day, which added more interest. I also discovered that making observing an event with the telescope(s) the icing on the cake really helped. Eg making hot chocolate and toasting marshmallows, as the weather improved camping outside, often without a tent so she could look up at the stars, get adapted to the dark without trying, then getting up and looking through the telescopes. Having friends over for sleep- overs with added astronomy has also been fun. By the summer we also had a bigger telescope which as mentioned was a Skywatcher 200p, but still used the 1145p as it has certain advantages. At first she found a Dob hard to keep objects at high magnification in view - there’s a knack with that - and although I had to set the thing up, the slow motion controls on an EQ mount a doddle. Shes also become a little obsessed with Jupiter and Saturn and we’ve been looking at these two at every opportunity. Usually with the 200p, but we’ve been observing these since the start of June and her interest is still strong. To sum up - be patient and keep trying. Don’t give up. Observing is more fun when it’s made into an event. It can be more than just looking through a telescope. There will be disappointments but if you keep at it huge rewards. Oh… and a lot of fun!
  15. Two images in white light. First taken today on 06/09/21 when seeing was better. Still suffered somewhat from thin high cloud. Second image taken yesterday on 05/09/21 through almost constant high cloud and haze. Although when I started observing it was much better. Still useful to illustrate how the spots have changed in the last 24 hours. Skywatcher 1145p on EQ1, BAADER AstroSolar filter, basic no-name phone mount, iPhone 12, Imaged rotated with added yellow filter.
  16. If it’s the same thing then the Daily Echo has it at around 9:45pm. If so I wasn’t out then. https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/19560617.meteor-seen-hampshire-last-night/
  17. I was outside observing in Southampton during those times but didn’t see anything apart from the occasional “normal” meteor.
  18. Lovely seeing here in Southampton last night and early this morning. Some of the best views I’ve had this year which surprised me. Europas shadow transit looked stunning right next to the GRS before it unfortunately disappeared behind a tree. But by then I’d seen the best of it. Ganymede wasn’t due to transit until just after 2am BST and by then Jupiter was partly hidden and far to low for me anyway. Earlier in the evening Saturn also looked superb. A good night, although the fun and excitement made it hard for me to sleep.!
  19. Exactly this! At this time of year the first thing I tend to look for is the Summer Triangle. Then from there the constellations. But to start with I struggled even with that. Jupiter was easy to spot but Saturn was lost in the great “noise” of stars.
  20. I really like those as for my taste they aren’t over done. They are close to what Jupiter looks like this year through my telescope on a good night of seeing.
  21. These were taken last week on holiday in Loutro - SW Crete, Greece. My daughter, who is now just 10, hasn’t seen the Milky Way and this was a chance that could not be missed. Had to walk behind the village but as soon as we did the sky was stunning. I’ve never been to such a dark place and it was hard to know where to look. Bortle 2 according to Clear Outside, however, looking to the south & SW there’s nothing until you get to Africa. Only had about 1.5hrs before the moon made an appearance so spent most of the time looking at the views, spotting shooting starts and looking at objects in our binoculars. First time we’ve seen andromeda (even though it was low) with the naked eye. And never thought that the pipe nebula would be a binocular target. Mind, at the time I wasn’t even sure what it was. Pictures taken quickly right at the end (so not to ruin night vision) as an afterthought using a cheap selfie phone tripod. iPhone 12 in night mode, single 30 sec exposure, minimal basic editing.
  22. Great views in Southampton with excellent seeing just as the shadow reached Jupiter’s meridian. Even better as I wasn’t expecting it and caught me by surprise.
  23. Not great seeing for me in Southampton but it wasn’t difficult to see the transit before it clouded over. Mind, I managed to catch the last transit which for me had good seeing.
  24. Hi, And welcome. I’m in a similar position having returned after many years. In the mid-1970’s my parents bought me a Prinz Astral but it was so long ago I’d long forgotten how much I enjoyed looking through a telescope. Eventually my mother sadly gave it away to a charity shop But I well remember seeing Jupiter and it’s moons, plus the rings of Saturn. Although I could not see any more details on the planets. Probably just needed a filter but helpful forums like this didn’t exist in those days. Sky at Night and Patrick Moore was the limit.
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