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Stephen_M

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    Ilkley, West Yorkshire

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  1. Big update...and observing report from yesterday evening. I am not sure why, but I feel like I always knew that I wanted a dobsonian telescope. Whilst doing the usual 'research' before buying, I think it must have been the disrupted supply chains that lead me to find UK based David Lukehurst and drop him an email. Anyway, long story short, David had built me a telescope and it was ready to collect this Sunday. I made the short trip down south to pick up the newest additional to our family (side note - do people name their telescopes? I feel like mine needs a name). So, last night I finally had an evening with the following day off, plus the moon was moving back across the sky, enough so that in the evening that I could observe it from my garden before it disappeared below the rooftops. I had been checking clearnight all day at work. The forecast wasn't looking good, all shades of red with cloud cover and rain. However, I was determined I would set the scope up and have a go with it, even if there was nothing to look at. 9pm comes around, the wife is going to bed, and I am quickly taking the various bits and pieces outside. "Is this what middle age is going to be like from now on?", I wonder. I am also thinking, thank goodness I got a 10" scope as this thing is flippin' heavy. We had blue skies and I was pretty excited to make the most of the time I had. The first attempt with the finderscope was, erm, challenging. Even to find the moon, I am then thinking I am so thankful that I am not trying to do this in the pitch black of the bleak mid-winter. Perhaps buying a telescope at the summer solstice is not such a crazy idea. Left is right, up is down, what is going on? I am searching around the endless blue sky, then the drainpipe comes in to view, too far! I pitch it back up a bit and finally the moon comes into the finderscope. Success! I only have the one eyepiece, so not much to say here except it was just plug it in and off we go. Getting a feel for the 'exit pupil' and trying to match it to mine, this felt like another small thing that needs to be 'learnt'. It took me a bit of getting used to. The Baader Morpheus 14mm EP (thanks for the advice SGL) was actually a pretty good choice for observing the moon it turns out. I have just googled the maths and the true field of view is (76 / 90 = 0.84 ) which was just large enough for the moon to fit into to. Anyway, the views I thought were stunning, and I was very happy with everything. I quickly got my "Turn Left at Orion" for some guidance of what I was looking at. I spent most of the time looking at the north part, Aristoteles and Eudoxus were really spectacular. If my eye gazed towards the limb, I could see the turbulence flickering the bright light from the moon. I did look for a bit at the southern highlands, but there wasn't really much to see at this magnification, most of it was in darkness still. What was interesting to reflect on (pun intended), was after just half and hour or so, was how 'instinctive' adjusting the telescope was. I didn't even really need to think too hard, I just somehow knew which direction to adjust it to bring the moon back into the centre of the view. I also found that using what I have termed 'the hug' gave me the best stability for viewing. This is where I had my right arm over and around the secondary cage on the far side to me, and left hand on the cage to the left of the focuser. However, I will need to invest in some sort of mat to save my poor knees which were starting to ache after a while! Now I was getting a nice steady and comfortable position, I spent a long time look at Mare Tranquillitatis and Mare Serenitatis. Another amazing concept to me was how the maria areas seemed smooth to start with, but as you looked, slowly, one by one, more and more tiny craters started to blemish their surface. And once I had seen them, I couldn't 'un-see' them. I hope this is what I have heard about in terms of an unconscious part of your brain processing the image so that your conscious can then interpret what you are seeing, very fascinating to me. That is pretty much everything. A bonus was also spending some time with the blackbirds that are nesting in our ivy. I hadn't realised just how frequently they were feeding their chicks. They must have made about four or five visits whilst I was outside. All in all, very happy with this observing session. Fingers crossed for hopefully some clear skies Saturday when I would next be able to say up late. A bonus pic through the eyepiece using my smartphone:
  2. Well, I didn't think I was going to be posting here so soon. Incidentally, today I was off work as I had just started a new reduced hours contract and so I will be working just 4 days a week now. Hopefully in the darker months that will give me an extra opportunity to stay up late if needed. Funnily enough, I was just purchasing my eyepiece ready for my new telescope that I am collecting on Saturday. And, I was on the forum and realised the solar eclipse was "in progress". I quickly read a BBC article that suggested to use some binos to project the image safely on to a surface for observing. So, I quickly grabbed my 8x32s (which seem to be getting quite a bit of use so far!), and headed outside. It was about 11am and cloudy, but literally at the moment I started to look, some patches of blue sky came along. I am sorry if that makes hard reading for anyone who specially booked a day off work and wasn't able to see anything! I didn't look up at first, but was amazed to see two crescents projected on to the kitchen floor as I waved the binoculars back and forth to see what would happen. Actually, for a good 20 minutes or so the light cloud meant you had have a peak directly up to see the sun and see what was going on. And there was intermittent periods of strong light that I was able to have a good play with the binos and see what effect various things did to the projected image. It was interesting to see that what effect the magnification had on the contrast and brightness of the projection. Hopefully some useful knowledge for using the telescope. So in summary, all in all a very unexpected, rather fortuitous and enjoyable experience! Plus, I also did some smartphone imaging too!
  3. Thank you. I think I'm going to get a Morpheus 17.5mm as my first EP. That way I can at least use my scope to look at the moon, locate/track stars, etc. and generally learn the basics over the summer. Then in Autumn/Winter I'll consider getting some higher magnification EPs, and probably keep an eye (pun intended) on the FS forum too.
  4. Thanks everyone. I think you have persuaded me to stay away from a set for now, and consider buying one or two eps as per your suggestions. The time taken for people to post is very much appreciated
  5. Hi, Apologies if this is in the wrong section. Mods, please move to relevant section if needed. So, I have splashed my cash on a f/5 10" lukehurst dobsonian. My dilemma is that as a beginner, I have no eyepieces and the scope won't come with any. I am wondering, should I get a set, or maybe start with some better quality individual eyepieces and build my own set slowly? I would be happy with just starting with wide field of view. I am super excited to start looking at stars in general and star clusters! No need to go hunting for anything difficult to begin with. Any links to useful articles would be very much appreciated. Sorry again for being lazy and not doing my own research here. I am hoping the hive knowledge can save me some time! I have no idea about price, but could probably stretch to get a set at around £300-400 if it was a more cost effective way to do it. I am wary of 'beginner sets' that might just prove to be a waste of money in the long run. Thank you. Stephen
  6. Thank you everyone for those comments. That is the idea, to try and observe as frequently as possible. I have been surprised about how quickly I am learning. I would say I am lucky to have quite good spacial awareness, so everything seems to make sense once you can figure out where you are looking! I can't say quite how helpful the book is. I suppose there is also the added challenge of the back garden observing. I can't really see anything to the west as I live mid terrace, I can just see the two stars (Castor and Pollux? They're on my 'to do' list) in Gemini just above the rooftops at 10pm. To the south is Leeds/Bradford so Spica stands out but nothing else in that area of the sky. West I am looking directly at a street lamp, but higher in the sky is fine. The north and Zenith are good. I'm amazed at how quickly everything rotates, and realise it's going to be fun to follow the changes in the season as constellations move through the areas that are darker. I'll concentrate on the north and west for the next few sessions. Learning Hercules (need to write a report) and Northern Cross. Frustratingly, can't seem to find M13 at the moment despite several attempts. Well, I have probably found it, but just can't 'see' it! More reports to follow!
  7. Hi everyone. A report from a week and a half ago, before all this wet weather arrived! Beginners report here, first timer. I thought might be useful for other beginners, maybe some folks might have some advice for me too. I thought I can just stick a post on here with what I have seen, mainly for my own records, but also happy to hear any advice until the local astronomy club gets going again. Please spare my rambling as I am talking through my process of self teaching! So, on Thursday evening, the skies here were fabulous. I pottered out for a look about 9pm and quickly familiarised myself with the constellations I had learnt already. Predominantly around polaris looking north; big dipper, little dipper, Cassiopeia and Ceph. I was not in work the following day so wanted to take advantage of staying up a bit longer than usual. I then popped out again at 10pm and the conditions where what I must consider to be excellent; quite dark, still air, and not too cold. I quickly picked up my 'Walk Through the Heavens' book and furiously looked for the next constellations to learn. What was immediately obvious was Draco was very easy to see by looking in between the areas of sky that I had already learnt, weaving through the skies overhead. Usually these stars I have tried to see but not been able to. Another page of the book completed, what next? I looked over to the East and tried to make out Bootes that I have seen with difficulty previously. However, tonight above Arcuturus, the remaining stars seemed to be in pairs. I was looking for four points of a kite, but instead saw three pairs above Arcturus. I have tried to retrospectively look for what I have seen, but clearly a lot of reading to do about the stars in Bootes. Furthermore, to my amazement the Corona Borealis was easily visible next door too. Time to go somewhere new, where can I go from the big dipper, how about South and to Leo. This was very easy to see once I knew what shape to look for. Rocking horse works very well. It was easy to link Denebola to Spica and then back to Arcturus. I was reaching what I think was my limit for new knowledge in one evening. So, finally I saw in the book a mention of the Beehive cluster. I took out the 8x32 binoculars and found it easily. My first Messier object! In the binoculars, about 10 or 15 individuals stars were clearly grouped together in my field of view. A nice way to end the evening I thought. Below are my attempts at sketching the observations out. Feedback very much appreciated!
  8. LAS - Leeds Astronomy Society. Not meeting in person at the moment though. When they start up again I hope to go. They meet at Eccup. I know West Yorkshire is quite a large area, so hoping to find some fellow enthusiasts at some point! Sorry to hear your telescope woes already. I had fortunately used a dobson before so I knew that was what I wanted. Plus from my very limited knowledge of photography, I know glass lenses are very expensive for good ones, so I went for a reflector rather than a refractor. Have you got the "walk through the heavens' book? It's been so useful as a beginner, and I've been able to do quite a bit of astronomy with some 8x32 binoculars I inherited from my grandparents (I think they are the free RSPB membership ones!).
  9. Hi Adam. I'm a newbie and based in Ilkley. Wherebouts are you? I have just joined LAS, but would be good to make some contacts for potential buddies for observing in remote locations. No telescope yet, just ordered one from David Lukehurst and can't wait to get it. Just using some binos at the moment but enjoying learning to star hop! Stephen
  10. Stephen_M

    Hi

    Thanks very much everyone. Walk through the heavens arrived today and I have read the first few pages this evening, whilst it is snowing outside here in Yorkshire! Definitely at the right level for a beginner. Planisphere seems like a good idea too. I'd prefer to go paper based as I perceive myself to have decent-ish spacial awareness. So hopefully once I get familiar with the layout of things, I should be able to remember it. And to be honest, except for a bit of time on this forum, this hobby is to try and remove myself from the ever invading influence of technology on our lives!
  11. Stephen_M

    Hi

    Thanks everyone. I have a copy of "Turn left at Orion" and have also just bought the "a walk through the heavens". I read that article as well which was posted too. I self-taught myself how to solve a rubix cube a couple years ago. So I imagine this will be a bit like that, only a bit more depth than just 3 layers!
  12. Stephen_M

    Hi

    Hello! A quick message from me to say hello. Very much looking forward to the start of hopefully many years of enjoyment from star gazing! My lockdown hobby so far has been upgrading my coffee setup that I started back in 2016. This is now complete, so looking for the next hobby (and one that I can enjoy hot drinks too!). We currently reside in West Yorkshire and far enough away from Leeds/Bradford that the skies are not too bad. I am not even sure how this happened, but I have absolutely no background or family friends, or any other influence with regards to astronomy. However, back in 2013 I went to visit Kielder Observatory. We lived in Newcastle at that time, and I booked a set of tickets but didn't attend as the weather was awful. Then at the second attempt, the weather was overcast, but I decided to go anyway to listen to the lecture. However, I was incredibly lucky and after the lecture at about 11pm, the skies had cleared and it was absolutely beautiful. I had no idea there could be so many stars in the sky. The staff at the observatory were great and we must have stay until about after 1am looking at various things. My plan would be to learn the constellations over the summer by eye and maybe invest in some gear later this year. I'd love to get something 2nd hand as my first coffee stuff was second hand and very well looked after. Then eventually I was able to sell that one when I finally upgraded to the higher end of the market. But, I have also seen and understand the 'buy once and buy right' attitude. So, I'm in this for the long run and looking forward to getting started. I have seen a few book recommendations already, but any other hints and tips would be greatly appreciated! Stephen
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