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  1. Im still really new to astronomy myself. The weather hasn't been great for me since I started so my time has been limited at the EP. So far I have found these to be quite good DSO targets as they are all fairly high in the sky and have nice easy star hops to locate them. M31 I use the andromeda constellation and cassiopea as guide stars and I can now find it with ease. M81/82 for these you use the handle of the plough to locate them. What's nice here is that you can get both galaxies in the same view. M81 you see the full shape of the galaxy M82 you see side on so its quite interesting. Your dob should see much better than my 4.5" at f8. Finally M57 is a really nice target. You'll find it between the 2 stars furthest from Vega in the parallelogram of the constellation Lyra. Again I've struggled a little with this due to my higher focal ratio, smaller aperture and lack of astronomical darkness, but you should be fine. These I have managed to locate and observe from my home bortle 5 skies. By going to somewhere like exmoor you should have a much easier time locating DSOs due to far darker skies. One thing I do know though is that weirdly it can be a little harder to just locate the main constellations due to there being so many more visible stars at a dark sky sight. It's always blown my mind looking up at the stars when I've been wild camping because there is so much more you can see. Good luck on your trip and be sure to let us all know how you got on.
  2. I'm still very new to the stargazing game myself and at first was really struggling to find any DSOs at all. As others have said it's not the best time of year as we don't actually get astronomical darkness at the moment. I think it's actually over the next couple of days that we start to see it again. What I've found to be very handy is to use binoculars first (as long as the object is visible in bins). Once I've found it it helps me visualise where it is in relation to other stars. This means its so much easier to locate the object with the finder. Like others have said M31 and M81/82 are really good to start with as it's relatively easy star hopping to them. I use the andromeda constellation and cassiopea to find M31 and the handle of the plough for M81/82. I'm using a 4.5" newt at f8 and I'm in a bortle 5 area, so if I can find things your 8" dob should be easily as capable in your skies probably much better. The biggest thing is learning exactly what to expect to see. Completely forget about seeing DSOs in the same detail/colour that you see in pictures/magazines etc. They will mostly just be a faint grey fuzzy, especially at first. As your eyes adjust you'll tease out more detail but that is still limited. I actually realised when I finally found M81/82 for the first time that I'd probably already seen them in previous attempts but just didn't know what I should be looking for. The only other thing I'd possibly suggest that really helped me was getting a lower power EP. With a 1.25" focuser like I have 32mm is about the lowest power that 8s practical to use. If you have a 2" focuser you could go a bit lower. It gives you a much wider field of view meaning that you have a greater chance of getting your target in your EP. Obviously once you have it you can use a higher power EP if its needed.
  3. I'm still really new just a couple of months really. I wouldn't normally have bought all that gear it's just it all came up for so cheap. By the time I get the RACI I still won't have spent as much as buying the 114 brand new so i can't really complain at all. Looking like it should be a good night tonight. Certainly lovely clear skies at the moment.
  4. The 9x50 RACI is going to be my next purchase. Just need that bit of magnification now to help with some of the harder to find DSOs. Once I've got that and a decent 32mm EP I'm pretty much all set with what I would call my basic set up. Eventually I will want to upgrade my scope but more than happy with what I have now. A celestron powerseeker 114eq, 4mm, 10mm and 25mm plossls, 20mm Kelner, 2x and 3x barlow and the rigel has only cost me just under £100. The rigel was new from FLO, the 114eq, 3x barlow and 20mm kelner £35 from fb marketplace and the plossls and 2x barlow £15 also from fb. Wasnt intending on getting any gear yet as covid has hit my wallet quite badly as I'm a musician, but as they were such bargains I couldn't resist.
  5. I was very careful last night to remember to turn it off lol. Looking like may get a few clear nights over the next week or so, so hopefully will be able to get out.
  6. Well thanks again all for your advice. I got the rigel quickfinder a couple of weeks ago and tonight has been the first clear skies to try it out, FLO obviously put a few too many clouds in the box lol. Unfortunately an early start in the morning so had just a quick hour ish to test it out. What a great bit of kit! Super easy to install it on the OTA and took just a few seconds to get it aligned using the control tower of the wind farm 6 miles or so out to sea as a nice easy static target. Slewed the scope up to lyra popped Vega in the middle of the circles looked through the eyepiece and it was dead centre. Using the circles found epsilon lyrae in a flash even got the best separation on both doubles I've got so far, although this is probably because I think I've also got my collimation spot on now. Mizar and Alcor was the only other target I looked at found them really easily again and again got really good separation of Mizar. So all in all a nice short evening playing with the new finder. Just need some clear skies when I've also got not reason to be up early lol.
  7. There I also the other way of looking at it that open bodies of water don't retain heat anywhere near as well as well as concrete, bricks, tarmac and land generally. Also with water being flat and featureless any wind isn't affected causing updrafts etc. This mean that the seeing will generally be better over water due to less turbulent air. As for moist and salty air the air may have slightly higher humidity near the sea in the UK but nowhere near as bad as it is in hotter climates. We just don't have the temperatures needed to make a significant difference plus the UK is generally damp everywhere not just by the sea lol. The air only really gets salty when the sea is rough. If the sea is rough that will mean it would be at least windy but probably horrible outside meaning I wouldn't have the scope out anyway. Where I live compared to the beach is pretty much the same distance to parking a car and walking to block out the street lights. I live about 50 yards from the steps to the beach, so not really a huge consideration. I've found that with careful packing that my reflector and all that's needed to observe for a night all fits into my camping rucksack so it's also easy to move. Reports are hard to come by at the moment as I haven't had any clear skies for over a week now. I partly blame FLO as my new rigel quickfinder turned up and haven't had a clear night since, but it is Wimbledon fortnight so that means it usually rains a lot so got a double whammy there. You mentioned epsilon lyrae that was one of the objects I looked at last time I managed to get the scope out. I had just collimated the 4.5" for the first time did a quick star test and all seemed good. When I had looked at it before the initial split was easy enough but I just couldn't seem to get any separation on either of the 2 pairs. This time though the easier pair split fairly easily and the harder of the two had moments of definite separation. Saturn and jupiter looked amazingly clear too. Cassini division could easily be seen and some nice bands coming through on jupiter. Can't wait for another cloudless night.
  8. Having looked into it the lead times are around 3-4 days to get your images back. Like I said in an earlier comment you can easily be waiting far longer just for some clear skies. The advantage with this scenario is that the scope is owned and run by the OU. They seriously limit the amount of paid users not studying with them. I just think that it's an option for people to have a look into. Like I said my bank balance is stopping me from getting the appropriate equipment to image myself for now. I think it's amazing that this is being offered for free along with quite a few other astronomy related short courses. I'm getting tempted to possibly take the OU degree in astronomy. Would need to seriously brush up on my maths first though lol.
  9. Oh I'm intending to milk it for all its worth lol. To be fair anyone in the UK I would encourage to sign up for it as its completely free. You say that there's a lot of differences but to my eyes I don't really see what they are other than setting up/packing down. I can see that there would be a sense of achievement as its your own equipment. But ultimately using either you are relying on the computers and mount to actually do the locating the subject and tracking for you. As far as choosing filters, exposure times etc this can all be done the same as with a home set up. I could very well have requested the same objects as the next person in the cue bit the images could come out completely different due to settings etc. The main thing though is the fact that for free you get to utilise a scope that let's be honest most of us on this site will never even get a glimpse of let alone get to use one. The course is actually quite informative and I must admit I'm quite tempted to take the studying even further.
  10. Basically I had no real intention of getting into imaging for at least a year or two. Just this free course jumped out at me. I've already completed half of it lol. I want to get some experience learning the sky before getting started with pics with my own scope. For now my intentions are observations. No particular preference as to planetary or DSOs. The scope I have (its the powerseeker 114, at least its not the bird Jones astromaster which I hear isn't as good) wouldn't necessarily have been my choice of scope. Would have gone for something like a skywatcher 130p but this scope came up on fb for only £35 in perfect condition. I'll still be looking to upgrade when the pennies allow. Although I think the scope I have could end up being a good grab and go scope in the future for when I'm camping. Finderscopes are a far more important upgrade as the one with the scope is terrible lol. I'm going for a rigel quickfinder and pair it with a 9x50 RACI finder. Like you said I'm going to milk the free account with COAST to the max lol. The account is valid for 6 months so I may well get some nice images out of it. Also I'll do some research and look to choose objects that my scope would either struggle to get a good visual of or not even be able to see. Then at least I'm adding to my experience rather than keep finding the same things.
  11. Think I've got to the bottom of who owns the copyright to images taken with COAST. Its actually the person requesting them. As an account holder (doesn't matter if its a free 9r paid account) you own the rights to any any images taken. Think of it as you are renting the scope for the duration of any imaging. I completely understand that it's a different experience but the biggest difference is just setting up and packing away your gear. The actual process is fairly similar. You request the mount to track a certain object while your camera takes an image. Other than the set up the only real difference is hitting the shutter button or starting the video (depending on how and what equipment and object being imaged). Oh and saying warm indoors in the winter lol One of the things that at the moment is putting me off imaging is actually the goto mount. Not the cost etc but for now I want to concentrate on learning the night sky. A goto mount is definitely detrimental to that in my opinion. In the future it is something that i will probably end up getting but for now I want to use my brain rather than just press a few buttons. Don't get me wrong I'm not knocking people who use goto scopes, I just feel that I am learning more about the night sky by using a manual mount.
  12. When i said storage I meant actually storing my scope. Don't really have room for it now lol. You say about the copyright going to who took the image. In that case anyone who requests images from COAST is then technically who took the image. There is no one there actually operating the scope it is all done through computers etc. The scope even decides for itself if the conditions are right to take images. Also I looked at the forum that is tied to the course I'm taking and someone asked the tutors who owns the copyright of the images. The tutor replied that they are the images of those who requested them. They apparently even ask you permission to use your requested images in the gallery on the site for the observatory. So by the sound of it any images I request would be mine. So taking this into account any data I would get from COAST would technically be my data to process. If I had the cash to buy a better mount and cameras etc I'd be jumping straight into imaging but circumstances won't allow that at the moment. It's certainly a way of having a play around with imaging if you don't have the equipment. I spose I'm looking at it along the lines of you are just borrowing the telescope occasionally to capture images. Just not being physically there. Also the other thing I've noticed on many comments on here and other sites is people saying that they set up for imaging get things started and just leave the scope/camera to do its thing for however long and then pack up and process the image. Surely by using COAST its the same thing minus having to set up/pack down equipment?
  13. Hi from a bit deeper in Kent! Thanet here.
  14. As I understand it the image copyright isn't the property of the open university. Not only can you request images through the OU courses but when not covered by the courses anyone can pay to use the scope. I understand about the cue as to when you will receive your images. But as the Teide observatory site gets a minimum of 85% chance of clear skies on any given night, you could easily take far longer to capture the image just because of waiting for clear skies at home. The big limiting factors for me on imaging are cost and storage. My whole astronomy journey so far has cost me less than £100. Due to these factors imaging is beyond my bank balance mainly but I live in a small flat so space is at a premium. My current rig (celestron 114eq) just doesn't have the mount to cope with imaging. Observations are my main goal. So for me currently if I want to do any imaging then I would have to either utilise something like the COAST telescope or have to spend a large amount of cash. Like I said in my original post is there any real difference to using COAST or your own scope with a goto mount? Both find and track the objects for you. Just one is in your garden the other is in one of the best locations to observe from. There is also nothing to say that you can't take multiple images of the same object with COAST and stack them like you would with your own scope. So that would mean that you could collect just as much data as you could at home.
  15. Hi all. This morning while looking at fb an advert came up for the open universities free courses. After a little browse through there are several astronomy related short free courses to have a look at and choose from. I decided to enrol in one of them as it seemed quite interesting. For a start it finally explained to me how to use the RA/Dec coordinates to locate objects lol. The main reason I thought I'd give this particular course a shot was because you actually get to request images to be taken for you by the open universities COAST telescope in tenerife. So far I have got to the point in the course where you request your first images so I'm quite looking forward to seeing what the results are. You can request different filters and exposure times depending on what you have requested to be imaged although for this first batch of requests I just used the recommended settings. What I'd like to know is people's opinions on using things like this. For a start it will be a very long time before I could even dream of affording a 14" SCT at f/10 or any of the other equipment used so I see it as a way to utilise equipment that I may never get the chance to use. Other than having to set up your own scope and needing longer exposure times due to smaller aperture, surely using a goto mount with automatic tracking is pretty much the same as me giving the coordinates to the COAST telescope to take the images. I can see that there is a sense of achievement using your own scope and cameras, but surely there must be an argument for doing this as I doubt any of us will get the seeing conditions in our local sites that they get at the top of a volcano on an island in the Atlantic. I spose what I'm asking is would people consider an image requested by (for example) me to be taken by the coast telescope to be an image captured by me? I'm assuming that if I took an image through my own scope it would be my image. Like I said other than set up time and effort and the fact that COAST uses far superior equipment to what I'll ever be able to afford, is there really any difference between this and using a computerised mount to image the cosmos? Throughout the course so far they have put it that the images you request are your images to do what you want with. Also to my understanding there have been numerous discoveries made by people observing from large observatories. The person who made the discovery still gets the recognition even though they don't own the scope they were observing with. Just thought I'd put this out there for discussion as it certainly got me thinking. Could take up to a few days for my images to come through as obviously your request ends up in a cue. When they do come through I will endeavour to post them here.
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