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Everything posted by vulcan

  1. I just got a StarSense to go with my Nexstar SE6. The manual is bl**dy awful - as is the hand-controller, screen and buttons but... What I can't determine is if I only have to set the time/date/location once or at every boot-up. When I set the time and date and go back to that screen, my previous settings have gone. Haven't actually got round to trying it out yet
  2. I had the same problem with my Hyperion 8-24 zoom, completely gummed-up. I managed to get the plastic sleeve off but I couldn't remove the screw. What I did is to get some WD-40 and sprayed it into a plastic cup. I used a fine artist's paintbrush and put a few drops of WD-40 down the side of the screw. After a few minutes, I was able to move the from the 8 to the 12 position. A added a few more drops. Soon, I was able to zoom across the entire range. With the zoom set to 24 and the lens retracted, I brushed a few more drops round the inside of the tube. The lens is now functioning normally, including the click stops. The WD-40 is obviously thinning the grease.
  3. Do you realise that there is an astro screensaver built into MacOS X (cosmos.slidesaver) (in Lion anyway). You could use any of those images.
  4. Proves nothing! I've seen photos of buildings on Mars.
  5. Check this out, it's pretty awesome... Eyes on the Solar System (requires UNITY plug-in) for 3D.
  6. Southern Stars • Products • SkyFi
  7. I have the SkyFi and it works well over WiFi. The only advantage is that the phone doesn't have to be physically connected to the scope so you can wave it around above your head quite freely. Whether that is worth an extra £100 or not, probably not. I ordered my SkyFi directly from the States and it arrived in less than ten days. Even with the shipping, it cost less than the UK dealer is charging. £1≠$1 !
  8. You can take some astro photos with modest equipment. The trouble is that of expectation. You only have to look at the top of this page to see wonderful deep space photos and more often than not, other photo you see online have been taken with Hubble or some very expensive observatory camera. The most important thing is to understand what is possible with which equipment and make the most of what you have.
  9. The human eye is most sensitive to green but red cuts through fog better. So, on a clear night, use a green one. On a misty night ... don't bother ;?)
  10. RS-232 ??? - Virtually obsolete on modern computers. Why not USB or BlueTooth then you don't need unreliable adaptor cables? Ergonomics - general construction that breaks your back, polarscope that breaks your neck, adjustment screws that break your fingernails. This is bad human interface design! The handset interface and display - any cheap phone is miles better but here in 2011 there are smartphones and MP3 players with easy to use touch displays - in colour. I won't even start on control layout and aesthetics!
  11. I don't understand why these SkyWatcher mounts are so retro. It is all very old technology and user unfriendly. When are they going to come into the 21st Century?
  12. Visibility is usually measured horizontally and improves as you look upwards. For instance, some days I cannot see the Isle of Wight across the sea and some days it is perfectly clear. This has little bearing on stargazing. I don't find the BBC forecast very accurate and much prefer Weather Pro on my iPhone and iPad for 'by the hour' updates to my exact location - which, being on the coast, is quite different from half a mile inland.
  13. I have a NexStar 6se too and I was initially confused as you are. I found my exact longitude and latitude (from my iPhone) but initially got West and East transposed. You have discovered the 'American' date system, so that's okay. You also have to be aware that you can't use just any three stars for alignment. They have to be ones that are in the SE's database and it is best if they are as bright and far apart as possible (in an equilateral triangle). Avoid including planets. The SE is also very fussy about its power. Forget Alkaline batteries, get yourself a decent power tank. I have the Celestron one and a cheaper one from Maplin but either are infinitely better than the batteries.
  14. Damn. I'm going to have to buy yet another barlow!
  15. ...And, don't forget that in the UK, you are entitled to a 1 year warranty by law. 90 days is more common in the USA.
  16. The SkyWire adaptor is much cheaper than SkyFi (same company). It is available in the UK from the WideScreen Centre and is simple plug and play, no messing!
  17. I bought the Celestron Green Laser Finder (5mw) but it is not very reliable, the brightness changes with temperature. It is virtually useless on a cold night. The on/off switch on the back is difficult to operate needing a hefty press with a thumb. As a star pointer, it is okay on a warm night but I wouldn't want to mount it on my telescope as a finder - even though that is what it is designed for.
  18. There is lots of good imaging software for Mac. Check out Equinox 6 which does most things that you will want all within one package - planetarium, scope control, webcam control, polar alignment and also have a very helpful forum.
  19. Today's Guardian article ... Alien encounters 'within twenty years' A top Russian astronomer say he expects humans to encounter extraterrestrial civilisations within the next two decades
  20. No, a 4x barlow will probably be worse. As you increase magnification, the effects of atmospheric distortion (seeing) get worse. The point of using a webcam is so that you can take multiple exposures (a movie) and then combine those images in stacking software to bring out the detail.
  21. Given that my NexStar 6se has a focal length of 1500mm, I can double the perceived size of, say Saturn, by either adding a 2x barlow or by using an eyepiece of half the focal length of a notionally 'normal' 13mm but which situation is going to give the clearest image?
  22. Why not simply take a photo with your own camera with the lens cap on. You will get exactly the same result as a close up of a black hole.
  23. To be able to track objects, your mount has to know exactly where you are (latitude and longitude) or city, what the local time is and then you have to polar align if it is a GE mount (have the mount pointing to Polaris or thereabouts) and then you have to point it at (preferably) three known stars as far apart as possible. The accuracy with which you carry out these setups determines how accurate your GOTO is.
  24. I usually find that a short lecture on astrophysics and cosmology shuts them up!
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