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Found 17 results

  1. mitchelln

    M42 130301 4

    From the album: Galaxies

    M42, aligned, HDR

    © Neill Mitchell

  2. mitchelln

    Jupiter 6122

    From the album: Jupiter

    Jupiter 1st March 2013. 200 frames with 300P and Canon 7D
  3. mitchelln

    Saturn 6453

    From the album: Saturn

    Saturn on the 1st of May through 300P with Canon 7D

    © Neill Mitchell

  4. mitchelln

    Saturn 6283

    From the album: Saturn

    Saturn taken with 300P, Canon 7D, 2x Barlow

    © Neill Mitchell

  5. mitchelln

    Saturn 6464

    From the album: Saturn

    Saturn on the 1st of May through 300P with Canon 7D

    © Neill Mitchell

  6. mitchelln

    Jupiter 6072

    From the album: Jupiter

    Jupiter 1st March 2013. 200 frames with 300P and Canon 7D
  7. Hi all, Sorry, I am new to this forum but I would like to ask your advice !! I have a Skywatcher Skyliner 300P Flextube AZ SynScan and I would like to place the tube on an equitorial NEQ6 mount. Can you give me any advice please? Thank you in-advance
  8. The Skywatcher Flextube 300p Dobsonian After many months of thinking and research, the time has arrived when I have moved onto my next scope. Just over two years ago, I bought my Skywatcher 150p which has been an excellent first purchase. I doubt I will ever get rid of it because it gives me a reasonable travel options for putting in the car when going on holiday etc. But, there comes a time when aperture fever takes over, and a turn to the dark side is made. That dark side, is, THE DOB MOB! The decision process has been a varied journey. Just when I thought I had made my mind up, then I would read another review, and I would change my mind. Eventually, after a visit to Tring Astronomy Centre and a plethora of emails back and forth Neil and Jane, I eventually decided on the SkyWatcher Flextube 300p Dobsonian telescope. So, this is my attempt at a first impressions, come unboxing, come initial review of the new toy. The scope was delivered in two quite large boxes. One flat pack containing all the components of the dobsonian mount, and the second containing the tube assembly and instructions. There was some superficial damage on the boxes, but I guess they are the protective packaging and will be subject to light damage in transit. The mount is the first thing that needs to be put together, so I opened this box first. As part of my research, I learnt that the instructions that come with the scope were not supposed to be as good as the ones available online. So, in preparation, I printed out the instructions before the scope had arrived and used those. I checked through the component list to make sure that all parts were present and correct. I would say that the tools supplied with the flat pack are adequate for the job, but most people would have better tools available in their toolbox. For two screws in particular, the supplied crosshead screw driver is too small, and you could do with a larger one to get better purchase. The base is made from chipboard, laminated in white with the Skywatcher logo present on each side of the base. During my research, I read some reviews from users who had concerns about moisture penetrating the chipboard. Whether it happens to my mount or not, only time will tell, but the laminate is sealed on the edges very well, and very durable to the scratch, so providing I take good care of it, the mount should last me for the lifetime of the scope. All the holes used for constructing the base are pre-drilled and I must say, are very accurate. Over the years, I've put together plenty of flat pack furniture, and sometimes, our Swedish friends aren't always that accurate with their drilling techniques shall we say. This is certainly not the case with the mount. All the holes married up perfectly and the screw fittings bit into the pre-drilled holes very well. I did have a concern at one point in case the diameter of the screws caused the chipboard to bulge, by my concerns were unnecessary. However, I was very careful not to overtighten the screw fittings. The bulk of the fittings are Alan key type, and though one normal Alan key is pretty much the same as another, they are a bit fiddly when trying to use in tight corners. A better tool to use if you have one is a screw-driver type with changeable head. Using one of these will make the job easier. The final section to the mount construction is the fitting of the turntable. It is an incredibly simple yet efficient design. The first thing to do was to attach the 3 small rubber feet to the base. Previously, there has been an issue according to some review that the screws used to do this were too long and pierced the surface the other side. However, this has seemingly been addressed with at least 1/4" left. While these feet will be fine on solid surface like a patio or paving slabs, if you plan on using the dob on grass, I think the weight of the unit in total will cause the feet to sink on softer ground. I don’t expect SkyWatcher to design according to every eventuality, but in my case, I will need to make some tweaks. No major issues. The turntable sits on a plastic type pad with cylindrical bearings sandwiched in between two circular metallic discs. It could be an option to add some lithium grease to these bearings, but for the time being I have left them as was out of the box. The bearing, the base and the rest of the mount are all aligned through a single central hold drilled through all the components and lined with a short plastic tube. Then, a single bolt is pushed through with a locking nut used to tighten the whole assembly together. I guess it will need to be taken apart at times to be cleaned. The gap between the base and the mount is small, but still wide enough for dust and grit to find its way in. Having said that, for people who see looking after and maintaining their scopes as an enjoyable element of the hobby as I do, this sort of thing would be covered in your routine maintenance. 4 Nylon bearings are fitted on the inner side of each part of the mount. These are the bearings that will hold the tube assembly when it is dropped into place. And so, with the addition of the eyepiece holder and front handle, the construction of the base was complete. It's solid, it's smooth and looks to be well designed. As yet, and perhaps someone can help me out here, I can’t quite see the purpose of the front handle. I don’t know if it’s there to aid lifting the base during transportation, or if it is there to help rotate the mount. The fixings are quite strong, but I wouldn’t like to allow the full weight of the mount to be held by the handle alone. The eyepiece holder is fine, perhaps I could put it on the viewing side of the mount, but to be honest, I probably won’t use it. I usually have a small camping table next to me with my charts, notebook and EP case on. So, the next step in the build process is the tube assembly. Inside the box was the tube itself, along with a smaller box containing the stock eyepieces, focuser adapters and right at the bottom, the instructions. It seems a little odd putting the instructions at the bottom of the second box, but I suppose usually people empty everything first if they have the space. Before I pulled the tube out, I took a look at the stock eyepieces that come with it. They are the standard 10mm and 25mm eyepieces that come with many Skywatcher telescopes. In comparison to the ones that came with my 150p, they are similar, perhaps built a bit better, but standard none the less. These days, I tend to use the 25mm just for alignment of the Telrad or finder scope, and that’s about it. Also in the little box was the stock finder scope. The finder scope is quite large and robust. Some people will chose to replace it as I have. Other people will put a right angle adapter on it to make the viewing angle more convenient. A quick look through it showed the definite crosshairs against a daylight sky. I’m not sure how effective these would be against an inky black sky though. Before I got my Telrad, I used the stock finder scope with the 150p a little bit awkward. It did the job, but other finders do it better. Something that has concerned me with the attachment base for the finder scope is its reliance on a single grub screw to hold the finder in place. Whilst many will say nothing has happened, the lack of no locking mechanism to back up the grub screw does mean that you have a reasonably weighted metal object begin held sometimes directly above the primary mirror does require caution. To attach the tube assembly requires lifting the tube onto the mount and resting the tube on the nylon bearings. These support the tube on their own accord. I needed to make sure that the tube was put onto the mount with the focuser on the correct side for your preferred side of viewing. Once the tube assembly is sitting on the nylon bearings, the holes for the tension control handle and other handle line up perfectly to allow you to screw in them into the sides of the tube. That, in essence, is the main build part of the scope. All that remains is to extend the tube and fit the finder scope. The scope comes with two covers. The first is a shower-cap type cover over the top of the secondary mirror as modelled by the rubber chicken. I don't think this will last too long and is perhaps just for transport. I think that I will find alternative protection in the future. To bring the tube to its full length, there are 3 thumb screws at the bottom of each of the truss supports. These need to be loosened, and then the top section can be lifted to extend the trusses to their full length. Be aware that there are two points at which the trusses click into place. The first click does not signal the point of full extension. Continue pulling the secondary section up until you get the second click. Small catches click into place once the full height is reached. The thumbscrews can then be tightened again to avoid the secondary mirror sliding back down. One of my initial concerns when first considering this scope instead of others was how strong the trusses were. I was concerned that there would be an element of twist between to top and bottom sections. However, after seeing a similar model in the shop at Tring Astronomy, and now having my own, these concerns were quickly dealt with. Again, the tube and truss support construction are very strong, and I couldn’t detect any circular or twisting movement. If I could, it would mean collimation would be incredibly hard, almost impossible, to maintain. Speaking of collimation, this was the last thing that I did in the build section. I used my cheshire collimator and then my laser collimator to check. Collimation wasn't far out at all and just required a quick tweak of the primary to bring the red laser dot onto target. It was whilst doing this that I came across the trickiest part of the build. Two out of three of the collimation screws were turning quite readily. However, the third was incredibly tight. It took a great deal of fiddling, and even a Leatherman tool to try and loosen it off. I could see that is was tightened right up as the spring between the bottom of the scope and the mirror was fully compressed. The collimation screws themselves are well designed and nice and big, so I didn't have much concern about trying too hard. Finally, with the help of my left sock wrapped around my hand, I eventually managed to loosen the screw off. It was still quite hard to turn at first, but I spent 5 minutes or so turning the screw back and forth, and eventually it loosened off nicely. That was, quite literally the only sticking point in the whole process. In summary, before first light, do I like the scope? No, I don't. I love it! I am so glad I got it and I look forward to getting it out for first light. Is there much more to say about the scope? Yes, huge amounts. There are upgrades to be done, customisations and various fiddly things that amateur astronomer like to do to pimp up their scopes. There's first light. There's building some storage for it. There's the inevitable purchase of a shroud and possibly more eyepieces. All in due course. Thanks for reading.
  9. I finally managed to try out my binoviewers with my 300P. I have to say they transform the experience. Viewing is much more comfortable. I could look at the Moon, Jupiter and especially M82 for many minutes without strain. I initially used the included 1.6x barlow to achieve focus, but I have to say it did degrade the view and obviously narrows the FOV. So I locked the 300P back on the second set of truss holes and achieved prime focus without the barlow. Then views then was fantastic. I've managed to get a 2nd 10mm Baader Ortho from the classifieds section and Jupiter was just lovely. A pair of 20mm's were great with M82 and the Moon. So pretty chuffed all in all Ideal now will be to keep an eye out on the classifieds for a 2nd Baader Zoom. A couple of decent 32mm's (suggestions welcome!) might be nice as well, but this will all have to wait for a budget top up
  10. mitchelln

    M42 130301 2

    From the album: Galaxies

    M42. 300P Flextube with Canon 7D at prime focus. 10" exposure.
  11. I feel I have been concentrating on imaging too much recently so decided to rectify that with some aperture. My new 300P goto dob arrived today (thanks FLO!) and amazingly there are no clouds! (maybe they forgot to put them in the box?) Put together no problems (my kids were busy using the huge box as a police car so they left me alone) so I sat it outside to cool down and gave it a test after dinner. It didn't seem as heavy as I was expecting but I think it will still be wise to carry the OTA separately to the base. Collimation was easy and handset set up ok but I did have a problem with the alignment, the scope never made it to the second star. I tried to point the thing manually at about 20° elevation it started slipping down. Taking the dew shield off seemed to balance it so that it was ok. I tried the alignment again and this time it worked so I guess I just need to fit a counterweight to the bottom end of the tube if I am going to use the dew shield at the same time as a 2" ep. Now it got fun, I slewed to the moon and was nearly blinded... right.... filters... I put a UHC-S filter onto my Baader zoom EP and it was possible to view the terminator (the full disc was still uncomfortably bright but that was the only filter I had that was suitable). The views at 188x were superb. Had my 6yo son looking through the EP and he was well impressed, fortunately I made an observing chair as even at 27° elevation the EP was way too high for him otherwise. I took a look around some clusters, Pleiades was framed perfectly in my 36mm Hyperion aspheric EP and even so close to the moon there was a lot to see. Anything faint was being washed out by the moon though, M31 just had the core visible. I think I need to get up early in the morning when the moon has gone away to give this a real test. Maybe I can get Jupiter but it will be very low. My observing chair worked really well, I fitted a 15W 12V heater into the seat so this was really nice to sit on and the 72Ah leisure battery will be able to power that for a long time. It's a shame that the dew shield didn't work, I'm sure I will get that sorted soon enough though. I was a little surprised at how slow the synscan handset gets in the cold, I might need to make a heater for it as it was -17° today and that is pretty normal for winter here. I nearly froze my fingertips off dismounting the OTA from the rocker box! I might need some more wide angle ep's now the view in the 72° 36mm ep was addictive!
  12. mitchelln

    Panstarrs

    From the album: Photos

    PanSTARRS taken with 300P/Canon 7D. 8 seconds at ISO 1250.

    © Neill Mitchell.

  13. mitchelln

    M42 130301 3

    From the album: Photos

    M42 stacked from 8 images
  14. mitchelln

    Jupiter 6077 2

    From the album: Jupiter

    Jupiter on 1st March 2013. 300P, 7D 10 second video 1920x1024@25fps
  15. mitchelln

    Telrad view

    From the album: Telrad

    Telrad finder on Sky-Watcher 300P flextube
  16. It has been too long since I contributed anything to the forum, so I thought to share with you my latest try in planetary astrophotography. Actually it is my first try with SW 300p Goto Flextube dobsonian which I recently acquired. I wanted to try out how the system tracks for webcam astrophotography, which is my second point of interest after visual observing. In short - it tracked quite well - no jerkyness in tracking, very smooth, stable and centred for a long time, and I am also very happy with my old motor focus which helped me out tremendously. The conditions were very poor though, and the resulting picture is heavily post-processed. At least it managed to capture the colour quite nicely. For caputre, I use a modified Prestigion PWC2 webcam, Baader 2.25x barlow and UV/IR-cut filter. You can see the imaging setup in the second picture.
  17. I have had my 300P dobsonian for nearly a year now, and it has occurred to me that I finally may be qualified enough to write a review about this little beast. I think it would be good to avoid details on how it was delivered or what accessories I have bought for it. Similarly, I will not spend much time discussing how it performs when observing in detail, because that belongs, I believe, somewhere in the observing section. Anyway, as you might have guessed, Skywatcher Skyliner 300P dobsonian telescope is no midget. Simply put – it’s big. Its OTA is big, its dobsonian mount is big, it weighs a lot, it’s pretty hard to handle; pretty much as you might expect. I reckon that having a 12” dobsonian (solid tube) is the reasonable maximum for one person (albeit strong) to handle. With smaller telescopes, like 4.5” or even 8” ones, transportability of such device is not really a primary concern for most people, but when it comes to 12” and larger, moving the thing about can really become an issue. Luckily for me at least, I am – I like to think – a strong person, so I had no problem to devise an ideal transporting procedure when I want to take this baby out for observing. I am fully aware that the primary concern when moving a telescope is its weight – I am afraid that I do not know the exact figures of 300P, but if I would guess, I would say the telescope weighs some 40 kg (sorry about the metric), with distribution being 50/50 mount/OTA, but I cannot be sure. I have described my first impressions of the scope here: Skyliner 300P dimensions: Base diameter: 64 cm Base (mount) height: 78 cm OTA diameter: 35 cm OTA circumference: 114 cm OTA length: 144 cm "Parked" position height: 160cm Total weight: A lot! (cca 40 kg) Optics The heart of this puny thing is a parabolic primary mirror of 305 mm diameter (12”). It is actually pretty funny because the secondary mirror is therefore roughly the same size as the primary in my Firstscope 76 – this thought always makes me giggle. Well I know that there are plenty of you using larger scopes than 12” and those of you who do have my sincerest admiration, but I reckon 12” is the practical limit for me and probably always will be. Anyway, the primary has a focal length of 1500 mm, which means that even though it is an F/5 scope, its OTA is quite big, being some 140cm in length. The secondary mirror is held in place with a four-vane spider assembly, which allows you to adjust its position in all four directions to make it as dead centre as possible. I have also heard that it is best to have the vanes tightened like a string, but I am not sure about advantages of this one. When observing bright objects or stars, you get the traditional diffraction spikes, as expected. You can adjust the secondary in all ways and direction imaginable, but the great thing is that once you do it properly (so that, say, a laser beam from a laser collimator is spot on the primary centre spot), it does not move at all, even when you treat the scope roughly, so you might not need to adjust the secondary for quite some time, which is quite good, given the size of the secondary mirror. The primary mirror, being as heavy as it is, does not hold its collimation that well so tweaking it once in a while (I check it every time I head out) might be good. I should note that the primary mirror cell has pre-prepared holes for one 80x80mm fan in the back, for mirror cooling, which I think is handy, and easily exploitable. One thing that might present a problem is that it’s F/5 scope, meaning that it’s quite demanding on the eyepieces. Me, personally, I am not a perfectionist, so somewhat blurry stars on the edges of the field of view don’t bother me, but I can see how that might be a problem for some people. Anyway, there is not really much you can do about, except for whining about it, or buying an eyepiece that almost matches the price of the entire telescope. Take your pick. The focuser is a classical Crayford 2” focuser, which I think works quite well - you can adjust the tilt of it, and it is really firm and solid, even when you use pile up optical elements on top of one another. I bet there are better focusers for the job, but for me, using the scope purely visually, it works a treat. You can even fit it with a standard Synta motorized focuser, which makes the pin-point precise focusing (on planetary and Lunar observing) even easier. OTA The OTA is made of metal, and pretty much all of the OTA (primary mirror cell, focuser, etc.) are made of metal as well. Only thing made of plastic that I can think of are the two barrels supporting the OTA as it sits on the mount, and they are the weak spots of this scope’s build quality. The plastic parts touch the metal tube, which results in occasional squeak and creak now and then, which can get really annoying. Apart from that, it is all quite pleasantly well made. Of course, when considering the OTA’s shape and size, it all rather resembles a large dustbin; this means that every knock on the OTA gets amplified and it all sounds a bit too hollow, or tubby, which on one hand does not really feel assuring regarding the scopes build quality, but on the other, it is a great tool for scaring away stray wildlife at night - you just knock on the OTA and they are gone. I am given to understand that wildlife is scared by unnatural sounds, so this one fits the bill nicely. The finder scope is located in quite a convenient place, but I can’t really comment on using the default straight-through finder, because I have immediately replaced it with an RA finder (same spec), but I can see that using the default finder may get a bit awkward when you try locating something near the zenith; there is no problem with my RA finder in this area. Furthermore, the size of the OTA leaves you enough room for additional accessory to be mounted on - I myself have mounted a red-dot finder on it, as seen in the pictures, but there will definitely be no issue in trying to fit something like a Telrad or Rigel finder to it, or, indeed, using a small refractor for a finder (but you have to keep an eye on the OTA’s balance. Furthermore, the default matt black paint with which the inside of the OTA is painted, is really not bad, but I have taken the liberty of flocking it already link here: ) - I actually don’t believe it helps a great deal, but it is good to be able to exploit the performance capabilities of the optical system to the limit, and flocking can’t do any bad. Naturally, the OTA itself functions as a “bulletproof” dew shield for the primary, but surprisingly, you can get the secondary dewed up - it happened to me once, it was really unexpected, even despite the heavy dew-fall, and when this happens, all you can do is pack you stuff and call it a night. One thing that really bothers me though is the dust cover for the OTA - when it’s cold outside (and it usually is), it probably shrinks which means that when you pack your things and head home, the cover keeps falling off of the OTA, which is really annoying. Dobsonian Mount The OTA sits on a dobsonian mount - very basic, totally functional. It is made of chipboard material, and when I built it together, I was worried about it swelling up from water, so I glued all parts together, leaving no slit uncovered for water (dew to be precise) to get in it. What was surprising for me was that despite the fact the online description said the mount would come with Teflon pads, it came with roller bearing instead (for azimuth axis). It was quite a pleasant surprise, thought I reckon there was a mistake in the description in the first place. The OTA is cradled on four plastic knobs, two on each side, which works quite well, although sometimes, the resulting movement in the altitude axis stammers a bit - I have seen some DIY modifications, where people replaced the knobs with ball bearings, and I think it might be worthwhile, but for now, I will go with the default setup. There is even a shelf for your eyepiece with holes in them (three for 1.25” and one for 2” eyepieces), which seems nice, but for me, it is in a rather awkward position. Once the warranty is void, I can feel modifications coming, primarily in the mount area. Transporting it The OTA sits on a dobsonian type mount, which is made from chipboard, and there are only two hand screws (functioning as tension screws) that hold the thing together. So when you remove the screws, you can move the OTA and the mount separately. It is good to grab the OTA by the primary mirror cell at the bottom with one hand and support it at least 2/3 of the way up with another – that way, you have quite a good firm grip of the thing. Only thing you really need to be careful about then are doors (for obvious reasons). When I head out observing by car, I usually load the OTA first. Now with our Megane estate, it is not a big deal – I just fold one of the back seats down, and lay the OTA in gently through the boot, and eventually secure it in place with a seat belt. Initially, I was worried about scratching the thing when moving it so I wrapped it in a bed sheet, but it has proven unnecessary, and even dangerous that it might slip out of the sheet. When I transport the thing by a small hatchback (Clio), the things get a bit tricky – I have to fold down the front passenger seat and remove the rear seat to let it fold flat. Then I place the OTA on the front passenger seat and secure it with a seatbelt. I think that you can see the catch at this point – no company when observing; and, it is useless to try and load the OTA transversely, because it would not fit (unless you have a Hummer or something). So I can see that transporting the scope with a small hatchback can indeed be very tricky, but I can manage it (I even think it is easier to load it in a small hatchback anyway, but that is just my point of view). Once the OTA is in, I load the mount in the boot – there is no problem with the estate car, but hatchback struggles, and I have to put it in horizontally - it is like solving the Hedgehog in the Cage puzzle. Operating it For some, the mere dobsonian mount the scope sits on can be a limiting factor, but I think that the very essence of the mount makes the scope amazingly easy to use. Of course that being only Alt-Az type mount operated only manually, you are limited to visual observations only, or occasionally, some webcam planetary astrophotography (but even that is hard enough with high magnifications). However, I as yet have no tendencies to step into the astrophotography area (because I don’t want to bankrupt myself), so for me, the combination of large scope on a dobsonian mount is ideal. You can set up the telescope, despite its size, in less than 3 minutes I’ve checked), even when you are on your own. Of course you stretch your back a bit, but at least it’s quick and very simple. From then on, it is just simple point-and-shoot principle, which I think is fabulous. All you need is to get accustomed to the whole flipped image idea, and anyone can enjoy himself. I once invited a friend over for some observing, who has never seen a telescope of any sort up close - he was able to observe Jupiter and follow it on his own in 10 minutes or so. This just proves it large scope/dobsonian mount is a really foolproof concept, even though it’s purely for visual use. Observing with it As you might have guess, the scope’s primary area of use is DSOs, and I have to confirm that it performs really well. I can finally dive into observing dim and small galaxies and galaxy clusters, and I can finally see some famous objects like the Stephan’s Quintet or the Veil Nebula. As you might expect, objects like Orion nebula look fantastic, and I can even see some nebulosity around the Seven Sisters in Pleiades. The dust bands of the Andromeda Galaxy pop out miraculously, and I am able to resolve individual stars in every globular cluster I have tried so far. Furthermore, the bright image enhances the colour experience, which means that when for example observing open star clusters, their different colours become apparent. Sometimes, I just try and sweep the sky randomly, and there are blobs and fuzzy patches appearing in the eyepiece all the time. The sky never looked so full to me! Planetary nebulae and larger galaxies finally show some internal structures, and with the image being so bright, observing planets with high magnifications delivers really good contrast. There is no point in going into details, but a list of some of my observing reports is below: http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/150839-yet-another-unexpected-session/ http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/150457-unexpected-session/ http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/150127-surrounded-by-forrest-19th-may-2012/ http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/139441-at-last-a-full-on-session-with-my-12/ Upsides Good on DSOs Great on DSOs Again great on DSOs Dobsonian mount is easy to use Great value for money Quick and easy to set up Good Crayford focuser Decent stock finder scope (8x50) Bracket for 80x80 fan Mostly comfortable viewing positions Downsides Big and heavy Big Heavy Hard to transport, takes up a lot of room Occasionally squeaking Manual movements only Alt-az only Visual only Hard-to-reach EP shelf Secondary mirror can dew up Dust cover keeps falling off of the OTA
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