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Thought people may like to see my recent custom design for my SkyWatcher Heritage 130p... As a big Apollo misson geek, and not being a fan of the stock astronomer names wrap on the 130p, I decided to get creative. I used a great moon wall sticker just £6 from Ikea (https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/p/kinnared-decoration-stickers-moon-00448463/) as well as some matt vinyl stickers from Redbubble, one for each Apollo mission patch. Below is pics of the mod in progress and the end result - would love to hear what you think!
Having recently acquired some nice Opticron 20x80 binoculars, I of course could not resist the temptation of a larger pair when the opportunity arose. I did buy some 25x100's from AstroBoot but they arrived out of collimation so were returned. Perhaps someone picked them up cheaply to re-align? Anyhow, the Helios Apollos seem to get excellent reviews, so I nabbed these 22x85s when they came up on ABS. They are big, but more manageable than the 25x100s and sit quite nicely on my Trigger grip ball head thingy. Once I had tightened the tension adjustment a little it holds firm even pointing towards the zenith. Not that it's easy to observe up there without significant contortionism! (The smaller binoculars in the image for comparison are B&S 8x56.) These binos have Bak 4 prisms, individual focusing and are described as waterproof; I hope I don't have to test that though. The field of view is three degrees which seems reasonable for this mag, I would rather have a smaller, sharper field than a wider view which suffers from nasty distortions. The exit pupil should be 3.86mm from straight calculation. I have not attempted to measure it, but viewing through the eyepieces shows a nice round disk of light, free of any intrusions which would indicate under-sized prisms. The objective coatings seem good, not that I am any sort of expert, but they appear a deep purple, blue or green colour depending upon the angle of view. Being used, they could do with a bit of a clean but any marks are just dew spots, not coating damage. The central tripod mounting point is solid and holds the binos very firmly, whilst also being adjustable front to back to get the optimum balance point depending upon the type of viewing you are doing. Adjustment of the interpupilliary distance was smooth and easy to set. The focus adjustment on each eyepiece was also smooth, easy to use and seemed to hold position once set. The final nice feature to point out are that the eyepieces are threaded to take 1.25" filters. I splashed out on an ES OIII and UHC filter to put in there for better performance on nebulae. They were a little fiddly to thread in but once engaged they were a good fit. Easier with smaller fingers than me though! So far I have only had a fairly brief first light and am happy with the views. I had no issues with merging the images, collimation seems spot on. I found the separate adjustment of each eyepiece a little fiddly. I am used to adjusting the diopter and then just using the centre focus. I normally tweak the centre focus quite regularly so the concept of setting and leaving is one I am unfamiliar with. When I viewed, I don't think the seeing was particularly good. I was seeing three stars clearly in the Trapezium, but perhaps not as sharply as I expected. I think this may in part be to do with getting used to the focusing though. I must get my eyes checked again soon though, it has been a while and it is possible that I may have developed some astigmatism. Performance on the nebula itself was lovely though. A gentle green glow and plenty of nice detail with averted vision. Under a dark sky I can see these will be amazing. I need to spend more time with these binos but my impression so far is that they seem pretty sharp across most of the field which is very nice. Mizar split with little problem in the centre and if I remember correctly also near the edge but I will confirm this. The field of view is plenty big enough to show M45 framed with enough sky to be taken in in all its glory. That's about all for now, I will update when I have a more extensive session with them, plus get to use the filters. Observing at higher altitudes will probably present a bit of a problem but potentially reclining in a chair with the tripod set widely over them would have a chance of success. If dark enough I may consider lying down too ??
Came across a link to this on Facebook. I believe these are recently released images but regardless, quite amazing and the first time I've seen them. https://www.flickr.com/photos/projectapolloarchive/albums I particularly liked this one, which I assume is the first image taken of the earth rise from Apollo 8, before they grabbed a colour camera. Iconic image, Apollo 8 is one of my favourites.
Flown in space Kapton foil from the final Apollo 17 lunar mission. Overall size of frame is 350 x 260mm and the foil is approx 20 x 13mm at its widest. Cert of authenticity included. Frame is free standing or has central wall hook. £50 includes postage to UK mainland address PayPal plus fees or bank transfer.