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Found 19 results

  1. It finally happened – after waiting two weeks and a day, the clouds parted, and I was greeted with a clear, still and cloudless sky!! Whoop Whoop!! 15 days is a long time to wait! The scope (SW Explorer 150-PL) had been sitting in my dining room since Christmas, and despite a very short outing last week, that lasted about 10 minutes, last night was the first time I used her properly. I popped the tube outside a good hour before I intended to go out to observe, giving it plenty of time to cool down. I then put the mount together – I did this inside, so I could see what I was doing! Once it was all secure and bolted together, I set the declination (?) to 53 degrees and took the whole thing outside through my patio doors. Before I popped the scope on the mount, I did a basic polar alignment. I was chuffed – I had the declination spot on, and just need a tweek to the left and it was there – not perfect, but enough for my first observing session. I then put the OTA onto the mount and secured it. I had been playing around with it in the house the previous week, and had found the balance point, and marked the dovetail bar, clever eh?! I then moved the counter weights about to get that balanced as well – it all worked out fine, and the lightest touch when the clutches were off was enough to move the scope about. I fitted the finder scope and got it aligned with tube – I did find this a bit tricky to start with, and a couple of times during the evening I managed to knock it out of true with my arm / head / face!! And I was now ready to go! My observing location is pretty limited at home – the front / side of the house is now flooded with light from an LED street lamp – the red circles show the street lamps, and the red cross is where I set up the scope. I had good views to the North and to the West though: I'm not shy to say that my knowledge of where things are in the night sky is limited!! This will change as the year progresses, so i content myself to first locate M31. I found this quite tricky - the finder scope is a straight through job, and the angles can sometimes make looking through it a challenge. So I bought out the 20 x 80's and quickly found it. I then pointed the scope in the same direction, and a few twists of the slo-mo controls and there it was. I had the 25mm eyepiece in and I realise that the target was waaaay bigger than the view through the eyepiece!! However, the core was revealed. I looked for quite some time, and small details began to come out and I'm sure I saw the darker dust lanes. I then took a look for the Double Cluster, and wow!!! What seemed to be hundreds of stars, packed into the view! I was getting happier by the minute! I content myself to just scan the star fields in that area for a while, and then swung around to try and and find M51. Using the 20x80 technique I found it, and turned the scope to it. It was a faint fuzzy at 48x, so I upped the mag to 120x with the 10mm eyepiece - it became a larger fuzzy object, and I couldn't really see any structure, but knowing the light coming into my eye had covered 20 million light years was awesome! It was getting late, so I took off the tube and carried it round to the garden with the street light over it - I wanted to look at M42 before I packed up. However, the glare from the street light overpowered the finder and I couldn't see anything. Tried to shield it with my hand, and although it stopped the glare, it was all a bit washed out. Shame - perhaps an air rifle would be a good investment . . . . . !! So, overall I thoroughly enjoyed my first night out with the 150PL. A few early observations on the scope and mount (this blog will be like a long term review for the scope): The OTA with tube rings and dovetail bar weighs in at 6.4kg / 14lb, according to my scales. This is right at the limit for the NEQ3-2 mount. Added to the weight, the tube is long at and although I got the balance spot on, it took several seconds for the vibrations to die down following focusing. However, using the slo-mo controls didn't induce any noticeable shaking when tracking objects, so thats a bonus! I think a heavier mount will be needed at some point. I hope to try and save for the HEQ5, but with daughter going off to uni in September that may be a while down the road!! The eyepieces and barlow that came with the scope appear to be fairly solid - I only really used the 25mm, and I have nothing to compare them too, but the view seemed bright and sharpe. The finder scope is a generic 6 x 30mm. While the view is crisp, trying to look through it gave me a cricked neck after a while!! A 90 degree finder will defo be required The dovetail bar is a lovely green colour, but does appear to be quite soft - just mounting the scope the few times I have used it as already left some marks and dints in it. The focuser is fine for my use - not stiff at all, and with enough friction to make small adjustments easy. I see no need to upgrade this yet. So - lets hope the weather stays clear, as I am keen to turn the scope on to the Moon!! Thanks for reading, and a Happy New Year to all!! Cheers Nige in Derby
  2. Getting clear skies on the day your Mak 150 arrives is very very rare. That happened to me yesterday. No dew shield it hasn't arrived yet. The 150 sits nicely on the AZ4 with steel legs. I used a combination of the 28mm EP supplied and my 15,12,8,6. EP's. All performed well apart from the 8mm which I had been warned about (thanks Jules). This wil be replaced by a 10mm Vixen SLV. spent a lot of time getting to know the Mak and spent time swopping between the EP's. I am delighted with the scope crisp clear views of the moon,even though the seeing was not good. During dusk with that light blue haze I waited to see Jupiter. Even with the sun going down and the only two objects to be seem with the naked eye Moon and Jupiter I was more than surprised to get a very good view of her.mThree moons in a line to the right. The Mak magnify the rotation speed of earth and targets move very quickly across the field of view. Jupiter looked like a shepherd last night with three little lambs all following in a line. conclusion. A great scope you can get up close and personal with your targets. Easy to handle and light to move around. If you want duration in observing a tracking mount is a must. ( on my hit list) thanks for reading and here's a couple of shots just with the I Pod on the EP. Garry
  3. Since getting my first scope (130p on a az pronto mount) last Tuesday I haven’t had much luck with clear skies as it seems to be a curse when you get new astro equipment. I kept checking the weather forecast and today they said that it was going to be cloudy for tonight ( again ) . But when I looked out my window at around 7pm I could see Orion in all its glory. So as quickly as I could I grabbed my scope and mount in one hand and the eyepieces in another. Wasn’t that cold out for once so didn’t need my bobble hat or gloves! As this was an unplanned session I didn’t read up on what targets I should be looking for and also I forgot my torch which is never a good thing. However as Orion was very clear and detailed tonight I thought I would look at the Orion Nebula. Managed to locate it through the red dot finder that came equipped with the scope, the finder was roughly aligned slightly out of place but good enough and then I used the slo mo controls which are very easy to use to center it in the eyepice. I’ve never seen Nebulae through a scope before and was worried I would be disappointed after seeing all those Hubble pictures with incredible detail and colour.However I was very wrong. I would never have thought a grey smudge would be so amazing to look at. Through the 25mm eyepice it looked liked grey wings covering the FOV of the eyepice with three stars in the middle of it. So after spending about 10 minutes looking through the 25mm I thought I would swap it for the supplied 10mm. Again the view was very good though not as sharp of view that i had with the 25mm and I think I may need to buy a better replacement. Anyway after being in awe with Orion I’d thought I would have a quick look at The seven sisters. I’ve seen m45 before with my binoculars but wanted to have a look with the scope. The view was much better in the scope I could see more starts in the cluster then I could with the binoculars after spending about 10 minutes looking at the cluster I saw a satalite quickly move across the FOV which seemed to have an orange light ( would of liked to know what it was) . So after taking my eye off the eyepice I could see that the clouds were starting to role in and was starting to rain so called it a night. I have to say Astronomy is probably one of the most relaxing and most fascinating hobbies that I’ve gotten into. so far I’m very impressed with this scope it’s extremely portable which I wanted for reasons like tonight it’s a perfect grab and go scope and easy to use however the supplied 10mm could be better but I can upgrade that. Has been a very good purchase for £200. Thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far and hopefully many more enjoyable nights and reports to come
  4. I received an ASI1600MM from FLO this week and they somehow managed to sneak some clear skies into the box with it :-) I've been alarmed at how easy it was to get this camera running, the new config on guiding (via the mini hub in the camera) working and guiding and how well EQMOD and stellariumscope are behaving.... hmmmmm, clear skies, equipment working......what could possibly go wrong? I'll tell you tomorrow in the imaging section :-) David
  5. Finally I got my hands on one of these eypieces pretty much by accident but a happy one Build Quality The quality of the eyepiece is top draw as I'm sure you would expect it's very solid and doesn't feel like you would drop it because of the grip round the middle. The lense is huge which you would expect because of the FOV this eyepiece provides. The bottom of the EP has both fitting for 1.25 and 2 diagonal sizes if needed. Session So the session began for me as it always does I setup my Celestron Nexstar 6se then align the scope using my ES 68. My first target had to be the moon I excitedly put the EP in the diagonal and peered through... I could say peered but that wouldn't be right I literally fell into the EP my feet left the ground and I was gliding above the moon. It was simply jaw dropping for me how detailed the moon looked I've never seen such colours and shadows on the terminator the detail of the mountains and craters far exceeded my very high expectations. The ethos gives of a slightly different colour for the moon then my ES 68 does maybe slightly cooler almost which I really liked. I also tried the ethos with my Vixen 2x Barlow on the moon and it was just as good at 13mm. Onto Jupiter which was just above the horizon by this time I eagerly punched in the coordinates then pressed my eyeball against the huge lense... straight away 4 moons were visible and the equatorial belts and for the first time for me the north/south polar regions. At this point the wife joined me and I showed her Jupiter and she quickly commented on the moons and the belts she usually struggles finding. Then she commented on how clear and big the view looked. The detail again was incredible it was like I was observing in 3D. Finally I decided to have a quick look at a few DSOs. Orion Nebula was a treat a day always even with the moon almost directly overhead I could make out the cloud of dust surrounding the closely compacted 4 stars and a trail of dust trailing almost as good as last week with my Pentax Zoom and no moon. I then decided as a final observation to try for an open cluster and of course get my sketch book out to have a memento of the night. I decided on M48 which had a beatiful array of stars over most of the massive FOV. I spent a good hour sketching and still marvelled at the crispness of the FOV all the way to the edge. Conclusion I'm very pleased with how the EP performed in all areas of my observations. But I'm not fussed about specifications the moment I was sold was when I looked at the bottom of the EP and got that feeling of falling in complete immersion whatever you want to call it that was priceless and I will never forget that first time. So no regrets buying the EP and I can't wait for many more falling/immersive moments. Here are some photos and the sketch of M48 enjoy and if you can buy this eyepiece Clear skies Richard
  6. I say first light, it's actually second light but I had a better go this time although still fairly brief. The fine focusing was not working when I first got the scope, so I had a play around with that and successfully sorted it, plus made the overall movement better. Having bought a Moonlite for it, I actually think I'll stick with the original focuser, it does the job and is a fair bit lighter and less bulky, so more suitable for travel. When my numbers come up on the lottery I'll fit a FeatherTouch to it, but for now I'm happy. The Burgess is an f6.6, 600mm focal length scope with a cemented triplet objective of fpl-53 and lanthanum glass. It has a removable section in the tube, perfect for binoviewing at native focal length, but also handy for travel as the tube splits apart. The scope actually takes quite a while to reach ambient temperature. During cool down, the star shapes were pretty dodgy, looking a bit like pinched optics, but once cooled it looked fine. When I've finished my Harold Suiter book I'll make a more informed comment about the star test . Collimation looked fine though. I was using the TAL alongside for comparison on the Giro-WR mount, with a 7mm BGO in the TAL and 3 to 6 Nagler Zoom in the Burgess to give roughly similar mags at around x140 to x150 but I mainly used the Burgess at 6mm ie x100. There is some flaring around bright stars, perhaps just the objective needing a clean or muck somewhere else in the optical path so I'll check that out. Colour correction is excellent. No false colour on the moon and a nice neutral tone to the views. Side by side with the TAL, the differences are very noticeable, the TAL actually shows its larger aperture by way of a brighter image and slightly, but noticeably higher resolution on the moon and Jupiter, but also has a fair amount of false colour on the limb and on brighter stars. I didn't buy the Burgess as a planetary scope obviously, but it's nice to know that it gives enough detail on Jupiter to be of interest. Even while it was still low, there was detail in the two main belts and a couple of the temperate belts were visible in the polar regions. Interestingly though I didn't notice the GRS in either scope which should just have been visible towards the end of my session but to be fair I didn't spend long on Jupiter. I am more interested in the widefield views, the main reason for getting this scope is to be able to take it south and view some of the wonderful objects in Sagitarius from dark sites. My lowest power eyepiece currently is the very nice 24mm Panoptic, nice and compact for travelling and giving a 2.72 degree fov. With a 31 Nagler it would be 4.24. The scope has a fairly flat field with the Panoptic, giving sharp stars across the fov. The field was definitely flatter than some of the faster ED doublets I've owned and the Pleiades looked lovely, as did the Double Cluster. Despite the bright moon, the DC was showing delightful tiny pin points of light with good colour variation in the red and orange stars. Rigel's tiny secondary showed up clearly, although the flaring around the primary was more than I would have expected. Polaris split nicely. On to M42, and although washed out by the moon, there was plenty of detail in the nebulosity even unfiltered, and the Trapezium was, well it was the Trapezium. Seeing wasn't brilliant but it looked sharp. In summary, I'm very pleased with the scope. It is built like a tank, but is very compact still. With the focuser removed it fits nicely in my new 1510 Pelicase which is airline portable. I'll post a link to my contribution to the Grab and Go thread where there are pictures of the kit. The only negative really is that being a cemented triplet, I can't use it for solar without a front mounted D-ERF. I do have a 75mm one bought for a PST mod though, so perhaps I can source an adaptor to fit it on the dew shield and just accept the lost aperture. More to follow when the moon is out of the way
  7. Hi everyone! I was lucky enough to get a clear night last night, and have the first chance to test out my new Explorer 200p. Some of you may remember me posting a topic about how people lift such heavy things, and I got a huge amount of replies. In the end, I decided to split the scope into four parts: 1. Tube 2. Counterweights - to lighten the load as I move the mount 3, Accessory tray - So I could fold the tripod legs in 4. Mount + Tripod In the end, it took me about 15-20 minutes to set everything up, then I had to wait about 20 minutes for the sky to darken. In that time, I looked for an iridium flare, which the iflares app predicted. In the end, it never happened (Though I saw one at Magnitude 0 later on). Because it was nowhere near dark, I just pointed the scope at Vega. After that, I took a look at Albireo, looking as colourful as ever. I then looked for the double-double, but I struggled to split it - possibly because of seeing. After that, it became sufficiently dark to start DSO hunting. My first target was the Ring Nebula. I'd seen it with my old 150, but it was quite hard to spot. With the 200p, it jumped out at me! I added more zoom, and the nebula filter, and the ring shape was clear as day! My next target was M13, an old favourite. It was easy to see, with a somewhat mottled surface at low zoom, but when I cranked up the power, the stars were easy to see - much more so than in my old 150. After that, I looked at the Andromeda galaxy. It was a lot lower down, in hazy sky, so it looked little more than a hazy blob. Hopefully, it should be better when it's better placed in the autumn. Finally, I found the dumbbell. It was easy to see at low power, without the filter, but when I zoomed in, and added in the filter, it showed some good detail. However, even with all this, the dumbbell shape was still quite subtle. Still, even in photos, it's not as contrasty as the Ring. After that, it was getting on for eleven, and if I was up any later, my parents would kill me (not literally of course), so I came in. It took me about half an hour to bring my scope back in, and in that time, I let a couple of large moths in. Overall, it was certainly a good first observing session with my new scope! Thanks everyone for the advice you've given me with carrying my scope, as well as other things! David
  8. I've had a zoom EP on my radar for a while now, ease of use and more time actually observing is important to me. So when a second hand Pentax came up on SGL no less and at a very affordable price I couldn't resist. Specifications I will use the first light optics link so you can read up on it a bit more here's the link: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/pentax/pentax-xl-8-24mm-zoom.html First impressions What can I say it's certainly a big eyepiece but not as heavy as I thought it would be. It feels solid and just oozes quality, nothing in the design of the EP has been compromised or overlooked. When I first turned the EP so the ER went from the least to full extent it felt so smooth I smiled to myself same for the magnification which felt almost as smooth very reassuring. First session Telescope - Celeston Nexstar 6SE I setup for my session same way I always do no changes what so ever on how I position the tube on my stand. I did use a higher mag then what I usually do around the 17mm mark rather then 25mm and honestly I've never had more accurate alignment. When putting the eyepiece in the diagonal I was very careful to tighten the pins enough and make sure the line which shows what mag it's at was facing up. So onto my targets first up was Saturn, really good detail on the rings I could definitely see different shades of colour and the rings were simply breathtaking. I could make out 2 of the moons fairly easily but my attention was mainly focused on the planet. Conditons allowed me to go up to around 10mm anymore and the degradation was apparent immediately this did improve later on in the night. The Pentax was extremely forgiving on we're I positioned my eye I did use the ER to the max setting. Comfort was immediately apparent, no blackouts or any sort of trouble finding my correct eye position. I did try observing with my glasses on but I've never been comfortable with wearing my glasses during observations. I think you could definitely use this EP with glasses on but not for me. Next on my list was the moon I added my moon filter and started at 24mm. The moon had a very detailed cool look about it, the craters and mountain ranges along the terminator were almost 3D it was stunning. What I also found within the first 20 minutes of observing was the zoom mechanism was very easy to use almost intuitive along with focusing as your increasing mag it all seemed very natural. I also popped in my 2x Barlow just to see if I could, I managed to get up to 12mm which would be around 6mm with the Barlow and the views were still pin sharp, it was like I was on a mission to the moon incredible. For my last observations of the night I chose M13/M52. M13 was stunning as always but what became more apparent was the crisp and detailed view of the stars and surrounding star field. I was able to identify a lot more then a low/med/high intensity of brightness for each star. I tried to portray this in my observational sketch and the actual cluster I've never seen it so prominent or big as it was at 17.5mm. M52 this was my first observation of this stunning open cluster. Immediately apparent again was all the stars were pinpoint and sharp throughout. I kept my mag at 24mm and for the first time felt a bit constricted with the 40 degree field of view but what made up for it was the detail and contrast sharp across the field and a lovely dark background stunning. Conclusion I was going to do a pros/cons section but I soon realised I don't have enough cons. As far as I can tell there's 2 cons price and fov. If I'm honest the price is justified 1 EP which is magically 7 and fov I believe is personal taste to an extent. Fov was only an issue for me at 24mm when observing an open cluster and to be honest I expected this. What was apparent through out was how easy it all was, how clear crisp and detailed everything was. The zoom mechanism adjusting your focus all went hand in hand. The comfort factor was huge not once was I frustrated with eye position or reflecting light artificial or natural/moon. So I'm very happy with my purchase, honestly I can't see why everyone hasn't got a zoom? Here are a few pics of the Pentax for your viewing pleasure. Thank you for reading my review. Clear skies Richard
  9. This weekend I managed 3 nights of viewing with my new grab and go/travel set up. This consists of: Explore Scientific ED80 Apo Triplet standard version (not alu essentual or carbon) - used from AstroBuySellUK - £375 + P&P Manfrotto 405 Geared Tripod Head - used from Wex Photographic, £160 inc P&P Redsnapper RSF324 photographic tripod - new from Redsnapper, £110 (before discount - use code RED10 for 10% discount) + P&P Firstly the tripod. This has 4 sections and scrunches down into to a really small thin carry case. No problems getting this into hand luggage. It's light (1.8Kg) but sturdy. The locking mechanisms on the legs are extremely solid. It's rated for a 12Kg max load - way more than you need. It has interchangeable rubber feet and ground spikes. The spikes are handy for anchorage. There's a hook on the bottom of the centre column which worked really well for hanging a weight from. I used a kilo or so of play sand, inside a pair of zip lock type freezer bags (one inside the other), hung from a carrier bag. The tripod is strong and stable. It goes very high, even without the centre column extended, I found it high enough to view comfortably at the zenith. Without the counterweight, there is no vibration problem at x20 - x40. Around x 80 there is vibration, but this is easily fixed by hanging a weight off the hook. As above, I used sand, but I think you could use a bottle of water in a carrier bag just as well, so that's one less thing to transport on a plane. The Manfrotto Geared Head is an absolute joy to use. It has 3 axis, pan, up down, and tilt. You don't need the tilt at all. The other pair of axes work perfectly as an Alt Az set up. The head weight 1.6Kg so helps weigh down the tripod but isn't too much to blow your flight allowance. It's also fairly compact, and would easily fit in hand luggage. The movement of the head is super silky smooth. It has adjuster nobs which you can rotate for fine control. In my opinion, they are smoother than the worm gear fine adjusters on an EQ3-2. The adjuster nobs also have a thick rubber collar which you can twist to unlock the axis completely and spin the head round quickly. You can do a 180 turn in about a second in this way - very convenient. The head has no problem at all holding the 4kg+ combined weight of the Triplet, diagonal, Televue 2" eyepiece and a Red Dot Finder, even when pointing at the zenith. No slippage, no danger. I am sure you could use the cheaper Manfrotto 410 Junior gear head with lighter doublet ED80s. They would probably hold the ES triplet fine as well, though I haven't tested this. The Explore Scientific ED80 Triplet. It weighs 3.4Kg without the eyepiece. This is the standard version, which comes with a really nice and hugely solid flight case. You need never worry about your gear in here. Importantly, it also has a heavier-duty Crayford Focuser with an 11:1 fine adjuster. You don't get this on the Alu essential model. It's a very smooth and strong focuser, which operated beautifully with a heavy 2" set up including a Televue Type 4 Nagler that weighs almost half a Kilo. It also has a longer dew shield than the Alu essential, which is useful because I wouldn't want it shorter than this. Finally, it has a very nice di-electric 2" diagonal with some carbon fibre in the body (not sure if it's all carbon). It's a 480mm Focal Length F6 so is great for wide field views. The Triplet does not come with a finderscope, but with a scope with a field this wide, I'm not sure a traditional finderscope would help much at all, as the field of view through a finderscope is so narrow. Instead, I fitted a standard Red Dot finder (by Ostara). To do this, you have to remove the existing finder shoe which only fits a handful of Explore Scientific/Meade accessories. The ES RACI finderscope is expensive so there's not much reason to keep the original shoe. Changing the shoe is a bit of a faff, so if you can find a used one which has had the shoe changed, that's a bonus. To change the finder shoe: 1) unscrew the whole back section of the focusser. To do this, you remove a little screw from the body of the scope, just behind the focusser shoe. This reveals a little black set screw which is a little hard to see. 2) Remove little black set screw. You need the right Alllen key (Hex key) to undo this - the smallest one in my tool kit, I think it's a 1mm. 3) Simply unscrew (twist anti-clockwise) the whole back half of the scope from the front. You need to do this because the bolts which hold on the finder shoe are held on by nuts on the inside of the scope, which fall out once unscrewed. 4) Unscrew 4 x finder shoe bolts from the nuts on inside of scope. Make sure these nuts fall out of the open end of the scope so they go nowhere near the triplet lenses at the front of the scope. 5) Screw on a Synta (AKA Sky Watcher/Celestron) shoe - but note that you need a Synta shoe with wider screw holes than a normal Synta shoe. The "Synta shoe for SCTs" fits fine. However, the original bolts that held on the original shoe have heads which are too tall - if you use them, they will stick out of the inside of the Synta shoe and stop you sliding on your finder. Hence you need some M5 type screws (just with slightly flatter heads than the originals). You can re-use the original nuts on the inside of the scope though. You only need 2 bolts to fit a Synta shoe, so you can re-fit the other 2 original bolts and nuts to plug the holes. I found the Red Dot Finder perfect to use on this scope. I'm sure Telrad users would be happy on this scope too. Using the scope itself: I tested it with the following: 42mm 2" Revelation - x12 mag, 6.1 degrees TFOV 30mm 2" Moonfish - x16 mag, 5 degree TFOV 24mm 1.25" Explore Scientific Maxvision - x20 mag, 4.1degree TFOV 17mm 2" Televue Nagler Type 4 - x28 mag, 3 degrees TFOV 12mm 1.25/2" Televue Nagler Type 4 - x40 mag - 2.1 degree TFOV 6mm TMB Planetary II - x80 mag - 0.6 degree TFOV The scope is an absolute beauty to use. The views are sharp with pinpoint stars edge to edge. Absolutely no chromatic aberation or coma that I could detect. The wide star fields you can get with a scope of this short focal length are stunning. What I did find however, was that the view was better at x20 and above. I believe this is due to the increased contrast caused by higher magnification. x16 was better than x12, x20 was better than x16. Above that magnification there was little difference - everything looked great. Double stars: I managed to split Mizar at only x28 mag using the Nagler Type 4. It was only just split, but it was clearly split nonetheless. This really is a fine set of optics. Red giants: Arcturus looked particularly fine. You can actually see that it is a bigger disc than all the surrounding stars. The Garnet Star (Mu Cephae) looks really interesting, quite red). Clusters: The double cluster is really stunning, crisp with many pinpoint stars, even fairly low to the horizon. I found the object was best around x40, though x 28 was nice too. Globs - M13 was clearly visible at all mags, though not much detail. I need a shorter focal length eyepiece to increase the magnification. I tried the TMB Planetary II but it revealed only a little detail and some barely resolved stars; also the field of view was narrow and the view not so great in general, especially towards the edges which were a little fuzzy. I'm sure this is to do with the quality of the optics in the eyepiece, especially when used immediately after the mighty Televue Type 4s. Not really a fair contest when you consider that the RRP of the Televues is ten times that of the TMB. Planets - Saturn was beautiful and crisp and stunning, even low to the horizon and viewed at just x 28 and x40. At both mags, the rings were clearly visible as separate entities from the planet. I didn't have time to study it as it dropped behind tree cover. Nebulas - M42 is well below the horizon which is a real shame as I suspect it would have looked great. I did not manage to get a view of the Elephant's trunk Nebula - but then I can never see it in the 9.25" SCT from home either, even with a broadband filter (Orion Skyglow) - I put this down to light polution. Galaxies - there is only one in view at this time of year from this location - M31 (plus it's satellite), but I ran out of time to make an attempt at locating this. I doubt that galaxies would be a strength in this scope due to limited aperture, but it has surprised me on other objects so you never know. Portability - In one word, excellent. One night I actually left the scope set up on the mount, just collapsed the tripod legs and carried the whole rig into the house for the night, then had a quick view through an open window. I carried the rig out again the next night. At around 7kgs all in, this is really easy to do. Truly grab and go. Even setting up out of the carry case takes less than 5 minutes. All in all, a high quality and very pleasing scope. The views are generally sharper than my 9.25" SCT. I wouldn't have thought that such a small scope (3.1" i.e. 80mm) would be capable of so much, but the extremely high light throughput and quality optics clearly do their job. The only trouble is, my mighty 9.25" SCT isn't going to see anywhere near as much use!
  10. Hi Gave a first light to my ZWO120mm-c as a guider on my Exos 2 mount. All i'll say id fantastic. Many stars to choose from. Got it guiding and after problem with the dec dropping off the graph i increased the max dec duration to maximum ad solved the issue though it was a bit saw toothy, I know i have some backlash to tune out though. It guided for over an hour till the clouds lost me a star. I used my olympus E-510 with bader LP filter on the shortened astromaster 130EQ. I have a coma corrector but it wont fit the 130 focuser as its a 2 inch (do they do 1.25 CC's ?), Ive go a 2" focuser to put on it though i'm toying wit a sw 130pds Well chuffed with it all though its coming together
  11. I am aware a number of members were following my posts and waiting for reports. I have posted the report here :- I have a few spare hours each day between 0500 and 0600. The other 22 hours are full,so I am looking for a part time job to fill this time and to fund this hobby. The job must allow me to sleep while I am working !
  12. First light: 20” f3.6 Lukehurst Dobsonian Date: 2 April 2017. Time: 2130-0200. Focal length: Native 1814mm, +Paracorr2 (x1.15) 2120mm, +MarkV (x1.7 Newtonian GPC) 3083mm Finally, got a real first light last night. The conditions were not ideal with a 40% moon and some high level cloud but they were good enough to get everything setup... I had already tested the Nexus the previous day and after changing a plus(+) to a minus(–) in the Sky Safari encoder settings had got the push-to system tested out using some false alignments. First job was to set the Baader Skysurfer 5 up using Polaris. It took quite a large adjustment of the finder to get it centred, there was just enough adjustment available for success. Must be the amount of aperture that necessitated the large adjustment needed? Anyway, once that was done I connected Sky Safari to the Nexus and aligned on Polaris. I slewed over to Algieba in Leo and centred in the red-dot finder. It was in the FOV so nudged it to the centre and hit the Align in the app. Now as I move the scope, I can see Sky Safari following me around the sky – great! Nudging note: It isn’t easy! I know that I will pick this up over a few session but most times I moved it the wrong way only to go “Doh!” and move it the other way. It was much easier to get it right when nudging while watching the IPad screen than nudging while peering through the eyepiece. Collimation note: The defocus star presented a nice set of rings although brighter stars were flaring around the edges (atmospheric conditions I assume). Collimation with the Glatter laser & Tublug is simple! As the moon was still too high I moved onto some eyepiece focus checks. The point of the test was to be able to get past the focus point of the eyepiece and not worry about the power/image content. - 3x Ethos & Paracorr2 = check - MarkV bino & Pan24, Delos 17.3, Delos 10, Delite 7 = check I have about half inch in-focus remaining with the Binos in use and more than an inch of out-focus with the Ethos/Paracorr2, so I am happy with that! I found the bino was giving a darker background than the Ethos so I stuck with the Pan24 and binos and moved on to view some galaxies (x128 magnification). Sky Note: As I am short sighted and view without glasses I see the sky out of focus but I could see that the still thin clouds were thicker than before. M51 Using the Nexus push-to I nudged my way over to M51 and found it on the edge of FOV when the Nexus was showing it as centred. I could see two bright cores and some dusty circles around the main galaxy. Not bad for a milky moon lit sky and more than I expected. Sky Safari note: I had read up that Sky Safari keeps the last two alignment points from the push-to and that it’s a good idea to align to something in the area that you are observing so I centred M51 and clicking Align in the app. From that point I found several galaxies in the area and they were reasonably centred in Sky Safari at the same time. So, I am happy with that. I was able to identify several galaxies that I came upon using Sky Safari which is what I had hoped for. M101 I could see the core and one blotchy area to the side. There was a lot of swirly gas that I see with averted vision. Again, not bad for a moony sky! M97 owl neb Easy, nice clear circular patch. I didn’t bother with more mag for the “eyes” as the conditions were not worth it. NGC4631 whale Easy, nice long streak of grey dust. NGC4565 needle Bright core & long streaks to either side. Streaks were longer with averted. NGC4244 silver needle Long faint streak observed. Cocoon Galaxies Both galaxies seen. One bigger than the other. Smaller one improved with averted. M94 Nice bright core and circular surrounding dust. M63 Core with surrounding dust. Less bright that M94. NGC4449 Easy, nice squarish shaped galaxy. M106 Core with surrounding dust disk. NGC4051 Faint core. Faint dust circle. Averted needed. NGC4088 Faint galaxy, but a good size. M13 globular I viewed M13 with the Ethos10mm and was able to resolve some of the stars. It is quite low and I was not getting full aperture due to the shed walls. Comet C/2015 V2 Johnson Easily located with the help of Nexus! In the Ethos21 it was easily seen but pretty small. Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak Bigger that Johnson but more diffuse. Again, the conditions meant that I wasn’t bothering to change magnifications/eyepieces much! By now the clouds were thicker still. I could see the main stars and the next level too, but even with the moon nearly gone, the images were not improving so I decided to call it a night. Due to the position of the scope within the shed, I was unable to point at the moon & Jupiter. I have repositioned it this morning (for next time) based on my experiences. David supplied a set of wheelbarrow handles with the scope which are easy to connect and make shuffling the scope around the shed possible. Conclusions. 1. Very happy that I can reach focus will all my eyepieces & binos 2. Nexus is simple to get aligned and without it I would not have found very much to observe! Happy with that too 3. Surprised that the larger galaxies were visible (and pretty decent) under the moony sky, wasn’t expecting that but I don’t go out usually until the moon has departed Comments welcome, Alan
  13. 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
  14. At last sunshine. It was a little hazy but still managed to burn my arm! Covered my head with home made sun protector and got so enthralled with the views that I forgot my arms - hmmm silly. The views are amazing!!! I have had the Lunt zoom and am impressed then spent some time with the binoviewer - needed to play with the focusser positioning to get focus. Big difference to ease of viewing with binoviewer. A lot of time was just spent appreciating the differences in views when adjusting the pressure tuner. The level of detail left me stunned and I'll be out later to see what the evening sun brings. Imaging will come later when I've learnt how to get the most of the scope. Very easy using on the skytee 2 and I will try on tracking mount as well to avoid the need to keep adjusting. Looks like a clear night ahead too so bonus!! Very happy with my decision. Roll on sunny days. Regards, Tony
  15. I've had this scope for some months now but last night was the first time I managed a look through it. Only about 45mins unfortunately, and earlier in the evening so that although it was dark, Orion hadn't come into view. I'll save that pleasure for another night. I didn't bother to collimate it, being short of time, but a quick star test showed it to be pretty close despite picking it up from Exeter, and then a fruitless trip to Lucksall and back. This is the third lovely scope I've bought from Mike73 . Even with my 80mm finder and Telrad on, the balance was pretty good, no need for any counterweights or use of the friction break. I only used three eyepieces, a 40mm TMB Paragon, 24mm Panoptic and a 12.5mm BGO. These gave a nice spread of mags, and the 40mm was very handy as a finder. The scope is crying out for a 21mm Ethos though really, but that will have to wait and I suspect balance will need address with one of these lumps in the focuser. Somewhat infuriatingly, the sky later on was even better than when I was observing. The seeing looked very steady and Orion was beautifully clear! However, I got to use the scope so that's what's important. Quite a few lower targets were obscured, so the Double Cluster seemed like a good place to start. I still prefer a good frac on the DC, despite the obviously brighter and deeper view through the 12". The other night, through the 4" fluorite the stars were just stunning; last night, far more stars were resolved, but I didn't get that same warm glow. There's nothing wrong with the optics, 0.987 strehl, 1/8th wave is good enough for me, but it does illustrate the difference. I thought I would check Polaris to see just how well it performed on resolving the tiny secondary. The answer was... beautifully. Even with just the 24mm Panoptic in at x66, the secondary was a very tight pinpoint sitting on one of the diffraction spikes. I suspect with better collimation the views with doubles will be excellent. The dual speed focuser on the scope is very smooth and accurate, a joy to use and it is fitted with a Baader Clicklock, heated dewstrip and a1.25" Howie Glatter Parallizer, all great kit which works well, I had no issues with dew despite the damp conditions. M36 and 38 showed the real benefits of aperture. In the four inch under these skies they are nothing to write home about, but last night they resolved beautifully into proper open clusters, a lovely sprinkling of stars, particularly M38. My old favourite of NGC457 gave me my normal smile when I saw it, a great fun target. Last target in this short session was Caroline's Rose. Under a dark sky this is a lovely target, but even last night it was great to see. Quite subtle with the LP but lovely features becoming visible with time, the dark curved lanes creating the petals of the rose quite clearly. Averted vision helped, but considering that I wasn't very well dark adapted it was a nice view. So, another long report about a short session . Nice to have finally used the scope and for it to deliver what I hoped for. The optics seem excellent and it has been modded in a way which gives me everything I could want, including flocking of the top and bottom thirds of the OTA. Nice and quick to setup, next stop M42, and who knows, perhaps the Pup
  16. Hi All, Finally my new toy has arrived, namely the 14" GOTO Skywatcher Dob. It's a massive unit. Before taking it to a dark site I though I'd spend a bit of time getting to know it in the backyard and compare the views in it to the 8" SCT. I tried to get my eye night adapted.. yes EYE singular, since I do have 3 street lights around my back yard shining in, I used a patch to keep my observing eye covered at all times when not at the eye piece. Initially I was disappointed, I positioned both of the scopes on to the 47Tuc globular. Looking first into the 8" SCT I saw what was expected, the cluster of stars with stars sprinkling outward and granulation visible all the way to the core, and I was expecting that when looking into the 14" dob, the cluster will be bright and amazing, BUT no, not much better than the 8", actually the blackness of space was milky and the view was disappointingly worse than the 8"!!! How can that be? I put it down to the 14" mirror brightening up the skyglow more and this unit is best used at a dark site. The next view I targeted was the Orion Nebula, again the 8" showed the fishes mouth and the moustachy curves witch slight haze above it, along with a slight view of M43, the trapezium, exactly what I was expecting from my backyard, here I'll point out that when I had my 8" at a dark site, there were much more detail visible than in the back yard, namely the shape of the nebula was distinct with mottling within it, M43 was a clear "comma" shape with detail with in it and the trapezium was sharp steady pinpoints of light. When I moved to the 14" SW I was expecting a similar outcome, BUT I was wrong, the nebula was big and a lot brighter then in the 8" with a lot darker blackness with much higher contrast, there was detail with in the nebula, M43 etc, through the UHC filter again the view was a fair bit brighter and more detailed then in the 8" SCT. The view from my yard was better then at a dark site through the 8" as I remember. The whole Pleiades was visible in the FOV through the 31mm TV T5 Terminagler in the DOB where as only the main part was visible in the SCT due to the higher magnification, but not that much difference, still the the view was close enough to compare. The 14" showed a lot more stars than the 8" but not more than the 8" showed at a dark site. Now the sky was not as milky as before, it was quite dark and, to cut a story short, it was just a street light that was flooding the secondary mirror completely destroying the contrast. Once I realized that this was happening I made sure that there was no light hitting the secondary and had another look at 47Tuc and this time it was brighter and more stars were visible than before and than the 8". The Tarantula Nebula actually had thin details visible within the brighter and fainter loops and structure. When the Carina nebula rose high enough for a good viewing, again what I saw in the eyepiece using the UHC filter was awesome, lots of nebulosity and detail within. The 31mm Nagler showed almost the whole nebula within the FOV which was full of nebulosity, cloudyness detail and stars. Setup and star alignment was easy to get my head around, but it is very similar to the CGEM hand controller so it wasn't a big step from one to the other. GOTO pointing accuracy was very good, found every object that the scope was slewing to, and stopped with the objects near the center in the eyepiece everytime, tracking was very good also, I left the 47Tuc Globular using the 17mm Ethos and a 2X Power mate for over 15 minutes and when coming back to the eyepiece it was still in the FOV, slightly off center, but still there. Reading some reviews where some users had problems with tracking and GOTO accuracy or with focusing using a 2" eyepiece, I think their problems were due to one or a combination of wrong time entered, wrong time zone or wrong location coordinates entered and focuser travel not coming out enough due to not using the 2" extension tube supplied in the kit. In my opinion technically the unit works very well. In conclusion the views were visibly brighter on all objects, Galaxies like Sculptor and NGC55 were much easier to see, and I saw no difference in brightness in the objects when going from the 31mm Nagler to a 17mm with a 2X PM, higher magnifications did reveal more details on the brighter objects like 47Tuc, M42, Tarantula or Carina Nabula. I can't wait to have the unit at a dark site, I think I'll have some awesome views. Thanks for reading, clear skies. Mariusz
  17. I started observing through my Celestron Nexstar 8 SE on August 18th 2017 at about 9pm I couldn't get the skyalign to work and just a little teeny bit frustrated with the cloudy skies and view limited by my own four story building, I looked up, saw Saturn bright and yellow in the sky and manually slewed towards it. And sure enough, when I looked into the eyepiece, I saw Saturn in my FOV. So, while I thought of myself as an armchair astronomer, I may have been a naked eye astronomer all along. A short Observing Report from 1973: I was introduced to Yes, Pink Floyd, and and Led Zepplin, Photography, and Saturn all in the same year by my uncle who was the sound/light guy in a local rock band in 1973. The same year he bought a telescope kit from Edmund Scientific. A Newtonian about 6 feet long and with an aperture of 6 inches. We were in the Mississippi Valley and our altitude there is 690 feet above sea level. The seeing was not bad as I recall. I don't remeber it "swimming" as I call it now. It was sometime in August or September I believe. There were still leaves on the trees, and my grandmothers back yard had a very limited view of the sky. Nearly at the zenith with a slot descending to the horizon almost. You couldn't see below about 15 degrees as I recall. I recall Saturn that evening displaying clear rings, the Cassini division was barely visible, just a darkness rather than a continuous yellow band around the planet. And the planet itself was a mostly featureless ball of yellow. I recall seeing no planets. ~ slight post topic excursion number two ~ Since then I have followed my inclinations, become a teacher, composer, and performer of music, an amateur photographer, and an amateur astronomer (haven't dropped down the rabbit hole of AP quite yet, but it's gaping abyss is looking my way now...). I could never stop reading about astrophysics, cosmology, and astronomy the entire time between then and now. I frequently will think of an object and look it up to find it's in the southern celestial hemisphere. So, after a couple weeks of reading this forum and CN, and AF, I felt ready to make my purchase. I'm still quite happy with the direction I went, although I'm definitely looking at an ultra-light traveldob at 12 to 16 inch Dob (non-GOTO) as my next telescope. I love DSO hunting. But my back is not the greatest, and so I have to think of it thus the lighter option of a 203mm SCT. But I've just found a very nice light weight Dob by Hubble Optics, among others, so once I get a car, I will probably be getting at least a 12 inch Dobsonian soon after. ~/slight post topic excursion number two~ With my 8SE I have seen three planets around Saturn so far. Following that event I just looked at the sky for two weeks before I decided to record all my observations and keep that data in a spread sheet. Here is a link to that spreadsheet I keep on google docs if you'd like to see the list of objects I've gazed upon: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wSgY9XWA_BcUa1l7nnmJME3D3KwghHhxr4npSz3wS20/edit?usp=sharing here's the list from 08/19/17 to 10/18/17 Object Constellation cat & # Messier # Date Time Observation Notes Saturn 08/19/2017 9:00pm MDT I could see Saturn, rings, Cassini division, and three moons I was unable to get the computer aligned. Too cloudy. I saw Saturn aimed the scope at it and sure enough, Saturn was in the eyepiece! Globular Cluster Pegasus NGC 7078 M15 08/28/2017 22:07 Faint fuzzy ball of light averted vision using the 13mm revealed individual stars and granularity Double Double, Epsilon Lyrae Lyra SAO 067310 08/30/2017 22:25 I see four bright and white blueish stars Oh wow, the pair to the north is stacked while the pair towards the south are side by side. Andromeda Gaslaxy Andromeda NGC 224 M31 08/30/2017 21:46 Big fuzzy blob tilted to one side, can't really see any dust lanes. did not have to use averted vision Zeta1 Lyrae, Zeta2 Lyrae Lyra SAO 067321 08/30/2017 Ring Nebula Lyra NGC 6720 M57 08/30/2017 22:59 I see a blueish grey dark ring with a lighter center A beautiful smoke ring in the sky Eta Cassiopeiae Cassiopeia SAO 021732 09/01/2017 Cat’s Eye nebula Draco NGC 6543 09/01/2017 0:12 Faint cloudiness with some faint structure. Almach Andromeda SAO 037734 09/05/2017 Mirach Andromeda SAO 054471 09/05/2017 Wild Duck Cluster Scutum NGC 6705 M11 09/07/2017 A dusting of stars with some very large and bright members A box of jewels in the sky Fomalhaut Piscis Austrinus SAO 214197 09/09/2017 22:30 Hercules Cluster Hercules NGC 6205 M13 09/10/2017 0:24 Fuzzy patch of light Fuzzy ball of light. Averted vision shows individual stars. Double Cluster Perseus NGC 869 and NGC 884 09/10/2017 0:12 M32 Andromeda NGC 221 M32 09/09/2017 23:28 Very faint fuzz on edge of M31 required averted vision M34, Perseus Open Cluster Perseus NGC 1039 M34 09/12/2017 Butterfly Cluster Scorpius NGC 6405 M6 09/16/2017 A delicate gathering of stars Easily seen, clear and bright even though it is low Jabbah, Nu Scorpii Scorpius SAO 159764 09/16/2017 Antares. Alph Scorpii Scorpius SAO 184415 09/16/2017 Mizar and Alcor Ursa Major SAO 028737 09/17/2017 Alphecca Corona Borealis SAO 083893 09/17/2017 Tx Piscium Pisces SAO 128374 09/18/17 Dusty Red Star 36 Andromedae Andromeda SAO 074359 09/18/17 12 Aquarii Aquarius SAO 145064 09/18/17 Mu Cygni Cygnus SAO 089940 09/18/17 Saturn w/satellite 09/18/17 7:57pm MDT using the 25mm eyepiece, white object crossed the FOV in 2.5 seconds, moving from top of view to bottom about 2.5 times the width of Saturn to the east. Open Cluster Sagittarius NGC 6531 M21 09/18/17 8:15pm MDT A concentration of young blue stars see sketch, I see a triangle of stars formed by doubles of stars on two sides, and five stars on one side. Open Cluster Sagittarius NGC 6494 M23 09/18/17 8:23pm MDT A scattering of blue stars The stars are very blue Wild Duck Cluster w/ satellite Scutum NGC 6705 M11 09/18/17 9:33pm MDT Saw a bright orangish, white object cross the FOV going north to the east of M11. It took 3 seconds to cross the FOV. M110 Andromeda NGC 205 M110 09/18/17 10:50pm MDT Faint smudge of light Very faint but visible using averted vision brings it out more. Open Cluster Cassiopeia NGC 7654 M52 09/18/17 10:56pm MDT A mostly young and blue collection of stars Mostly blue with a few red stars Open Cluster Cassiopeia NGC 581 M103 09/18/17 11:06pm MDT A rich field of young and old stars Open Cluster Cassiopeia NGC 225 09/18/17 11:12pm MDT a beautiful mix of blue and red stars Pleiades Taurus M45 09/19/17 12:16am MDT Bright collection of very blue stars beautiful, maybe it's my imagination but I think I can see slight nebulosity, Blue Snowball Nebula Andromeda NGC 7662 09/19/17 10:22pm MDT Very light blue, illuminated from within at higher magnification I can just make out some differences in the center. Very simjilar to M57 but much clearer. Did not compare to M57 this evening. Should have done that. Globular Cluster Aquarius NGC 7089 M2 09/19/17 10:46pm MDT Faint fuzzy ball of light I can see some granularity and with averted vision individual stars. Dumbell Nebula, Apple Core Nebula Vulpecula NGC 6853 M27 09/19/17 11:36pm MDT Bright and white planetary, with clear structure I remembered to try my LP filter. An Orion Orion Ultrablock Narrowband LP filter. It worked really well. I took a break while I was viewing M27, when i went inside, I forgot my eyepatch and blew my dark adaptation. When I returned, I found I couldn't quite see the nebula without removing the filter. After which I could put the filter back in and see it again. Triangulum Galaxy Triangulum NGC 598 M33 09/20/17 12:21am MDT Very faint fog covering the stars. I can only make this object out if I slew the telescope. Can see a faint patch of fuzzy, when eyes averted and it's moving. Milky Way 09/20/17 20:50 Can clearly see the Milky Way all the way to the horizon. It's washed out a bit, but quite visible. Bortle 4 I believe. Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda NGC 224 M31 09/20/17 21:01 I can clearly see the central bulge and the dust lanes of the outer skirt averted vision helped pull out details Wild Duck cluster Scutum NGC 6705 M11 9/20/2017 21:03 Very bright concentration of stars against a velvety black Whirlpool Galaxy Canes Venatici NGC 5194 M51 09/20/17 21:12 A definite spiral galaxy beautiful spiral shape, impossible to see this detail in Fort Collins Hercules Cluster Hercules NGC 6205 M13 09/20/17 21:27 A tight cluster of stars individual stars at 17mm rather than the 13mm required in Fort Collins Triangulum Galaxy Triangulum NGC 598 M33 09/20/17 21:41 Very faint. Could see it without averted vision. Averted vision helped reveal some detail in the spiral shape The Little Dumbbell Nebula Perseus NGC 650/651 M76 09/20/17 21:58 A white, cloudy, brightness Very sharp outlines. I can see filaments. Cigar Galaxy Ursa Major NGC 3034 M82 09/20/17 22:19 I see a cigar shape tapering at both ends did not need averted vision Bode's Galaxy Ursa Major NGC 3031 M81 09/20/17 22:22 very bright spiral galaxy Beautiful spiral shape. Looking towards the darkest skies to the north I cloud see dust lanes The Owl Nebula Ursa Major NGC 3587 M97 09/20/17 22:33 Very faint nebula Very Faint. Needed narrowband LP filter. Averted vision helped. Dumbbell Nebula Vulpecula NGC 6853 M27 09/20/17 22:40 Very bright nebula I could clearly see structure outside the bright center. I could see that there was a bright star in the center illuminating it. Kemble's Cascade Camelopardalis 9/30/2017 0:37 A beautiful cascade of stars Still have not seen this naked eye or with 10x50s Open Cluster Camelopardalis NGC 1502 9/30/2017 0:38 A small group of stars M29 Cygnus NGC 6913 M29 9/30/2017 0:52 an intimate collection of stars M2 Aquarius NGC 7089 M2 9/30/2017 1:08 A tight ball of stars was able to see individual stars without averted vision M77 Cetus NGC 1068 M77 9/30/2017 1:21 I thought this was a star Cluster (see sketch below). So I was as wrong as Messier, and Herschel. And therefore, technically not yet seen. M42 Orion NGC 1976 M42 9/30/2017 1:32 Bright and clear nebulosity you can stare at directly. I see four trapezium stars. Wow, this is awesome. I know, I should have sketched it, but the wall of dew was approaching. I went to grab my notebook, and it was wet. Glistening with dew. I turned the hair dryer on it and went back to look at the Orion Nebula again for a few more minutes... Ptolemy Cluster Scorpius NGC 6475 M7 10/04/2017 19:33 A nice scattering of stars. Butterfly Cluster Scorpius NGC 6405 M6 10/04/2017 19:39 A nice tight group of blue stars. I notice one I’ll call “red” to redish yellow off to one side. Open Cluster Sagittarius NGC 6530 10/04/2017 20:56 I consider this a nice grouping of stars The moon is full, I'm not using an eyepatch at all M21, Open Cluster Sagittarius NGC 6531 M21 10/04/2017 21:28 a small handful of stars Wild Duck Cluster Scutum NGC 6705 M11 10/04/2017 21:34 Clear, bright stars with diamond dust underneath Open Cluster Sagittarius IC 4725 M25 10/04/2017 21:45 About 35 stars in a loose group Open Cluster Sagittarius NGC 6613 M18 10/04/2017 21:50 A noticeable concentration of blue stars Checkmark Nebula Sagittarius Sharpless 45 M17 10/04/2017 21:57 a sparse collection of stars Eagle Nebula Sagittarius NGC 6611 M16 10/04/2017 22:02 a medium sized collection of mostly blue stars M2, Open Cluster Aquarius NGC 7089 M2 10/04/2017 23:40 a compact ball of stars I can see granularity and individual stars at the edge M71, Globular Cluster Sagitta NGC 6838 M71 10/04/2017 0:12 A very faint globular dusting of stars M29 Cygnus NGC 6913 M29 10/04/2017 0:32 an intimate collection of stars Blinking Planetary Cygnus NGC 6826 10/04/2017 0:40 Small, white, obviously not a star or comet Pleiades Taurus M45 10/06/2017 22:31 A bunch of blue jewels in space Coat Hanger Cluster, Al Sufi's Cluster or Brocchi's Cluster. Vulpecula Cr 399 10/06/2017 22:47 I see a coat hanger! Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda NGC 224 M31 10/06/2017 23:11 Hyades Taurus Caldwell 41 10/06/2017 23:23 Andromeda Galaxy And NGC 224 M31 10/07/2017 20:30 Saturn 10/07/2017 Uranus 10/07/2017 carbon star SAO 012874 Cam SAO 012874 10/07/2017 Kembles Cascade Cam 10/07/2017 failed to spot this with binos Owl Cluster, ET Cluster Cas NGC 457 10/07/2017 Pacman Nebula Cas NGC 281 10/07/2017 failed to spot this with binos Pacman Cluster Cas IC 1590 10/07/2017 Andromeda Galaxy And NGC 224 M31 10/09/2017 M7, Ptolemy Cluster Scorpius NGC 6475 M7 10/09/2017 M25, Open Cluster Sagittarius IC 4725 M25 10/09/2017 M11, Wild Duck Cluster Scutum NGC 6705 M11 10/09/2017 NGC 281, Pacman nebula Cas NGC 281 10/09/2017 NGC 457, open Cluster Cas NGC 457 10/09/2017 M103, open Cluster Cas NGC 581 M103 10/09/2017 NGC 884, Double Cluster Perseus 10/09/2017 M76, little Dumbbell Nebula Perseus NGC 650/651 M76 10/09/2017 M33, Triangulum Galaxy Tri NGC 598 10/09/2017 M52, Open Cluster Cas NGC 7654 M52 10/09/2017 21:55 a good collection of mostly blue stars Open Cluster Cas NGC 663 10/09/2017 22:11 A dense collection of young blue stars NGC 185, galaxy And NGC 185 10/09/2017 NGC 7789, Open cluster Cas NGC 7789 10/09/2017 21:53 A concentration of many stars, most very blue M27, Dumbbell Nebula Vulpecula NGC 6853 10/09/2017 22:04 M57, Ring Nebula Lyra NGC 6720 M57 10/09/2017 M13, Hercules Cluster Hercules NGC 6205 M13 10/09/2017 Pleiades Taurus 10/09/2017 Cat's Eye Nebula NGC 6543 10/09/2017 M8, Lagoon Nebula Sagittarius NGC 6523 M8 10/10/2017 20:43 Very clear nebulosity! Cannot see this at all with my unpatched eye. Favorite eyepiece 17mm M10, globular cluster Ophiuchus NGC 6254 M10 10/10/2017 21:29 Faint smudge of greyish white. can see individual stars with averted vision Andromeda Galaxy And NGC 224 M31 10/10/2017 21:45 Very clear and bright tonight M16, Eagle Nebula Serpens NGC 6611 M16 10/10/2017 21:51 Nebulosity faint but visible Needed averted vision to see it. The Omega Nebula, Checkmark nebula Sagittarius Sharpless 45 M17 10/10/2017 21:55 Very clear nebulosity here I noticed I thought this was an open cluster last time I looked when the moon was high. I wasn't taking it seriously so I didn't wear my eyepatch either. M24, Small Sagittarius Star Cloud Sagittarius IC 4715 M24 10/11/2017 20:12 Very dense star field Somewhat washed out due to Bortle 6 to 7 skies M8, Lagoon Nebula Sagittarius NGC 6523 M8 10/11/2017 20:24 Very clear nebulosity M20, The Trifid Nebula Sagittarius NGC 6514 M20 10/11/2017 20:33 Faint but visible. Can see edges of cloud forms with AV M17, The Omega Nebula, Checkmark nebula Sagittarius Sharpless 45 M17 10/11/2017 21:09 Very clear checkmark Blinking Planetary Cygnus NGC 6826 10/11/2017 21:26 small dense white cloud M27, Dumbbell Nebula Vulpecula NGC 6853 M27 10/11/2017 21:38 Bright and clearly defined edges without AV This is the brightest nebula in the sky above Fort Collins M57, Ring nebula Lyra NGC 6720 M57 10/11/2017 21:56 Smoke ring in the sky clear, and dark bluish grey M11, Wild Duck cluster Scutum NGC 6705 M11 10/11/2017 22:09 A very nice density of stars Saturn nebula Aquarius NGC 7009 10/12/2017 20:16 Very small, white oval of nebula 17mm and 13mm gave the best views Pacman Nebula Cas NGC 281 10/12/2017 20:50 only see the stars Barnard's Galaxy Sagittarius NGC 6822 10/12/2017 21:12 Another oval smudge used LP filter Planetary Nebula Aquila NGC 6852 10/12/2017 21:19 tiny white nebula 17mm is best here I think M17, Checkmark Nebula Sagittarius Sharpless 45 M17 10/12/2017 21:32 amazing nebulosity here M27, Dumbbell nebula Vulpecula NGC 6853 M27 10/12/2017 21:50 not quite as defined this evening. NGC 6572 10/12/2017 22:26 10mm eyepiece reveals this is not a star but a very bright planetary nebula NGC 6210 10/12/2017 22:56 I see three things. M27, Dumbbell nebula Vulpecula NGC 6853 M27 10/12/2017 23:17 Bright as usual M57 Lyra NGC 6270 M57 10/12/2017 23:28 smoky ring in the sky is blueish SAO 012870 Cam 10/12/2017 23:37 red star. I slew to Kembles cascade from here M76, Little Dumbbell Nebula Perseus NGC 650/651 M76 10/12/2017 23:55 Faint but does not require AV M39, open Cluster Cygnus NGC 7092 M39 10/13/2017 1:03 a small handful of stars M42 Orion NGC 1976 M42 10/12/2017 1:17 amazing nebulosity Without the LP filter I could see the four trapezium stars without AV M31 Andromeda NGC 224 M31 10/15/2017 21:27 Very bright this evening, can see some detail in the outer disk more easily than on other evenings M92 Hercules NGC 6341 M92 10/15/2017 22:39 A very tight ball of white fog. AV reveals some individual stars at higher magnifications M13 Hercules NGC 6205 M13 10/15/2017 22:30 Fabulously clear tonight. I can see individual stars with less magnification than usual. 17mm reveals granularity and individual stars where 13mm is usually required. M56 Lyra NGC 6779 M56 10/15/2017 23:12 a fuzzy white patch of fog M42 Orion NGC 1976 M42 10/15/2017 0:22 Clear and bright nebulosity M8, Lagoon nebula Sagittarius NGC 6523 M8 10/17/2017 20:09 Still an amazing sight M17, Omega, Checkmark Nebula Sagittarius Sharpless 45 M17 10/17/2017 20:17 Just see the check mark M20. Triffid nebula Sagittarius NGC 6514 M20 10/17/2017 20:23 Faint but visible nebulosity. AV reveals details. M110, Galaxy And NGC 205 M110 10/17/2017 20:21 A faint but detectable fogginess. I needed to slew the telescope to see this M31, Andromeda Galaxy And NGC 224 M31 10/17/2017 20:25 Quite brright this evening. i can see some detail in the outer disk without AV M32 Dwarf Eliptical Galaxy And NGC 221 M32 10/17/2017 20:27 Bright and clear can see both M31 and M32 together while M110 is quite a ways off. M110, Galaxy And NGC 205 M110 10/17/2017 20:31 I found it this time without goto. M13, Hercules Cluster Hercules NGC 6205 M13 10/17/2017 20:36 A nice glob tonight. Very clear. Lower magnifications reveal individual stars in this glob tonight. 17mm, and the 13, and 10mm are awesome. I like the Svbony 10mm aspheric on these globs, it shows good detail, while retaining good contrast. M92, Globular Cluster Hercules NGC 6341 M92 10/17/2017 20:50 Tight and white takes real mag to bring out individual stars M34, Open Cluster Perseus NGC 1039 M34 10/17/2017 21:33 A sparse collection of stars M15, Globular Cluster Perseus NGC 7078 M15 10/17/2017 21:45 Faint fuzzy ball of light averted vision using the 13mm revealed individual stars and granularity M27, Dumbbell Nebula Vulpecula NGC 6853 M27 10/17/2017 21:58 A nebula brightly lit from inside by a white dwarf star M57, Ring Nebula Lyra NGC 6720 M57 10/17/2017 22:08 smoly ring M2, Globular Cluster Aquarius NGC 7089 M2 10/17/2017 22:15 Very tight globular cluster. Take significant magnification (10mm, 8mm, 6mm) to reveal individual stars using AV Butterfly Cluster Scorpius NGC 6405 M6 10/18/2017 Ptolemy Cluster Scorpius NGC 6475 M7 10/18/2017 Lagoon nebula Sagittarius NGC 6523 M8 10/18/2017 Delle Caustiche, Sagittarius Star Cloud Sagittarius IC 4715 M24 10/18/2017 Triffid Nebula Sagittarius NGC 6514 M20 10/18/2017 More visible than the usual fogginess, just a hint of structure Eagle Nebula Sagittarius NGC 6611 M16 10/18/2017 Omega, or Checkmark Nebula Sagittarius Sharpless 45 M17 10/18/2017 M30, Globular Cluster Capricornus NGC 7099 M30 10/18/2017 22:39 A tight white globular, not quite circular M72 Aquarius NGC 6981 M72 10/18/2017 22:53 Very Faint Foggy Patch Saturn nebula Aquarius NGC 7009 10/18/2017 Blinking Planetary Cygnus NGC 6826 10/18/2017 Small white planetary nebula Double Cluster Perseus NGC 884 10/18/2017 A bright and generous scattering of stars M34, Open Cluster Perseus NGC 1039 M34 10/18/2017 A sparse collection of stars NGC 1514 Taurus NGC 1514 10/18/2017 M73 Aquarius NGC 6994 M73 10/18/2017 Four stars NGC 6543 Draco NGC 6543 10/18/2017 M27 Vulpecula NGC 6853 M27 10/18/2017 M57 Lyra NGC 6270 M57 10/18/2017 Aldebaran Taurus 10/18/2017 A redish star Hyades Taurus 10/18/2017 A very interesting group of stars
  18. Friday night I used my Skywatcher Skyliner 200p dobsonian for the first time. The seeing wasn’t great , some high clouds. To give an idea of conditions I could just make out the “head” of Delphinius with naked eye. I had set up the Skyliner ( see photo) on some small paving stones although I didn’t try to level it. Carrying the scope out to the garden in two pieces was simple , I have added a couple of luggage straps to help. Moving the scope as an assembly can be done using the two handles to lift the assembly and I managed, during the session ,to move to another area of the lawn to view another section of sky. I have since experimented with a sack trolley which makes moving the full assembly a cinch and I will use this when I go to our local dark sky location I have added a Right Angle Viewfinder and a Telrad to the Scope and using a 30mm EP I firstly made sure that they were all aligned, by choosing a bright star in the centre of the EP and tweaking the two finders to get their agreement. I could see the “box” of Hercules and I have previously seen M13 and M92 with the 130p so I thought that this would be a nice comparison for the 200p. The movement of the scope was smooth in Altitude and in Azimuth. I have added a single piece of milk bottle washer to the centre bolt and this has freed up the rotation. From my experience with the 130p I know where M13 and M92 are . It seems obvious now but it does help that I know what I am looking for and it’s the same viewfinder as on the 130p so I am looking for something with a degree of faintness that is easy to miss. I aimed the scope with the Telrad judging against the top right hand start of Hercules, then located the fuzz of M13 in the viewfinder and then centralised in the 30mm EP. The movement of the 200p was smooth and I was able to locate and centralise M13 very quickly Then I swapped the 30mm for a 12mm Plossl and this is where the dobsonian became a little more difficult, the 200p has a longer focal length than the 130p and more magnification and narrower field of view therefore any twitch can send the object out of the view and sometimes its hard to find it again. I found that I can control it better in Altitude if I” embrace the dobs’”. I am sitting next to the tube eye at the Eye piece if I need small adjustment in Alt I lay my arm along the length of the tube and allow my arm to get heavier. Not a push more a relax. Azimuth nudges at high magnification are more difficult to get with precision. I expect practice will improve matters. M13 was lovely, more detail , bigger ,more stars resolved less fuzzy than the 130p Finding M92 was a bit more difficult, I used the Telrad to guess approximate location and then zig zagged with the viewfinder .The viewfinder has about 5 degrees of field of view so I reckoned a submarine depth charge pattern sweeping a line of 5 degrees to the left then dropping down to the edge of the viewfinder and then a sweep to the right.. it worked and there was M92. Again bigger , brighter and more stars resolved I spent the next hour enjoying the views easily sweeping the scope around the sky, so many stars in such poor seeing conditions ,I am looking forward to darker skies. So in summary I am very happy with the Skywatcher Skyliner 200p Dobsonian. I was up and running in 5 minutes, the EP height is perfect for viewing when seated ,there are more stars on show and greater magnification available. I am going to sort out some fine control for viewing under high magnification but here I am nit picking, it’s a great scope. As a little postscript; As mentioned I have been using the Skywatcher Heritage 130p, also a Dobsonian, for a while, and the experience in using the smaller scope has been very useful as a grounding for this bigger tube. SOme basics that are easy to take for granted ,for example I have some knowledge of the types of eyepieces to use when tracking down a target, some idea of the major constellations, use of sky maps, stellarium and planisphere , some understanding of what to expect when looking for fuzzies etc. I would really recommend that someone new to the hobby ,experiment with the lower cost options it certainly pays dividends when using bigger kit. I wont however be getting rid of the 130p, its portability, great optics and wide field of view gives it a place in my shed.
  19. A month or so ago I was fortunate enough to acquire a Celestron 5SE from the FLO clearance thread. Have delayed posting the first / second light because I'd hoped to have had more "eyepiece time" - sadly the skies have had other ideas, so here's my thoughts from 1st and second light. Been stargazing for just over a year. I chose this scope to replace a 10” dobsonian that was physically too large to take in the car on holiday with family. I also own a Skywatcher 102 short tube on the AZ GoTo mount Wanted something with similar magnification to the Dob, but more portable, am not (yet) proficient at star hopping, so GoTo was a must. I also assist on Public Open evenings with my local Astro Society, so the tracking facility is highly useful as you can talk to the visitors without constantly having to nudge the scope back into position. My garden at home has a fair amount of light pollution from neighbouring houses and two sodium-discharge streetlights that make it difficult to spot DSO. It’s very easy to assemble the tripod and mount, attaching the mount to the top of the tripod takes a little practice to find the “sweet spot” in the dusk, but easily done. Attaching the eyepiece tray which also braces the tripod legs is a bit of a faff; some Celestron images show the spring above the tray, but the instructions suggest fitting the spring (with steel washer) underneath the tray – which is how I assembled it. Once set up, Venus was very bright in the sky and the only object visible, so powered up the scope and used solar align to put Venus in the centre of the supplied 25mm Plossi. Have never really seen Venus at a decent magnification, but was able to clearly view the crescent phase – unlike my refractor, there was no false colour. Swapped eyepieces with the 8mm Celestron so at 156 times magnification, the image was perhaps a little “mushy” but great to view. Once it had darkened enough to see Mars, I used the GoTo function, selected Mars and found the scope out by quite a bit once it had slewed. Think here that the Solar Align will be great for tracking one object on those evening when we start earlier and have just the one object visible until skies darken, but would not use it for anything else. Once the skies had darkened sufficiently I used the Sky Align and chose Regulus, Procyon and Capella – this time the GoTo worked perfectly and I spent a few minutes going to various objects and getting acquainted with the handset menu options. Once I could see Saturn above the roofline, I spent most of the rest of the evening with the 8mm eyepiece admiring the view, even at 156 x magnification, the system kept Saturn centred even whilst I went indoors to make a cup of tea and feed the cat! I've had one truly epic evening at Seething where the skies played ball and saw The Wild Duck Cluster and the Swan Nebula. From a dark sky site, the 5SE is great, it's portable enough to carry in one go and yet has the magnification needed, with a reasonable amount of light gathering power. I'd recommend buying the Lowepro type backpack to store and carry the scope, mine came from WEX and was £90 but am very happy knowing that it is well protected whilst stored and being carried from any bumps and scrapes. The scope dews up very quickly, so you'll need a dew shied almost immediately. Likes Ease of set up, accuracy of GoTo and the magnification provided and portability. Like less The lens cap – it falls off too easily and leaves the front glass exposed – should bayonet or screw on perhaps. The brace bolt / spring / washer - I can just see at the end of a long cold evening me undoing the bolt and hearing the spring ping off never to be seen again – tempted to paint it a bright yellow – what have other Nexstar users done? Very pleased, great views, no colour fringing, decent sized objects in the eyepiece, am going to enjoy looking at the Globular Clusters when the nights are darker.
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