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  1. Like a lot of SGL-ers writing recently I've been through a bit of lean patch astro-wise so far this summer through a combination of work and family commitments coinciding with a lack of astronomical darkness and dodgy skies on the few nights I had available. Looking forward then to the next two weeks on holiday down in Cornwall and then Devon, with promised Bortle 4 skies, good forecasts and the jet-stream away to the North I am hopeful of getting a few relaxing sessions in. I've enjoyed assembling my holiday rig which I am determined to squeeze in among the assorted watersports gear, kids and I guess a few clothes.. I am taking: ST80 with 2 inch focusser & diagonal from TS Optics. AZGTi Manfrotto 55 Basic SW RDF Baader Hyperion Aspheric 31mm (yes there's a good deal of aberration at the edges but sweeping the Milky way with a 5.5 degree field is awesome!) Baader 8-24mm zoom + 2.25x Barlow. 2 inch Neodymium filter in the diagonal & 1.25 OIII filter (mainly to have a look at the Veil) Solar filter + Baader Solar Continuum. Celestron Nature ED 10x50s. Got me wondering - what's your holiday rig?
  2. After a busy week & the unsettling background of news I was itching to get out tonight for some peace under the stars despite the full moon. I opted for the ST80 & lazy GoTo choices as the moon was pretty much bleaching out anything less than Mag3 naked eye. Lovely night though and the full moon cast a hard shadow as I trudged out to my regular spot on the 22 of the river park rugby pitch. After aligning on Vega & Arcturus the AZGTi performed superbly, the widefield helps & this small scope is rock solid on the Berlebach 312 Report. Really pleased with this combination (maybe just need to upgrade the optics a bit…) Transparency was quite good & seeing perfectly fine for the low power session I had in mind. I defaulted to the Baader Hyperion 24mm 68 degree, switching in and out with the 32mm Hyperion Aspheric & Mk IV 8-24mm zoom based on the size of object. Started with the Double Cluster, NGC 869/884, stunning even under full moonlight and seen in its rich context with this widefield setup. Moved the short hop to Stock 23 (Pazmino’s Cluster) in Camelopardalis which I’d never looked at before. Nice bright open cluster with a prominent orange/yellow brightest member and a mini keystone to the W. Will definitely add this to my regulars list. NGC 457 - picked up the “eyes” of the Owl/Dragonfly in widefield and switched up to 50x with the zoom to reveal the jewelled “body & wings”. I came down on the side of Dragonfly tonight. One of my favourite objects, really beautiful. NGC 1502/Kemble’s Cascade. A super field, the fainter line of the cascade above a brighter 4 star arc flowing into a pretty open cluster. M44 - the Beehive stunning despite its closeness to the moon glow. The perfect object in this widefield set up. Went back & forth but the most satisfying view with the 24mm Hyperion fixed at c17x. Switching East of the moon I got some nice contextual views of globulars M5, M13 & M92 against their background fields. Love the sense of scale & distance viewing globs this way. On a whim I had a shot at M57, The Ring nebula as Lyra was rising out of the low murk. Delighted to spot a tiny smudge in the 24mm & faint but unmistakably the Ring Nebula confirmed at tonight’s max power of 50x with the Baader Zoom. Not bad for an ST80 with a full moon! Revisited Stock 23 and Kembles Cascade before finishing on a magic 6 degree view of the Alpha Persei cluster setting into gently swaying trees. Packed up & walked home basking in the moonlight to be greeted enthusiastically by my dog in an otherwise sleeping house. Have treated myself to a wee dram as I write - all in all a perfect antidote to this week.
  3. Nice night here - a wee bit breezy but otherwise seeing decent and transparency slightly milky but better than average - could just about see the Beehive naked eye with AV. Very chilled out session from the garden with ST80 in 2 inch mode & 31mm Baader Hyperion Aspheric giving 13x magnification & a massive 5.9 degree field. Have a bog standard RDF on it as the field is so big it can actually be quite disorientating in rich fields. I have this permanently set up on a Manfrotto 55 and it’s an easy one hand carry out into the garden, so gets me out on nights when I otherwise might not make the effort. I always get a thrill from seeing galaxies from my back garden so started with a long look at M81 & 82. Hunted for M101 for a bit but really couldn’t see it, know I was in the right spot. I am sure that one special night it will just pop out, but not tonight! Went on to the Beehive M44 - almost the perfect object in this widefield rig, lovely sparkling lost in space scene. Moved to the Coma Berenices cluster another super star filled field. Pottered around Leo, couldn’t pick out the Triplet (M65 & M66) but could just about discern M95 M96 & M105 only as fuzzy stars but nevertheless upped my distance record for the nights from M82’s 11 Million LY to around 60. Looked at M3, M13 & M92 - love globulars in the widefield, you really get their context as lonely extra galactic wanderers and these brighter ones show up a bit better than the galaxies. Took a first trip this year into the bowl of Virgo, familiarising myself again with the “mini-asterisms” I used last spring to galaxy-hop my way through the Messiers here, the “jet plane” around Rho V., the “StarTrek badge and “the line”. A tantalising glimpse of smudges in Markarian’s chain Caught M35 as it slipped West toward the roofline then finished back on the Beehive. I do love this kind of low power observing and some day would love to upgrade to a really sharp ED set up, for now though the ST80 delivers a whole lot of outer space for the money.
  4. idigitize

    m81

    From the album: Getting Started

  5. idigitize

    New toys

    From the album: My Kit

  6. Skies started to clear as I was finishing work on Friday and checking the Met Office Cloud Cover forecast things looked happier than on Clear Outside for my part of the world, so I took my go -bag out into the garden to cool & crossed my fingers for later. When the rest of the house went to bed I sneaked out through silent streets close to midnight, the crescent moon with its full disc illuminated by Earthlight was dipping in the West near Aldebaran & the Pleiades and there were fine, high skeins of mist with tantalising clear patches between. Seeing was quite steady and transparency good outside of those streaks of high mist which meant about 60% of the sky looked in good shape. I'd made a list of spring galaxies to go for starting with M94 after reading @Pixies report on here, I figured I'd start with that and see how it went, working my way to fainter targets as conditions allowed. I've relaxed into my observing spot in the park and decided I would invest a bit more time setting up & bring both the Mak 127 on an AZGTi and the ST 80 on a photo tripod. I will be doing that again... I was using a Baader Hyperion 24mm 68 degree in the Mak which gives its maximum TFOV of just over a degree and put a Baader 8-24mm Zoom in the ST80. I aligned the Mak on the top 2 stars suggested by Synscan and noted the gradual turning of the season- it was midnight and it had me point at Vega & Arcturus, spring really is well on the way! Focussed in an out on Vega and enjoyed some lovely round patterns either side of focus. On to Cor Caroli which made a lovely clean white pair at 63x, stayed there for a while. Hit GoTo for M94 and after some searching settled on a nice fuzzy patch with a brighter centre and some definite surrounding nebulosity, soaked it in for a bit and made a sketch (ahem, VERY rough). Everything was a bit uncomfortably close to the Zenith - haven't really solved the whole observing position thing yet, not sure I can carry one of those big wooden chairs about but mean to experiment with the cheapo camping chairs in the cupboard and see if it helps, until then a degree of neck-ache remains inevitable (or better target selection!) . Meantime I'd sought out the Double Cluster with the ST80 and was really pleased to get a lovely view with neat round points and some colour apparent in one or two of the orangey members. May just be a novelty but having a break from peering at faint fuzzy things to take in a wide field view of a favourite object really added to the enjoyment for me. With the Mak I went on to search for M51 & M63 but couldn't find anything having hunted around for a bit but was having no joy. Later with Stellarium and the atlas I've become almost certain I'd landed on M63 by mistake - be interested in any opinions based on my sketch (gives the RACI view from the Mak 127 i.e. reversed LR) In the end I gave up and put both 'scopes on M13 and enjoyed my best views of the Great Hercules Cluster yet. I switched the Zoom into the Mak and played with all magnifications from 63x - 188x, much above 120x wasn't adding much but at that power stars were resolving in and out across the cluster - literally breathtaking. The contrasting wide-field view in the ST80 gave scale and context - really enjoyable way to appreciate a real gem. Seeing, heavy dew and numbing toes conspired around the same time to send me home to warm and mull over whether I'd identified M94 or not.
  7. I wasn’t able to get out to the park last night but once the smaller of the children was abed & the teenagers uploaded to their games I popped on a hoodie (cunning anti-security light plan) and decamped to the garden, wine in hand, for an impromptu after dinner tour with the ST80. After wrestling with the old wooden tripod on my “new” Prinz 330 60mm earlier in the week, the Manfrotto 55 and full height viewing position made this feel quite the luxury experience! Wide-field views weren’t bad either... 15.4, 9.30 PM ST80 & Baader Zoom. Seeing good, transparency patchy at Zenith, murky below 30 degrees. Castor - almost split @50x low over rooftop M44 Beehive - great view, put the red dot right on it. Was above the houses & enjoyed the soundtrack to a neighbour’s party whilst lost in space. Melotte 111 - lovely view. Super round pin points & some good colour contrast with white & a smattering of orange stars. ST80 loves these slightly fainter clusters. No hint of CA. This cluster now firmly on my highlight list. Chertan & 73 Leonis - but no triplet (well it was worth a try) Algieba - Split (just) at 50x, nice yellow headlights. Had a look for anything apparent in the Virgo galaxy field but lots of white LP to SE so no chance. Cor Caroli - beautiful view in the ST80. White primary with smaller fainter white secondary - nice round stars. Mizar - again a super field, Mizar A&B look a close pair at 50x with size contrast - easy to imagine as an orbital system. Alcor a way off and a couple of other faint stars making a nice little asterism. M81 & M82 - yes! From the garden, a first outside of M31! Hoodie over the EP. Dropped the red dot carefully in line from the diagonal across the bowl of the plough/dipper. Galaxies popped with a slight nudge from original guess. See an oval and a stripe & that fantastic orientation - obviously no detail but a rewarding view from among the security & streetlights! Enjoyed for ages with a glass of wine! Civilised galactic travel...
  8. Monday 12 April 2021: let the bells ring! By 9am I was at the Enterprise lot in Peckham, south London, and by 10am I was on the road to Dartmoor for my first dark skies expedition. I bought my first telescope a few months ago – a little ST80, after lots of great advice on this forum – but hadn't used it outside of Bortle-9 skies, where I found it to be ... fun, but not mind-blowing. So I was looking forward to seeing whether @ScouseSpaceCadet was correct: that in dark skies, away from the blinding wall of the council estate LEDs, said mind would indeed be blown even by what seems to be the smallest useful amount of aperture. Unfortunately the BST Starguider 8mm EP and the Rigel Quikfinder that I ordered didn't arrive in the post in time. So I was stuck with my 26" and 10" Plossls, Astro Essentials barlow and an RDF. Luckily, like the rest of you, I got three straight clear nights. To whip through them: Day 1. Carpark, Ashbourne Woods, Rattery, Devon. Accompanied by two friends who'd never used a telescope before. No moon, but a fair bit of extra light from the campsite lot, from the occasional passing cars and from my friends' insistence on checking their phones periodically despite my stern admonishments. The sky was still amazing even without a scope, although some of my easy newbie targets (Orion nebula, Pleiades etc) were already below the horizon. But we saw a few lovely things through the ST80. (*Friends' review in quotation marks) -Mars ("no way") -Castor ("well blow me down") -the Beehive ("Wow!!!") -M3 ("Oh yeah, there it is") -The Leo trio ("I think I can see something...") Overall assessment, as I fiddled endlessly with eyepiece caps and loose screws and jerky AZ3 mount and malfunctioning slow-motion controls: "It's a good thing you aren't trying to impress a girl" Day 2. Friends gone. Who needs them. I drove to Haytor carpark, Dartmoor National Park, at midnight. But – full disclosure – it was terrifying to arrive in pitch blackness in the middle of a moor where killers famously dump bodies, and the dark tourist info building and the popping sound of the cooling engine and the occasional bleat of a sheep in the distance freaked me out so much that I couldn't relax and scarpered back to the safety of the campsite carpark. Fail! Objects: -Leo Trio – yes, definitely saw them this time through averted vision, with notable shapes, although it felt much more like a box-ticking exercise than an impressive view -Crab Nebula – nope -Auriga clusters M36, M37, M38 – clearly seen through the ST80 and very impressive indeed. Was starting to really get the hang of finding things and using the equipment by now – the RDF is actually fine with such a short focal length -NGC2244 and the Rosette Nebula – Cluster yes, nebula no Overall assessment: not bad ... but my cowardice meant I had to deal with car and campsite lights again. Why had I come all this way? Slunk back ashamed to the sleeping bag. Day 3. Carpe diem. Fear is the mind-killer! I found a big stick in the woods for protection, drove out to Dartmoor again but this time while the sun was still up, scouted out a good site – high on a hill near Hound's Tor with no nearby buildings or hedges for serial killers to hide behind – and set up. As the sun set and the moon shone, I settled in. The only light was from the lunar sliver (but wow, that damn thing is bright), distant Exeter and the odd car zooming past every 15 minutes or so, which I closed my eyes against. Besides allowing me to conquer my fear, the other nice thing about arriving early was that I caught some of the stars before they vanished below the horizon. Objects: -Orion Nebula. WOW. Mind blown. I can't imagine what that looks like through a bigger aperture with better eyepieces and a nebula filter (still kicking myself @Size9Hex for not picking up yours) and higher in the sky. What a truly incredible thing to be able to see as a human being with one's own eyes. -Leo Trio. Snooze, old hat (yeah that's right @Tiny Clanger, I said it) -M94, fuzzy dot -Cor Caroli, easy split -Polaris, failed to split in the 3" ST80 – that 10mm Plossl is grim -Whirlpool galaxy – yes!!! Both M51 and NGC 5195. Now that is cool -Pinwheel – yes! Not as amazing as the Whirlpool but hey, that is an entire galaxy in my field of view -The Double Cluster – yep, there they are, sparkly and clear in the refractor -M81 and M82 – smudges, they admittedly are. But again – ACTUAL GALAXIES -M13 – the Hercules great globular cluster. Pretty amazing. No stars resolved, unfortunately, but that is certainly a large glowing fuzzball of several hundred thousand floating fusion reactors. By 1am, I'd been outside for nearly 5 hours in freezing cold temperatures so, buzzing and exhausted, it was time to head back to the relative warmth of the tent. Highlights: Dark skies, well, you all know the difference they make. I need to find some better viewing spots closer to London – car rental and petrol is expensive for a long trip, even if camping. The ST80 is also a good little device – @ScouseSpaceCadet was right. Extremely clear widefield views and I got the impression it was magnifying well, just being let down by the EPs and Barlow. CA was an utter irrelevance even on the brighter objects – maybe it's a bigger problem in a more powerful telescope? Or maybe it's more of an astrophotography concern? Or maybe I just don't care. (Or care yet.) Problems: -EPs. The 10mm Plossl must be banished back from whence it came. -Mount. The AZ3 is actually perfectly usable in the ST80, because the field of view is so wide it really doesn't need to be too finely calibrated. But it's jerky and sticky and you need to move it a few degrees past your target because of its dreadful recoil, or whatever you call it when mounts settle in a slightly different place to where you've pointed them. The stupid slow-mo controls won't seem to stay on, either. -Aperture. 3" is so small! The faint fuzzies were never more than blobs at best. I demand more. A 4.5" ED frac a la @Commanderfish)? A 127Mak a la @Sadiestorm? A Heritage Dob 150 a la @Tiny Clanger? Time to enquire about the health of Uncle Visa. Overall assessment: THANK YOU SGL FOR HOOKING ME ON THIS WONDERFUL PURSUIT. x Chris
  9. Picked up a used ST80 on EBay as a wide-field companion to a SW Mak 127, and had only been able to point at terrestrial targets, align the RDF etc until last night presented an opportunity for a quick view of the moon, the only object visible through a blanket of high cloud. I was keen to do this as have read widely varying reports of ST80 performance on bright objects so the moon was a good "how bad can it be?" test. With a Baader Zoom and stock SW star diagonal (90 degree) quickly thrown on to a lightweight photo tripod I was really happy with the view - very crisp, bright, not difficult to achieve focus and a pleasingly wide field with no appreciable loss of quality from 17x - 50x. Terracing & hills in Copernicus small but really sharp for example. I can see I am going to use this low magnification combination a lot as you can be up and viewing in 2 minutes. The much complained about chromatic aberration was not to my eye too disturbing and limited to a very narrow green fringe on the brightest edge of the moon's disc & not in evidence along the terminator. Be interesting to see if this is more evident and the expected red/blue when the moon is at full brightness not partially filtered by cloud. Not that I plan to use it for the moon much given the Apollo 8 experience offered by the Mak, but it's good know the ST80 is perfectly fine for a quick peek I suspect its one of those things where if I had spent a long time looking down expensive refractors I might be disturbed more, but as I haven't it has just left me kicking myself I didn't pick one of these up years ago. Looking clear tonight so now I have the dilemma of which scope to sneak out to the park...
  10. Having waited in vain for the clouds to clear on Tuesday night, it was great to get out and finally see some stars last night! I'd picked out a new spot to try on the South Downs just outside Winchester, on a well made farm track that runs due South just across the A272 from Cheesefoot Head viewpoint car-park. In the daytime this is an airy downland spot filled with wild flowers and Skylark song, by night it offers a super horizon from SE. round to NW. with the pretty but invasive lights of Southampton port and Fawley refinery 15 miles or so S - SW. Lightpollutionmap.info says it has an SQM of spot on 21, a worthwhile improvement for a ten minute drive over my rugby pitch site at 20.27 and only a fraction lighter than Farley Mount - and minus the third of a mile carry through slightly eerie Yew woodland! I got up there about 11.45 - just in time for an ISS pass which I caught to the NW along with my first definite noctilucent cloud sighting to the N. Seeing was quite steady and transparency good outside of bands of thin high cloud that cleared as the night wore on. There was some haze that mingled with LP over the coast causing extinction below 10 degrees or so. I'd planned a recce session in the Sagittarius area using an ST80 and a couple of new filters - Baader O-III and ES UHC to try on the nebulae. After aligning on Arcturus and Altair I toured the region finding the UHC really helpful in cutting through the low-down murk. Many first views with the Lagoon Nebula M8, Eagle & Swan Nebulae M16/17 and Trifid Nebula M20 the standout highlights, the first of many visits I'm certain. All observations were made with a Baader Hyperion 24mm (21x) and Baader Classic Ortho 18mm (28x) and interchanging filters and natural view to tease out the detail. Later I switched to 2 inch mode and used a 31mm Hyperion Aspheric (16x) for some panoramic views. All stunning stuff! M16 elongated cluster, Hercules like shape, double upper L of “keystone”. UHC brought out dark lanes crossing. M17 prominent orange star above, glowing nebulous area below right of faint trapezium asterism. Dark tendrils with AV. M8 - epic. Bright clusters multiple dark areas and glowing patches. O-III enhanced the cloud to 20% width of fov in 18mm M21- arrowhead cluster M20 - stunning star spangled glowing nebula with dark lanes. Fuzzy cloud wider with O-III. M22 - bright compact glob. Triangle with centre star asterism to L. Diagonal pair to upper R. [RACI view] M4, 6, 7, 19 too low in murk over Southampton to pick out. Widefield (31mm Hyperion, 2-inch) on M8, 20, 21 stunning field. M24 bright blue beehive like M16/17 In same field. Wow. M18 - rich field, pronounced "V" to R. It was after 2 by this time, so I took a quick tour around M57, a squint at part of the Veil Nebula with the O-III filter (warrants much more time!) and grabbed a great view of M31 which was easily visible naked eye at this point. With the 18mm I was for the first time able to pick out M32 & M110 - bonus! I resisted the temptation to switch to Jupiter & Saturn, by now quite high to the South, packed away and enjoyed a last sweep of the Milky Way naked eye and with 10x50s - vertical and almost visible to the horizon (barring those port lights!). Rolled back down the hill after a lovely shirtsleeves session in a super new spot. Mainly today I am drinking coffee...
  11. From the album: Telescopes

    A Skywatcher ST80 telescope with another Skywatcher short dovetail on top, which has a quick release ball head to accept a DLSR. Good setup for guided widefield astrophotography when on a suitable equatorial mount. Note: dovetail was drilled in the centre to 3/8" hole, and a 3/8" bolt was used to secure the ball head to the dovetail.
  12. after a long hard week, with aching bones and wanting sleep, at 11 last night I thought, for some reason, it would be advisable to take a small telescope out into the cold and try and spot some galaxies. A thin slither of moon shone away near Leo and the not quite dark blue of the sky didn't fill me with much hope. I started finding leo52 which I couldn't see with the naked eye and only have a red dot finder but was lucky with my guess. Nudging down slightly and to my joy, there was m105, m95 and m96. I say joy, not because they were glorious galaxies or even faint fuzzies but just three brightish stars - there was no fist pumping. I then moved to Denebola and the tiredness came to the surface when trying to find comma6 through the diagonal but as with a diagonal left was right and front was back which threw me off course a bit but eventually saw m98 and 99- this time as small grey pixels. I continued on across to Vindemiatrix seeing hundreds of the faintest of faint grey pixels and rather than try to identify any I thought I would just enjoy the amazing notion that they were all distant galaxies. Amazing. I realise this is not the most exciting report ever, but I have a bad back and my neck hurts so someone else has to suffer just a little bit...
  13. As I’ve started the murky fall into AP I decided to mod my ST80 (originally fitted for the SW desktop mount) to be able to fit my HEQ5. So... 1 x used short Vixen dovetail from RVO - £8 1 x 1/4-20 UNC Countersunk screw (5/16 long with Allen head) - eBay £1.65 (for 2) inc postage With a bit of a mod to the Vixen dovetail, she now can fly with the big boys... even the SW supplied Allen key fits... its destiny... Now all I need is a clear night...????????
  14. Hi All so I have another eyepiece question for the st80 again... has anyone used the above mentioned combo? I bought a great 15mm BST and need something with a little more mag. I have borrowed a 6.3mm plossl but even under good skies it's really not up to it as though I just cant quite get anything in focus..I'm not sure if its because of too much mag or just because its a plossl? so do you think this would work well? any comments would be great. Many thanks, Mark
  15. Hi to all you members on SGL. I am a novice with 3 months experience with a SW200P dob, having started initially with a pair of Oregon 15 x 70 Bins on a tripod mount. I have referenced some good books and spent some time with Stellarium and I am encouraged by my new learnt ability to navigate the night sky with the 200p. I have connected my Nikon D600 (24mp full frame) DSLR to the scope and produced some satisfying photos of the moon, however I am interested in imaging some DSO's. ( I have caught the bug with no cure in sight!) I intend to get a tracking mount such as a SW HEQ5 Pro Synscan, but for now would like to purchase a wide field refractor and produce some wide field imaging with a basic mount, I understand that subs of around 30 sec can be produced with mediocre results initially until I get a better mount. Also it would be nice to have a grab and go scope which is more convenient than the big DOB. Also this would give me some images to experiment with the software such as DSS and Registax 6. So, I have been researching three achromatic telescopes, The Skywatcher ST80 and ST102 (both come with kit mounts ranging from AZ3 to EQ1 and the Bresser Messier AR-102/600 (which looks stylish and has the Hex focus) However, despite spending somewhere in the region of 4-5 hours so far researching for reviews on the BM102, nothing has been forthcoming>? I am aware of the issues of CA with these small tube Achromats, however the plan is to Purchase one of the three now, save for the HEQ5 mount, then at a later stage use the scope purchased now as a guide scope and but a better APO doublet or triplet scope for the main tube. So, having laid the table so to speak, which of the three would you advice and why please, I have been told by two companies stocking the BM102/600 that mechanically it is far superior to the two Skywatchers, but I am concerned that I cannot find ANY reviews on this OTA for its optical quality ?. I am aware that Synta make a few of these 80 and 100mm scopes for different suppliers but I am let to believe that the BM is a separate manufacturer. Any advice or better still hearing from someone who owns the Bresser Messier AR-102/600 would be amazing, so thank you for reading this long post and thank you in advance of your reply. Regards Graham Side note:- I have a VERY heavy duty pan tilt Manfrotto tripod which I previously used to support my Sinar 5x4 Large format bellows camera so its very steady and has a pan tilt head already fitted, I intend to mount the new scope on this as an AZ to begin with.
  16. I had a bash at imaging a couple of years ago, but found that an 8inch reflector with ST80 was too big for my Celestron CG5-GT mount. The trials and tribulations of that are here : I thought I would tell you what has happened now that I have swapped the reflector for a Skywatcher Evostar ED80. Basically, it now tracks! I am using a QHY5II- C camera in a ST80 as the autoguider. I have a Nikon 5300 attached to the ED80 and the ST80 is piggy backed. My routine is: 1. Polar align the Celestron CG5-GT mount 2. Align it using 3 stars (e.g. at the moment, Arcturus, Mizar and Deneb) 3. Using a bahtinov mask to focus. 4. On the laptop, use ASCOM to link the scopes/cameras to Cartes du Ciel and PHD (the autoguiding software) 5. Choose a guding star, spend around 60 seconds calibrating PHD. 6. Start imaging! 7. Take darks, flats (i use a white screen app on a tablet) and bias. I know the quality is no where near what people get with cooled CCD's and filters, but I do feel I am finally making progress. This is last nights effort, before the clouds rolled in (so, 9 x 180 seconds, with UHC filter):
  17. Hello, A lot of people use the ST80 as their guide scope, or a wide field grab-and-go. I recently purchased one, and after doing star tests at extremely high magnifications, trying to determine, if I'm super picky, or my scope has a flaw in it. With 20mm/9mm (20 - 44x), the bright stars look pretty good, although I wouldn't say they are 100% pinpoint (maybe that's just chromatic abbr). With 2.3mm (176x), bright stars initially had a comet diffraction pattern like this: I corrected that by unscrewing the lens cap, and tapping on the sides of the tube while slowly tightening the cap back. This fixed the comet issue, but now, the stars look like this: If I tighten the cap a bit, I get the comet pattern back. How does this compare with your scopes? I can't get a pin point star at high mag. Am I really picky, since this is a chromatic $100 scope (although people praise it for its high quality) Should this type of scope display perfect pin point stars when using high mag eyepieces? I really don't want to waste time sending this back, if it ends up me being picky, and I get back the same or worse optics. Thanks!
  18. Aside from Mizar and Alcor are there and good and bright doubles near the Plough? I'm using an ST80 and I have city skies...
  19. Hi, As in the photo, I have a SW150P and I am trying to attach an ST80 as a guide scope. My understanding is that I need to connect the ST80 to a dovetail and then the dovetail onto the top of the 150p? If that's the case In the box of my 150p I found a dovetail that looks identical to the one already on it (See photo). Do they come with 2? So, can I use this dovetail to connect the ST80 to the 150p? Hope this makes sense, Thanks
  20. So this month I'm hoping to complete my imaging setup. I currently have a SW 150pds on a HEQ5 pro with a coma corrector and a nikon d5100 as my imaging camera. Im going to be ordering an ST80, SW guidescope mount and QHY5L-II Colour cam to guide. What else will i also need? (as in cables for guiding, adapters, dovetails, screws, nuts, bolts (to attach guide-scope mount), etc.) Whats included with purchasing the ST80? Guide-scope mount? I kinda just want to order it all at once so i can try it all out right away (my birthday is at the end of the month) Any help/pics will be much appreciated, Thanks
  21. On my camera lens units they give me a minimal focus distance the lens will focus at. Now my skywatcher Star travel 80mm ( ST80 ) i use for both astro and terrestial viewing photography. my problem is the telescopes infomation does not give the minimal focal distance of the given optics, unlike my camera lenses that do. this problem really happens in wildlife photography, focus on wildlife far away is no problem, but anything less than 50ft away there is no chance. if i add an extender (100mm extender ) i am able to focus on closer objects BUT i loose infinity focus totaly , the scope just does not focus anything at distance IE: not enough inward travel with extender , and not enough outward travel without extender. is there any way or info on the minimal focal distance for the skywatcher optics, i have looked on the website to no avail and am left missing out on some lovely terrestial shots without this minimal distance of focal range. IE how close the lens can be to an object to gain focus of said object. scope details are 80mm objective @ 400mm focal length my lens detail are 90-300 focal length and a 4.5ft to infinity focal range i hope all this does not sound like i am barking up a tree at nothing, but i can see the problem in my head and know what it is but cant explain it in wording very well my lens gives a minimal but the ST80 does not how do you work out this minimal focal distance
  22. This question has probably been answered a dozen times, but I haven't found the answer either here or on the manufacturers website. Does anybody know the physical dimensions of a Skywatcher ST80 telescope? I'm thinking of getting one to use as a guidescope for my C9.25, and don't really want a guidescope thats going to be longer than the main scope. Also, can you tell me what size tube rings this scope will need for attaching it? I've seen the ADM mini dovetail system for attaching the scope on the FLO webiste. Are there any better ways of attaching a guidescope to an C9.25 telescope? Many thanks for your assistance.
  23. I recently decided to get a scope for general sun and moon AP or casual observing during the weekdays. I did some searching and landed my eyes on the Orion ST80 EQ with a mount and two eyepieces and a case. Has anyone else bought the package before? Is this scope good for AP? (can you include some pictures, if possible?) I have a T-adapter for both my Nikon and Canon. Will I even be able to reach focus? Any suggestions or comments are appreciated! Here's the link: http://www.optcorp.com/product.aspx?pid=11874
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