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BrixtonAstronomer

Introducing a frustrated newbie and his Heritage 130p from London

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Hi everyone

I've been lurking in the shadows for a while now - so I thought I'd finally come on and introduce myself.

After a year of making do with binoculars, I finally bought my Heritage 130 about a month ago (since which I have had exactly 2 opportunities to actually use it!).

As you may guess from my name, I live in a flat in the Brixton area which I think may possibly be the worst place in the country for astronomy bar none. Not only do I have to contend with the light pollution washing out all but the brightest 5-10 stars in the sky, but going to the local park for an observing session can be nerve wracking experience in terms of hoping to avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention! Not owning a car either, my options for escaping the light soup are limited too.

Nevertheless, however, I have managed to see a reasonable amount during the two short occasions on which the clouds have deigned to go away. I saw Saturn on my first attempt in Kennington park - and showing it to the council workers who were closing the park for the night bought me an extra half hour observing time - one them said it was the most amazing thing they'd seen in years. Saturn was impressive in the provided 10mm eyepiece, especially when using the SW x2.5 barlow. I couldn't make out Cassini (although I thought I saw 'hints' of it at times) which I had expected to be able to see - I assume it's just too low in the sky to allow decent seeing.

My second attempt was on Blackheath near Greenwich (thanks to Nick from the Widescreen Centre for the tip) which, while a couple of longish bus rides away from where I live, was a much better proposition than the park. While still blighted by streetlights which pretty much rule out getting properly dark adjusted, I at least had a clear view of the horizon and the presence of a 24 hour tea hut meant that I felt a lot safer then in Brixton. After another go at Saturn (still no Cassini :sad:) I had a look at Mars which I found a bit disappointing. I wasn't expecting to see ice caps at this stage but I was expecting to at least see it as a clear red disk- instead, Mars appeared as an ill defined shimmering blue/green/red blob. I believe this was chromatic aberration, but I found it afflicted my view in all of my lenses, even the 25mm (and I didn't get it on Saturn at all). Again, I assume Mars was just too low in the sky to give a decent view.

DSOs were a challenge. Light pollution being so bad that I could barely make out Albiero in Cygnus with my naked eye (it was of course lovely through the scope) and it was also almost full moon. Star hopping being a rather big ask with so few naked eye stars, I resorted to pointing at the general area and scanning the sky though the telescope. It took me a good 20 minutes to find M13 as I couldn't actually see all the stars in the central square of Hercules but the point and scan method eventually had me finding it. The view was similar to what I remember seeing through my 12x50 binoculars from a dark site: a fuzzy blob without very much structure at all. But I was very excited to be seeing anything at all from London with eyes that weren't being allowed to adjust to the dark so I was pretty chuffed. I tried using the light pollution filter, but I didn't see any improvement - if anything it just made it dimmer.

And then the clouds came in and my OH froze to death - so we left.

Anyway, moral of the story. If you're in London, don't own a car and need somewhere safe to observe, I do recommend Blackheath. The teahut is often frequented by police on their night shifts so no dodgy stuff goes on. Light pollution was pretty grim but it beats constantly looking over my shoulder in Brixton!

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Mars is going to be be way too low to see anything, lots of atmosphere to go through and lots of air movement. Also will never be more then a tny disk in a 130P, could equally say impressed you managed to see it at all with its present position.

Cassini will be difficult, it is to an extent a test of a scope. Again the 130P may not deliver the sharpest of views. If I recall it has a single arm holding the secondary and the top bit moves on rods up and down. Collimation will not hold true very well and at f/5 mis-collimation will be a factor in sharpness and contrast. It also isn't exactly high in the sky for good views either.

Have you dropped in to the Baker Street Mob in Regents Park. Could be worh a visit, say hello and see if they have advice or information.

http://bakerstreetastro.org.uk/

For DSO's visit Wikipedia, list iof Messier objects, and click on one of the column buttons to reorder by magnitude, then go looking for the bright ones. You are not going to see many of the dim ones in light polluted London especially if the moon is up.

Best ignore Andromeda however, it is bright, but big and so dim all over. (Work it out)

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Hi and welcome to the SGL, where you mention is quite safe as its a busy road plus they do a nice sandwich and tea.

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Welcome, I had to chuckle about attracting the wrong kind of attention hanging around parks in London after dark!

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Hello and welcome aboard. Pitty they don't keep Greenwich park open all night eh ? I never managed to see the Cassini division with my 130p not for lack of trying, but Saturn, Jupiter looked stunning. Hope you find a reasonably dark site soon. Bit hard around south east London I guess.

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Hi and welcome to the forum. I feel your pain with regards to light pollution as I live in a large city myself and it can certainly make star hopping a bit of a challenge. If you have already done so, you might want to download a great bit of free planetarium software called 'Stellarium' which you can look more closely at here. Lots of great features to use which should keep you out of trouble when the clouds come in (...and stay in!) and it will certainly help you to orientate yourself round the night sky in no time.

Clear skies soon and enjoy the forum

James

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Hello and welcome. Still trying to spot Cassini myself in a similar sized scope. Jupiter is pretty amazing though & will be getting easier to spot in a few months.

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Hi and welcome. You're doing the right thing, getting a bus to safer, decent locations. 130 Heritage is a super scope, my first newt.

Nick.

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How about Richmond park ? it must be the best spot in London thanks to it's size. might be more difficult to get to I guess.

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