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TAL 150P second night out

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Well finally a break in this horrendous weather & a chance to play out again.

Actually got the polar alignment correct (I think) for the first time. Spent some time observing Jupiter again (which strangely did not appear as good or clear as my first session). Had real trouble making out any of the gas belts but following it using the slomo controls seemed a little easier this time.

Then all of a sudden the clouds came over covering the whole sky so I gave in & packed everything away.

i wish I hadn't because half an hour later the sky was totally clear again so I ended up bringing all the kit downstairs again !!

This time a much easier target. The rising full moon - I spent a lot of time there - loads of amazing views. Actually found it was better viewing the edges where the fantastic craters stood out much better against the darkness.

I discovered many things tonight:-

I need to learn how to use the scope correctly. I knew from the outset the TAL mount was going to be a hard taskmaster & it is. Even after finding my target & setting up the tube seemed to move at the slightest touch & I'd have to start again. It wasn't moving within the rings but it was the mount itself (as if I'd not tightened something). I will read up some more on general telescope usage methinks.

I need to prepare sooner - I rushed things a little after the excitement of FINALLY getting a clear sky.

I need not "give in" so soon even if the cloud covers the whole sky (as it did tonight) because it can clear again just as quickly. I found out the hard way (having lugged the very heavy TAL up & downstairs twice in as many hours).

I can honestly say this new pastime is good for fitness.!

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Sounds like you had a good night :)

The seeing was pretty awful last night which would explain the differences in your observations of Jupiter.

That's part of this hobby though, no clouds is only the first criteria :) After that you have ideally no moon (new moon being the best), true astro darkness (this is where the sun is set far below the horizon, in the summer it doesnt do this so you end up with a lighter than perfect sky), optimal sky transparancy or seeing, this is the quality of the sky. colder and stiller the better. Wind can ruin a perfect night as well as clouds sometimes!

You need a lot of factors to be right to get the perfect night, but when you do it's amazing. I've been doing this coming round on 18 months now and I reckon I've had probably less than 5 perfect nights like this since I started. I've been out many many more times in sub optimal conditions of course :)

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I think Stargazing00 sums it up nicely. I've had my scope since christmas and can honestly say of the six times I've managed to get out only one was excellent seeing, not that I'm complaining, the other nights were worth it. So many factors to take into consideration.

I did have plenty of dry runs with the scope indoors and outside during the day. An EG mount doesn't always do what you want it to do. :laugh:

I have also got into the habit of at least trying to plan a session with what I would like to see. No real plan usually means visiting the easier targets again and again. Usually Pleides, Jupiter, Orion Nebula, Andromeda etc. There's nothing wrong in that but it is always nice to expand your repertoire. :grin:

As for clouds rolling in, we've all been caught out I'm sure, I know I have.

Wishing you clear skies.


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my observing habit lately is straightforward. pick a constellation thats in a good part of the sky or something you havent viewed recently, closer to zenith the better

then whip out the red light and field-worn copy of Sky and Telescopes Pocket Sky Atlas. Look up your consetellation and then pick of everything in and around it. Ms, ICs, NGCs... everything. Galaxies, globs, open clusters, nebs. Not forgetting double stars! :)

It's really good fun, you can pick up a ton of targets you wouldnt usually bother with doing the usual 'Hunt-a-Messier-a-thon' that's an easy rut to fall in to. The telescope points at more or less the same part of the sky the whole time which makes it more comfortable as you arent constantly moving back and forth finding disparate targets.

Some strategy is worthwhile because obviously some consetellations are not around forever so it's best to pick those off as the seeing permits. They princinple is to keep realitively localised to an area and pick off everything you can find from the atlas regardless of its catalogue.

Hope that helps, clear skies :)

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