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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...
Headed out for the Cancer & Bootes "Full Moon Doubles Match" I'd originally planned for last Friday & that time ended up abandoning due to scrappy seeing , wind & the onset of rain.
All observations with SW Mak 127 on AZ GTi, Baader Zoom 8-24mm via Tak prism.
Transparency good but a little high mistiness & locally occasional ground mist from the river. Temp around 5 degrees, air quite still.
Aligned Arcturus & Capella.
Seeing excellent - steady Airy discs and diffraction cones above 30 degrees altitude.
Spent some time looking around for & sketching the Cass Nova area, not sure I saw it as M52 not really apparent in the moonlight. Identified a possible candidate in the starfield but needs another look & maybe when better dark adapted/less moon.
Castor (Sep: 3.9")- Clean-split white-blue pair with 18mm (83x). Southerly star the larger of the two. Lovely stable view- steady Airy discs with diffraction rings. Confirmed excellent seeing.
Iota Cancri (Sep: 30.6") - very pretty, wide-spaced, side by side pair. Split with 24mm from 63x. Orange primary, white/blue secondary. Super view at 16mm *94x). Stable Airy discs.
Tegmine, Zeta Cancri (Sep: 6" & 1.1") - Split to 2 stars with 24mm (63x). Peanut shape on B/C revealed at 120x and definitely resolving as 2 faint secondaries with 8mm @ 188x. Overlapping cones/rings but quite distinct central discs. B at 7 o'clock to A. C at 5 o'clock to B, (RACI). Seeing must be really good as splitting the secondary is right on the optical limits of the rig at 1.1".
(Chuffed with both the prism purchase - this was essentially why I upgraded - and the fact that I've clearly got lots of astronomy mileage in the Baader Zoom before that department needs upgrading! )
Spent a long time on Tegmine savouring the 83 year old view. Dragged myself away & turning north east the moon was casting long gothic shadows through a low mist, spilling across the field toward me at knee height from the river. Felt like the set of the Thriller video...
Aligned back on Arcturus for Bootes orientation - so bright. Golden yellow sun. Lovely.
Espilon Bootes, Izar (Sep: 2.9" ) - Split at 8mm, 188x. Once identified could see dialled back to 120x. Brighter yellow primary, smaller bluer second - looked "behind" the other. In each other's cones but distinct. Found it initially quite challenging.
Xi Bootes (Sep 7") - Split from 24mm, 63x. Off white primary, small orange secondary at 11 o'clock. Quite lovely.
Tawny Owl hooting now to go with the moonlit mist. River mist actually has cleared somewhat. Auriga to West hanging spectacularly. Can hear the town clocks striking midnight across the fields, so still. Gorgeous night.
Kappa Bootis (Sep:13.5") - white pair, larger primary, second at 10 o'clock. Also, a pretty trapezium due South, top R corner pair may be double itself. (Confirmed yes, is Iota Bootes (Sep 38.7), with a slightly wider field this would be a double-double).
Mu Bootis - Alkalurops (Sep: 108.9 & 2.2") - Wide spaced initial pair, both white. Dim second is at 7 o'clock, maybe double? Shielded moonlight from EP & yes quite sure of it - C faint and at 2 o'clock to B, resolves at 8mm (188x). Clean separation & once achieved almost easier to see with these fainter stars. Another fab one this!
39 Bootis (Sep: 2.7") quite close white pair at 5 o'clock.
Struve 1825 (Sep: 4.4) - faint white second at 7o'clock. Clean space between. Lies about 1 fov N of Arcturus (just over a degree).
Tired by now I blew out any slight night vision I had by looking at the crinkliest bit of moon I could find, up to max power (428x, 8MM Barlowed x2.25) - turned out to be Mare Crisium region. Views were astonishingly crisp up to c 340x. Apparently there was a TLP square thing I could have seen, certainly enjoyed the shadows from the mountains there and, childishly, the fact that there is one crater named after an Enterprise Captain & another called "Lick" (I know, Jean Picard was a seventeenth century French astronomer...)
A few final equipment notes:
Telrads dew up really fast. Astrozap shields really do work. Redlight filter for iPhone applied in Accessibility settings & toggled from main control key makes a big difference, no more app alerts popping up with blinding effect!
Hometime for a celebratory cup of tea (well it was a school night after all).
So it seems that after my clear out of the "Big" scopes life circumstances are meaning it is less and less likely that I will be able to do any astro which is a shame indeed.
I am therefore putting my little "Grab 'n' Go" setup up for sale
This is an absolute little beauty of a telescope. Really excells on planets and lunar work and solar (appropriate filters must be utilised - never point a telescope at the sun unless you are an experienced solar astro buff!)
I was very unimpressed with the flimsy tripod that came with the scope and managed to source a purpose built and absolutely solid portable pillar mount for it. Its is steel construct and is ingenious in that it allows levelling of the feet and also levelling at the plate too thanks to the utilisation of three springs and wing nuts to allow for easy adjustment.
Not only is the pillar great for the levelling option it has but it also has removable legs to allow for easy transportation to dark sky sites. The legs simply slid into place and the steel cable is tensioned by hand through easy use of the inline bolt brackets.
This is a whole package deal - perfect for anyone wanting to start astro or just have a great little portable setup.
SO, whats included? Included in this sale are the following:
- Skywatcher Skymax 127 Maksutov OTA - mint condition, no marks of blemishes
- Purpose built solid, tubular steel pillar levelling mount
- Baader Planetarium Hyperion 8-24mm clickstop Zoom Eyepiece
- Skywatcher 9x50 RACI Finderscope
- Greenwitch Astronomy original all weather telescope cover (you can't get these anymore!)
- Skywatcher Synscan Al-Az mount and Hand Control
- 12 V power cable
- Original factory fitted straight through 8x30 finder scope and bracket/shoe
- Instruction manual
This has all been kept in my observatory under the cover throughout. It really is in excellent condition and cost me quite a bit to put together so I have priced it competitively. Please no offers.
Is collection only and (of course) covid safe exchange. I prefer bank transfer as payment.
Long storey short :
the OTA slips dramtecly when vewing an object to 0 altitude.
So I bought the Skywatcher GoTo flextube 10 inch a year ago. It was nothing but great, until yesterday when I was just starting the session to level up the scope on the mount for alignment. I Went to get some equipment and when back noticed the scope has declined to a minus reading on the altitude! With no attachments on the OTA.
I re-leveled it to the horizon and it held itself, put on the nothing but stock attachments as usual. Switched on the GoTo and started aligning, when alignment is successful, I chose an object and notice the object is far off. I check the battery voltage and it's 12.5 volts, which indicates it's not a battery issue.
I turn it off to re-align again, this time when I press the up arrow to align to an object I notice the GoTo gears struggle to move the OTA upwards, but eventually the speed increase to normal and manage to points upwards to the object. I pick a second object which happens to be near the zenith and the GoTo goes out of control straight to zenith and carrying on above 90+ degrees on the altitude bearing. I try to stop the scope with the handset before the base of telescope hits the wood in the base, only to notice the handset is not showing light or responding. I turn the GoTo off.
Start to align for the third time, this time aligns but still off target. I ignore and start viewing Jupiter which happens to be 40+ in altitude , after few minutes of viewing, the scope drops slowly to zero altitude with no hand or handset movement! Handset is still showing that the viewed object is still Jupiter!
Note: I did notice weird sounds of the gears when trying to increase altitude. Not the common sound.
Has anyone faced this issue and fixed it, should I return under guarantee? Is this a gear slippage? Or clutches not engaged? Your help will be much appreciated!
I'm relatively new to the whole telescope thing but have done my research and was fixed on getting the Orion skyquest XT8i or XT10i. By spending that much money, I didn't like the idea of purchasing it online from their website without seeing it in person (and not having the reassurance of being able to take it back) and looked for stores in the UK that would supply them. After plenty of research, it seems like they don't exist anymore and they are only in the US? Is this right or could anyone help me?
(I've looked at the Sky-watcher 250PX/200PX flextube skyscan goto but it is significantly heavier and the noise of the goto mechanism sounds like a table saw so that's put me off of it...)
Any help would be much appreciated,