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Stu

Lovely skies at last!

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Finally had a clear night which coincided with not being too tired, not busy, plus my better half was out for much of the evening. Even the toddler went to bed with no problems.

I wanted to try out two things mainly. The first was a Synscan handset I acquired from Astroboot, and the second, also an Astroboot purchase as a present for the children was a Heritage 130P. This was without the base and ideal to go on either the Giro-WR or AZGTi. Being on a tripod makes it easy to get the eyepiece at a sensible height for the children.

Tonight though, no short people around, I just got the chance to play myself. I setup in the back garden, eyeballed a level for the tripod then powered up. I now use the Tracer battery rather than the internal AAs and the mount now seems to slew with a little more purpose, lasts a lot longer obviously.

Alignment was trivial. Power on, set the time, two star align choosing Vega to manually slew to first, centred in the 24mm eyepiece, then chose Polaris as the second star. It got close but not in the fov so I centred it again, alignment succesful. Note that I did not bother going to higher power for more accuracy, but I still found that most objects were within the field of view on gotos. A couple were just outside but easily found. I find the AZGTi very impressive, simple to use, compact but very effective. The Freedom find clearly works too as the alignment remained accurate even after moving the scope manually a few times.

When I first used the mount a while ago it had backlash in az, and during the first use developed quite severe movement in alt. I was a bit disappointed and hoped I would not have to return it. I got instructions from Skywatcher via FLO and sometime later found the time to try them out. After removing the cover it was very clear how to adjust the two worm gears. They were both loose, explaining why I was getting movement. After a bit of experimenting I found a good compromise in adjustment and the mount now performs as I would expect.

I acquired the handset largely because the mount will not work with SkySafari on an iPhone (well it will but you need two devices, one for the Synscan app and one for SkySafari, too cumbersome for me). The handset worked well. I actually find it easier to use when centring objects because you can feel where the buttons are without having to look up. The database is bigger in the handset, particularly for SAO doubles which is something I found lacking in the app. If they ever do manage to fix the mount so it works properly with SS I believe I can still have the handset connected to have the best of both worlds.

The Heritage was not supplied with a Finder which I found a little annoying, I guess I didn't read the description fully, but the SkySurfer V fits to the mounting point without too much trouble so this problem was overcome.

I tried a few targets first just to get the hang of things, Double Cluster which looked surprisingly good in the 24mm Panoptic, M57 was a tiny bloated star in the 24mm but at higher power showed its ring shape nicely.

A brief comment about the Heritage focuser at this point. I actually find it better than I expected. Yes, there is some slop which is a little annoying but it was quite possible to achieve a good focus by gentle adjustment. My eyepieces these days are a set of BGOs plus a 3 to 6 Nag zoom and 24mm Panoptic. The BGOs focus much further in, so what I learned to do was find the focus point for the BGOs and then leave the focuser there. When swapping back to the Pan or Nag, I simply pulled them back out so they were in focus and then tightened the locking screws, followed by a little tweak to focus. This saved the frustration of winding in and out constantly. I will try the plumbers tape mod to improve the slop as I think this will really help. I keep wondering if there is a possible mod to put a decent focuser on the scope but actually it would be a shame to lose the simplicity and lightweight of this scope.

Next stop the Double Double. Whilst this split just about (if you squinted a bit and used your imagination), it showed the collimation needed a tweak. Back to Vega and defocused star test showed it was a little off. Not disastrous but worthwhile tweaking. This proved very simple too, loosen the locking screws, then adjust, recentreing after each tweak to check. The beauty of such a small scope is that you can be looking in the eyepiece whilst adjusting, it took me a couple of minutes to get it looking good. Refocusing and immediately Vega looked much better. Back to the DD and it was much improved, a clearer split with the Nag at x130. Compared with the Tak, which gives beautiful bullseye stars it was still a little messy, flaring a little and nowhere near as clean or aesthetically beautiful, but the splits were there. What can you expect for such an entry level scope, good stuff. I had expected much worse diffraction effects from the single stalk secondary mount but the reality was it was a lot less noticeable than some scopes I've used with 4 vane spiders. They were 10, 12" and 16" scopes so the additional aperture and brightness will have caused the larger spikes but either way, the Heritage was very good in this respect.

The sky appeared very clear and stable, best I've seen it for a while although the dew was quite heavy. At one point the secondary dewed up so I had to use a hair dryer to clear it. I think a lightweight shroud is needed to prevent dew and also to cut down glare from the open Truss design.

So, other targets? Back to the Double Cluster to enjoy the improved collimation. Lovely star colours showing through.

NGC457, an old favourite looking amusing as always

M27 was faintly visible without filter, but I added a Baader OIII filter and that brought it out much more. Not much detail but not bad.

The Blue Snowball was tiny in the 24mm, better at higher power but no sign of blueness. Darker sky and better dark adaptation needed I think.

M31, normal fuzzy oval but M32 picked out well. No sign of 110, skies too bright.

M45 was really nice. Could do with a slightly wider fov (not possible in this scope) but it fitted in and Alcyone with its three companions look lovely. The collimation was looking great and the star shapes surprisingly good.

Alberio, lovely star colours in the 24mm

Mizar, another old favourite, always delivers

Polaris I was quite surprised with, the primary was nicely controlled and the little pinpoint secondary showed very clearly. Nice

Somewhat optimistically I typed NGC6992 into the handset, with the OIII in the 24mm. To my surprise I could see the arc of the Eastern Veil quite clearly. Not much detail visible under local LP but I reckon a dark site would be quite rewarding. Panning across to 52 Cygni I could again see the Western Veil as it passes by the star. Impressive to see this from home with such small aperture. I'll get this scope under a dark sky soon to try it out further.

Uranus was my last success of the night, clearly non stellar but presenting only a tiny white disk even at x162. No sign of colour, I suspect the frac would bring out more colour but would need to try as I can't remember. I've certainly seen it as a greyish green before but can't recall which scope that was in.

Neptune was a possible but not sure as my phone died and I could not match the star fields to be certain.

I also tried for Caroline's Rose without success. It should have been in the eyepiece but nothing there, I do find this quite a subtle target with the LP round here, more aperture required most likely. M81 and M82 were poorly positioned in my 'Heathrow Glow' direction so I could not see them either.

So, a very good little session with this mount and scope combo. Next time I will pop the Tak on although the AZGTi does enjoy the lighter weight of the Heritage I think. For nebulae I suspect the additional aperture will be worthwhile too.

A long old report in the end, apologies, just nice to have something to talk about even though the objects seen are hardly exotic! Pleased with the little 130P, very good value and performance and a great match for the AZGTi

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Good report Stu. As you know I also had my 130mm scope out in SW London last night for the first time for a month or two. For London the skies seemed good to me. I even managed to wait up to get my first views this year of M42. Since it was quite low in the sky the seeing wasn't great but I just managed to get E in the trapezium. No sign of F though - that will wait for another time. Nice nebulosity as well. Also had great views of double cluster (bit vertical for me with my frac!), ring nebula and m45. 

It was great to have a rewarding evening observing in London after being a bit spoilt by dark site views in the past 6 months. Trip to iow coming up next month so may try to persuade my partner to leave the 2 year old at home take the 130mm frac instead! ?

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Great report Stu, and glad to read another nice report about the heritage. :)

The sky was clear last night here too. I had a bad cold this week so I only spent 40 minutes out yesterday evening. Still enough for a lovely view of the moon.

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11 minutes ago, GavStar said:

Trip to iow coming up next month so may try to persuade my partner to leave the 2 year old at home take the 130mm frac instead! ?

I think that is a perfectly reasonable request Gavin ;) although perhaps gaffa taping them to the roof would avoid leaving at home? ;);) 

Two very different 130mm scopes at the top and bottom of what is available, would interesting to do a side by side :) 

I too thought the sky was very good last night. Not dark (never is here as you well know) but stable and reasonably transparent.

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Nice report Stu, I managed 2 hours out as well with the VX6 and had lovely views of the double cluster and Caroline's Rose in the ES 20 68° . The owl looked good and Orion was also pretty decent though low on the horizon. Also managed M81 and M82 although feint fuzzies nice to see them for the first time in this scope. Mostly very good seeing conditions until about half one then the mist off the field got a bit much and everything was dripping. 

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Great report Stu :icon_biggrin:

I spent 3 hours out with my Vixen 102ED last night. Similar targets to the ones that you covered and a few others. Nice to be under a dark sky :icon_biggrin:

Most of the session I spent with just one eyepiece in the scope and not an exotic one either - a 7.2-21.5 cheapish zoom that I got for the Lunt LS50. Best £50 I've spent in a long while :smiley:

Edited by John
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20 minutes ago, John said:

Great report Stu :icon_biggrin:

I spent 4 hours out with my Vixen 102ED last night. Similar targets to the ones that you covered and a few others. Nice to be under a dark sky :icon_biggrin:

Most of the session I spent with just one eyepiece in the scope and not an exotic one either - a 7.2-21.5 cheapish zoom that I got for the Lunt LS50. Best £50 I've spent in a long while :smiley:

Seems like quite a few of us got out last night, glad you had a good time.

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Sounds a good evening! It was glorious here - I was even tempted to look at a few galaxies (bit exotic for me). I did catch a few nice meteors, including one from the zenith to the WSW that was fairly bright, with a bright white train. It then broke up and produced a shower of orange sparks like a rather exotic firework. 

Chris

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25 minutes ago, chiltonstar said:

Sounds a good evening! It was glorious here - I was even tempted to look at a few galaxies (bit exotic for me). I did catch a few nice meteors, including one from the zenith to the WSW that was fairly bright, with a bright white train. It then broke up and produced a shower of orange sparks like a rather exotic firework. 

Chris

That meteor sounds exciting Chris!

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Gear report Stu , I started out with the Heritage, great scope. The plumbers tape works ! I also made a shroud using a buff ! It's very ,very capable under dark skies. Delight to see folks were out there .

I had an unusual session , put in a 40mm Plossl in the C6r to get monocular views. Really surprising how compact the clusters looked and the width of M31, clear skies !

old Nick.

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45 minutes ago, cotterless45 said:

shroud using a buff

Thanks Nick.

Errrr, what's a buff???

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Great read Stu!  No need to apologise about the length - it's always nice to hear about the experiences and enjoyment of other members.

Doug.

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While Nick considers how to answer, on the subject of the shroud, I do think this is important for another reason other than cutting out glare.

When I was collimating the scope, it was very clear how much my breath was inducing tube currents into the image. When I held my breath whilst observing I got better results, more stable images, but obvious that is not a long term solution! The shroud should fix this problem too.

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Nice report Stu, thanks for sharing :smile:

It's helps that I've seen some of these targets recenty, so I can read along and pretend I'm getting to see them too...Seeing as it's cloudy and windy up here just now!

I have a soft spot for NGC457 as well, only seen it a couple of times but it's one I'll visit as often as I can. 

The AZGTi sounds like an interesting bit of kit. Stillcant decide if it would just make me lazy in learning the sky :icon_scratch:

I need to play with my old newt again. I've realised that I find it a lot easier to navigate around with the left-right flip of a frac/mak... which has meant that the newt is gathering dust. Poor wee soul.

Thanks again Stu :icon_salut:

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9 hours ago, davyludo said:

Nice report Stu, thanks for sharing :smile:

It's helps that I've seen some of these targets recenty, so I can read along and pretend I'm getting to see them too...Seeing as it's cloudy and windy up here just now!

I have a soft spot for NGC457 as well, only seen it a couple of times but it's one I'll visit as often as I can. 

The AZGTi sounds like an interesting bit of kit. Stillcant decide if it would just make me lazy in learning the sky :icon_scratch:

I need to play with my old newt again. I've realised that I find it a lot easier to navigate around with the left-right flip of a frac/mak... which has meant that the newt is gathering dust. Poor wee soul.

Thanks again Stu :icon_salut:

Thanks @davyludo, I find exactly the same enjoyment reading others reports whilst sitting under the clouds! :)

Goto is always a subject of hot debate. For me it's a bit like SatNav. Some people just rely on it totally without any idea of geography and the roads they are going on. If anything goes wrong then they get horribly lost. Others know basically which route they are taking, and have an understanding of the overall geography of the country but use SatNav as an aid to help them.

I think you can use Goto in a similar way to the latter. Keep learning the constellations and know where the objects you are targeting are located, but use the Goto as an aid to finding them and you end up learning more (like learning a new route from SatNav). Under light polluted skies, with not many stars visible, star hopping can be tricky so Goto can really help you see more targets.

I am just the same as you, I have spent most of my observing life with fracs and maks so an upside down view is very confusing to me! Another reason to use goto with the little Newt.

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Stu, that's a great analogy and makes a lot of sense when you put it like that.

I know I'm lucky living in a city but being able to use my mum's secluded south facing garden for stargazing. When I've tried observing from my flat (which is about 20 minutes away) the light pollution is noticeably worse and there are fewer guide stars.

Maybe that can be next year's investment! :tongue2:

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A little update to this....

I remembered I had a GPS mouse which I tried with the Synscan handset and all worked perfectly, saves having to input the coordinates. A little thing but pleases my simple brain ;) 

Had another quick session on the moon tonight, nice sharp images although it was a bit wobbly observing over the house. I aligned the goto more accurately this time using a reticle eyepiece I remembered I had and that improved the gotos a little. Hit Mizar and M13 well.

One strange thing, the mount seems to hunt around before it stops on the target, it goes backwards and forwards across the target about four or five times before stopping. Not a big deal but a little annoying.

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Fab report, Stu. It's always nice to read reports from people using similar equipment to my own. My views of the double double have never super sharp so the comparison to your Tak was particularly interesting

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4 minutes ago, Littleguy80 said:

Fab report, Stu. It's always nice to read reports from people using similar equipment to my own. My views of the double double have never super sharp so the comparison to your Tak was particularly interesting

Great to know it is useful, thanks :)

I think it could still do with a tweak at higher power as I reckon the DD could be clearer. Maybe I can put the 130P side by side with the Tak on my Giro-WR and try a few test targets out. The extra aperture would probably win on some of the faint nebulae.

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

I think it could still do with a tweak at higher power as I reckon the DD could be clearer. Maybe I can put the 130P side by side with the Tak on my Giro-WR and try a few test targets out. The extra aperture would probably win on some of the faint nebulae.

That would be a good test. I'm definitely curious to see how much difference the better quality eyepieces make in the medium/low power range. I only have the 5mm and 6mm BGO's after that it's onto BST's mainly.

I've only ever collimated inside with a collimation cap. I should probably give it a go using a star outside to fine tune it

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2 hours ago, Littleguy80 said:

I've only ever collimated inside with a collimation cap. I should probably give it a go using a star outside to fine tune it

Definitely do a star test and see how it looks

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Nice report Stu, the 130P is a surprisingly capable little package. When I had mine (now moved on to a new home) I initially really disliked the helical focuser, then somewhat begrudgingly conceded that it did the job reasonably well, and then had to climb off my high horse even further to admit that with just a little practice  fine focus was quite easy!  I found the position of the finder a tad awkward sometimes but apart from that a great value for money scope.

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