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markclaire50

Stories of observation rebirth or birth!?

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This thread relates to members who may have lapses from the hobby for a long time, then had their interest reborn, perhaps even more than it was the first time. And to members who were never interested but suddenly became interested, and why? 

I have a story, but I'd like to hear others first. 

Thank you

Mark 

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I have always loved observing since the age of 12 but, in the last 10 years i have also developed a passion for flying RC aircraft. I tend to gravitate between the two, leaving the other on the back burner for a while. Currently, i am in my observing phase, its too expensive to dive into both headlong as you always want the latest gadgets. Theres no way i could afford the best planes and scope bits in one season. 

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Here is my story. Sounds like opening line in a book! 

Once upon a time, I loved astronomy. I never really fell out of love. We just needed a break. ?

But one night in Late summer of 2017, whilst sitting outside after dark, I was looking at mizar and alcor, with naked eye. I've always had a soft spot for this double as I always used to look at it as a teenager when I first got into astronomy in a big way. I'm sure the angular separation was less back then, but not according to SSpro6!

Anyway, I decided to have a look through my binos and noticed a faint star near them. This got me looking on my phone where I read it was called Sidus Ludoviciana with an interesting history. I then read something I'd long forgotten, that mizar was a double itself, according to info about it. 10x50 binos couldn't see them, so popped into house to get my spotting scope (15-45 x 60mm). At 35x, still couldn't split them. It was that failure that got me thinking.....What would I need to split them? In theory the 60mm spotting scope should have resolved them, at 14"( NOT 0.7" as shown in SSpro6!) . Based on 138/60= 2.5" resolution, approx. But it didn't. Perhaps 35x wasn't enough to show the resolution. Who knows. Anyway, I decided I needed something bigger, with goto and tracking. After some research, the 90mm mak seemed perfect. But then I thought, why stop there? 127mm mak looks better. But then, I'd need a bigger goto mount. Then I stumbled on the skywatcher az gti wifi. Perfect! But, then I thought, why stop there? If I get an 80mm ed, I could do some AP as well, as I already had a dslr, although I knew that would lead to a goto eq mount, eventually! Before I knew it, I was asking for just money for birthday and Christmas. I had a target list of lenses, and so on. All because I wanted to see the mizar double! 

I've had my kit up and running since New Year. Still haven't looked at the mizar double yet! ??. But I will. I've been looking at southern objects instead, as because of my limited area in back garden, it's either south or north, not both, as houses get in way

What an irony that mizar waits?

So, sometimes, you never know where sitting in your back garden can lead! ? ?

Mark 

AnSidIt us Ludoviciana

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Your 80mm ED is a beautiful scope Mark. I bought an 80mm Equinox a few years ago and found it gave my observing a real boost. Rather than setting up my larger refractor for just a few minutes, i would nip out for a quick look before bed and find myself still sat on a frost covered garden bench an hour later. The 80mm is a lovely binary star scope so start sweeping from Polaris, which is a double, and work your way up to Mizar and beyond. Castor is a cracker at high power! (White and rose quartz)!

post-41880-0-24225900-1429118983.thumb.jpg.c31cfdf87ede61f6c22ef6ba2007fae2.jpg

 

As the years go by, you'll find your enthusiasm waxes and wanes. It happens to all of us, but then comes back with a vengeance to the point of obsession. Never sell your gear just because your interest has a seasonal mood swing, or you'll only have to buy it all again when the astro virus overwhelms your immune system. Once bitten by the bug there is no cure!

Edited by mikeDnight
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1 hour ago, mikeDnight said:

Your 80mm ED is a beautiful scope Mark. I bought an 80mm Equinox a few years ago and found it gave my observing a real boost. Rather than setting up my larger refractor for just a few minutes, i would nip out for a quick look before bed and find myself still sat on a frost covered garden bench an hour later. The 80mm is a lovely binary star scope so start sweeping from Polaris, which is a double, and work your way up to Mizar and beyond. Castor is a cracker at high power! (White and rose quartz)!

post-41880-0-24225900-1429118983.thumb.jpg.c31cfdf87ede61f6c22ef6ba2007fae2.jpg

 

As the years go by, you'll find your enthusiasm waxes and wanes. It happens to all of us, but then comes back with a vengeance to the point of obsession. Never sell your gear just because your interest has a seasonal mood swing, or you'll only have to buy it all again when the astro virus overwhelms your immune system. Once bitten by the bug there is no cure!

Hi Mike

Yes, I remember looking at castor for the first time with my 127mak and thinking it looked beautiful. Not tried the  80mm ed on castor yet. I have tended to interchange between scopes. In the mak it looked like two diamond white stars to me, but apparently, so people have told me in the past, I seem to have a slight problem with very pale pink colours, as in, I can't detect pink below a certain intensity, when others can. But next time I will look more carefully. 

I originally made the 80ed decision on the basis of using it for both visual and AP, as I'd seen some spectacular photos of pleiades and andromeda taken with it. But I need to get an Heq5 mount. I'm leaning more and more towards getting a 180mm mak to enhance my visual observation of doubles, improve my seeing of E star (barely visible to me in the 127) and potentially use it for lunar and planetary AP for which I have seen good images. 

My only concern is whether I should go for a C9.25 instead, but unless it can match the fully cooled mak on doubles, I think it would annoy be. In my suburban area, LP seems to limit naked eye to about 4.3/4.4, so seeing faint fuzzies with very large apertures may be a lost cause. In that case it might be better for me to get a 130pds and go to a dark site with my az gti wifi mount. I should be able to see dso then which would take a scope with an aperture around 250mm where I live, due to LP. 

Does that sound correct to you? I know John mentioned something similar about a six inch showing dso at a dark site that he struggled with a ten inch at home. 

Sorry for meandering! 

Thanks 

Mark 

Edited by markclaire50

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10 hours ago, markclaire50 said:

Hi Mike

Yes, I remember looking at castor for the first time with my 127mak and thinking it looked beautiful. Not tried the  80mm ed on castor yet. I have tended to interchange between scopes. In the mak it looked like two diamond white stars to me, but apparently, so people have told me in the past, I seem to have a slight problem with very pale pink colours, as in, I can't detect pink below a certain intensity, when others can. But next time I will look more carefully. 

I originally made the 80ed decision on the basis of using it for both visual and AP, as I'd seen some spectacular photos of pleiades and andromeda taken with it. But I need to get an Heq5 mount. I'm leaning more and more towards getting a 180mm mak to enhance my visual observation of doubles, improve my seeing of E star (barely visible to me in the 127) and potentially use it for lunar and planetary AP for which I have seen good images. 

My only concern is whether I should go for a C9.25 instead, but unless it can match the fully cooled mak on doubles, I think it would annoy be. In my suburban area, LP seems to limit naked eye to about 4.3/4.4, so seeing faint fuzzies with very large apertures may be a lost cause. In that case it might be better for me to get a 130pds and go to a dark site with my az gti wifi mount. I should be able to see dso then which would take a scope with an aperture around 250mm where I live, due to LP. 

Does that sound correct to you? I know John mentioned something similar about a six inch showing dso at a dark site that he struggled with a ten inch at home. 

Sorry for meandering! 

Thanks 

Mark 

It's a difficult decision you have trying to find the right balance for your scope choice. John is right when he says a small scope will likely show more from a Dark site than a large scope will from a light polluted site. It's really about whether you will want to travel to a dark site each time you feel like observing? I've also noticed that if i shield myself from surrounding light sources, I can attain a fairly good level of dark adaption even from my own suburban site. And that despite my scopes small aperture of only 100mm,  it's deep sky performance at times beggars belief.  Whatever scope you eventually decide upon, if you take a few simple measures, such as using a blackout hood or blanket over your head and eyepiece,  and be prepared to spend time studying an object, you'll get much more from your telescope. 

A 250mm reflector would be a nice deep sky scope in a suburban site, and even better in a dark site. As stars rank highly on your target list, I'd suggest you go for a scope that gives sharp star images. Newtonian are sharp scopes, but can show diffraction spikes on brighter stars. It's not a fault its simply the nature of the beast, and all telescopes show diffraction effects of one kind or another. The Maksutov Newtonian doesn't show diffraction spikes, but as with the Mak Cass, will show a brighter first diffraction ring due to its central obstruction, again not a fault! Refractors give perhaps the nicest looking star images, but chromatic aberration can spread light about and give a false colour to the object being viewed. My old 150mm Helios F8 refractor showed Saturn as custard yellow, where as a 102mm Vixen fluorite apo showed it to be creamy white. Good refractors are expensive and tend to be of relatively small apertures. If i were in to imaging id possibly consider a Schmidt Cassegrain as this is where they really shine, but for visual id be looking at other designs. 

If I were to put my neck on the line, I'd say you should consider two scopes. A SW120ED and a SW250 Dobsonian, as they make a formidable combination. If I were to choose only one from the two, it would be the refractor. Why? Because it will work like a dream on practically every clear night, on every type of target and it will never need recoating or recolimating.  It's easier to carry about too! Oh, and it looks beautiful! 

Edited by mikeDnight
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2 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

It's a difficult decision you have trying to find the right balance for your scope choice. John is right when he says a small scope will likely show more from a Dark site than a large scope will from a light polluted site. It's really about whether you will want to travel to a dark site each time you feel like observing? I've also noticed that if i shield myself from surrounding light sources, I can attain a fairly good level of dark adaption even from my own suburban site. And that despite my scopes small aperture of only 100mm,  it's deep sky performance at times beggars belief.  Whatever scope you eventually decide upon, if you take a few simple measures, such as using a blackout hood or blanket over your head and eyepiece,  and be prepared to spend time studying an object, you'll get much more from your telescope. 

A 250mm reflector would be a nice deep sky scope in a suburban site, and even better in a dark site. As stars rank highly on your target list, I'd suggest you go for a scope that gives sharp star images. Newtonian are sharp scopes, but can show diffraction spikes on brighter stars. It's not a fault its simply the nature of the beast, and all telescopes show diffraction effects of one kind or another. The Maksutov Newtonian doesn't show diffraction spikes, but as with the Mak Cass, will show a brighter first diffraction ring due to its central obstruction, again not a fault! Refractors give perhaps the nicest looking star images, but chromatic aberration can spread light about and give a false colour to the object being viewed. My old 150mm Helios F8 refractor showed Saturn as custard yellow, where as a 102mm Vixen fluorite apo showed it to be creamy white. Good refractors are expensive and tend to be of relatively small apertures. If i were in to imaging id possibly consider a Schmidt Cassegrain as this is where they really shine, but for visual id be looking at other designs. 

If I were to put my neck on the line, I'd say you should consider two scopes. A SW120ED and a SW250 Dobsonian, as they make a formidable combination. If I were to choose only one from the two, it would be the refractor. Why? Because it will work like a dream on practically every clear night, on every type of target and it will never need recoating or recolimating.  It's easier to carry about too! Oh, and it looks beautiful! 

Hi Mike. How do you think a 180mm mak and sw120 compare if trying to see the Pup? That little minx is on my hit list! 

Thanks 

Mark 

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Out of interest, Mizar splits in my little 50mm Vixen spotting scope at x30 providing it is mounted in a stable enough way. This way my first object too, 20 years ago and I always have a look at it whenever I get a chance.

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I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a rebirth - but I’ve been somewhat re-energised and this time I’m heading in a distinctly visual direction.  I bought my first ‘serious’ kit a few years ago, and have been having a lot of fun.  And like I suspect others have done before me, I ended up quickly in the realms of imaging, where ‘fun’ consists of both notable expense and many hours of frustration.  But actually it’s the weather that is my biggest barrier.  Here in the UK there seem to have been very few useful hours that I have been able to take advantage of.  In part this is also because I have to get up in the morning to go to work and don’t have the kind of job I can coast through easily.  And in part, it’s becasue I don’t have any kind of permanent setup, so there’s considerable time and effort required before I can get on to actually imaging anything.  Which has all been completely fine.  Except now... I want to actually see something!

What I can also admit is that in my rush towards imaging, I think it’s made me lazy.  Having planetarium software and GoTo capability is pretty amazing, and sometimes useful too.  But I’m now left feeling that I’ve skipped over many of the basics.  And so, I’ve just joined the Astronomical League and I’m going right back to the foundations of observing, sketching my way across the constellations.  I’ve also ordered a new scope (becasue, you know, there’s kind of a justification for one, right?) which is going to form my ‘travel’ (or at least quick(er) set-up) kit with the hope that I will make more use of it whilst also improving my general astro knowledge.  There's also some binoculars added to my wish list which I’m hoping the Birthday Fairy might buy me in a couple of months.  One day that Master Observer award will be mine :) 

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2 hours ago, markclaire50 said:

Hi Mike. How do you think a 180mm mak and sw120 compare if trying to see the Pup? That little minx is on my hit list! 

Thanks 

Mark 

It's probably down to personal preference as much as anything, but I prefer the star images in the 120ED, and am reasonably confident that if the seeing is steady enough, the 120 will show it. It's possibly due the the residual internal heat within the Maksutov Cassegrain that is amplified by the secondary mirror, that stars can sometimes look like photon torpedo's, with little flares eminating from them. The ED doesn't do that!

If you can keep the 180 Mak Cass thermally stable, then it will perform beautifully! 

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2 hours ago, jadcx said:

 

What I can also admit is that in my rush towards imaging, I think it’s made me lazy.  Having planetarium software and GoTo capability is pretty amazing, and sometimes useful too.  But I’m now left feeling that I’ve skipped over many of the basics.  And so, I’ve just joined the Astronomical League and I’m going right back to the foundations of observing, sketching my way across the constellations.  I’ve also ordered a new scope (becasue, you know, there’s kind of a justification for one, right?) which is going to form my ‘travel’ (or at least quick(er) set-up) kit with the hope that I will make more use of it whilst also improving my general astro knowledge.  There's also some binoculars added to my wish list which I’m hoping the Birthday Fairy might buy me in a couple of months.  One day that Master Observer award will be mine :) 

I've often spoken of my first couple of years observing with binoculars and a small refractor as my apprenticeship years, and I'm not convinced this period can be bypassed with the use of technology. I don't know if you, like me, always seem to end up in the wrong que at the supermarket?  Well the same thing seems to happen when queuing in line to look through a telescope. I remember spending over 30 minutes waiting patiently for one guy to get his goto to aim at a target in the sky rather than its owners shoe laces, while my friend with an manual altazimuth mounted SW102 star travel, was giving others a tour of the Messier objects with greater speed than any goto I've ever seen. By the time my patience had worn thin the clouds had moved in and I never did get to look through that scope.

I'm sure that Master Observer Award already has your name on it Justin!  I never observe without my most powerful observing aid in my eyepiece box. ✏️

1372788852_2019-03-0715_44_01.thumb.jpg.29f76f8199c10afa0692f9ff06eae060.jpg

Edited by mikeDnight
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1 hour ago, mikeDnight said:

It's probably down to personal preference as much as anything, but I prefer the star images in the 120ED, and am reasonably confident that if the seeing is steady enough, the 120 will show it. It's possibly due the the residual internal heat within the Maksutov Cassegrain that is amplified by the secondary mirror, that stars can sometimes look like photon torpedo's, with little flares eminating from them. The ED doesn't do that!

If you can keep the 180 Mak Cass thermally stable, then it will perform beautifully! 

Hi. I just read one review where neither a 180mak, 150tak and C14 could see the Pup! I need to check when and where the tests were done, as clearly that's important ?

Thanks 

Mark 

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The pup is a bit of a pig from the UK due to it loitering in the turbulent area of sky close to the horizon. Any one of the scopes mentioned is more than capable of showing it, if it were higher in the sky. It's a difficult target because of the brilliance of Sirius and not because the pup itself is a difficult object. If you prefer the 180 Mak over other scopes, then you'd likely be happier using it and would use it more often. That would increase your chances of seeing the pup. A 180 Mak is a terrific scope, and you could spend a lifetime using one and still only see a fraction of what its capable of. So even if you never see the pup, youll see many other amazing sights. ☺

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1 hour ago, mikeDnight said:

The pup is a bit of a pig from the UK due to it loitering in the turbulent area of sky close to the horizon. Any one of the scopes mentioned is more than capable of showing it, if it were higher in the sky. It's a difficult target because of the brilliance of Sirius and not because the pup itself is a difficult object. If you prefer the 180 Mak over other scopes, then you'd likely be happier using it and would use it more often. That would increase your chances of seeing the pup. A 180 Mak is a terrific scope, and you could spend a lifetime using one and still only see a fraction of what its capable of. So even if you never see the pup, youll see many other amazing sights. ☺

Thanks Mike. Do you think it would be comparable to the more expensive C 9.25?

I think I'm getting down to these as realistic options. 

Thank you 

Mark 

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2 hours ago, markclaire50 said:

Thanks Mike. Do you think it would be comparable to the more expensive C 9.25?

I think I'm getting down to these as realistic options. 

Thank you 

Mark 

The C9.25 should have greater resolution and its a good scope, but at the same time I think it also has a significantly larger central obstruction. Visually the 180 Mak should show a sharper image. If you think in terms of the perfect sharp star image (or Airy disc),  the Mak will be better. And if you now think of an extended object such as the moon, planet or even a nebula, as being made up of multiple Airy discs (a little like pixels), then the sharper the star image the better the definition. Without definition aperture counts for very little!   Others of course may have a totally different opinion. Im merely speaking from my own personal experience and preference. Schmidt's have always appeared soft to my eye, while every Maksutov I've used has shown sharp images. My little friend Phil bought himself an 8" SCT about eight years ago and he asked me to take a look. We aimed his scope at M31 and it gave a very memorable view of the dark dust lane crossing the galaxy. I was very impressed and commented on the scopes ability. At the same time, my 120ED  which was also aimed at M31, gave a very nice view of M31, M32 & M110 in the same field of my 31mm Nagler. I was thrilled by the view through the SCT, but the following day Phil put his scope up for sale. He said it was because the stars in the SCT were not sharp as in the refractor. Horses for courses i suppose!

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41 minutes ago, mikeDnight said:

The C9.25 should have greater resolution and its a good scope, but at the same time I think it also has a significantly larger central obstruction. Visually the 180 Mak should show a sharper image. If you think in terms of the perfect sharp star image (or Airy disc),  the Mak will be better. And if you now think of an extended object such as the moon, planet or even a nebula, as being made up of multiple Airy discs (a little like pixels), then the sharper the star image the better the definition. Without definition aperture counts for very little!   Others of course may have a totally different opinion. Im merely speaking from my own personal experience and preference. Schmidt's have always appeared soft to my eye, while every Maksutov I've used has shown sharp images. My little friend Phil bought himself an 8" SCT about eight years ago and he asked me to take a look. We aimed his scope at M31 and it gave a very memorable view of the dark dust lane crossing the galaxy. I was very impressed and commented on the scopes ability. At the same time, my 120ED  which was also aimed at M31, gave a very nice view of M31, M32 & M110 in the same field of my 31mm Nagler. I was thrilled by the view through the SCT, but the following day Phil put his scope up for sale. He said it was because the stars in the SCT were not sharp as in the refractor. Horses for courses i suppose!

Thanks Mike 

I have to say that I do have a predilection for sharpness. I wear glasses and I am an absolute nightmare for a "well known opticians chain" , as I won't accept anything less than sharp vision through both eyes! I'm fussy that way. ?

I like the views through my frac and mak. Probably tells me something. To be honest, when I look at orion's nebula, I'm surprised how bright the nebulosity is in the 127. At mag 4 ish, I shouldn't be. But maks don't have a reputation associated with light gathering, although the aperture of a 180mak should collect same amount of light as a 7" fast newtonian. By comparison I know a 180mak  will look twice as bright as the 127mak, so that should really stand out, as too I hope E star should which was barely on my radar in the 127. As for the pup, I think some sneaky tricks will be needed to bypass the glittering dog. John I think, mentioned possibility of putting a transparent cover over eyepiece with black dots on it. Next time, I plan to stretch clingfilm over an appropriate eyepiece, with various sized dots on the clingfilm and move it around over the eyepiece until I find a dot that perfectly blocks the majority of Sirius' light, leaving the pup obvious to me. ?(and then I woke up!?). It's theoretical but very cheap to try! 

I've seen 180maks come up for sale around 450-500 quid, so around 35% off new. Perhaps my best plan is to keep an eye out for one of these, and providing I don't need to travel too far to collect, it's an option. The saving can go towards a zwo120 imaging camera for planetary (I'll have to be patient for these to appear in a good position again) 

I think I need to then see what I can see with the 180mak. It will go on an heq5 mount for observation and possible AP. I hear a lot of people saying they don't like eq for observation and that worries me a bit. But I also hear positive stories too. And I'll need as much practice as possible if I'm to use the mount for AP with my 80mm ed. 

Thanks

Mark 

 

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