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What are your favourite accessories and why?


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JUST FOR FUN

Cost is not a consideration.

Name up to three accessories that you consider your best buys and why. (I am hoping to pick up a few good ideas here as a bonus))

To start you off:

1) POLEMASTER.      Due to my age and various aches and pains I am no longer able to look through the mount’s Polar Axis Finder, so no PA. This means I am unable to get timed subs to stack. Game over for astrophotography. PoleMaster not only saved the day it is incredibly accurate and takes only a few minutes. No more kneeling down and cranking my neck round trying to peer up and  through the tiny polar axis finder, what a nightmare that thing was! It was not even accurate. My subs are a lot longer now due to accuracy of PA.

2) FLIP MIRROR.      After buying a ZWO ASI224MC camera I had a major problem trying to find Mars. My Telrad red dot finder was as spot on as I could possibly get it but with Mars even covered by the red dot it would not appear on screen. I have spent as long as 45 minutes trying to find it, talk about exasperating! Using the mount’s GOTO was even less helpful. The Flip mirror was amazing! After placing Mars in the Telrad, a quick look in the flip mirror eyepiece, a couple of minor adjustments on the hand controls to centre Mars in the EP, flip the mirror to camera and there it was on the screen. Takes under a minute from start to finish. A joy to use.

3) BAHTINOV MASK.    How disappointing it is when after a night’s observing and recording AVI’s or taking subs, we discover that the images are a little out of focus. A little here is as good as a mile. That’s a wasted evening. Trying to eyeball a planet, star cluster,  galaxy or nebula and get the focus bang on is no easy task. Not anymore! The Bahtinov mask removes all the guesswork and delivers perfectly focused images every time. And it only costs a few £/$. A great buy!

Well, that’s my three, what’s yours?

 

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#3 Red Light Torch Preserves my night vision yet allows me to look up targets in my astro books out in the field. My friend Bob didn't have one and he fell down a well. All’s not well that ends w

1. Back in the Dark Ages of Astronomy - I wish!! Bortle 1 skies for everyone, lovely!👍👍 2. Star Hopping - I love it!😁 3. No Polemaster - what's a Polemaster?? 4. No looking at the image on

JUST FOR FUN Cost is not a consideration. Name up to three accessories that you consider your best buys and why. (I am hoping to pick up a few good ideas here as a bonus)) To start you

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  1. sketch pad.
    Before sketching I’d flit around looking briefly at everything. I’d get the initial WOW then move on.
    With my sketch pad I linger longer and look for all the details. I spend much more time at the eyepiece and that time is of better quality.
    A sketch pad improves my views better than any other item.
  2. dew heater bands 
    Essential in the UK with a SCT. You can go all night with dew dripping everywhere if you have well placed and well controlled heat.
  3. narrowband filters
    On DSOs these can make the difference between seeing something or not.
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I’ll echo Glob on the sketch pad- bet you weren’t expecting that lol 😉 It’s really added a new dimension to observing for me. I’ve only done rough sketches of Mars so far but I really want to extend it to other targets- Moon especially

The most basic and arguably most revelationary was stealing a directors chair from work- sitting comfortably really does add inches to your aperture! I’m getting an ironing chair for christmas so they can have their muddy chair back 😂

Third would have been the red dot finder but it’s been superseded in amazingness by the starsense explorer app and phone holder i made. This is revolutionary dob finder tech! I have to be careful though as it does encourage the flitting from one target to another that’s counterproductive but for those elusive targets it’s going to be really useful i think.

Mark 

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Telrad and Rigel finders :)

I hate normal finders, they make me dizzy 🥴

 

SCT FR/C, gives a wider field in SCTs :)

 

Rocking chair from front porch :) perfect for astronomy, as the EP goes down lean forward, or lean back when when needed :)

 

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1) UHC & OIII filters - amazing at revealing faint nebulae for visual. I had an almost photographic view of the Veil with my 6” Newt during the summer thanks to my OIII filter. 

2) Binoviewers for planetary - admittedly I’ve only really tried this this on Mars using my 102ED-R but what a difference! They don’t work for everyone though.

3) Observing Chair - a recent addition, but my Nadira observing chair has really made sessions more relaxing and ‘stable’.  
 

I should make an honourable mention of the Rigel Quickfinder - lightweight, easy to adjust, comes with two bases and you can buy more. It just works. 🙂

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I note that an observing chair has already been mentioned three times and I have to agree it makes a world of difference. I use a typist chair as it is fully adjustable. Good old Amazon!
Sketch pads! Who would have thought? But I do understand why. Dew Heater bands for SCTs, yes they are essential, for me it was a toss up between including that or the Bhatinov.

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1. Asiair Pro.  Everything from PA through guiding, auto focusing, imaging runs, darks, flats, filter wheel, controlling powered accessories such as dew straps.  I have given up astronomy and restarted a number of times due to various reasons, mainly health and frustration.  The asiair is a complete game changer.  I don't know if it is as powerful as other laptop driven software but having everything on one interface that I can run from my tablet and from inside my nice warm house (once I have polar aligned) is a game changer.  I was imaging within  30min of taking it out of the box.  Best £300 quid I have ever spent. 

2. Tablet. Runs planaterium software, and my Asiair, invaluable research tool, possibility of using it to produce flats, games to play while waiting for the clouds to clear. 

3. Insulated coffee mug.  Need I say more! 

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#3 Red Light Torch

Preserves my night vision yet allows me to look up targets in my astro books out in the field. My friend Bob didn't have one and he fell down a well. All’s not well that ends well!

#2 Focusers

We’ve replaced the focuser on most of our scopes. I enjoy using a good quality focuser. Bob kept his stock ones and his Radian eyepiece fell in a cow pat and ever since had a strong tint.

#1 Tele Vue Paracorr Coma Corrector

Our 10 inch dob has okay optics, but when we stick the Paracorr in, it really tidies up the view. Bob used a home-made coma corrector and thought Betelgeuse had gone supernova.

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8 hours ago, Moonshed said:

I note that an observing chair has already been mentioned three times and I have to agree it makes a world of difference. I use a typist chair as it is fully adjustable. Good old Amazon!
Sketch pads! Who would have thought? But I do understand why. Dew Heater bands for SCTs, yes they are essential, for me it was a toss up between including that or the Bhatinov.

A typist chair does make a decent observing chair.

Not only are they adjustable, but the wheels allow you to wheel about.

 

I observe in perpetual mud here, so it won't work for me.

 

However, mud can be a good accessory :)

it acts a a vibration damper, just plop your mount down in it 😂

Edited by PXR-5
Speling
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1 hour ago, Luke said:

#3 Red Light Torch

Preserves my night vision yet allows me to look up targets in my astro books out in the field. My friend Bob didn't have one and he fell down a well. All’s not well that ends well!

#2 Focusers

We’ve replaced the focuser on most of our scopes. I enjoy using a good quality focuser. Bob kept his stock ones and his Radian eyepiece fell in a cow pat and ever since had a strong tint.

#1 Tele Vue Paracorr Coma Corrector

Our 10 inch dob has okay optics, but when we stick the Paracorr in, it really tidies up the view. Bob used a home-made coma corrector and thought Betelgeuse had gone supernova.

Focusers, of course! It has become so automatic to just press the buttons I don’t even think about it anymore. I have already changed my mind about my list twice! There is no point having a Bhatinov mask if you are focusing manually because every time you touch the focus knob you have to wait 2 weeks for it to stop vibrating.

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Probably my Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky atlas, putting RACI finders on all my scopes, alongside a Rigel Quikfinder on the 12 inch dob and being a member of the Statgazers Lounge (not necessarily in that order !) :icon_biggrin:

I use the Stellarium and Cartes du Ciel software a lot as well.

 

Edited by John
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27 minutes ago, PXR-5 said:

A typist chair does make a decent observing chair.

Not only are they adjustable, but the wheels allow you to wheel about.

 

I observe in perpetual mud here, so it won't work for me.

 

However, mud can be a good accessory :)

it acts a a vibration damper, just plop your mount down in it 😂

The wheels are essential, I scoot around from laptop to scope to mug of tea with legs in a blur. One night I’m going to overdo it, crash into my scope and send it flying onto my laptop which collapses the table and spills my mug of tea into my lap. 
That’s the night I retire to a dark room and don’t come out for weeks.

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I know it isnt your basic accessory, but what has made my observing better and easier is the simple observatory I built.

In just a moment I'm standing there with coffee in hand looking up at the sky!

Edited by maw lod qan
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3 hours ago, SmokeyJoe said:

1. Asiair Pro.  Everything from PA through guiding, auto focusing, imaging runs, darks, flats, filter wheel, controlling powered accessories such as dew straps.  I have given up astronomy and restarted a number of times due to various reasons, mainly health and frustration.  The asiair is a complete game changer.  I don't know if it is as powerful as other laptop driven software but having everything on one interface that I can run from my tablet and from inside my nice warm house (once I have polar aligned) is a game changer.  I was imaging within  30min of taking it out of the box.  Best £300 quid I have ever spent. 

2. Tablet. Runs planaterium software, and my Asiair, invaluable research tool, possibility of using it to produce flats, games to play while waiting for the clouds to clear. 

3. Insulated coffee mug.  Need I say more! 

2.  Tablet.  Where would we be without our ever faithful tablets/laptops? Without them we would be back in the dark ages of astronomy, manually star hopping to find our target. No Polemaster, no looking at the image on screen, no image processing,  no stacking, no GOTO, the list is endless. (Shudder). I remember those days, everything was hard work, but I learned a lot about navigating my way about the night sky.

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10 minutes ago, maw lod qan said:

I know it isnt your basic accessory, but what has made my observing better and easier is the simple observatory I built.

In just a moment I'm standing there with coffee in hand looking up at the sky!

Good point, mine is a dedicated shed, named by the grandchildren as “Moonshed” hence my screen name. As I have got older, I think everybody does? I have found it invaluable.

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1 hour ago, PXR-5 said:

 

 

I observe in perpetual mud here, so it won't work for me.

 

However, mud can be a good accessory :)

it acts a a vibration damper, just plop your mount down in it 😂

Astroturf 😉 (yep John, the pun finally twigged with me lol)

Luckily my "lawn" is that stuff and it saves the gear and me getting muddy. Downside here tho has been heavy rain as that seems to sit on top for quite a while for some reason.

As per Mark, the starsense gizmo, makes locating stuff real simple. I'd agree re a flip mirror too, since playing initially with the SPC900 webcam I got a cheap one, much easier to get onto target with that tho I've yet to put much effort into trying to capture anything.

Electric focuser - so much more convenient and no shakes induced making getting good focus that bit easier.

Edited by DaveL59
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21 minutes ago, Moonshed said:

2.  Tablet.  Where would we be without our ever faithful tablets/laptops? Without them we would be back in the dark ages of astronomy, manually star hopping to find our target....

But that's exactly how I like to do astronomy :icon_biggrin:

Perhaps I am back in the dark ages though :icon_scratch:

Room for all approaches in this hobby - that's the joy of it :thumbright:

 

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SkySafari Plus. Adds a whole lot more to my observing including accurate planning of sessions and detailed information about objects that I can compare with the view through the eyepiece. I have also created my own searchable database of my sessions and observations recording all in detail on SF which provides an end product to be proud of. Just adds “something “ to the hobby IMO

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1 hour ago, John said:

But that's exactly how I like to do astronomy :icon_biggrin:

Perhaps I am back in the dark ages though :icon_scratch:

Room for all approaches in this hobby - that's the joy of it :thumbright:

 

I absolutely see your point of view because that is the way I started out in astrophotography after many years of just observing. I began astronomy around 1960 and  astrophotography in 1990 with the scope I still have and  an old Canon AVI film camera. I would go star hopping through the scope referring to a star wall chart and doing my best to focus looking through that little through-the-lens camera viewer the size of my thumbnail. I would use the whole reel, 36 exposures, and vary the focus and exposure with ever one of them hoping that when I got the developed photos back two weeks later at least one of them would be reasonable. It’s surprising after a while how many did come out right.

Yes, it was difficult and demanding, but as I said it did teach me how to navigate my way around the night sky. 
The technology we have today has revolutionised astronomy and opened it up to a much wider base than it ever could before. How many members do you think SGL would now have if astronomy had never gone digital? I’d guess very few.

Edited by Moonshed
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3 hours ago, Luke said:

#3 Red Light Torch

Preserves my night vision yet allows me to look up targets in my astro books out in the field. My friend Bob didn't have one and he fell down a well. All’s not well that ends well!

#2 Focusers

We’ve replaced the focuser on most of our scopes. I enjoy using a good quality focuser. Bob kept his stock ones and his Radian eyepiece fell in a cow pat and ever since had a strong tint.

#1 Tele Vue Paracorr Coma Corrector

Our 10 inch dob has okay optics, but when we stick the Paracorr in, it really tidies up the view. Bob used a home-made coma corrector and thought Betelgeuse had gone supernova.

Can you please ask "Bob " never to venture into Lincolnshire? 😱😊

Dave

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33 minutes ago, Moonshed said:

I absolutely see your point of view because that is the way I started out in astrophotography after many years of just observing. I began astronomy around 1960 and  astrophotography in 1990 with an old film camera, star hopping through the scope referring to a star wall chart and doing my best to focus looking through that little camera framing lens the size of my thumbnail. I would use the whole reel, 36 exposures, and vary the focus and exposure with ever one of them hoping that when I got the developed photos back two weeks later at least one of them would be reasonable. It’s surprising after a while how many did come out right.

Yes, it was difficult and demanding, but as I said it did teach me how to navigate my way around the night sky. 
The technology we have today has revolutionised astronomy and opened it up to a much wider base than it ever could before. How many members do you think SGL would have if astronomy had never gone digital? I’d guess very few.

This thread is about our favourite accessories so that's what I posted. Mine are different to yours because the way that I like to undertake the hobby is different to you :smiley:

We could start another thread on how technology has revolutionised the hobby if you like :smiley:

 

Edited by John
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A decent star atlas, I still have my Nortons from the 70s 🙂

Lidl ironing chair, so I can sit comfortably and observe

RA finder, Saves my back and knees

Varifocal spectacles, so I can see the stars and then read the star map without changing from distance to reading glasses. Oh the joy of ageing 🙂

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2 hours ago, Moonshed said:

 Tablet.  Where would we be without our ever faithful tablets/laptops? Without them we would be back in the dark ages of astronomy, manually star hopping to find our target. No Polemaster, no looking at the image on screen, no image processing,  no stacking, no GOTO, the list is endless. (Shudder). I remember those days, everything was hard work, but I learned a lot about navigating my way about the night sky.

1. Back in the Dark Ages of Astronomy - I wish!! Bortle 1 skies for everyone, lovely!👍👍

2. Star Hopping - I love it!😁

3. No Polemaster - what's a Polemaster??:glasses12:

4. No looking at the image on screen - go and watch Netflix 😋

5. No image processing - my last experience of "image processing" was when I sent my holiday snaps to Bonusprint in 1975✌️

6. No stacking - get a job in Tesco🤭

7. No Goto - see point 2 above:hello2:

Oh, and my own favourite 3 accessories are:

- Baader T2 prism and all things T2

- Skywatcher RACI finder

- Electric Drive on my EQ mount

Dave 😊

Edited by F15Rules
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