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Spring / Summer observing


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Since I got my telescope back in Nov last year I have been enjoying the sights on the regular basis (when the cloud permits!) but at the moment I find myself in a bit of an ebb with it due to either unfavorable conditions or to little dark (yesterday didn't get anywhere near proper dark nights till 11pm). I am also restricted to only really having Friday / Saturday nights to play with at the moment and due to small kids and work during the week means I don't want to be up super late! 

What does everyone else do in these lighter months, are you staying up later to do the odd hour around midnight or up early in mornings? 

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I just make the most of what’s possible. Mercury and Venus are around currently. The Moon is always great to view, as well as double stars which don’t need full darkness. Or get into solar observing by making a filter from some Astrosolar film?

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Low power eyepiece and sweep the milky way is also a nice thing to do on T-shirt observing nights in summer. Mornings are good because of steady seeing also. 

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33 minutes ago, wibblefish said:

Since I got my telescope back in Nov last year I have been enjoying the sights on the regular basis (when the cloud permits!) but at the moment I find myself in a bit of an ebb with it due to either unfavorable conditions or to little dark (yesterday didn't get anywhere near proper dark nights till 11pm). I am also restricted to only really having Friday / Saturday nights to play with at the moment and due to small kids and work during the week means I don't want to be up super late! 

What does everyone else do in these lighter months, are you staying up later to do the odd hour around midnight or up early in mornings? 

I'll let you know when I have a few clear nights! 😆

Joking aside, I'm not a night owl so late May through to late July tend to be quiet months for me on the observing front so I hope to use the time to service my mount and, perhaps, clean my primary mirror. I like @Rob and @Stu's suggestions though.

Stu

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1 hour ago, wibblefish said:

What does everyone else do in these lighter months, are you staying up later to do the odd hour around midnight or up early in mornings? 

I am calling it "Zen and the art of Collimation".

It's getting worryingly addictive, so I will be seeking help for the condition.

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My summer plans are to work on the ST80 so that I can adjust the focuser tilt and get it properly collimated. Also, I'm going to extend the Bresser dob base so I have more room to shift the tube down the rings to help balance it with heavy eyepieces.

As for observing, I managed through the bright Scottish skies OK last year - when it was all still new and exciting (proper astro darkness had already gone when the scope arrived). Moon and planets are OK, as are bright objects. Forget the faint fuzzies, though. Must admit, the comet did help!

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I tend towards nocturnal anyway, so am happy to be up until late , with British 'Summer' Time and the short nights , the window of opportunity (if the accursed clouds ever part here for more than a 10 minute tease 😞 ) isn't great for anything dim, and apart from midnight to 2am the rest of the night is too light .

The Moon is going to get some serious scrutiny , I'll be happy to see it, which makes a change from being mildly annoyed it was spoiling my chances of seeing faint fuzzies 🙂 I downloaded the Virtual Moon Atlas which I find a big help , especially as you can flip the view to suit your 'scope, I was getting in a right pickle getting my bearings when swapping from dob to mak or frac ... and the extremely helpful 'heads up' posts of what is interesting/challenging on the night to come which more experienced folk put up on here is enormously useful too.

I'm looking forward to the return of Jupiter and Saturn to visibility my sky at a convenient time (not the current 4am) For daytime observing I have bought some of the Baader solar film, made filters for the ST80 (full aperture and cap-within-a-cap small aperture) and with them, have been lucky enough to see two sunspots and the limb darkening , all in brief cloud breaks. Not exactly stunning stuff, but a first for me . With a lot of luck, maybe the partial eclipse next month might be clear of clouds  ...

Apart from that, I have a stack of reading to do, in the hope that when I can observe more, I will have a more accurate and detailed idea of what I'm looking at !

Heather

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Similarly to Stu, I just enjoy what there is to see. I'm retired so late nights are not a problem really. I'll do some more white light solar observing now that the Sun is waking up. Lots of great deep sky targets once it does get dark.

I don't seem to have major seasonal changes in the way I observe. The targets change but it's nice to welcome each season's old friends back as well as trying to spot some new stuff  :icon_biggrin:

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I think that I'll spend most of the time making a nuisance of myself on SGL.

Like many I have work commitments , so weekday wee hours are out. I'm going to use any opportunities I have working through the suggested targets in 'Turn Left at Orion'. 

 

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I certainly don’t subscribe to the ‘pack everything away until autumn’ way of thinking. Astronomy is a year round hobby for me.

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I find a new pleasure in observing into the small hours in just shorts and a loose shirt instead of all the clobber that I put on for the winter. The night sky is still full of delights.

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13 minutes ago, Saganite said:

observing into the small hours in just shorts and a loose shirt instead

I only get the chance for shorts and a shirt for a couple of days in July. That's called 'Summer' in Cumbria😆

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I can totally agree with you wibblefish, the near no dark evenings, like others have said there's the milkway which is getting earlier now  I'm waiting for some clear mornings to image this or Jupiter and Saturn to image for when at opposition. By the end of June they are slowly getting better time wise, there's the solar eclipse to plan for, which I'm hoping yo get a trial run with my setup to make sure things are working correctly, whenever clear sky appears. But these late spring months aren't proving as productive as earlier in the year. I also plan ahead by using stellarium to plan imaging sessions later in the year also or researching. 

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So much to see in the light summer skies. - many double stars of interest, globular clusters in Ophiuchus. Some of the best views of the Milky Way can be had in the summer months. We shall not have any true darkness now until early August. The sky will be darkest to the south so a good direction to look.  I tend to go to bed early for a rest/sleep and then get up around 11.30 and enjoy a couple of hours observing. Moon sketching is fun on a warm summer evening for an hour or two after sunset. As has been said - astronomy is an all year activity.

Mike

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16 hours ago, wibblefish said:

Since I got my telescope back in Nov last year I have been enjoying the sights on the regular basis (when the cloud permits!) but at the moment I find myself in a bit of an ebb with it due to either unfavorable conditions or to little dark (yesterday didn't get anywhere near proper dark nights till 11pm). I am also restricted to only really having Friday / Saturday nights to play with at the moment and due to small kids and work during the week means I don't want to be up super late! 

What does everyone else do in these lighter months, are you staying up later to do the odd hour around midnight or up early in mornings? 

I find myself in a similar position nowadays. I started studying at night two weeks ago. I work during the day. That means I only really have time to stay up late on weekends.

The moon, and doubles are my main targets. I got to say I was never a big fan of doubles. A zoom makes it much more satisfying. 

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I'm in a simliar position also. The only chance I really have to stay up late is on the weekends due to work and daddy commitments as you mentioned. I was happy enough to get M104 at the end of April so my focus will be switching to the Moon until Jupiter and Saturn reach favourable positions to the South in the late Summer, around August into September soon after they both pass their respective oppositions. A bit hampered by housing and lighting for other targets out to the west.

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16 hours ago, Pixies said:

My summer plans are to work on the ST80 so that I can adjust the focuser tilt and get it properly collimated. Also, I'm going to extend the Bresser dob base so I have more room to shift the tube down the rings to help balance it with heavy eyepieces.

As for observing, I managed through the bright Scottish skies OK last year - when it was all still new and exciting (proper astro darkness had already gone when the scope arrived). Moon and planets are OK, as are bright objects. Forget the faint fuzzies, though. Must admit, the comet did help!

Interested to hear any tips and progress as & when you do that ST80 adjustment. Mine is still slightly out and having slackened off the lens cell I am thinking it’s a collimation job.

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Posted (edited)

Well you've certainly started a lively thread here . :)

I have the same problems as you and probably a lot of others in that i get up at 5:15 every morning , and as such , cannot afford the luxury of staying outside past midnight , at the latest . 

Factor in the weather and seeing conditions and , basically relying on clear nights on Friday and Saturdays , it does tend to frustrate and annoy in equal measures , but , we are a resourceful bunch in our hobby and observing what is in the sky at any time , yes , even before its dark is something we can do . As mentioned on here earlier , the Moon comes into its own and becomes the "star"(pun intended) of the show as its a wonderful site , especially when the light starts to fade . Lighter skies can actually be seen as a positive challenge . Try to see stars before they are visible with the eye ( using a goto helps ) . Of course there is one star that is always around during the lighter evenings and of course the daytime .. more and more people are observing the sun or so it seems ( proper filters please folks and all other precautions should be taken ) . Whilst the inner planets are visible its a great opportunity to at least catch site of them ( as has been said ) , especially little Mercury , which is usually out of sight hiding in the Suns glare . 

Of course its not as good as viewing in the clear darkness of night , but , we have to deal with what we have , and as such need to embrace the chance to even see something in the skies apart from endless cloud 

Stu

 

Edited by Stu1smartcookie
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Well, I'm retired now but have still got into getting up at about 7 in a morning but I've always found that there is things to look at in the sky, notice I haven't put 'night' in and as others have mentioned there is always objects to observe and equipment to check out. Now I've got my ASIair working I can do some practising on using it ready for autumn. I also got my homemade 6" dobsonian out the other night looking at the moon through my favourite eyepiece, my panoptic 24mm and noticed that the collimation is slightly out. There's also the partial eclipse next month to get ready for. Is everyone going to check out the weather forecast day before so to travel where it's going to be clear? So summer for our great hobby can be as rewarding as you want it to be🙄

 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

Well you've certainly started a lively thread here . :)

I have the same problems as you and probably a lot of others in that i get up at 5:15 every morning , and as such , cannot afford the luxury of staying outside past midnight , at the latest . 

 

 

I also have to get up stupidly early - 3:30-4:00 is normal for me - so occasionally it's not too much of a bother to get up at 2am as long as I go to bed early enough (also not a problem). It just depends on where the moon is at the time 'cos I only tend to do lunar and solar these days (planets don't appear above my house at the mo). Benefits of early rising - the seeing is usually much better than in the evening, and rested eyes.

Edited by Roy Challen
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18 hours ago, Clarkey said:

That's called 'Summer' in Cumbria😆.

Isn’t that just when the rain gets warmer for a few days? 🤣

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, johnst said:

 There's also the partial eclipse next month to get ready for. Is everyone going to check out the weather forecast day before so to travel where it's going to be clear? So summer for our great hobby can be as rewarding as you want it to be🙄

 

I've taken a punt the sun will be shining and booked annual leave on 10/06. 7.5 hours leave for ten minutes observing... The things we do... Luckily NHS leave entitlement is quite generous. 👍 Americans will be aghast! 😁

 

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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