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Rookie Mistakes


Froglord

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I took the 127 Mak into the back garden last night for a quick look at the stars.

Towards the end of the session I thought I'd have a look at the Orion Nebula. Found it in the finderscope, switched to the main scope and ... no, nothing. Moved the AZ mount around a bit, found some stars, moved back to M42 in the finder. Still nothing from the scope. I repeated this several times.

Clouds? No. Alignment? No. Fogging of the eyepiece? No. For several minutes I was mystified.

It turns out the finderscope was just clearing the garden fence and the Mak ... wasn't.

I put it down to the cold!

Anyone else care to share their rookie mistakes? You'd be doing us all a great public service, after all.

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I was keen to get a good image of Saturn but was unable to see it from my back garden. Moved all the gear piece by piece to the front garden. Set up the table and placed the laptop on it. Got my swivel typist chair. Ran the extension lead and plugged everything in. Did the polar alignment with PoleMaster. Focused on a star using a Bahtinov mask. All set to go. Switched on the laptop to run the FireCapture program only for it to begin installing the latest updates that I was unable to stop, all because I had forgotten to install them earlier in the day when I knew they were waiting. By the time that was finished Saturn was behind a neighbour’s house.

Say no more.

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I remember an event that was actually funny in that it was a stupid thing I did. We were on holiday on the Scottish east coast somewhere and the sky was a pretty good dark sky site. I decided to place my camera on the ground and take a one hour time exposure of the amazing sky. The camera had no timing mechanism (this was many years ago) so it was a case of retrieving it after an hour and closing the shutter. One hour later we returned to the spot only to realise we couldn’t remember exactly where we placed it, and with it being so pitch black it really didn’t matter anyway. We eventually gave up and found it next morning, covered in dew but otherwise in good condition, more than could be said for the pure white very overexposed photo! Not one of my best astrophotographs.

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I've had plenty, one example was excitedly and carefully mapping out a bunch of the less frequently observed galaxies around Ursa Major  for observing one night  from my light polluted back garden. It was a total failure, I didnt see a single thing on my target list even though I hunted them all down one at a time to the right spots, my excitement meaning I failed to spot the emerging pattern.  None of them were realistically doable in those conditions but I didn't know that back then.

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Forgetting to cover or remove my RDF from the OTA whilst photographing/viewing the 1999 solar eclipse.

Even though an RDF does not magnify, it certainly makes sense to cover/remove it. I had a sore/tender forehead for a few days.

BTW… I do have and had a solar finder attached to the OTA at the time too!

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4 hours ago, Kobayashi Maru said:

Purchased new telescope when I’m wanting to do a lot of observing…clouds….so many fking clouds. Get a clear night after weeks of clouds. Set alarm for 2am. Woke up to observe…full moon. 

Well, at least you had one target to observe!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looking at the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus. Was in garden, clouds were coming through and at one point I thought that I was done. Looked through the trusty Mak 90 and Jupiter had disappeared. Looked up... Completely visible. I was confused. Looked through scope, no Jupiter. 

It was at this point that I realised that a single frond of a very spiky palm tree thing was sticking up and just managing to perfectly cover Jupiter! 

My viewing pleasure was restored following the judicious application of secateurs to the offending frond... 

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I can no longer drive due to health reasons so I got a friend and neighbor to drop me off at a dark site 2 hours away. I had arranged to be picked up in 4 hours time. As I watched his rear lights disappear in the distance I had the shock horror of realization that I had left my eyepiece case in my hallway with my mobile balanced on top. My most miserable 4 hours ever.

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  In 2005 I arranged to meet a couple of friends at a dark sky site a good number of miles away, and so loaded my FS128, Celestron/Losmsndy G11, power supply and eyepieces into my car. I put on my full length quilted, waterproof, windproof gear and Yeti boots, and set off. On arriving I set up the tripod and mount, connected the power supply, then before attaching the FS128 tube assembly to the mount I searched for the counterweight. No counterweight! :cussing:  I had to spend the night begging to take a sneaky peek through the eyepieces of my friends scopes, while my superlative FS128 lay shivering on the back seat of my car.:crybaby2: (I only made that mistake once)!

  On another occasion I was observing with Paulastro from his garden, I left the lid of my eyepiece box very slightly ajar throughout the night.  At the end of the night I closed the lid, drove home, and didn't look in my eyepiece box again until the next clear night which was several days down the line. To my horror all my beautiful XW eyepieces were swimming with the dew that had formed on them several days before. They were capped of course, but the eyepiece bodies and the foam were now wet and needed to be dried thoroughly.  (I've only made that mistake once)!

  Again, while observing with Paulastro from his garden, I carelessly placed my eyepiece case containing Naglers, Ethos, and XW's on the driveway. Part way through the night Paul's darling wife drove into the driveway. We both watched,  as if in slow motion she used my eyepiece case as a chock for her front passenger wheel. If youve ever heard a woman scream - well that's what I sounded like, as Paul fell about laughing - again! Fortunately the case and its contents were unharmed. Paul's wife said she hadn't seen the case and then told my "well it's a silly place to leave it anyway". I couldn't really argue! Deep down though I've wondered if she did it as payback for all the lip I've given her over the years???:icon_mrgreen: (I only made that mistake once)!

  One mistake I keep on making however, is listening to my best mate and fellow visual observer paulastro. One evening Paul phoned me to tell me that Takahashi have once again started production of their 4" fluorite refractors. He went on at length about how wonderful they'ed be, knowing full well just how much I love Tak, and then added "I've ordered one"!  After the phonecall ended I went on line to read about this new fluorite scope, then thought "If he's having one then so am I"  The problem was that I'd no spare cash and so to fund the venture I'd need to sell a lot of my gear. Within 24 hours I'd sold everything but my XW's. Then the phone rang - It was Paul. "What are you selling all your gear for"? I told him that if he's having a Tak then I'm having a Tak, and that the only way I could do so was to pretty much sell everything.  There was a deathly silence followed by an explosion of uncontrolled laughter. Then in a Brummi twang "I was only joking, I haven't really ordered a Tak. I just wanted to see how you'd react."   I can't remember what I said exactly but it probably would need censoring. It's really hard to be angry at someone who is laughing so uncontrollably that they're almost losing consciousness, so I ended up laughing along with him until my sides ached and I got cramp in my jaw.  (Will I ever learn? Probably not!)

Edited by mikeDnight
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In my VERY early days, finding targets was challenging. I had a 130mm newt with a a red dot finder. One night, I really wanted to get my first look at Andromeda to clock up my first galaxy observation. Things weren’t going well so I took my smartphone with an astro app in compass mode. With one arm at full length, holding the smartphone in the direction of M31, as guided by the app, I then attempted to point the RDF at the smartphone in the place it showed M31. My plan wasn’t without merit but alas M31 was not observed that night. 

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1 hour ago, wookie1965 said:

Went to Galloway star party 4.5 hrs drive started to unpack found we had not brought our clothes with us all we had was what we came in no thermals nothing.

Now I've a mental picture of you wearing "no thermals - nothing"! :Envy: 

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5 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

  In 2005 I arranged to meet a couple of friends at a dark sky site a good number of miles away, and so loaded my FS128, Celestron/Losmsndy G11, power supply and eyepieces into my car. I put on my full length quilted, waterproof, windproof gear and Yeti boots, and set off. On arriving I set up the tripod and mount, connected the power supply, then before attaching the FS128 tube assembly to the mount I searched for the counterweight. No counterweight! :cussing:  I had to spend the night begging to take a sneaky peek through the eyepieces of my friends scopes, while my superlative FS128 lay shivering on the back seat of my car.:crybaby2: (I only made that mistake once)!

  On another occasion I was observing with Paulastro from his garden, I left the lid of my eyepiece box very slightly ajar throughout the night.  At the end of the night I closed the lid, drove home, and didn't look in my eyepiece box again until the next clear night which was several days down the line. To my horror all my beautiful XW eyepieces were swimming with the dew that had formed on them several days before. They were capped of course, but the eyepiece bodies and the foam were now wet and needed to be dried thoroughly.  (I've only made that mistake once)!

  Again, while observing with Paulastro from his garden, I carelessly placed my eyepiece case containing Naglers, Ethos, and XW's on the driveway. Part way through the night Paul's darling wife drove into the driveway. We both watched,  as if in slow motion she used my eyepiece case as a chock for her front passenger wheel. If youve ever heard a woman scream - well that's what I sounded like, as Paul fell about laughing - again! Fortunately the case and its contents were unharmed. Paul's wife said she hadn't seen the case and then told my "well it's a silly place to leave it anyway". I couldn't really argue! Deep down though I've wondered if she did it as payback for all the lip I've given her over the years???:icon_mrgreen: (I only made that mistake once)!

  One mistake I keep on making however, is listening to my best mate and fellow visual observer paulastro. One evening Paul phoned me to tell me that Takahashi have once again started production of their 4" fluorite refractors. He went on at length about how wonderful they'ed be, knowing full well just how much I love Tak, and then added "I've ordered one"!  After the phonecall ended I went on line to read about this new fluorite scope, then thought "If he's having one then so am I"  The problem was that I'd no spare cash and so to fund the venture I'd need to sell a lot of my gear. Within 24 hours I'd sold everything but my XW's. Then the phone rang - It was Paul. "What are you selling all your gear for"? I told him that if he's having a Tak then I'm having a Tak, and that the only way I could do so was to pretty much sell everything.  There was a deathly silence followed by an explosion of uncontrolled laughter. Then in a Brummi twang "I was only joking, I haven't really ordered a Tak. I just wanted to see how you'd react."   I can't remember what I said exactly but it probably would need censoring. It's really hard to be angry at someone who is laughing so uncontrollably that they're almost losing consciousness, so I ended up laughing along with him until my sides ached and I got cramp in my jaw.  (Will I ever learn? Probably not!)

Well Mike, we've really had some laughs together, but you've forgetting to mention one of the best.  I'm thinking of the time after you had just bought the FS128, and brought it up to The Astronomy Centre  one evening - having previously told me on the phone that you had star tested it and it was a load of 'rubbish' (I'm not allowed to mention the actual words you used to me on SGL).  Also, that having given the seller an earful the scope was re-boxed ready to be collected the next day by courier.

As this thread is about confessing our own mistakes (I've made more than I can possibly remember )  I'll leave it up to you if you want to complete the story 😊.

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It is said curiosity killed the cat.

As a ten year old my parents bought me a telescope, a terrestrial job but nonetheless I was absolutely awed by the sight of the moon, jupiter, a comet (forget the name) and other stuff. I mean ABSOLUTELY awed. However being always curious, I dismantled the scope, a lot of tiny lenses positioned with springs shot out of the eyepiece end and I never managed to reassemble it. I was very upset, nearly as much as my parents - money was very tight and the scope had been a big spend. Many years intervened before I could earn and buy another real telescope, but the first sights of the heavens had never left me. I'm proud to say that pursuing the interest also led my son into catching the bug. the head teacher told me in amazement how he once asked him a question and was given an hour long lecture about astronomy, by an 8 year old. Bright lad is my son.

Re. curiosity killing the cat, as a youngster I opened the back of a television and stuck my hand in. I must have contacted the HT around the tube because I was catapulted across the room (luckily, rather than stuck to it) somewhat tearful and stunned. I have actually had a charmed life because that is far from the only such event.

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14 minutes ago, paulastro said:

Well Mike, we've really had some laughs together, but you've forgetting to mention one of the best.  I'm thinking of the time after you had just bought the FS128, and brought it up to The Astronomy Centre  one evening - having previously told me on the phone that you had star tested it and it was a load of 'rubbish' (I'm not allowed to mention the actual words you used to me on SGL).  Also, that having given the seller an earful the scope was re-boxed ready to be collected the next day by courier.

As this thread is about confessing our own mistakes (I've made more than I can possibly remember )  I'll leave it up to you if you want to complete the story 😊.

 I doubt anyone would be interested, but just for the sake of closure: The FS128 on first light gave the best view of Jupiter and the worst stat image I'd seen to that date. I did give poor Nick Hudson grief, but as the courier didn't turn up I decided to take the scope to my local astronomy club to get backing from my friends.  I must have had a face like thunder as I walked up the hill to the observatory with the Tak over my shoulder.  Paul, along with Gain  and a whole bunch of other faithful friends proceeded to collapse on the grass and roll around in sheep droppings in uncontrolled laughter. I was the only person in the world unfortunate enough to buy the one bad Takahashi FS128. Peter Drew took the scope off me and mounted it on a Vixen GP. I encouraged all to gather round and see just how bad the star image was. My friend Derek was at my side giving moral support, after all he was witness to the poor star image. Then Peter after focusing the scope on Vega turned and looked at me and said "I can't see anything wrong with that. It looks perfect to me." I stepped over the pack of laughing Hyena's now wetting themselves even more at the news it was a perfect scope that I'd almost sent back, and looking into the eyepiece saw a perfect Vega.

 

Gain with my FS128 at the Astronomy Centre Todmorden. 

 IMG_20230319_1718182.thumb.jpg.ded333795480c22155b0db8c4d215f54.jpg

 

From left to right:  Paul (paulastro), Gain, Yours truly, and Derek. At the first Practical Astronomy Show at Kettering.

IMG_7887.JPG.6e5b41e585f3a6b2b6c706f11d5ca400.JPG

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4 minutes ago, Mr H in Yorkshire said:

I am, what was it that you'd done or not, to see such a bad star image in a perfect scope?

I'm still not sure, but Vega in the east appeared like a motionless blotch. There was no shimmer due to heat or turbulence, which I'd have have expected had it been a heat plume. It looked like the star image seen in a Schmidt Cassegrain, not a top class refractor. I should have known better, as the scopes planetary definition was outstanding, and fine planetary definition is a major indicator of optical quality.  A similar thing occurred in April 2017 when suddenly Jupiter lost definition all of a sudden. There was no heat, turbulence, or shimmer, just a stationary blur as if frozen. It wasn't until the next day that I noticed  that Jupiter had been directly over a chimney. Perhaps the gentle heat of a boiler pilot light was enough to damage the view? Similarly, the star seen through the FS128 on its first night had been over a conservatory situated a block away. Seeing no turbulence is what baffled my and my friend Derek. It never occured to me to look at a second star! Thick or what!!!?

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1 hour ago, mikeDnight said:

It looked like the star image seen in a Schmidt Cassegrain, not a top class refractor.

I see! We will say no more about it, but just so you know I am not angry, just very disappointed!

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