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Report 31.03/01.04


Tantalus
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31st March/1st April 2010

Helios 120mm f8

20mm Plossl (50x)

10mm Plossl (100x)

7.5mm Plossl (133x)

It was below zero outside and I was tempted to stay in the warm, but this will be my first opportunity in over a week and I'm fast learning that it the UK, it never really pays to miss a viewing opportunity.

01:00 (BST) The Moon was a few degress above the neighbour's fence. Started of with a look at Plato, then down to Copernicus with 10, then 7.5mm. Copernicus stood out brightly with it's beard of ejecta extending out in all directions and giving it a nice 3D appearance. Reinhold below it looked quite similar, but smaller. Then NW to Aristarchus and Herodotus, and could also make out Schiaparelli further W. I only managed about 30 minutes on the Moon before it disappeared behind the neighbour's chimney. The Moon's brightness had temporarily 'overloaded' my right eye, so I made a cup of tea (by a red light) whilst my vision recovered.

02:00 Back outside again. The combination of moon glow and lp made seeing difficult and from my back yard I can only see the eastern half of the sky. The summer triangle of Deneb, Vega and Altair was rising in the east and I didn't have a pre-prepared list of targets, so I ran the telescope from Deneb, through Cygnus towards Vega. Saw epsilon Lyrae but can't split the two pairs with this scope. Then down towards Sheliak (beta Lyrae) and Sulafat (gamma Lyrae). I was surprised, given the light pollution and Lyra's low altitude (34 deg Alt), that I could see the grey smoke-ring-like M57 quite clearly with the 20mm, and then 10mm eyepieces. Then my viewing was rudely interrupted by a police helicopter which circled around for maybe 20 minutes, waking the neighbour's dog (a large, ageing Rottweiler) in the process. I then got distracted following a couple of satellites (I think the second one might've been RS15, according to Stellarium). By now it was around 03:30 and the cold was starting to bite at my fingers, and some broken clouds were coming in from the west, so I ended the night with a last look at M57, then the lovely gold and blue pairing of Albireo. The colour of Albireo A stood out really well, like a little gold nugget in the darkness. The blue of Albireo B was not quite so obvious.

All in all I thought the scope performed quite well. There was some slight colour fringing on the moon's limb, but not excessive, or at least not to my untrained eye, even with the 7.5mm Plossl. M57 showed up well with a hint of detail at 50x, and good enough at 100x. But I found this scope on an EQ3-2 with aluminium tripod a bit jittery and even at 50x magnification getting a sharp focus wasn't that easy. Tomorrow I'm going to try slackening the focuser off to see if that helps. Maybe some larger focuser knobs would help with fine focusing? And even though the supplied Plossls gave me some good views, I'm hoping some better quality eyepieces, filters, a planetary ep and/or a good barlow can help push this scope a bit further.

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I am surprised you could not split the lyra double with a 120mm. Try again when it is higher in the sky? It is tough but shoudl be possible...

Nice report. It was cold..I was out but earlier in the evening before that bright moon came up!

Mark

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Nice report :(

Epsilon Lyrae should look something like this with your scope at high power:

http://www.perezmedia.net/beltofvenus/archives/images/2006/img2006090401_EpsilonLYR.jpg

I think the best upgrade you could give your scope would be to replace that aluminium tripod - it's just not up to the 120mm F/8.3 tube assembly. I tried that scope on an EQ3-2 which had steel tube legs that there was a significant reduction in vibrations and wobble. The EQ5 / HEQ5 steel tube tripod fits the EQ3-2 mount or you could make some hardwood legs.

It was only when I got my long refractors on decent mounts that I started to appreciate what capable scopes they were :D

Edited by John
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I agree aluminium tripods are rubbish get your self a nice wooden one and you will notice the difference straight away.

Nice report though please keep posting them as I love reading reports.

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Thanks for the replies guys. I managed to snag a bargain second hand CG5 mount at the weekend - just awaiting delivery. Then I have to decide whether I'm gonna (try and) make a wooden tripod or pier.

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Thanks for the replies guys. I managed to snag a bargain second hand CG5 mount at the weekend - just awaiting delivery. Then I have to decide whether I'm gonna (try and) make a wooden tripod or pier.

I have a CG5 with the 2" steel tripod and I've just bought a 16" pillar extension for it. It's a very solid mount and holds my 6" F/8 refractor pretty well for visual use.

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UPDATE 7/8th Apr:

Tonight there's been some good viewing and Jahmanson's link above spurred me on to have another crack at the double-double epsilon Lyrae. After some judicious tweaking of the focus (and much wobbling of the mount) I finally managed to see all four components clearly. :p

THANKS JAHMANSON :)

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