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My first night with my new scope


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Well, I finally manage to get a look through my new (as in "to me") scope on Sunday night.

I'd been up in Essex to visit rellies for the weekend and got back Sunday lunchtime. With the prospect of getting up at 5am for selling at a Bank Holiday Monday boot sale, I was hoping for clear skies, but couldn't spend long observing. I'd checked the collimation by eye and it seemed to require no adjustment, so it was just a question of setting both the scope (Konusmotor130) and my 1100mm lens (russian MTO 1000A mirror) on separate tripods in my back garden and waiting for dark and Jupiter and the Moon to hove over the trees on the eastern horizon.

While I was waiting, the ISS was due right across at 20:40 (ish), so I set up the Canon 5D DSLR and began waiting with great anticipation. Catching the ISS in the 1100mm lens proved quite a lot more difficult than I thought but, more by luck than judgement, I blundered into it and, once caught, I found it relatively easy to keep track. The difficult bit was focusing and taking an absolute guess at the right exposure :o. Managed to get this shot though.

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With the ISS out of the way, I did a rough polar alignment (up a bit and left a bit from Polaris) and soon discovered that the tripod on my scope has quite a bit of flex in the joints connecting the mount to the top of the legs. Not much point in getting too fussy over the alignment then. It did enable me to line up the finder though.

With the glow of the moon beginning to show, I got my first sight of Jupiter through the garden trellis and the very young trees which border my garden fence. I managed to locate it in the scope with the 30mm eyepiece and the newly adjusted red dot finder before switching to the 10mm (that's the only two eyepieces I have). Must say it was pretty impressive, with three moons strung out like little sparks and the fourth (Calisto) just visible outside the main planetary disk. I couldn't see any bands of colour or any detail in Jupiter itself - hmmm, perhaps I need some filters? At this point I switched the tracking motor on and it lasted about 30 seconds before failing. Damn! Still, I spent a good few more minutes feasting my eyes on Jupiter, keeping it in frame by hand, until the trellis and then the large inconveniently located tree in the field behind the house got in the way.

By now though, the moon was also rising above the trellis and made a fine sight in the scope. With the 30mm eyepiece I could see the whole disk and lots of detail, but with the 10mm only portions of the disk were visible and great detail within. Because it was fairly low on the horizon, there was a fair degree of heat haze making the detail shimmer, but a great deal of interest in that detail. Might have to start learning the moon's surface as well as the constellations!

I took a few shots using the 1100mm and then added a newly selected 2x tele-converter which seems to match the lens a bit better. With a fair bit of sharpening and level adjustment these are the best two.

martyn_bannister-albums-astro_20100829-picture6383-moon1100-2.jpg

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By now it had just gone 10pm, but Jupiter was out from behind the inconvenient tree. The moons still sparkled and Calisto seeemed even closer to the disk. Must say it looked very nice. I took a couple of more pictures and then turned my attention to some stars.

martyn_bannister-albums-astro_20100829-picture6386-jupiter-2.jpg

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Must say that I wasn't so impressed by these. I have no idea which ones I was looking at and, as one would expect, they were just points of light and manually tracking them was becoming a pain. I need to find some more interesting sights outside of our solar system or at least identify something before targetting it.

Bearing in mind my early start next morning I then decided to call it a night. Lessons learnt though :-

** Eye relief is very important for an eyepiece

** So is getting the eyepiece at the right height. Observing when stooped over or standing on tiptoe is uncomfortable.

** When you adjust the height of the tripod, you lose the polar alignment (at least on my setup)

** Stars and planets move very quickly (yes, I know, it's me moving) and getting the tracking motor fixed is todays priority.

** Focusing wasn't too difficult on the Moon or Jupiter, but the stars are a bit more fiddly.

** It gets cold standing out in the open, even at this time of year

I was far too tired to use the scope last night, but here's hoping for tonight.

Sorry to bore everyone with this longwinded tale, which is all old hat to the more experienced out there. Thought I might tell the story anyway, to show off the pictures and also for the benefit of any newbies who are thinking of looking upwards. I certainly think it's worth it :)

Edited by Martyn_Bannister
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Thanks for the encouragement guys.

I have learnt a lot more from the September Observing session with SCAG on the 4th. Many thanks to Russ, Tim, Shaun and Harry :blob10:

Unfortunately, since then very little in the way of clear skys. Risked buying a 30mm wide angle eyepiece from ebay, only to find I was delivered of an 11mm one which was basically useless. Got a full refund straight away and I'm currently in negotiation with the seller as to whether I post it back or bin it, it's that bad :). Moral - caveat emptor.

One other thing I have done is rejig an old webcam I had lying around and fitted that to the scope. Only used it terrestrially enough to find out that the web cam is pants, so I am off to argos to buy a Bush 2MP device that's up for £25. Looks like a good deal. Have to see how it performs before ripping it to bits.

Oh, and my improved barn door mount is getting nearer completion, so some Milky Way shots should be in the offing.

Thanks again, take care all.

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This might be too late but before you go and spend £25 on an Argos webcam, take a look in the for sale section of the forum where TopHouse is selling brand new philips spc900nc webcams for under £32.

These are the successors to the ever popular Toucam and really cannot be beaten for budget planetary imaging. You may have wait a few days though as he has a lot of people after tem, including me :blob10:

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This might be too late but before you go and spend £25 on an Argos webcam, take a look in the for sale section of the forum where TopHouse is selling brand new philips spc900nc webcams for under £32.

These are the successors to the ever popular Toucam and really cannot be beaten for budget planetary imaging. You may have wait a few days though as he has a lot of people after tem, including me :blob10:

Darn it, already spent my money and started taking it apart :hello2: Thanks for the tip off though!

Lets hope the Bush one is better. It apparently has a true 2MP sensor :)

Edited by Martyn_Bannister
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Sounds like a brilliant first night to me, best thing about this hobby, there's always sooo much more, as one thing leads to another anonwards (is that actually a word???).

I like the moon pics, there's been much worse efforts posted and they were still chuffed with their first efforts. (Rightly so).

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Sounds like a brilliant first night to me, best thing about this hobby, there's always sooo much more, as one thing leads to another anonwards (is that actually a word???).

I like the moon pics, there's been much worse efforts posted and they were still chuffed with their first efforts. (Rightly so).

Sorry. Maybe I'm being over critical, but my efforts are woefully lacking in sharpness and contrast (as well as detail). As you say though, the goal is there, I'm still hoping to improve enough to score in it :D

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Martyn, great report. Nothing boring in the detail my friend. I for one find these reports compelling reading as they're full of useful insight. :D

I also understand why you're quite critial, I am with my own stuff too. That is I think why we do it - to improve, to push it just a bit further :eek:

I love the Moon shots.

Mark

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Sorry. Maybe I'm being over critical, but my efforts are woefully lacking in sharpness and contrast (as well as detail). As you say though, the goal is there, I'm still hoping to improve enough to score in it :D

Nothing wrong with self criticism, it gives some thing to aim for.

Spare a thought for people who get set up and then don't get a result, how must that feel.

I'm dreading first light with my webcam, if I get any result I'll be well chuffed and I'll post it on SGL for some honest criticism, it's always constructive.

I think you did well and a good report to go with it.

I classify good as better than I could do. :eek:

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