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#6570756 Some Personal Thoughts—From an Old Timer (A Really Old Timer)

Posted by GeneT on 03 May 2015 - 02:02 PM

Today I turned 72 years of age.

 

     For 70 of those 72 years, I have been looking up at the sky. When I was two, my grandmother took me out to her back porch in Minnewaukan, North Dakota, (a town of about 500) pointed up into the dark Mag 7 skies and said, ‘look at the beautiful stars.’ I had no idea of what I was seeing. All I knew was that the dark night sky was an amazingly beautiful site. From that time forward, I have always checked out the night sky every chance I could.

 

     Over these years, a lot of hobbies have come and gone. Photography, back in the days when there was film, I used to develop my own negatives and print up my own positives from them. Color was too complicated, and too expensive in most cases. I took up shooting pistols and rifles and listening to short wave radio and music (led a dance band in high school playing tenor sax, and bassoon in the orchestra) and played basketball in high school. Boy Scouts took center stage, earning my Star award. Then I discovered girls, and all those hobbies went away—except for girls and astronomy. I found that the young ladies also liked looking up at the night sky and were interested in learning about its various objects. I also discovered that there is nothing like being out in a dark sky, to set a romantic mood.

 

     Astronomy is the only hobby that has remained with me over the past 70 years. In 1946, when I was three, my mother, a school teacher, moved us to Ely, Nevada, a town of about 5,000. A hill blocked the downtown sky at night, and again, I had Mag 6.5 to 7 skies—just outside my back door. One cold February night, a friend asked me if I would like to join him and his son (a friend of mine) to drive to the mining town of Ruth, Nevada to look through a telescope. I was 10 years old. I had never looked through a telescope. The owner had just purchased a 3.5 inch Questar and he did not know how to use it. The moon was about half full. I looked through the eyepiece and saw only a bright white glob, with no detail.

 

     Then, I saw a little knob near the eyepiece. I turned it—and suddenly the moon with all its glory of craters, rills, and plains popped into view. I was absolutely stunned. I have never forgotten that first view through the telescope. I read somewhere that the human brain loses about 25 thousand brain cells a day. At age 72, I don’t know how many I left. However, that first look at the moon through the Questar has forever seared that image into my mind.

 

     Sam Brown’s book All About Telescopes took a young person through some excellent information about astronomy; Leslie Peltier’s book Starlight Nights fueled my desire to keep looking up. Now, several large bookshelves are full of astronomy books, star atlases, and star maps. More recently, some computer programs and Tablet apps, continue to serve me well.

 

     Back in the days that I lived in Ely, Nevada, many of the people had limited financial means. I could not afford to subscribe to Sky and Telescope, so I went to the library each month to read it. A telescope was also out of my family’s financial reach to buy one. In the comics I liked to read, I saw the ads for a 3 inch reflector, for $29.95, that would show craters on the moon, the rings of Saturn, and other sky objects. If I wanted a telescope, I would have to pay for it. I was leery that the 3 inch telescope would do all that the ads claimed. At age 15, I drooled over the ads in Sky and Telescope for Unitron refractors and reflectors in the four to 16 inch category. I was drawn to a four inch, F10 Dynascope ad. It had an equatorial mount. Electric clock drive was not yet available for most telescopes. It listed for $79.95. I could not afford the telescope. I worked all summer mowing lawns at a dollar a pop. I had already saved up about $20 shoveling walks the winter before. At 6,400 feet above sea level, Ely gets quite cold. If does not snow that often, but enough so I could make some money shoveling walks. Finally, I had the $79.95 plus delivery costs saved up. I sent off for the telescope. It arrived in perfect condition.

 

     In dark, pristine skies, you can see a lot even with a small aperture telescope. Today light pollution is so bad that many of us live in Mag 3 skies, and even after driving for 20 miles or so, we still only have Mag 5 or so skies. Back in the 1950’s, I was viewing with a four incher in Mag 6.5 to 7 skies. I was viewing the moon, planets, clusters, a few brighter galaxies and nebula, and found that there were numerous double stars that I could split with that small instrument. There was no astronomy club that I could join, but I did have a friend who lived about a block away who also shared a deep interest in astronomy. He and I had numerous sleep-overs in the summer where we stayed up most of the evening looking at sky objects.

 

     These are some of my best memories of this great hobby that gives so much positive energy to my life. Looking up at the stars connect the 70 years of my life through both the good times and the bad. I graduated from high school in Ely, but had to sell my little four incher to pay for some books when attending the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City. I could not afford another telescope for several more years. Life’s journey took me through a divorce, but then I found and remarried the woman of my dreams and was blessed with two wonderful daughters and two sons. They in turn blessed Jeannie and I with three wonderful granddaughters and two grandsons. After 28 years serving in the Air Force, we found ourselves back living in San Antonio. I went through several other telescopes over the years, but ended up with a 12.5 inch, F5 Portaball, as my final telescope.

 

     The night skies has provided my life continuity, and brought me peace and joy second only to that provided by my wife, children, and grandchildren. The night skies and its stellar views were a constant in my life, no matter where the Air Force assigned me. The night skies were a constant in my life through a divorce, the ups and downs of the economy, illnesses and life’s good times. I was born at the end of World War II, remember the Korean War, the Kennedy assignation, Water Gate, the Vietnam War, the dot.com bust, the more recent financial downturns, and recoveries, and the more recent wars in the Middle East.

 

     Auriga, Orion, Pegasus, Andromeda, Lyra, Hercules, Ursa Major and Minor, Canis Major and Minor, Leo and others were my best friends. They could be counted on to march across the heavens, and return at their appointed times, and places. The planets and moon more randomly wandered through the constellations to provide some interesting relief. But, over the years, the starry skies became my best friends—friends that could always be counted on.

 

     More recently, I have a friend who approached me and said, ‘if you ever want to sell your Portaball, I would like to buy it.’ What she was getting at was, ‘when you die, have your wife call me. I would like to buy your Portaball.’ However, my daughter Stacy beat her to it. Stacy said, ‘dad, when you die, can I have your telescope?’ I said sure. My wife and I have talked about one day dying, and wanted our children to know that death is not something that we are afraid of.

 

     We are at peace with our religious faith and have told our children that death is just part of the cycle of life. We told our children that death is just part of life’s journey. We have told our children that our deaths one day will result in helping to make up the contents of more new stars as we take our places in the heavens.

 

     However, it is great knowing that my children have also grown to love the night sky with one of them wanting my telescope. Before those two offers, I was thinking of having the Portaball buried with me. However, there are state and federal laws to contend with, plus even if that could happen, I probably would have to buy two grave sites. I am happy that one of my daughters will carry on the hobby of astronomy with the telescope that brought her dad so much pleasure.

 

     What Stacy doesn't know is that along with the telescope, she will also get a 21,13, 8, 6, and 4.7 Ethos; a 10, 8, and 6 Delos, a 9 Hutech, an 8 Brandon, a 7 TMB supermono, 5 XO and other eyepieces. I will leave her instructions in my will about the value of those eyepieces, and knowing her, she will keep and treasure those eyepieces, along with my 12.5 inch Portaball, the rest of her life.

 

     Old age is creeping up on me. I have to be careful when driving at night. I can’t drive and talk at the same time because my mind wanders. Testosterone shots and Viagra help keep me going. Although my telescope is very portable, it now is getting more challenging to load, set it up, and take down. I don’t know how long I will be able to do so.

 

     However, the night skies will always be there and beautiful to behold—even if I am limited to the one power views of my eyes. That’s all the ancients had and they marveled at the night sky for thousands of years, before the advent of optics and telescopes.

 

     I have lived a blessed, full life. I hope to live a few more years—before I eventually turn to dust, and take my place in the heavens, to become the stuff of stars.

 

Gene Townsend
San Antonio, TX


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#7164300 Is an 80mm good for planetary?

Posted by BillP on 15 April 2016 - 09:52 PM

I often read others say that planetary observing does not get "interesting" until you get to 120 to 130mm of aperture, or that an 80mm and even a 100mm scope is too small for this odd thing called "serious planetary" :lol: .  Well, all I have to say to that is poppycock ... and please don't any newbies listen to that kind of advice!

 

So tonight it is very clear and steady, but it's Friday and I just didn't feel like the hassle of one of my larger scopes.  I keep the Vixen 81S Apo next to the back door mounted on a Porta II and when I looked at that I just smiled. 

 

Rear Quarter Shot (web).jpg

 

OK, what to observe?  Well the Moon is out and could get some nice terminator action, but Jupiter is right there too.  I decided to start with the less bright Jupiter.  On the Vixen I had my Baader Zeiss 1.25" T2 prism diagonal and put my 25mm Sterling Plossl in to find my target.  Once acquired I moved immediately to my 6.5mm Morpheus which would give me about 100x, so a nice starting magnification for this large planet.  I was greeted with a beautiful view and even at 100x could clearly see four primary belts plus nice gradations of shading in both polar regions and one of Jupiter's moons was just outside Jupiter's disk casting a beautiful jett black shadow onto NEB.

 

The scope was of course fully acclimated as it is 80mm and had been cooling for more than 60 seconds, so I moved to the 4.5mm Morpheus for almost 140x.  WoW was I treated to a glorious view of Jupiter.  Now NEB was clearly showing its knotty structure, SEB was showing its nicely undulating upper and lower boundaries and internal the whitish separations within the belt were clearly showing.  NTB and STB were also nicely defined and within NTB there appeared to be either a dark knot or perhaps a barge.  I also like how this season SSTeZ and NNTeZ are both so clearly showing and appear very prominently lighter in hue than the contrasting belts and polar regions they are near.  SSTeZ I felt was particularly interesting as it was just so much wider than I am used to seeing it from years past.  Watching the shadow of the moon move across the lower region of NEB was also a treat, and as time marched on I began to see a disturbance in the corner of SEB.  After a few minutes it was obvious that GRS was making it around into site.  And as it came more into view, it also clearly showed a ruddy orange color and the white separation around GRS into the SEB was clearly visible, as was that the GRS itself was not uniform in hue but darker and lighter in different sections.  Finally I moved to observing the moons themselves and the color of Ganymede was just so different and a had a nice orange-yellow character to it.  It was actually quite interesting to observe being noticeably larger and of a different color than the other moons.

 

After spending some time with Jupiter I moved to Luna and was quite moved at the clarity and level of detail.  I always enjoy the several mountain formations just outside of Plato on the Maria and today they were showing super clear and bright.  Montes Teneriffe was being bisected by the Terminator but still could see lots of bumps and structure to what was showing.  Mons Pico and Pico 3 were also appearing super bright and white with good structure and detail.  I just love these little mounds, their shapes, and how they are so bright white on the background of the Maria floor.  I then decided to go Bino for a while and popped in the APM 2.7x ED Barlow with my WO Binoviewers with the standard LOA-21 eyepieces without the 3D arrays.  This configuration gets me close to 90x which was plenty to show lots of details for some long term observing, later adding a small extension to get that setup to 110x.  Not being able to push this setup to much higher magnifications, I then switched back to mono viewing and put the APM 2.7x in with the 9mm Morpheus for about 190x and this was just perfect!  Details were exploding everywhere and image scale was nicely large.  With this more magnification I moved to another favorite lunar target, the mountains around crater Chinge-Te (i.e., Noth Massif, South Massif, Sculptured Hills, others).  At almost 200x in the little 81mm Apo all these mountains very clearly showed their heights above the lunar floor and visually appeared as little towers in the region.  Overall, a beautiful sight and very satisfying observation.

 

I could go on and on as I kept switching back and forth between Jupiter and the Moon.  This very capable lunar and planetary telescope, the Vixen 81S Apo, was providing a wealth of details, all sharply etched, and a satisfyingly rock steady view.  So are small 80mm scopes unworthy of being considered planetary instruments?  Resoundingly NO I say!  So if you are thinking of getting a small scope for planetary observing, don't be swayed by the ramblings of the aperture addicts.  A little 80mm in good seeing provides a wonderful level of planetary detail and can easily make a very satisfying planetary instrument for critical planetary study.  Remember that the trick to satisfying critical planetary observing is never the instrument, but is always the observer.  So study your target before you observe, then skillful use of even a small 80mm instrument will be more than sufficient aperture for the task!

 

Oh yes, and before I turned in tonight I had to give a quick look at the double star Castor.  80mm scopes are so nie for doubles as they always produce such beautiful and stable little airy disk balls.  This beautiful and bright double sure made a really nice "goodnight" observation!  80mm scopes are da bomb and just fine for "serious" planetary observing  :hamsterdance:


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#7687055 First Jupiter of the year with nice seeing!

Posted by RAC on 04 February 2017 - 06:39 PM

First time this year I've got up this early and I'm glad I did! I kept it simple and just used my ASI224 with the ADC, 5 x Powermate and my 20" dob. I took 6 videos and this is about the best one but they are all very similar.

 

Jup_153412.jpg


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#7217701 Mars with good seeing.

Posted by RAC on 15 May 2016 - 06:53 AM

I had some good seeing tonight so I have a few videos to look at but for now here's a quicky.

 

ZWO ASI224,

ZWO ADC,

DIY 20" f3.8 newtonian on AltAz mount

Televue 5 X powermate,

IR/UV block filter.

 

Mars_211252.jpg


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#7230466 3 planetes seen with the 1 meter Telescope of the Pic du Midi Observatory

Posted by J-Luc Dauvergne on 21 May 2016 - 01:49 PM

Hi all,

I don't come very often here but I have some good images to share.
May be you remeber this popular topic with images from the Pic du Midi observatory.
http://www.cloudynig...he-pic-du-midi/

 

I'm back with good images from the last night.
Let's star with Mars
2016-05-20-2332_4-IR807-3_g6_ap15-copie.

 

It's even better on Jupiter and Saturn, I post it as soon as possible.

JLuc


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#7067849 Astro-Physics 180 f9 - First Light

Posted by daveCollins on 21 February 2016 - 09:05 PM

I purchased this scope on auction last year. I think from the point of view of the history of Astro-Physics, this scope occupies a special place. In particular

  • No other AP 180 f9 has been produced with the same tube geometry and paint. So this is a unique scope from Astro-Physics.
  • It is my understanding that this will be the last large refractor they will build.
  • This is the only scope Astro-Physics ever sold as new on auction.
  • This is the most expensive new refractor ever sold by Astro-Physics.
  • The glass for the scope was in storage since the mid-1990s. So it is a new scope with the newest coatings, but old "special" glass.
  • The scope was sold with no engraved cell ring. So it has a Prototype feel to it.

I am not speaking for Astro-Physics. I want to be clear that nothing I am saying has been said officially by Astro-Physics. But I am making statements based on facts and my own sources of information. One other note is that the other scopes auctioned by Astro-Physics were not new. Some such scopes sold for more than this scope. The point being that this was an unused scope and was sold as new on auction.

 

So it looks like in the long history of Astro-Physics, this scope is the end of the road for large refractors. I like the fact that this scope was slightly modified by Roland for the purposes of visual observing and so with this last scope, he used his creativity to create something that realized his vision. This is fitting for the end of the story.

 

I picked up the scope in person and Roland and Marj where kind enough to be photographed with the scope as it left their hands. This was 3 days before Christmas 2015.

 

2015_12_22_AP_Trip_03.jpg

 

2015_12_22_AP_Trip_01.jpg

 

 

I had some weather challenges and timing issues and so first light took a while. I traveled to a site two mountain ridges outside of DC. First light was during a full moon with slightly

poorer seeing than average, but with clear-ish moments.

 

  • Absolutely beautiful day for February 20th. In the 60s, clear, medium wind, full moon (92%).
  • I was the only one of the mountain so I was able to thoroughly enjoy the solitude with the stars for this first light experience.

2016_02_21_AP_180_01.jpg

 

2016_02_21_AP_180_02.jpg

 

In the following, you can see the moon rising:

 

2016_02_21_AP_180_03.jpg

 

2016_02_21_AP_180_04.jpg

 

And now the excitement is building ...

 

2016_02_21_Turner_Sunset.jpg

 

  • Color
    • My first target had to be the moon. It wasn't my original plan, but it just grabbed me and pulled me in. The image put up by the scope was free of color. There was no green, yellow, blue, violet .... just a sharp pristine white crisp limb.
  • Moon Details
    • Crater Pythagoras - The central peak was illuminated only at its top. The shadow of this illuminated section was cast onto the opposite crater wall (inside wall). So I could see the shadow from the other wall as a line with the peak's contribution above that line. It was an impressive site. The scope showed fine details such as ridges on the inside crater walland structures leading into the crater.
      • A few hours later I came back to find the entire inside of the crater illuminated. I even with full illumination, the contrast from the scope showed fine details and was a pleasure to experience for what seemed like half an hour.
    • Around Pythagoras there are some "flat" crater areas. I could see subtle differences in the colors of the surfaces. My moon atlases don't do the moon justice. Astro-Photography doesn't give me the sense of fine detail that look through this scope does.
  • Jupiter
    • Jupiter was 20 or 30 degrees away from the full moon. Not sure if this would have any effect, but I thought I would emphasize this contribution to the sky conditions. Due to moisture in the air, the moon generally illuminated the entire sky with a glow.
    • I could see details in the two central bands, while the other bands sort of came and went without much detail. But in the central bands, the effects of swirls varied along the length of the bands.
    • I watched the transit of Io. For most of the transit, I was watching Io's shadow which traversed a single band. It looked like a tiny black dot, clearly visible. At the end of the transit, I could see Io while it was still over Jupiter. I could easily see the moon as a small white sphere over the planet. As it moved of Jupiter's disk, it was well defined and slowly separated from the limb.
    • A couple of hours later, I went back to Jupiter and watched the end of the Occultation with Europa. Just as with Io, I could see a well-defined orb separate from the planetary disk.

Both Jupiter and our Moon where wonderful objects to enjoy on this beautiful evening with warm temperatures. I was able to relax and enjoy the show. I was happy with this scope's

performance especially considering the tough conditions of a full moon with illuminated moister in the air and slightly challenging seeing.

 

Mounting of the scope. I am 5 feet 10 inches, 60 years old, and I don't lift weights or exercise other than lots of walking. I found the scope simple to mount. I had no trouble lifting

it cradled in my arms onto a mounted set of rings. I don't know what else to say other than for me the whole process was so easy as to not even be a consideration.

 

  • M3 Globular Cluster
    • This showed as a fine sprinkling of stars. Even with so so seeing, it was fun to observe and showed fine details and had a 3D look with averted vision.
  • M5 Globular Cluster
    • Similar to M3. Lots of fine detail as well as a few bright stars mixed in. I don't know if the brighter stars are in the cluster or are just optically co-located.
  • M13 Globular Cluster
    • What was surprising with this is that I could see similar detail in M3 and M5. This is probably due to conditions. M13 was only 30 degrees off the horizon in an area of moon induced glow without a single star visible. I couldn't even see the little dipper asterism. I could easily see Polaris naked eye, but I couldn't make out the asterism itself.
  • Rigel
    • Rigel was a surprise. Even with the sky glow I could see the companion clearly even though Rigel was a fuzzy sphere. With all the challenges, the scope performed well.
  • Sigma Ori
    • Great star system. All stars were easily visible, although the dim "C" companion was a sharp pinpoint but much dimmer than the others.

I am happy with the scope. Before first light I was nervous about the scope since it was expensive. But on the other hand, I would have accepted the scope for what it is due to its specialness to me. As it turned out, no excuses were needed since the scope performs well and has a well figured set of lenses. The in-focus rings and out-focus rings are as good as any that I've seen. With the evenings seeing conditions, I could not see any difference between the two. It is a well-constructed high quality instrument that I'll enjoy for a long time.


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#7612674 Christmas 1969 - Christmas 2016

Posted by Mark F on 28 December 2016 - 12:55 AM

I was 14 years old, Christmas, 1969.  My father had died six-months earlier (thanks to smoking).  I had just started into Astronomy as a hobby a couple years before, with a 3-inch reflecting telescope that I bought from a mail order company that sold magic props and “x-ray” glasses.  I bought it by saving money from bottle deposits and odd errands for neighbors.  Plastic, cardboard, very little glass, and even less quality.

 

Every time I shopped with my father before he passed away, I would always linger at department stores, Penny’s, Montgomery Wards, Sears.  They always had a telescope displayed, and on the box they had blown-up images of Saturn’s rings, Lunar craters, the Orion Nebula, and the Andromeda Galaxy. No matter how much I pleaded and promised, he would remind me of my previous hobby attempts and failures, stamps, coins, etc.  He was right.  Money wasn’t tight back then, but it wasn’t overflowing to waste on a hobby he was almost certain that I would drop in a year or so.

 

My father died, and my life changed.  I am ashamed to say for a while I did not do my father proud.  Life didn’t matter, school didn’t matter. I didn’t care.  I acted terrible because I was hurting, my world was turned upside down.  Only the Lord knows what path I was walking and what my destination might have been if I didn’t turn my life around.  Probably not good.  I still did observing with that toy 3 inch reflector, and still wanted a better telescope, like the ones that I saw in the department stores.  But money was tighter, dad left us with a small life insurance policy and after medical and burial expenses, not much was left.  Mom had to stay at home to take care of me and my brother, so we lived on Social Security Survivor’s Benefits and a small Veteran’s check.  Enough to keep the house, pay the bills, and keep food on the table.

 

Christmas, 1969, there were presents under the tree for the family, much-in-part due to kind and loving aunts and uncles.  In the back, there was a wrapped present, a long box, about 3 feet x 8 inches x 8 inches.  The present had a tag with my name on it, from Mom.  I opened it, not really having an idea what was tinside.

 

As I peeled the wrapping off, a box saying Tasco 60 mm Telescope, 233 power immediately caught my eye.  I was dazed, excited, dreaming, and in awe.  I carefully opened the box, and saw a beautiful white refracting telescope to assemble for Christmas morning.  I thanked Mom profusely, but really not enough.  I later saw the scope at J C Penny for around $70.  That amount was a house payment for us.  A lot of money.  I don’t know how Mom did it, but she did.

 

I took it out the next clear night, and many following nights.  I still missed my Father, but I had something in my life that thrilled me, and made me enjoy life again.  The Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Orion and Andromeda Nebulas were captured in my Tasco from the front porch of our Canton, Ohio home.  Neighbors stopped by in the early evening and I showed them these objects thru my scope.  I even thought about becoming an astronomer, but I found out later that professional astronomy was much more than observing from a front porch.

 

I finished high school and made the National Honor Society, I ground and polished a 6 inch f/10 reflector during my senior year.  I graduated college with a BS in Geology, and have had a semi-successful career as a geologist, and continued my Astronomy hobby thru the years (Sorry Dad, you were wrong on that one :grin: ).  In the early 1980s, my younger cousin showed an interest in Astronomy, so I gave him my 2.4 inch Tasco.  It is probably now buried deep in a Cleveland Ohio landfill.

 

When I saw the Cloudy Nights topic “Blast from the Past,” I thought of my old Tasco, what it did for me, but also what my Mother did for me.  Whatever she sacrificed, I hope that somehow she is satisfied with my payment.  I am sorry that I didn’t tell her while she was here, she joined Father almost 30 years ago.

 

Thanks to the Cloudy Nights topic, I decided to try and reunite with a cousin for my long-lost Tasco.  I found a similar model on Ebay, a Tasco 9TE-5, close but not exactly the same.  The box was in poor condition, but everything that I had in my old Tasco was there, diameter, focal length, eyepieces, Barlow, Sun filter, finder scope, alt-azimuth mount, and black metal tripod. My wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, I had the answer.

 

It arrived before Christmas, my wife wrapped it, knowing that the surprise was gone.  Christmas Morning she handed it to me.  I took a deep breath, paused, and thought about Christmas 1969 as tears filled my eyes.  More tears filled my eyes as I held the OTA in my hands.  I assembled the telescope, and placed it by the Christmas tree, much like I did in 1969.  As soon as the weather clears up, I’ll take my new friend out to enjoy the night sky like a 14 year old boy.

 

My wife doesn’t know what her gift means to me, I will show her this post later.  And I hope Mom and Dad are reading it now.

Pictures later.

 

Thanks to all at Cloudy Nights forum for great posts.


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#7115718 She just said WOW!

Posted by orion61 on 21 March 2016 - 07:38 AM

I set up my 6" Refractor last night to view with a bit of help of my Daughter.

My 12 yr old has picked up the Bug from me, she now owns her own 80mm Refractor.

I had a pair of 15's in my Binoviewer with a Neutral Density filter. Jupiter looked about the size of a Golf Ball held at Computer screen distance.

  It was a slightly average night seeing but her first view with the Big Glass. She stood there for a few seconds, and I heard this long soft,....WOW!

The best thing is there was only the slightest hint of color, a sliver on the far edges of faint blue and red, I had to actually LOOK for color.

I was very lucky to come across this C6R. it is the best out of 4 of them I have owned, I don't know how they do it?

There was so much detail it was overwhelming, not only in the Equatorial Belts but in the Northern and Southern Temperate belts!

We were watching the large brown spot as it evolves this year, but white Ovals and wisps of Brown, Tan, and Blue. Things would blur for a couple seconds but then come back. Jupiter's Moons were east to tell one from another due to the size and color.

This is kind of a Big deal since I had my 3rd Heart Attack in late January. It was a major STEMI event 100% Blockage and the Ambulance took over an hour to get me to the Hospital, (Life Flight was fogged in). Last night was special as they lost me once on the table, and last night may not have happened!

At least I know where my equipment will go. But hoist those big Achromatic Refractors with pride! Now you know how to take care of the Color.

  When I was in High School, I could have only Dreamed of a scope like this. One of the stable of hand collected scopes, picked over 45

years of swapping and buying in the hobby.


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#7643820 I have learned lately to be happy with what I have

Posted by grif 678 on 12 January 2017 - 06:46 PM

While looking at Venus tonight through my ETX on my 114 unitron mount, I began to think of when I use to view it through my 60mm gilbert refractor ( cardboard tube and all) many moons ago. I began to think about how over the years, I being just like others, always wanted a better scope. When a kid with my Gilbert, I enjoyed looking just as much as I do now ( probably more), and was so excited with the views of the gilbert on the moon mainly. If I was happy with that scope, I should be happy with my relative small scope now. The small ETX gives me excellent views, very easy to carry around with one hand, and a breeze to just start looking. I could not imagine how it would have felt to have back in my childhood, to have views like I see with the ETX now. I know it will not measure up to the more expensive and bigger scopes, but so what, I am seeing more and better than what I was seeing as a kid, that I was so happy with. And for some people like me, just casual viewing is all I do, I am no longer feeling the desire for a larger scope, I am happy with my set up. I still like looking at the old ads of the vintage years of the 60's, 70's, and 80's, and reminissing of the days when those ads were real time. But those days are gone, I just enjoy what I have now, and be happy with it.


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#7686311 56 hours of PK 164+31.1

Posted by ManuelJ on 04 February 2017 - 11:44 AM

A two year proyect. The signal in Ha and OIII is pretty weak. The near star creates some unwanted reflections even with my flat black painted Riccardi Reducer. A very hard target that I've been struggling for 6 years. I've used old data from 2010 to boost Ha signal.

 

Remember to see the image at full resolution.

 

31862498024_71ca46335a_b.jpgPK 164+31.1 by ManuelJ, on Flickr


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#7677936 Finally risking showing something here

Posted by Diane Miller on 31 January 2017 - 01:01 AM

After 4 months of many speed bumps, I'm getting some usable data from my Orion Sirius and simple software setup.  Using a Canon 7D Mk II on a Canon 400mm DO II lens.  36 exposures, ISO 1600, f/4, 90 sec.   Processed in PixInsight.  Still in kindergarten there (and with the mount, my first EQ) but at least getting a start.

 

Would still be at Step One without the excellent support and information here!  Huge thanks to everyone!

 

 

 

 

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#7223574 My best Mars so far(reprocess)

Posted by RAC on 18 May 2016 - 04:30 AM

I did a bit of a reprocess and gained some better detail and it's a bit nicer to look at also(softer).

 

10%

Mars_Drizzle15 small.jpg

 

150%

Mars_Drizzle15.jpg


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#7221866 Cat's Eye Nebula: 2 years and 130 hours

Posted by josh smith on 17 May 2016 - 09:39 AM

Whew! It is finally over. Not sure if I will do one of these again, but my favorite target in the night sky is the Cat's Eye Nebula and I thought it deserved my utmost attention. After getting a good head start last spring, I just decided to park on it nearly every clear night I was at home whether it was for an hour at the end of the night this spring or an hour for the beginning of the night last fall. There were quite a few nights where it was all I shot as well. By the image details, you can see that my goal was to get as much range as possible in this image including the super bright core which is 10000 times brighter than the extremely faint outer Ha regions and somewhere in between are the concentric shells surrounding the bright core. It took exposures of all different filters and lengths to reach the full range of this target.

 

The total acquisition time ended up being somewhat inflated due to the horrible lp in Pittsburgh and my new house in Florida as I wanted to make sure I had a very nice and deep sky background as well to complement all the work that went into the Cat's Eye. This took a lot of broadband data!

 

To some extent, I'm not thrilled with the picture as the Cat's Eye itself isn't quite as clean as I'd hoped for. However, it's not so much how clean it was as how overpowering the signal was that was surprising. It made it very tough to emphasize the delicate features while showing the full extent of the emission data. It was a very delicate balance and now that I've finished, I'm still pretty pleased. This was a good exercise in viewing the power of stacking and SNR buildup as well as the disappointment of diminishing returns. The quality is clearly far superior to last year when I was at 30 hours but certainly not 4x better.

 

I certainly have my new home in Florida to thank for making this project possible. The weather has been astounding this spring with night after night of clear and steady skies. I suspect our astronomy season is drawing to a close, but I'll be ready to hit the ground running again next winter :)

 

As always, thank you so much for viewing and any C&C's you have are very much appreciated!

 

get.jpg

 

Different channels, acquisition details, and focus...

 

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Special thanks to David Ault, Hytham, and Bobby Gross for some feedback, commentary, and assistance in background modlization before publishing.


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#7697517 Jupiter - 10Feb2017 - CFF350 - Arizona (GRS storms)

Posted by djhanson on 10 February 2017 - 09:01 AM

Jove from this morning.  A few small storms are visible within the GRS.

 

Cooled scope overnight with primary fans.
Very good seeing, good transparency, no clouds, no dew. 

I was a bit surprised at the seeing...the jet stream was slowly increasing to 35-40 kt.

 

Jove at 48 degrees and 40 arcsec.  Captured at 172 fps, best 30% of 7 RGB sets with no barlow.

 

cheers, DJ

 

2017-02-10-1051-final.png


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#7598310 Crazy Region in Orion

Posted by Jerry Lodriguss on 19 December 2016 - 03:35 PM

The B33, M42, M78 region in Orion is full of dust and other interesting stuff.

 

http://www.astropix....33_M42_M78.html

 

Click on the link to see a larger version with more information.

 

Some of this dust is very faint so it requires a very long total integration time to record. At the same time, M42, the Orion nebula, is very bright and saturates to white in a long exposure.

 

Because of this tremendous range of brightness, a special high-dynamic range technique had to be used with long exposures recording the faint stuff, and short exposures recording the bright stuff. The different exposures were then composited together with layer masks in Photoshop.

 

This was shot with an unmodified Nikon D5300 and an IDAS LPS filter with a Nikkor 180mm f/2.8ED AIS lens working at f/3.46 with more than 300 minutes of exposure from a mag 20.7 observing site.

 

Yes, you can shoot faint stuff with a DSLR, but you really have to use a lot of exposure, especially for hydrogen-alpha emission with an unmodified camera.

 

Jerry

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#7247975 Post a picture of your refractors (PART 7)

Posted by Derek Wong on 30 May 2016 - 07:57 PM

I finally got my FTX v2 to try with the Moonraker 80mm f/15

 

Derek

 

 

Moonraker 80 #1.jpg

 

Moonraker 80 #2.jpg

 


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#7266673 M83 first light colour ASI1600mm-cool

Posted by Shiraz on 10 June 2016 - 01:48 AM

Hi

have been hoping for more data, but the weather...

 

So, best I can do for now is 126x60second lum + 59x60second colour for a total of about 3 hours at gain 100. 250f4 Skywatcher CF Newtonian, 180mm guide scope. Tried to get as close as I could to the Hubble APOD as a colour reference, so it looks pretty red. The camera is low noise, so no calibration was used - also dithering was not functioning for most of the luminance. Vignetting is an issue with the 1.25 filters, so I have cropped the image, awaiting a decent set of sky flats. Stars need work, but will do that when/if there is more data to work with.

attached image is down-sampled - full res available at http://www.astrobin....6/0/?real=&mod=

 

Not a geat image, but probably enough to suggest that there is no major issue with the camera. Thanks for looking. Ray

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#7125247 Jupiter - C14, Very Good Seeing

Posted by RBChris on 26 March 2016 - 02:02 PM

Here's an image of Jupiter I acquired with my C14 Edge HD last night. Seeing was predicted to be average at best, but, to my surprise, it was quite passable when I started imaging and became very good by the end of the session. I believe this is my best Jupiter image so far. 

 

Randy

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#7685237 Happy Birthday to Me

Posted by LLEEGE on 03 February 2017 - 07:51 PM

I had two early birthday presents show up this week. The first one to arrive was my new AP Mach1 mount on Wednesday. I ordered it two weeks ago. Today was the end of a longer wait. My new AP130GTX showed up! First light in about 6-10 weeks when the clouds clear. 

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#7584168 Meade 178ED/APO Project X build,review,first light.

Posted by Nightmare on 11 December 2016 - 10:56 AM

Greetings from Scotland,
Been a stargazer for quite a wile now,but always had passion for refractors,despite i did had a 10" and a 14" dobs too,but due to work commitments and not having that many free time on my hands to be able to take them out to a dark sites,i decided that refractor is the perfect weapon of choice for me.Also i enjoyed the purity of views what refractor gives on planetary,stars and globs.For over a year i owned the 6" ED F9 and it was a fantastic instrument and provided me with endless hours of joy,but i wanted something bigger and to be able to do occasional deep sky observations with little more light grasp(not that 6" isn't good enough),on top it had to be an ED as a minimum.Yes dreaded aperture fever got me.As i don`t have a spare kidney to donate to be able to afford 8" APO my search stopped on Meade 178 ED .This particular instrument was large enough i could mount and dismount on my own without the help,and also i wouldn't need to upgrade my mount as that would all add to additional expenses i wasn't prepared to go for .Obviously we all know those mixed reviews and issues with the lens,so i did a lot of reading and despite everything i decided to go for it.
And here is where the story of Project X starts.
Firstly i have to point out that i have no any association with any of the companies or people whom i will name in this topic,i am naming them purely for the services they provided.
Lets begin.
based on my wanted add,i found a Meade 178,however,current owner advised that he hasn't used this scope for a long while and as such he doesn't know if the lens is OK or not,also OTA was in relatively poor cosmetic shape,i still decided to go ahead with it.

Sort of as expected,lens was out of collimation.I contacted Es Reid and asked him if he would fancy a go at this lens,despite knowing he is a very busy man and i actually doubted that he will agree,however,he did.Lens was sent to him.After 2 days Es contacted me saying that he has tried to collimate the lens but he cant get it to keep both elements centered and the collimation and asked for permission to take the assembly apart.Permission granted.Bearing in mind that if anything goes wrong will be on my account.Risky.Another 2 days passed and new email from Es stated that lens has been collimated,but there are still difficulties and permission to install additional 3 screws into the cell was given.Few days later,email arrived stating that he has finished everything.Front element had pads around it and has been wedged into the cell,where second element was centred against it and held in place with the new 3 screws.Tapping on the lens cell with screwdriver to imitate drops didn't cause collimation to shift.Perfect!There is a light lateral colour visible (as expected) on bright objects,but lens shows no astigmatism and is off very smooth figure.

Picture of the modded lens:

DSC00106%20Large.jpg?t=1481384068

Now i had to sort out OTA.Forgot to mention,that OTA arrived with all baffles wedged into focuser end and i had to fish them out.Decision was made to strip OTA off old paint as there where places where pain had completely flaked off and there where a few spots where paint started to bubble up.No dents on OTA.So i had to dismantle the telescope completely. Front counter cell came off easy as it is being held to OTA by 3 screws and nuts.Same for focuser,3 screws and off she came.Rear counter cell provided to be a challenge.Firstly you have to remove the "grab" handles.They are held by tiny allen head screws from inside the OTA.Managed to remove one handle,other i had to grind off as i couldn`t unscrew them.Also as OTA was made in USA,all screws and nuts are IMPERIAL size,that includes lens cell screws.Rear counter cell is glued to OTA,used heat gun to heat it up and drew it off with wooden wedge.Why Meade couldnt use the same screw fixation baffles me.And here comes the first surprise.Once i had the rear counter cell off,i begin to wonder why it is so heavy.Reason:from the inside cell has 1kg of solid lead ring siliconed in for balance purpose.Note:not black painted and white silicone used! Unfortunately i didn't make any pictures of this and removed the ring.
Pictures of front and rear parts of OTA,note pain missing on front part.

DSC00113%20Large.jpg

 

DSC00112%20Large.jpg

 

 

 

Whilst stripping off the paint,i came to conclusion that original focuser isn't up to the job and i will replace it with Moonlite 2.5" unit.This meant that i will have 2 options.Keep the original counter cell and order up a flange from Moonlite or make a NEW rear counter cell.As I intended to binoview and didn't want to cut the tube by a lot,option one didn't  really work as it will make the new assembly longer then original and meant that i will have to cut OTA more then i would like to do.At the same time,idea came to my mind,if i am making a new rear part,why not make a matching front too?All boiled down to the costs.I did set a budget i was willing to spend on this project and by all means it was NOT thousands.Made a few phone calls,unfortunately Moonraker didnt work out due the costing estimate Mark provided,so after speaking to John from Peak2Valley he reccomended me Brian Brooks from Astroparts UK. He was interested in this project and keen to do the job,as such,both rear and front counter cells where posted to him.Job i tasked Brian for:
1.Manufacturing new front counter cell in aluminium and polish it,tapped for M4 metric screws to attach lens cell and 3x M6 holes 120 deg apart for attaching to OTA.
2.Manufacturing of new rear counter cell in aluminium,but incorporating adaptor for Moonlite 2.5" focuser (all in one),again polished finish.And to have 3x M6 holes to attach to OTA.
3.Manufacturing tube rings and carry handle,finished in anodised black.
Obviously he had other projects on the go so i had 3 weeks of waiting time,but during this,we had regular conversations about how and what needs to be done,drawings where sent to me for approval prior any machining. We agreed that both cells will have identical looks as the originals,but with smoother corners.Finally 3 boxes arrived.All i can say is that Brian did an absolutely stunning job on both cells,and actually exceeded my expectations! It is truly work of craftsmanship and i will use him again if i will have another projects,and i would highly recommend him to anyone in need of any work to be done on your telescopes.As for the rings and handle,boy they are gorgeous!
Pictures of the new cells:

Rear counter cell:

DSC00140%20Large.jpg?t=1481384676

Rear cell with Moonlite focuser installed:

DSC00142%20Large_1.jpg?t=1481384716

 

front counter cell with lens assembly installed:

DSC00144%20Large.jpg

New dew shield was ordered as the original one was too short and on damp evenings/nights caused lens to dew up,i decided to have a new one made,double the length of original.Total length of the new shield is now 20" or 500mm.
Also as i planned to binoview with this instrument,i did the necessary measurements of the light pass with new cells installed, idea was following:i wanted to have the ability of using binoviewers not only in native focus but also with Baader GPC what meant i had to find perfect solution to have enough inwards travel for native and sufficient outwards travel if GPC where used. and according to my calculations,i had to shorten the tube by 2.5" as the new rear cell with focuser where 1.5" shorter then the old one.Shortening of OTA i did myself in the kitchen.(yes wife did complaint about it!)
Once all parts arrived,i did a trial assembly to see what are the total weight and have i dont everything right.(no visual test as of yet)
Bathroom scales where showing that OTA weighted in at 13kg.Had to add another 3 for rings+losmandy plate so all in all 16kg.Not too bad.One person can easily handle that.

Strip down and OTA + dew shield went for a powder coating.After discussion with Mike Bacanin decision was made to have OTA and dew shield painted black to have a classic telescope looks.
Once received back,i flocked the inside of OTA and also flocked the original baffles and installed them back into OTA ,but this time i used a drop of Loctite glue to have them securely placed inside and to avoid any chance of them becoming loose. Dew shield was also flocked.

Now all it was left is final assembly and hope for weather to cooperate to have an optical test.

And here we are,please meet the NEW Meade 178ED/APO F9 Project X:

DSC00161%20Large.jpg

DSC00152%20Large.jpg

DSC00154%20Large.jpg

 

Unfortunately it took another 3 weeks until weather did gave me 2 hrs of sort of clear skies and i set up the "beast".

DSC00159%20Large.jpg
Star test was absolutely perfect.both in and out focus "doughnuts" where identical and i didnt need to do any adjustments on collimation,despite me taking the lens cell on and off the counter cell for a few times during the build.
As i only had 2 hrs of clear skies,main task was to check on following:
1.Is the mount capable of carrying and handling the OTA
2.Do binoviewers come into focus in native and with GPC.
3.over all performance.
1.mount
i used Skywatcher AZ-EQ6GT in AZ mode with extension between the tripod and head.Manual says that the mount in Az mode can carry up to 25kg so i was well in limits.Firstly i tried just a manual slewing and it worked fine.Did the 2 star alignment and tried Go-to with tracking and no problems there either.As such,i can confirm that above mount is very capable of carrying this scope with no issues.Dampening times of vibrations are about 3 sec max if you touch the focuser.If you dont,then there are no vibrations at all,even when slewing the scope.
2.binoviewers.
I use a custom built Zeiss Binoviewers with 30mm prisms,custom order and built by Denis,coupled with Baader BHSS 1.25" T2 diagonal,for eye pieces i use 2 full sets of Meade Research grade orthoscopics and Meade RG widefields (erfles).For low power i use a pair of 35mm baader eudiascopics.
First i tried native focus and achieved focus with no issues and with another inch spare.Pairs tried where 35mm,20mm and finally 12.4mm
Then installed GPC x1.7 and again focus was reached with another inch left spare for outwards focus.I was well chuffed with that as i did had my worries that i am trying to achieve something impossible and i will need some extension tubes,but it was not the case.
3.over all performance.
Targets observed:Moon,M42 orion nebulae,Pleiades,Rigel and Betelgeuse.(all targets where observed in native and with GPC)Unfortunately clouds didn't allow me to do any more targets.
35mm goes in native and pointed at the Moon,and oh dear,pitch black back ground with sharp edged 3D image of Moon presented to me.Note:NO false colour to be observed on edges!Despite low power,armada of detail on the surface,riles showed nice sun reflections and shadows,just stunning.I was speachless for a moment and asked wife and oldest sun to come and have a look,they both enjoyed the views. With 20mm widefield just magnified the glory,but i did notice a very thin blue ring on the bottom edge of the Moon.Was expecting that and by all means you have to really look for it.With a pair of 12.4mm you can start exploring the craters,but viewing conditions where not supporting this tonight and knowing that cloud is coming in,i didnt push for high mags.Some other night :)
Off to Orion Nebulae.Once i had it in the sight,you could see the dramatic nebulousness with beautifully presented Trapezium stars.Just superb.
Quick swing over to Pleiades and i did say to my self:Ya,i think you did this right.Black background with loads of stars,but gone are the dob spikes,and you have a 3D image of sparkling diamonts.just beautiful. Definitely very capable deep sky instrument.
Rigel and Betelgeuse i used to perform star test and i had to visit them after being 6 month away from skies lol.
Despite evening/night being quite damp air,i had no dew forming on lens,even i left the scope pointing up to zenith for 30 min and still nothing.
An obvious question:was it worth the effort of rebuilding Meade and giving away Vixen what was optically superb? i personally think yes.I didn't gain a lot in planetary views.Vixen did show me about the same,with Meade pulling slightly and only slightly ahead due to its larger lens.Where Meade does go a step ahead is in deep sky,but again purely because of the larger lens.I think it was a good fun project to do and i personally think that Meade 178 deserves it,despite all that bad reviews and issues they had with it it is a GREAT refractor and will be staying with me for good.(unless i win a lottery and i can afford a 200mm APO)
Once again,i would like to thank you Es Reid for doing his magic on lens,Brian Brooks for excellent craftsmanship,Mike Bacanin for giving good advise and calling me nuts.
Clear skies to everyone,and if you have any questions about this telescope,i will gladly answer them.


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