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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

  • Dave Mitsky, CollinofAlabama, ArizonaScott and 73 others like this

#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.




DIY 20" f3.8 newtonian on AltAz mount

Televue 5 X powermate,

IR/UV block filter.



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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.


I'm back with good images from the last night.
Let's star with Mars


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


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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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#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).



Mars_Drizzle15 small.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!




Different channels, acquisition details, and focus...







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

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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. 



Attached Thumbnails

  • j2016-03-26_07-14_rgb_rch.png

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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.







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.





In the following, you can see the moon rising:






And now the excitement is building ...




  • 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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#7217572 Mars - 13May2016 - CFF350 - Arizona

Posted by djhanson on 15 May 2016 - 02:12 AM

Finally met up with Mars this year!  cheers, DJ


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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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#7107149 Mars @ 10.1 arcseconds from home...

Posted by Kokatha man on 16 March 2016 - 09:15 AM

Hi all, struck some reasonable seeing this morning from home. (we aren't mobile atm...waiting to take the car in for major work on Friday...& the van is also under repairs... :rollingeyes: )


Anyway, set up at home & were rewarded with some pretty fair seeing in the hour before daybreak...there was some seeing interference which has affected the Saturn images (otherwise very nice)  so I put them aside to get the Mars processing done - but finished one of the Mars images so thought I'd post it before hitting the sack - was going to try imaging again tonight but those clouds returned, bless them..! ;)


Fairly pleased with Mars still only 10.1"...


EDIT: incorrect date image replaced...





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#7052819 Jupiter Feb.12th from Bangkok

Posted by Tizianobkk on 13 February 2016 - 11:04 AM

Dear all,

attached an image from last night, under good seeing but poor transpareny.

It's the combination of 3 RGB images, 90 s per channel, derotated by Winjupos.

Best Regards


Attached Thumbnails

  • 20160212_1834_oliv.jpg

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#6554292 2015 Eyepiece Buyer's guide

Posted by Starman1 on 22 April 2015 - 05:59 PM

Here is the latest list, which includes some new eyepieces just shown at NEAF.

Rather than list every manufacturer's offerings, I eliminated the eyepiece if no retailer sold the eyepiece under the manufacturer's name.

I encourage people to look at what is offered on sites like those of Barsta, Kunming United Optical, and other Chinese makers.


Attached Files

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#7099817 My new toy, a CFF 185 mm APO !

Posted by A VAN ZEGVELD on 11 March 2016 - 07:06 PM

Today I received my new toy. After a year waiting (worth it ! ). 

The big boss of CFF telescopes, Catalin Fus delivered the telescope personally at my home in Belgium

A 185 mm Apo, F/6.8

The finish is perfect, really professionally crafted everything.

This company is really worth your attention.

They went all the way with my wishes, integrating their in house developed field flattener, an optec 3" rotator and FLI 7 filters filter wheel, and the right adapters to connect my SBIG 11000 camera at the right distance to the CCD.


Wished every company delivered what they promised, this company did !!


I will keep you posted about the results......


The new scope is the one on the bottom, below the TEC-140







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#7090160 Jupiter March 5th 2016 - Bangkok

Posted by Tizianobkk on 06 March 2016 - 07:51 AM

Dear all,
attached my latest image from last night, under very good seeing and average transparency. I'm happy to finally have good conditions, now that Jupiter is approaching the opposition.
Lot of details in the GRS
Best Regards

Attached Thumbnails

  • 20160305_1647_oliv.jpg

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#6886675 Moon high resolution images taken with C14 on August 6

Posted by ch-viladrich on 12 November 2015 - 04:58 PM

Dear All,


At last, I've found some time to process a first group of images of the moon I took last August 6 with the C14 and a Basler 1920-155 camera.


Clavius :






Deslandres :



Straight Wall :



Triesnecker :



Best regards

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#6570781 Telescopes—A 58 Year Journey

Posted by GeneT on 03 May 2015 - 02:27 PM

I turned 72 years old today. 


     In the General Observing and Astronomy Forum, I shared some general thoughts on what the hobby of astronomy has meant to me over the past 70 years, from the first night I looked up at the night sky, in Minnewaukan, North Dakota. In this post, I would like to share some thoughts regarding telescopes and accessory equipment. I am parking this post in the reflector forum because most of my astronomy world was lived out with these kinds of telescopes.

     When I think about telescopes, I am reminded of how so many of us get into debates about which type of telescopes provide the best views, along with similar debates about eyepieces. I do not know how long ago what we would call the first humans appeared, but at some point they did come upon the scene. They had only naked eye views of the heavens. Some were near sighted, some far sighted, some had astigmatism and other eye defects. Yet, they looked up in skies, with little man-made light pollution, and marveled at the stars, the planets, and even a few nebula and galaxies. Some of them may even have been able to split some of the wider double stars.


     These first humans saw all this with only one power views of the skies. They marveled at the sights, and before the invention of the telescope, studied the skies very carefully for clues to the future—when to plant, when to sow, whether or not to go to war—all predicted by their reading of the skies.

     Eventually, lenses were put together and in turn, the telescope and eyepieces were invented. That totally changed our knowledge and understanding of the universe. Craters were seen on the moon. Saturn had rings and moons. Jupiter had bands and some very bright moons. We learned that the Earth was not in the center of the universe, which provoked a lot of controversy. We later learned that neither was our sun the center of the universe, which also provoked a lot of controversy. Then, we learned that our galaxy was just one of millions, and our minds were in turn expanded into the cosmos. People became fascinated with astronomy, and began buying telescopes and eyepieces. Some, who were limited financially, learned how to grind their own optics, and build their own telescopes.


     My first telescope was a 4 inch, F10 Dynascope. I found it reading the ads in Sky and Telescope. It cost $79.95. It came with a 9mm Ramsden and a 12 Huygens eyepiece. I bought the telescope in the late 50’s. I lived in Ely, Nevada, with a family that had limited income. I shoveled snow in the winter, and mowed lawns in the summer and finally had the money for the telescope. That little four incher really delivered in the Mag 6.5 to 7 skies of Ely. I had to sell that telescope to pay for books in college and I put off buying another one until after college, and I was well on the way in my Air Force career.


     Finally, while an instructor at Officers Training School in San Antonio, Texas, a Sky and Telescope ad for an 8 inch Optical Craftsman caught my eye. Aperture fever had kicked in. I bought that telescope in the early 60’s. The Dob era was not quite upon us and 8 inches was a respectable sized telescope. Back in the 60’s, the back yard views on Lackland Air Force Base were fairly decent—maybe Mag 4 to 5 skies in certain quadrants of the sky, vs. the Mag 3 skies in most of San Antonio today. That 8 incher provided great views of the planets, and some of the other brighter sky objects. A lot of double stars were nicely split by that telescope.


     We received orders for Washington, D.C. I sold the Optical Craftsman and bought an 8 inch Dynamax. The optics greatly disappointed me. However, the short tube of the SCT made it easy to load and pack up in my Volkswagen bug. However, you have to drive a long distance to get some decently dark skies in the Washington, D.C. area. We again got orders for San Antonio, and I sold the Dynamax 8 and bought a Coulter 13.1 inch Dob. Again, the optics were poor and it was difficult to transport; collimation was also very difficult. So, I sold it. The Air Force transferred us to Wichita Falls, Texas and there I bought a Celestron 8. The optics were great. I had three silver top Celestron Plossls that performed excellently with that telescope. I kept it for 10 years. It shipped to Germany and back after a six year tour. It gave me excellent views of Mars and other objects while stationed there. After being shipped to and from Germany, the collimation only needed some minor tweaking when it arrived at both destinations.


     The Air Force moved us back to San Antonio. I sold the C8 and bought a 20 inch Obsession. I never thought about a proper vehicle for transport, important because now the skies in San Antonio were about Mag 3. The telescope was of excellent build and the optics provided great views of the planets and other sky objects. However, the telescope was just too difficult for me to manage. I also did not have a vehicle that could haul a 20 incher. I caught Peter Smitka’s ad for a telescope designed to be as large as possible, and still very portable. It was called a Portaball. At that time, it was only offered in an F5, 12.5 inch size. I sold the 20 inch Obsession and bought the Portaball.


     I love the Portaball. I have owned this telescope for about 20 years. It is easy to transport, easy to set up, easy to take down, and easy and fun to use. I store it on my side of the closet, along with my eyepieces, under a bunch of shirts and suits. Due to my age, I rarely am able to get out to the dark sky sites, but I have a Mag 5 site about 30 minutes from home. The optics are excellent, and I have outfitted it with some excellent eyepieces to include Ethos, Delos, Brandon, Hutech, Supermono, and XO eyepieces.


Here are some thoughts regarding my 58 year telescope journey:


--Aperture fever is genetic, i.e. almost everyone is susceptible to this disease;


--However, aperture fever is curable;


--Aperture fever is curable if one can overcome his or her predilections to the idea that bigger is better, and replace that thought with the best is what I can afford and enjoy; some people love large 18 inch and larger telescopes; but, sometimes the hassle of setting up and using those large telescopes kills the desire to get out under the stars;


--Too many of us had to learn the hard way that bigger is not always better; for some, yes—but not for all; what is important is not size, but how you use it;


--Eyepieces are important, but again buy what you can afford; some do perform better than others, but a truly dark sky and good seeing will do wonders to maximize a telescope’s optics and eyepieces;


--Buy the right vehicle for the hobby; too often we want to try and squeeze a 12 inch telescope into a Honda Civic; it can be done; it can easily be done with my Portaball; but I wrongly thought that an 18 inch Ultra Compact would easily fit into a Honda Accord; you can get it into the trunk, but only with a lot of contortions and worry that the telescope will slip and fall crashing to the ground; I finally bought a Honda CRV. It gets great gas mileage; it will hold an 18 inch classic Dob and accessories, but it will be tight; the CRV easily holds my 12 incher, accessories, and camping equipment; the CRV nicely doubles for other uses where I need a large box type cargo area for hauling other things; I strongly recommend getting the right vehicle for your telescope;


--Don’t look at how often you get out to view as the criteria for whether or not you are a good hobbyist; work, family requirements, weather, health, and other factors determine how often one can get out and view; get out to view when you can;


--Don’t sell your astronomy equipment just because you can’t get out and view as often as you would like; astronomy is a hobby, not a job; I am a deacon in my church, and often go weeks between viewing sessions due to my church requirements; if you ever divorce, your spouse probably won’t want your astronomy equipment, so keep it;


--If you can afford it, buy premium optics and eyepieces; if not, buy and enjoy what you can afford;


--If you are buying a telescope for the first time, consider buying a six or eight inch SCT or Dob, or two to four inch refractor; learn to use the telescope and get familiar with the night sky before trying to learn imaging. Make it a two-step process—learn your telescope and the night sky before launching into photography;


--Imaging—smaller four to eight inch telescopes, with accurate mounts and processing software can provide astronomical images the equal if not better than some old black and white photos that I remember seeing years ago, taken with the 100 inch Hooker telescope; however, imaging requires patience in the setup, while doing photography, and while processing the images; many also get caught up in the ‘my equipment is not good enough and I need this’ thinking; I had a friend who had an excellent four inch refractor, a special mount for photography, and all the other accessories needed for photography; one night he showed me his mount; he told me it cost $6 thousand; I said I could not afford $6 thousand for a mount so I could do photography; he said, ‘Gene, this mount is not the one I want; the one I want costs $12 thousand'; one can get some pretty good astrophotos with equipment a lost less expensive; however, we are back to the question ‘when is good, good enough, and when can I enjoy my hobby of astronomy with what I have, and with what I can afford?’


--There is no perfect one telescope that will do it all; a good three or four inch refractor can be a good grab and go; due to their short tubes, a six to eight inch SCT packs up nicely for a trip or a camp out; an eight to 12 inch Dob expands visually the universe in the details it beings to the eye; 12 inch and larger telescopes can take one to seeing unbelievable detail on the planets and brighter sky objects, and the ability to at least see dim fuzzies that are invisible in smaller telescopes; in short, there are tradeoffs; I believe in differentiation; one telescope just can’t do it all; maybe get one for astrophotography, and one for visual and maybe one that is a grab and go, easy to take outdoors and be viewing in five minutes, and a good solar telescope for daytime use;


--A lot of questions show up on Cloudy Nights, such as ‘Do I Have to Collimate Each Time I Set Up?’ Answer: If a reflector, always check the collimation for each set up; once you get the hang of it, collimations is not difficult; ‘Why Are My Images Blurry?’ Answer: poor collimation, optics not properly cooled down (or not having reached ambient temperature); also, due to not having enough in or out focus, images will be blurry; ‘What Kind of Eyepieces Should I Buy?’ Answer: buy and enjoy what you can afford; there are good, reasonably priced eyepieces available; yes, better eyepieces do perform better, and most often, those better eyepieces are more expensive; optics with excellent figures also perform better; however to see much visual improvement in sky objects with excellent optics vs. good, a dark sky, collimation, seeing, and other factors also play an important role.


--Lastly, if astronomy is your passion, like it is mine, develop a life’s strategy for the hobby; find the telescope that meets your needs and will keep the passion alive; get the right size vehicle for your equipment; find a good dark sky site; if your back yard has Mag 5 or better skies, build an observatory and have your telescope permanently housed so to view all you have to do is eat some dinner, watch some news, and walk to the back yard, and roll of the roof to be up and viewing. If you have lousy Mag 3 skies like I do, about age 50 buy some land at a dark sky site, build an observatory and if it is secure, leave your telescope permanently housed in it; all you would have to do is after work, drive to the observatory open the roof or dome, and begin observing; you would then avoid the loading in the vehicle, unloading, setting up, taking down, reloading, and storing; at age 50 or so, the kids are almost raised, and if they aren’t, there is light at the end of the tunnel; an alternative thought is that you could buy a summer or weekend home with nice, dark skies; the area could have hiking trails and other things to do during the day, with the stars out for viewing at night; enough advice.


I love astronomy, but I blew my own life’s strategy for the hobby; at age 50, I did not come up with a strategy like I recommend above; had I done so, it would have been implemented by age 60; (maybe some land out in the dark, skies of western Texas or even into New Mexico; today I am 72. I blew my chance; I have to be careful when driving at night; even my easy to load, and set up Portaball is becoming challenging; I do dream about dark skies and having a place like I described, but I waited too long.


However, I have more blessings than I can count, and I am thankful for my parents, wife, children and grandchildren, and opportunities the U.S. Air Force gave me while serving for 28 years.
I appreciate the good people who give us Cloudy Nights. Over the past several years, I feel that I have gotten to know many of you, and count you as my friends.


I do not know how many good years I have left. But, it doesn't matter. I have a lifetime of dreams, many due to the numerous beautiful nights, that I have been blessed to have spent out under the stars.


Gene Townsend
San Antonio, Texas

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#7044454 Jupiter from Kiev 07.02.16 good seeing

Posted by S.Fire on 08 February 2016 - 04:25 PM

Hi all,
It was my first experience with ZWO ADC and ASI224 after a very long break in shooting. Everything works just fine, many thanks to Sam.
Basically, there were most bad conditions, but I have 2-3 minutes of stable images. Thanks to a color camera, I was able to use them.

Io and its shadow in transit.


WS-180 mount + EQDrive + newt 350 mm + barlow 3x + Astronomik UV-IR + ZWO ADC + ASI 224

Thanks for viewing.

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#7027989 Takahashi Telescopes

Posted by waso29 on 30 January 2016 - 04:29 PM

forgive me for i have sinned.....


btw, i drive a 2005 honda.

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#7141189 Jupiter - 04Apr2016 - CFF350 - Arizona (excellent seeing)

Posted by djhanson on 04 April 2016 - 09:28 AM

Jupiter 04-Apr-2016 03:38UT


1.25x barlow (10500mm)/Pierro Astro ADC/ZWO174MM/Moonlite DRO

Best 50% of 8.4-11.8K x 3 RGB sets for 44K total stacks (FC/AS!2/Reg6/WJ/Astra/CS6)

Initial setup temp of 77F (25C).
1 hr ambient temp match with fans on.
Final imaging temp of 73F (23C).

Jupiter @51 degrees @ 43.4 arcsec.


Greeted with excellent seeing last night.  Started out with the 224MC but later switched to the 174MM.  A slightly stronger jet stream last night vs previous night, which wasn't nearly as good as tonight.  So perhaps some jet stream can help seeing and prevent mixing of different air masses?  One thing for sure, some nights are good and some nights just plain suck :D  thanks for looking.  cheers, DJ


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