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Telescope Making for the Relatively Unskilled

Dec 03 2016 11:46 AM | xrayvizhen in Articles

I’ve received several private messages from a few people on CN who have seen some pictures I’ve posted of the telescope I made, which is also my icon picture, and asked if I had a build thread. I didn’t. But all along I had an idea of writing this article because while I have seen many pictures and build threads of outstanding scopes built by people who are obviously either machinists, carpenters or engineers or just very experienced builders with a full suite of shop tools, I am none of those and I only have a couple of hand tools and minimal skills & experience. But I built this thing and it’s outstanding, so I figure that maybe there are folks out in the world who would like give telescope making a try but might be a little intimidated by some of the beautiful work displayed, especially on the DIY forum. This is NOT another “How to Build a Telescope” article. Rather, it’s more of an idea on why I built what I did, some of the planning and thought processes involved and how to get around the lack of tools or skills. (Hint – subcontract the hard stuff.)

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Cosmic Challenge: Globular Clusters in the Fornax Dwarf Galaxy

Dec 03 2016 07:13 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Let's begin this challenge with a riddle. What's big and round, close at hand, and yet nearly impossible to see? If you answered "the Fornax Dwarf Galaxy," then you are correct! The Fornax Dwarf, a dwarf spheroidal system, covers a 17'x13' area of our late autumn sky and lies about 530,000 light years from the Milky Way. That's well within the confines of our Local Group of galaxies. And with a magnitude rating of 9.3, it sounds like it should be bright and easy to see. But when we look its way, it's not there. Even the best photos manage to record only an incredibly dim, elliptical haze peppered by some 19th-magnitude stars!

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Review: Explore Scientific 16”, Europe edition, late 2016

Nov 12 2016 12:32 PM | brebisson in User Reviews

I have been considering buying or making a 16 incher for a while now. Mirrors only (if you wanted to make your own scope) cost at least 1200€ to 1400€ (Hubble optics or GSO, not counting import duties and shipping cost). So, when I learned that Explore Scientific had a European sales on their Ultra Light series, placing the 16” at 1698€, I jumped on it!

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VITE 2X Barlow Lens Review

Nov 10 2016 02:13 PM | jfriz in User Reviews

This review describes the VITE 2x Barlow lens including my initial impressions of build and optical quality. I observe from a suburb in the southeast U.S. I have one telescope, an 8-inch Dobsonian, and have had it for approximately five years. The photos included in this review represent my first crack at astro-imaging. I wanted to try prime focus photography with my DSLR but my focuser does not have enough in-travel to do so. I used the Barlow to achieve focus with my telescope/focuser/camera combination.

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November 2016 Skies

Nov 08 2016 10:47 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Polar Reversal?, Planet Plotting, November Moon

Focus Constellations: Camelopardalis, Auriga, Taurus, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cepheus, Cygnus, Lyra, Draco, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Bootes

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Sky Commander Review

Oct 30 2016 09:04 AM | Feidb in User Reviews

With such a long dry spell in 2016, I started pondering how to get the most bang for my buck when I finally did get out with the scope. Just think. For the past fifty years, I’ve been manually searching for and finding objects, up to around two-thousand at this point. However, as time has worn on, I thought about it. On the past few observing sessions, going back a couple of years, my yield slowly dwindled. Why?

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Cosmic Challenge: IC 5146 and B168

Oct 29 2016 08:17 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

As a group, emission nebulae, or Hydrogen-II regions, are the most difficult deep-sky objects to see visually. The problem is that they radiate light in very narrow segments of the visible spectrum, with their brightest emissions in the red wavelengths. As luck would have it, the human eye is all but color blind to red light under dim light conditions. Arguably, the only objects more difficult to spot than emission nebulae are the opaque profiles of dark nebulae. These cosmic dust clouds are themselves invisible; we only see their silhouettes against the starry backdrop. No starry backdrop, no dark nebula; it's that simple. And that brings us to this month's double challenge in Cygnus. IC 5146, known to many by its nickname, the Cocoon Nebula, is a taxing patch of glowing gas, while Barnard 168 is a thin, sinuous lane of darkness that seems to start at the nebula and extend far to its northwest.

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October 2016 Skies

Oct 12 2016 09:59 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Halloween, Planet Plotting, October Moon

Focus Constellations: Camelopardalis, Auriga, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cepheus, Cygnus, Lyra, Aquila, Hercules, Draco, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Bootes

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Cosmic Challenge: Pease 1

Oct 01 2016 03:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Of the more than 130 globular clusters gravitationally linked to our Milky Way galaxy, only four are known to contain planetary nebulae.  The best known example of a planetary/globular pairing is Pease 1 found within M15 in Pegasus.  That's this month's Cosmic Challenge.

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Wireless Control of Canon EOS DSLRs with DSLR Controller and TP-Link MR3040 Wireless Router

Sep 26 2016 12:29 PM | emag in User Reviews

When doing astrophotography, most of us use a laptop for camera control, autoguiding and image display. At public outreach stargazes we often just want to take a single time exposure in order to show visitors what 'that fuzzy blob' they see in the eyepiece really looks like, it's often not at all convenient to set up a laptop. A tablet is an excellent tool for image display, but there's still the problem of a USB cable from the tablet to the camera. Many tablets don't even have a full size USB connection or require a special adapter or cable, but they all have WiFi. That's great if you're using a camera that has WiFi capability but what about those DSLRs that don't? Enter the TP-Link MR3040 Wireless Router.

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