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The Year-Long 60mm Telescope Challenge

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#1 Charlie Hein

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 04:33 PM

The Year-Long 60mm Telescope Challenge

By James Barnett

#2 Scott in NC

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 04:42 PM

Very nice, Jim! My vintage Tasco 7TE-5 60/1000 and I are up for the challenge. :)

#3 jrbarnett

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 05:51 PM

Good show. I'm hoping we get quite a few takers. I'm waiting on my Desert Sky Astro DSV-1 which should be here pretty soon. I'm going to mount up one of the Cartons on one side and the AT60EDT on the other, bust out the atlases and start chasing the targets. I'll get some pictures up of my 60mm challenge setup as soon as I have the mount.

Regards,

Jim

#4 EJN

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 06:20 PM

See this post I made last July

http://www.cloudynig...Board=deep&N...

#5 droid

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 06:23 PM

Now you know with the 60mm telescope group in my sig line , Id love the idea.
I have both 1000mm and 700mm 60mm scopes.

#6 jrbarnett

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 06:29 PM

You're ahead of the game. I haven't crossreferenced your observing notes from the other thread with the 60mm challenge target list (embedded as a pdf in the article), but I'll bet your targets are in there somewhere. May as well observe the rest. :grin:

Regards,

Jim

#7 jrbarnett

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 09:45 PM

Hey Andy! I've actually observed with Carol Widger at the OFLI Farm site. She and her hubby are very nice. Carol fielded a nifty little 50mm scope that night and I was using a Carton 60/1000. I hope you'll download the pdf list embedded in the article and give some of the targets a try. (Apologies in advance - the list is about 65 pages :foreheadslap: .)

I should probably let the 60mm scope club crew know that the gauntlet has been thrown. :lol:

- Jim

#8 jgraham

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 10:04 PM

What a neat idea! My first love was a Sears 50mm refractor way back circa 1962. Some of my most treasured posessions are my two 60mm Tascos on thier wibbly wobbly mounts. However, I've found that they respond quite well when handled with the tender loving care that comes with age and experience. I thought that it was neat how you mounted your little refractor on a CG5 and I was pondering something similar when I had a duh moment... I've already got a 60mm refractor on a GoTo mount... an ETX-60! This'll be a great project for this little scope. I'm also getting an ol' 10" LX6 that is fitted with an ETX-60 mounted as a finder. It'll be really neat to use these two scopes in tandem to explore this list.

Neat stuff!

#9 Chuck Hards

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 11:28 PM

This is timely- and kind of weird. A couple of years ago, I picked up a 50mm f/20 achromat and started building a telescope around it, with the idea of revisiting as many deep-sky objects as it would reveal to me. Working on-and-off on the project (more off than on), the OTA is nearly finished and now I'm working on mating it to one of two small GEMs I have on-hand. I was hoping to start the observing program this summer. Imagine my surprise at finding this article/challenge!
I also have a 60mm f/16 Penncrest (JC Penny) refractor, pretty much complete in original wooden case, with all the accessories and a nice GEM mount with manual slow-motions, but I want to see the program through with the 50mm f/20. It has a 1.25" focuser, so I can use some halfway decent eyepieces.
I had thought that I'd give it a go with my old Kellners, orthos, Erfles, and yes, even a couple of old Edmund Ramsdens I still have. The stuff I used back in the late sixties and early seventies.

I also have a 42mm f/18 achromat that will probably find it's way into an OTA if I have fun with the 50mm.

It's nice to know that others have had the same idea, and it will be interesting to see just what the little scope can reveal.

Talk about a time warp!

#10 jrbarnett

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 11:54 PM

Fantastic John and Chuck. Looking forward to sharing this journey with you both. It's all a matter of perspective I suppose. Though just 2.4" (or a bit less in the case of your 50mm, Chuck), I suspect the optical quality of our scopes is considerably better than that of any instrument Messier or Mechain used. Likewise, Galileo would have given a kidney and his eye teeth to have a 60mm achromat. Boy are we spoiled! :grin:

Regards,

Jim

#11 Astrojensen

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 03:51 AM

I just took a glance at the challenge list and boy, do I find many things in the DSO list that I disagree with! I have to ask, Jim, to make things clearer for me, was the list made with a somewhat light polluted sky in mind? I was flabbergasted when I found M33 described as being very difficult. The list is riddled with examples like this. Things that I find extremely obvious, like M82, are described as being hard to see. Why is NGC 7662 very difficult, while NGC 6826 is very easy? They're very close to each other in size and brightness, in my experience.

And where's NGC 7789, the wonderful OC in Cassiopeia? Lots of examples like these.

I need to dig up my observing logs and crossreference the list. I think there's a truckload of stuff I've seen quite easily that's not on the list.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#12 droid

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 06:04 AM

Hey Andy! I've actually observed with Carol Widger at the OFLI Farm site. She and her hubby are very nice. Carol fielded a nifty little 50mm scope that night and I was using a Carton 60/1000. I hope you'll download the pdf list embedded in the article and give some of the targets a try. (Apologies in advance - the list is about 65 pages :foreheadslap: .)

I should probably let the 60mm scope club crew know that the gauntlet has been thrown. :lol:

- Jim


Jim; I've never met Carol in person or her husband. But she's a good friend. The widger scope listed in my sig line was a scope brand scope, that was in very bad shape when she mailed in cross country. It has a Towa lens and after an extensive upgrade list, I named it the Widger scope.

Yep let the 60mm group know about this.

The group owner Pete will like it.

Thomas who replied below is one thee 60mm groups better observers.

#13 jgraham

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 07:23 AM

Just glancing throughbthe list it paints a broad stroke including objects that should be easy to impossible depending on your sky conditions. For example, I have never ever ever been able to see M33 from my back yard visually with any scope. However, for this journey I'm going to make a special effort. I am looking forward to hearing how others do on the list with their own experience and conditions.

Fun stuff.

#14 Don Taylor

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 08:57 AM

Jim: this is a great idea and good timing. I've just completed a small scope as a grab & go for a couple of reasons, to have a convenient quick look scope, and to revisit my first observing experiences.

That first scope of many moons ago was a 60mm but one of those sliding draw tube - variable power - erect image alt-azimuth scopes. I don't remember the brand but it was 20x - 60x if I recall correctly, not a yoke mount but a clamshell that pivoted in elevation below the tube.

No finder, too short wobbly mount, the whole works. My parents found it advertised in the newspaper (used) nearby and they were asking $12. I believe they accepted $10. I was in heaven!

Eventually i just had to adapt the zoom (egad!) eyepiece from my microscope to it and fashion longer legs for the tripod. Must have been about 12 years old. I remember viewing the moon but especially Saturn. I'm sure I looked at lots of things but the memory is not clear.

But that was the seed that led to countless nights under the stars, many friends, infecting others to join this amazing hobby, building some interesting scopes, and even doing serious astrophotography with observatory class scopes. Quite the journey!

But in the last year I've been working on turning back the clock to revisit those nights looking at the sky with that little 60mm - and was also thinking about doing the Messier objects with one. After all, Messier observed from Paris, albeit before the invention of electric light but I suspect the sky was anything but clear from cooking and heating fires. Can I see what he saw?

And then, along comes this challenge!

While I plan to keep my eye out for a scope like my first, the little grab&go I now have will do - all I need is an aperture mask and I'm set. Of course the optical quality is likely quite a bit better that the scope of 45 years ago - but alas, I'll just have to put up with it I guess.

Thanks for putting together the challenge. This will be fun, even just dabbling in the list.

Thanks Jim!

#15 jrbarnett

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 09:22 AM

Hi Thomas. Yes, the list assumes an experienced middle-aged, suburban observer with Mag 4.5 skies, moderately clean optics and a 38N location. The actual rating formula, though, is the one built into the SkyTools3 application, so I included it without much independent scrutiny.

I wouldn't get too wrapped around the axle on the assigned difficulty ratings, nor worry too much about missing objects or objects on the list that are too tough for small aperture. It's a big menu, but like any restaurant's menu, there are going to be dishes you like that are not offered and things you can't stand that are. :grin:

Do let us know how many of the 889 listed targets you've already seen with a 60. It will give the rest of us encouragement.

Regards,

Jim

#16 jrbarnett

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 09:44 AM

Thank you Don.

It's interesting that a number of us who fit the demographic mentioned in the article have all had similar nostalgic regressions to smaller aperture scopes from out early days.

It did seem like it was time. And your attitude is perfect. Use what you have and sample from the list. It's an exercise in aesthetic enjoyment as much as a "challenge". In fact, the challenge may be more about challenging oneself to bypass larger aperture and dedicate some observing time to a small scope.

One other item. There's a William Herschel quotation somewhere that I have misplaced, but it paraphrases like this: "Once you find an object in a bigger telescope, it is easier to then find that same object in a smaller telescope." For targets that put up a fight at 60mm, by all means find them with more aperture, but then give 60mm another try on the target with your fresh larger aperture bearings in mind.

It's drizzling here now, but if we get sun later today I will take some pictures of my intended 60mm playmates for this effort.

Regards,

Jim

#17 t.r.

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 10:35 AM

Nice article and quite the list. I'm familiar with Freeman's work and he always maintained that published magnitudes may need to be re-examined. Some objects listed at 13 and even 14th magnitude have been bagged, so I think for an experienced observer, much is possible. My 2 Jason 313's, one of which I used as a kid, are standing by ready for fun...I will join in, but I have no idea how many of your objects I will see before, well, the hunger for more aperture calls me away! My seeing/season is too precious to not use the better scopes I have. But, I'll have fun and submit a few reports for the year end wrap up. I think many will be pleasantly suprised how much can actually be done with 60mm! :bow:

EDIT: After pondering this, I've decided to pick from the list, a number of objects that I feel will be a challenge from my mag 6+ skies and report on those. Perhaps, I'll dub it the Barnett 100! ;)

#18 Astrojensen

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 11:56 AM

Yes, the list assumes an experienced middle-aged, suburban observer with Mag 4.5 skies, moderately clean optics and a 38N location. The actual rating formula, though, is the one built into the SkyTools3 application, so I included it without much independent scrutiny.


Okay, that explains a lot of things, such as the inclusion of Markarian 381 in Bootes...

I wouldn't get too wrapped around the axle on the assigned difficulty ratings, nor worry too much about missing objects or objects on the list that are too tough for small aperture. It's a big menu, but like any restaurant's menu, there are going to be dishes you like that are not offered and things you can't stand that are.


I do think it's quite a big deal not to include big, famous objects that are easily visible, while including several that are extremely faint and difficult.

Do let us know how many of the 889 listed targets you've already seen with a 60. It will give the rest of us encouragement.



Haven't counted them yet, but I see *lots* of familiar names, so I guess the number is going to be a couple of hundred or so, perhaps more. There are several constellations I have barely worked at, such as Monoceros.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#19 davidpitre

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 01:06 PM

The actual rating formula, though, is the one built into the SkyTools3 application, so I included it without much independent scrutiny.

I am not an expert observer and my eyes are worse than average from decades of outdoor work, but I find the SkyTools difficulty ratings always pessimistic. It is one of the poorer aspects of the program. When sorting by difficulty I always list a darker sky than actual, and still find the ratings overly pessimistic.

#20 jrbarnett

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 01:14 PM

Aww, Tim, no need for that (i.e., the B100 list). I'm very mindful, though, that there are parts of the world where the number of clear nights are few. For such places what I would suggest is this. Find a way to mount a 60 with your larger scope. That way, only moments during each session rather than entire sessions are spent on the challenge. :thinking:

Regards,

Jim

#21 jrbarnett

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 01:26 PM

I would agree, David.

But it is what it is. More important than the "absolute" rating, however, is whether the "relativity" of the ratings is accurate. In other words, you have two targets, one ranked "difficult" and the other "very challenging" (which is two notches harder on the ST3 ratings scale). Even is one is really "obvious" and the other "difficult" (i.e., two notches harder), the rating system has some value. Maybe it's just not very well calibrated.

Also, the rating system around double stars is a little wonky in its own right. When using the database power search feature and there are actually two different "difficulty"-like filtering systems - one for visibility and the other for splitability. I sometimes forget to modify one or the other and then get funny results in the generated list columns.

Still, it's a handy tool for sorting and such. Oh, I also normalized the list for a spring night in 2013 (on the theory that spring is Messier Marathon season and offers as good a range of dates as any for generating a year-round list. That might have been an erroneous assumption, but it is what it is. In any case, plenty to chase.

Regards,

Jim

#22 jrbarnett

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 01:42 PM

"I do think it's quite a big deal not to include big, famous objects that are easily visible, while including several that are extremely faint and difficult."

That's where we differ. Anything that inspires folks to try out too-often underestimated small aperture on any group of targets is worthwhile. The list could have had 50 targets or 10,000 targets, and from the perspective kindling interest in the format would have been just as useful. :shrug:

Besides, Herschel's list includes many erroneous listings (i.e., no object at the position given) and also omits objects that were within the capability of his equipment. So too Messier did not catalog every object that it would have been possible for him to observe. The challenge list is in that sense in good company. :grin:

Regards,

Jim

#23 Astrojensen

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 02:41 PM

Anything that inspires folks to try out too-often underestimated small aperture on any group of targets is worthwhile.



True, but why then confuse them with near-impossible targets? Or even nonexisting ones?

I think the list is a great idea, make no mistake, but it desperately needs revision in my opinion, to weed out nonexisting objects and very faint ones that are out of range of a 60mm, unless you stick a CCD on it.

I've made such a list some years ago, actually. It's in the 60mm Club archives somewhere. I actually made two lists. One with only easy objects and one also with faint objects, also threshold ones, with galaxies to mag 11.5 and planetary nebulae to mag 13. It has over 1100 objects. I have not seen every object on them, of course, but I weeded the list as well as I could, using DSS to check dubious cases, such as anonymous PGC galaxies or the MCG "galaxies" in Orion (they're actually small diffuse and reflection nebulae).

Since some time back, I've been working on a ~100 object list with non-messier deep-sky objects for a 60mm that I've actually observed. Mostly bright objects that are easy to see, but with a few challenges for a dark sky thrown in here and there. Sort of a "Hidden Treasure" list for 60mm scopes.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#24 t.r.

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 03:08 PM

I'm surprised that the Astro League doesn't have a 60mm observing program, long overdue.

#25 Astrojensen

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 03:30 PM

I'm surprised that the Astro League doesn't have a 60mm observing program, long overdue.


Now that you mention it. They really should have. Perhaps they think the Messier list suffices?


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark






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