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A Newbie's Early Observation Log - Join me!

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#5976 aeajr

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 10:28 AM

7/18/18  10:15 pm  70 degrees, 50% RH, slight breeze  S 3/5  T 4/5

(I could actually see some stars to the East of Saturn – very unusual)
Meade ETX 80 used in GoTo/tracking mode, Orion XT8i used manually   Stellarium on the phone.
Baader Hyperion Zoom, Meade 82/5.5, ES 82/6.7, Daytson 2X, 3X barlows, GSO 1.5X 2” barlow element, #12, #21 color filters

 

Goals

  • Test the ETX 80 to be sure it is in good working order for Thursday’s outreach event at the Old Westbury Gardens
  • Try to see the moons of Saturn with the ETX 80
  • Try to see the moons of Saturn with Orion XT8i
  • Take another look at Mars

Position challenge - I had my phone open and Stellarium running, zoomed in on Saturn so that it showed me the moons.  Position was more of an issue tonight than usual as I was not focused on the planet but on dim things around it.  So how a refractor with a diagonal or a Newtonian would present the image would be different from what Stellarium was showing me and I would have to consider that as I tried to identify these little pinpoints of light as moons.   A key thing to remember is that refractors flip the image left to right.   Newtonian’s flip them top to bottom and left to right.

 

While writing this report I pulled up a diagram in “Turn left at Orion” which shows how the refractor and the Newtonian flip and turn the image.  I kept it open to remind me of this effect to help me confirm my sightings.  I think there is a way to have Stellarium change the image to match the scope but I don’t know how to do it.  Will have to investigate that.

 

======================================
10:15 pm - Saturn  ETX 80 – I have looked at Saturn with the ETX before.  Other than a bit of chromatic aberration it puts up a pretty good image.  But tonight I was not focused on the planet but on seeing the moons around the planet.   Tonight the best images were with Meade 5.5 in 2X barlow, about 145X.   Also good was ES 82 6.7 in 3X barlow, about 180X, but detail was better at 145X and I was able to pick up more of the surrounding pinpoints at the lower power.

                                                                  
                                                                 S

                                                  * Enceladus ?                                  
                                                                                        
                                                                                                            *  Titan

 

 

The seeing was OK and transparency was pretty good.  I could actually see some stars to the left (SE) of Saturn which were probably part of Sagittarius.  Normally there is nothing or maybe 1 random star, but tonight there maybe 12 dim stars to the left of Saturn.   I did not explore them but it caught my attention as it is so unusual.

 

Titan was pretty distinct and I was confident of that one.  I had a faint pinpoint at the point were I show Enceladus, but I am not sure as it would fade in and out and was only visible via averted vision.   I was hitting the limits of the scope under these light pollution conditions.   So I will call Titan a hit and Enceladus a maybe.

 

ETX 80 tracking was good.  I was using the hand control to move Saturn around in the eyepiece to try having the planet at different angles to see if that would reveal detail.  I also moved it just out of the FOV to see if that might help me see a faint pinpoint that could be a moon.

 

11:10 – Packed up the ETX 80 and took it back to the garage.  Out came the Orion XT8i

11:29 = XT8i  - Saturn – In the BH Zoom at 50X I could see Titan clearly, confirming by position against other stars in the field of view.   But I could not detect any of the other moons.

 

After some zooming in and out and trying different eyepieces I had my best views in the ES 82 6.7/about 180x and my BHZ at 150X.  I moved back and forth trying to tease out those tiny moons. 

 

                                                                                                                       Titan
                                                      ‘

                                                                                  S
                                                                                              Tethys
                                                                        Dione                                        
                                                                                                            Rhea
                                                                    
                                                                                                                     

Titan was confirmed.  
Rhea was confirmed and
Tethys was visible by averted vision, confirmed by position
Dione – I had a pinpoint come in and out in the position that would be Dione.   I had to keep reminding myself that the image was flipped as I compared Stellarium and the eyepiece.   It was fleeting, winking in and out as seeing changed focus but I am going to declare this one seen, even if it was fleeting.

 

I continued to play with eyepieces, moving Saturn out of view to see if I could get a better look at the moons.  That helped with Tethys and Dione.   I don't think I can confirm Enceladus but there was a rare hint of a pinpoint in the proper position.  I won’t declare that one seen.

 

12:10 – Mars – Could not pack up without a peek at Mars.   In fact tonight was the best view of Mars since 2016.  Seeing was a bit better and the transparency was good.  Mars was about 21 degrees above the horizon.  The planet boiled but I was able to detect some variation in shading on the planet.   Using the XT8i, the best view was again between the BHZ at 150X/.45 degree FOV and the ES 82 6.7 at 180X/.45 degree FOV.      I barlowed the zoom but topped out around 7 mm (14X2) so about the same mag as the ES.  

 

As I viewed the planet in the Newtonian, the lower right quadrant seemed to show a darker area than the rest of the planet.   I saw a pinpoint to the right of the planet, about 20% of the FOV distant from the planet that I thought might have been one of the moons, but it was a star.  Checking Stellarium later, the moons were much closer to the planet and would not have been visible.

 

I tried a #21 filter – no help
I tried a #12 filter, yellow, and this did help bring up that darker area just a bit, enough for me to feel confident that it was actually there.

 

12:30 pm – done

 

This was one of the very few times that I had pulled out two scopes, one after the other in an attempt to compare views.  Clearly aperture wins as the XT8i pulls in 6.6X as much light as the 3.1” refractor.  The difference was immediately obvious in the eyepiece.

 

Looking for the moons of Saturn represented the longest I can recall ever spending on one task/target with the possible exception of our moon.    It was fun to chase these faint targets and work to translate and confirm by position around Saturn.

 

Glad I took a brief look at Mars.  It was still a very disappointing target, but the best view I have seen this year.
  

Best regards
Ed, the Cosmic Tourist 


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#5977 SeaBee1

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 10:47 AM

Nice report, Ed! I too am finding I enjoy the two scope comparison expedition, it lends a bit of contrast and for me, forces me to pay more attention with the smaller aperture.

 

Clear skies Sir!

 

CB


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#5978 NEOhio

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 11:03 AM


Position challenge - I had my phone open and Stellarium running, zoomed in on Saturn so that it showed me the moons.  Position was more of an issue tonight than usual as I was not focused on the planet but on dim things around it.  So how a refractor with a diagonal or a Newtonian would present the image would be different from what Stellarium was showing me and I would have to consider that as I tried to identify these little pinpoints of light as moons.   A key thing to remember is that refractors flip the image left to right.   Newtonian’s flip them top to bottom and left to right.
---------------------
 
FYI, for a Newtonian the image is truly upside down, so if you are running Stellarium Mobile on a phone you can physically rotate the phone 180 deg (upside down) to match the eyepiece FOV. Conceptually the same with a computer but of course harder to flip upside down :-)    Unfortunately there is no way to do that for the mirror flip of a refractor or SCT that uses a diagonal, you have to flip mentally.
 
One feature of Skysafari is that if you tap the upper right where it shows the FOV dimensions, it brings up options to flip the display any which way you want. Take the "invert horizontal" and you match the refractor/SCT with diagonal view. Problem is that I invariably then forget to switch it back to the regular view and cannot figure out why Skysafari is not matching the views naked eye and in the RACI. I just checked my PC version of Stellarium and did not find an equivalent option, but it might be there and I am missing it.

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#5979 NYJohn S

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 11:20 AM

 

Position challenge - I had my phone open and Stellarium running, zoomed in on Saturn so that it showed me the moons.  Position was more of an issue tonight than usual as I was not focused on the planet but on dim things around it.  So how a refractor with a diagonal or a Newtonian would present the image would be different from what Stellarium was showing me and I would have to consider that as I tried to identify these little pinpoints of light as moons.   A key thing to remember is that refractors flip the image left to right.   Newtonian’s flip them top to bottom and left to right.
---------------------
 
FYI, for a Newtonian the image is truly upside down, so if you are running Stellarium Mobile on a phone you can physically rotate the phone 180 deg (upside down) to match the eyepiece FOV. Conceptually the same with a computer but of course harder to flip upside down :-)    Unfortunately there is no way to do that for the mirror flip of a refractor or SCT that uses a diagonal, you have to flip mentally.
 
One feature of Skysafari is that if you tap the upper right where it shows the FOV dimensions, it brings up options to flip the display any which way you want. Take the "invert horizontal" and you match the refractor/SCT with diagonal view. Problem is that I invariably then forget to switch it back to the regular view and cannot figure out why Skysafari is not matching the views naked eye and in the RACI. I just checked my PC version of Stellarium and did not find an equivalent option, but it might be there and I am missing it.

 

I generally do the same as you with my reflector Rob. I use Sky Safari but I just flip the phone upside down. When using my refractor or SCT I use the flip function in the app.


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#5980 JHollJr

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 03:10 PM

Sky Safari Pro will automatically flip the view for you. Just tap the area in the very upper right corner on the angular view and a menu will pop down letting you flip both vertically and horizontally. For my refractors and maksutov I only need to flip horizontally. 


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#5981 aeajr

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 10:59 PM

We had a great time at the Old Westbury Gardens Stargazing night.  My astronomy club had 7 scope out on a grassy field.  About 40 people came to look and to hear about astronomy and the sky.

 

The weather was very cooperative.   About 68 degrees, slight breeze, moderate humidity and clear skies.   We saw Venus, the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. 

 

I set up my ETX 80 to track on the moon, and later on Jupiter.  But I spent most of my time talking to people, doing a sort of group discussion about the planets, the moon, telescopes and binoculars.   It was kind of a conversation with a group.  They seemed to enjoy it.   I handed out about 10 cards.  We will see if I hear from them.

 

I enjoy outreach.  It gives me a chance to share my passion for the hobby with others.

 

Hope you all had a great evening.


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#5982 JHollJr

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Posted 20 July 2018 - 10:30 AM

Ed, we all enjoy your passion, too. I’m amazed at how many people take the time to find out about such events and actually go. 


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#5983 pygmycory

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 02:48 PM

JHollJr

 

Pygmy, I’d be interested to know what eyepieces came with the Meade Infinity 80mm. Did you get the scope new or did someone sell it to you with eyepieces? The optics in those scopes are usually quite good.

 

By the way, you really don’t want to be looking at Albireo at 190x. I would suggest between 30 and 80x are the most pleasant.

I got the scope new. The eyepieces are reversed kellner 26mm, 9mm and 6.3mm, with a 2x barlow. I'm not looking at Albireo at 190x, that is what Stellarium seems to think is needed, which was confusing me because it looks like it is splitting nicely starting at about 15x, and a lovely view at 30x. I did try higher powers up to about 127X, which is the highest I have. Judging from this, and from what everyone here has said, I am ignoring Stellarium's opinion. Not sure what is going on with them.


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#5984 aeajr

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 03:35 PM

pygmycory,

 

I have never used Stellarium's eyepiece simulator to plan an observation.   So I went to it just now to see what it would show for Alberio.   Not sure what it was presenting but it did not line up with anything I experienced.   30X should split it nicely.  

 

http://earthsky.org/...est-double-star

 

I have had a similar reaction to using the eyepiece simulator in the past.   I place no value on it.

 

I use Albiero as part of a sequence I do at outreach.  Used it his past week.

 

=========================================

A sequence is fun and it teaches skills that they can repeat at home – This comes from the Quick Start Guide 

 

New Astronomer Quick Start Guide - based on binoculars
https://www.cloudyni...art-guide-r3143

 

 

I have walked this visual to binocular to telescope sequence at personal and club outreach sessions.   People enjoy it and bring others over to hear and see it.   Sometimes I hear them doing this sequence for their friends.

 

Requirements:  

  • Eyes
  • Binoculars they bring or you loan them
  • 7X35, 8X40 work best. 
  • 10X50 work too but introduce too much shake for some people.
  • A tracking telescope, preferably low power wide view with a zoom eyepiece, set up on Albireo (optional)
  • A laser pointer helps insure that they are looking where you want them to look.

I do this as a presentation, standing in the open.  I have 10X50s I am using and I bring ($25)  7X35 and 10X50s that I can loan them.  If they have their own binoculars, even better.  And it works well with a group who can follow along, especially if you have a laser pointer. 

 

The entire sequence takes about 10 minutes and I do it over and over all night.

 

First step is to show them how to use binoculars.   Most people don't know how to adjust the width so they get blackouts.  Or they don’t know how to adjust the diopter so they get a fuzzy view in one eye and that can be unsettling.    If binoculars bother them, as they used to bother my wife, I just tell them to close one eye.    Showing how to adjust the binoculars is critical to success of this exercise.

 

Second thing is to teach them to bring the binoculars into the line of sight with the object so they don't lose it.   Most will turn their head down, bring the binoculars to their eyes and then go back to the sky and be unable to find the target. 

 

  • look at the target
  • raise the binoculars to your eyes as you are looking at the target
  • Adjust and focus
  • If you can't find it, move the binoculars out of the way, find it, then slide them back into the visual path so you don't lose it.

 

Constellations of Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila – May through September. 

 

Imagine you are standing with me and this is what I am saying.   This is the script

 

The first thing I do each summer evening is look for Vega, to orient myself.  Vega is one of the brightest stars in the sky.

( point out Vega)

 

How do I know I am looking at Vega?  There is a star pair near to Vega that is quite bright in binoculars and when I look at Vega I can see that star pair too.   The pair is called the Epsilon Lyrae or the Double Double. 

 

(I point out Vega with my fingers or a laser pointer so that they see it. I then show them how to use binoculars to find it.)

Using binoculars, look for the bright star and the : next to it and you are on Vega.

( confirm they can find it several times as this is the critical step to this star hop.)

(binoculars down, eyes up )

 

Looking from Vega we can find two other bright stars, Deneb and Altair which form the The Summer Triangle.    Altair is about 30 degrees to the SW and Deneb is about 25 degrees to the NE of Vega.  You should be able to see these from almost any location with the naked eye. 

 

(naked eye - point them out and trace the triangle in the sky till they can visualize it easily.)

 

Now look at Deneb.  Next to Deneb you will see 3 stars that form the arms of The Northern Cross

 

(point them out and be sure they see them - naked eye)

 

Draw a line from Deneb down through the center one then go about 15 degrees and find Albireo

 

(naked eye - draw the cross and point out Albireo - as it is fainter then the rest they may have trouble picking it out)

 

Albireo is called a double star. It looks like one white star but it is really a blue and a yellow star that are visually lined up so they look like one star.  Take a look with your binoculars, can you find it?   In a telescope at about 30X we can split Albireo into two stars.  It is beautiful to see. 

 

( We move to the telescope. I have my Meade ETX 80 tracking Albireo all night with a Celestron zoom eyepiece set to 24 mm, 16X in this scope.   As you turn the barrel of the zoom you can see the double star split.)

 

If we look in the telescope we can see Albireo.  Now turn the barrel of the eyepiece and watch the single white star split into a blue and a yellow star. 

 

(Back to the sky, naked eye)

 

Now draw a line from Albireo to Altair.    (finger and laser)

 

Approximately half way between them (10 degrees) is the The Coathanger or Cr 399 . 

 

(They can't see the coat hanger naked eye so this is their first introduction to star hopping, using binocular FOV to find an object that can't be seen naked eye.  I teach them how to judge a FOV by moving a star from the left side of the FOV to the right.  In 7X35s that would be about 8 degrees.)

 

Using my 10X50 binoculars (6 degree FOV) as an example that would be about 2 FOV to put in into the middle area of the view.  If you are using 7X35s ( 8 degree FOV) it is about 1.5 FOV.  In 15X70s 3 FOV (4.4 degree FOV) from Albireo toward Altair.

 

When you find it, the coat hanger will look like a hook with a cross bar, a coat hanger.  Not a triangular coat hanger, just a hook with the cross bar.

 

​​Sequence Complete - Others are outlined in the Quick Start Guide


Edited by aeajr, 21 July 2018 - 03:37 PM.

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#5985 NYJohn S

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 05:40 PM

I got my new Astro-Tech AT102ED yesterday. I was following the threads when it was in development and wanted to pre-order one but never did. They recently put it on sale for $499 reduced from $599. I couldn't resist at that price so I ordered one just before I left for my trip. I was thinking it would be a good travel scope for me. A little more aperture than my C80ED but still small enough to take with me on the road. I tested it out last night and posted the report here. https://www.cloudyni...-one/?p=8717078

 

It wasn't the best night for the test with some clouds moving through but I was impressed with it so far. I think I'm going to sell 1 or 2 of my other scopes to pay for it. I really don't need more than the XT8 and the AT102ED. With those 2 and my binoculars I think I'm covered for the type of observing I like to do.

 

gallery_256530_9566_211529.jpg

gallery_256530_9566_698263.jpg


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#5986 Tyson M

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 10:17 PM

Looks great!

 

That 102ED is such a bargain, I was tempted to buy one too. 

 

Great price, good focuser and 100mm optics is fantastic package. Being a good value adds to its enjoyment sometimes.

 

A CN member compared it to a similar size 100mm scope costing $2400 and decided it was close enough to want to sell the premium scope instead. 


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#5987 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 11:09 PM

We had 16 guests + the Naturalist and I show up at McCloud nature park for our monthly outreach event tonight. This was a good turnout especially given the predicted clouds in the forecast. I received a lot of questions about the planets tonight from the crowd. I did my best to answer them though the questions are getting much more technical as the Summer goes on so I’m likening my McCloud presentations to a monthly episode of Stump the Chumps with me being the chump. My wife suggested we have some method of writing down questions and getting answers back to them. I think that’s a great idea. I think I’m going to add my email to the last page of the slide deck as a feedback method.

After the presentation I didn’t have a lot of hope we’d get to see anything, but upon looking to the Southeast we were greated by Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon in their own individual sucker holes, so I grabbed the Orion 6” dob from the back of the car and set it up right by the nature center and was able to share with the guests. Clouds were in and out and sucker hole opportunities were few and far between. Jupiter and the Moon were available but Saturn dodged us. One family who stayed a little later got to see almost opposition Mars get high enough in the Southeast. We looked at it through the scope as well. Everyone left at 11pm but it was nice to share something with the attendees.
Jon Thomas


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#5988 JHollJr

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Posted Yesterday, 05:57 AM

I got my new Astro-Tech AT102ED yesterday. I was following the threads when it was in development and wanted to pre-order one but never did. They recently put it on sale for $499 reduced from $599. I couldn't resist at that price so I ordered one just before I left for my trip. I was thinking it would be a good travel scope for me. A little more aperture than my C80ED but still small enough to take with me on the road. I tested it out last night and posted the report here. https://www.cloudyni...-one/?p=8717078

 

It wasn't the best night for the test with some clouds moving through but I was impressed with it so far. I think I'm going to sell 1 or 2 of my other scopes to pay for it. I really don't need more than the XT8 and the AT102ED. With those 2 and my binoculars I think I'm covered for the type of observing I like to do.

 

gallery_256530_9566_211529.jpg

gallery_256530_9566_698263.jpg

The scope looks beautul. I’m using a Twilight I for my ES102ED and find that when I have it angled I’m really disappointed with the stability. That goes away if I use it vertically, but then so do zenith views. But I quit looking at the zenith years ago even with my Questar, because I just don’t like crawling around an eyepiece. Give me whatever is south and up to about 50 degrees and I’m really happy.


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#5989 SeaBee1

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Posted Yesterday, 08:40 AM

I got my new Astro-Tech AT102ED yesterday. I was following the threads when it was in development and wanted to pre-order one but never did. They recently put it on sale for $499 reduced from $599. I couldn't resist at that price so I ordered one just before I left for my trip. I was thinking it would be a good travel scope for me. A little more aperture than my C80ED but still small enough to take with me on the road. I tested it out last night and posted the report here. https://www.cloudyni...-one/?p=8717078

 

It wasn't the best night for the test with some clouds moving through but I was impressed with it so far. I think I'm going to sell 1 or 2 of my other scopes to pay for it. I really don't need more than the XT8 and the AT102ED. With those 2 and my binoculars I think I'm covered for the type of observing I like to do.

 

gallery_256530_9566_211529.jpg

gallery_256530_9566_698263.jpg

 

WOW, John, that is one sweet looking rig! I bet the "looks" are just as sweet as it looks! Makes me wonder if I should sell my Omni 102mm and pick up one of those!

 

And you guys know I love my Omni 102...

 

Hmmm...

 

Enjoy that scope!

 

CB


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#5990 NYJohn S

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Posted Yesterday, 09:51 AM

Looks great!

 

That 102ED is such a bargain, I was tempted to buy one too. 

 

Great price, good focuser and 100mm optics is fantastic package. Being a good value adds to its enjoyment sometimes.

 

A CN member compared it to a similar size 100mm scope costing $2400 and decided it was close enough to want to sell the premium scope instead. 

Thanks Tyson. That's good to hear. I was very happy with what I saw but I don't have any truly high end scopes like that to compare to. You're right, getting a deal on a nice scope makes it that much better. If I spent a few thousand on it I'd probably feel guilty every time I took it out.

 

The scope looks beautul. I’m using a Twilight I for my ES102ED and find that when I have it angled I’m really disappointed with the stability. That goes away if I use it vertically, but then so do zenith views. But I quit looking at the zenith years ago even with my Questar, because I just don’t like crawling around an eyepiece. Give me whatever is south and up to about 50 degrees and I’m really happy.

Thanks Justin, It sounds like the arm is the problem so I guess keeping it straight helps. The problem for me is with the trees I'm looking quite high most of the time. I may try some of the mods to strengthen it.

WOW, John, that is one sweet looking rig! I bet the "looks" are just as sweet as it looks! Makes me wonder if I should sell my Omni 102mm and pick up one of those!

 

And you guys know I love my Omni 102...

 

Hmmm...

 

Enjoy that scope!

 

CB

Thanks CB. The guys in the thread have been tracking the purchases and I think they only have 1 left. I'm not 100% sure on that but it does say still in stock on the site.

 

It's a nice upgrade from my 80mm. I'm not sure how it would compare to the Omni 102. The shorter length was was the selling point for me. It's 714mm, 28" without the diagonal so it fits in the same case I was using for my C80ED and will fit in my RV. It's also easy to get out the door in one trip while on the mount. I would think at F7 you can probably go wider with the right eyepieces but I don't have anything that wide yet. I haven't heard a bad report on the Omni 102 so I think you have a very good scope too.

 

I was happy with what I had but somehow this caught my eye back in August of 2017 when they started developing it. When they dropped the price by $100 and said they weren't going to make a second run, I decided I'd better jump on one before they ran out. Now I'm glad I got it. It's like the Goldilocks scope, small enough to be a nice G&G with just enough aperture to show a lot of things well. Plus it has some very nice optics and a very smooth focuser.

 

Now lets hope the skies clear up so we can all get out and observe again. It doesn't look good here for the next week or so.

 

John


Edited by NYJohn S, Yesterday, 09:58 AM.


#5991 aeajr

aeajr

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Posted Yesterday, 10:45 AM

I got my new Astro-Tech AT102ED yesterday. I was following the threads when it was in development and wanted to pre-order one but never did. They recently put it on sale for $499 reduced from $599. I couldn't resist at that price so I ordered one just before I left for my trip. I was thinking it would be a good travel scope for me. A little more aperture than my C80ED but still small enough to take with me on the road. I tested it out last night and posted the report here. https://www.cloudyni...-one/?p=8717078

 

It wasn't the best night for the test with some clouds moving through but I was impressed with it so far. I think I'm going to sell 1 or 2 of my other scopes to pay for it. I really don't need more than the XT8 and the AT102ED. With those 2 and my binoculars I think I'm covered for the type of observing I like to do.

 

 

 

Good thing you plan to sell some.  I was about to call the astronomy police to tell them you had too many scopes.  ;)

 

I look forward to the next time we get together.  I would love to take a look through that 102ED. 


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#5992 aeajr

aeajr

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Posted Yesterday, 11:01 AM

If you have been disappointed by the lack of detail visible on Mars, take a look at these photos taken from orbit around Mars and see how the detail is dramatically reduced.

http://earthsky.org/...e0878-394528369


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