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A Newbie's Early Observation Log - Join me!

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#76 nickajeglin

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Posted 10 August 2015 - 09:37 AM

Good Luck, and if it's not too low M6 and M7 are beautiful in binoculars and small telescopes.

 

I second M6 and M7. The whole area between Scorpius and Sagittarius, and the area just north of M6/7 is amazing, even just with 7x50's. They are pretty low in the south though, so if you can get out of the city, it will make a huge difference.


 

#77 bbmagic

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Posted 10 August 2015 - 10:56 AM

I recently picked up a nice pair of Konus 20x80 binoculars. This thread prompted me to go out and see how M6 and M7 were looking last night...M7 was fantastic. I counted approximately 35 stars and the "z" pattern of stars near the center was distinct. M6 was, in my skies, mostly unimpressive. The butterfly shape wasn't detected (My scope shows it well) and it paled in comparison to M7. But still, beats watching what passes for entertainment on TV these days...I haven't looked at these in years and it was nice to be reacquainted again.


 

#78 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 13 August 2015 - 11:34 AM

Ed

I joined the Indiana Astronomical Society today after spending a wonderful evening at an outing with them viewing the Perseid Meteor Shower and doing general observing. We had wonderful clear skies and I brought my scope. I found a wealth of knowledge specifically from a professional astronomer in the area who quickly helped me polar align my scope despite the fact that my mount desperately needs some hardware replaced with the correct length screws/bolts(previous owner had it hodge-podged together). He was able to get my finder scope and red dot finder aligned with my 8" SCT as well. I was able to view Saturn clearly through my scope as well as Albireo aka the Beak of Cygnus http://earthsky.org/...est-double-star.

 

Only issue is we stayed out until 3:30 AM and I had to go to work today (most of the folks there were retired!!!)  :p

 

It was so nice having the expertise onsite last night. I totally recommend getting involved with a club. I joined this morning

 

 


 

#79 aeajr

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Posted 13 August 2015 - 12:14 PM

Great report and happy you found a club.

 

I tried to watch the meteor shower last night.  Stayed up till 1:30 but I could not keep my eyes open and the mosquitos were having a party on me.   I saw about 15 streaks, about 6 of which were bright.   Clouds rolled over the area for about 45 minutes.    Not as spectacular as I had hoped but my site is very light polluted so that may have been part of the issue.

 

Still, enjoyed the experience.


 

#80 chrysalis

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Posted 15 August 2015 - 04:32 AM

Great report and happy you found a club.

 

I tried to watch the meteor shower last night.  Stayed up till 1:30 but I could not keep my eyes open and the mosquitos were having a party on me.   I saw about 15 streaks, about 6 of which were bright.   Clouds rolled over the area for about 45 minutes.    Not as spectacular as I had hoped but my site is very light polluted so that may have been part of the issue.

 

Still, enjoyed the experience.

Dark backyard 13AUG15 1:55AM - 5:25AM: 240 meteors. Very "clumpy" (nothing for a few minutes, then several, repeat). Most remarkable was a -3 meteor that left a trail for 5-6 seconds.


 

#81 earthbot1

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Posted 15 August 2015 - 07:00 AM

Nice clear Friday night. Started off with Saturn with my cardboard aperture mask. I have a 102mm f/6.5 refractor. Saturn was well defined and white in color. I tried to see Casini, but not sure I ever did. One faint moon I think. Took the mask off and scanned South. I landed in the area full of objects. So much in this little patch. I think the one I looked at most was Lagoon. Some cloud glow and lots of stars. Beautiful! 
Look at the others M#s in that area and was impressed with them too. I later was determined to find M13. It was almost straight up in the West. It took a few minutes in an awkward position, but I found it. Nice. Not a lot of detail, but pretty bright. 
I am currently using a photo tripod, but have a bit heavier one on order. Still trying to keep it grab and go with no electronics. I think I like the hunt for objects. It makes me appreciate them longer when I find them.
Great night. Did not stay up for meteors, have to work today. 

Here is my new scope.

 

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#82 aeajr

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Posted 15 August 2015 - 07:22 AM

chrysalis,

 

Great report!  240 strikes?  I wish I had seen that.

 

earthbot1,

 

Great to hear of your hunting and finding.  Newbie question.  What is a cardboard aperture mask?  Why would one use it?


 

#83 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 15 August 2015 - 10:57 AM

We saw around 100 perseids most between 12am and 1:30


 

#84 earthbot1

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Posted 15 August 2015 - 06:13 PM

chrysalis,

 

Great report!  240 strikes?  I wish I had seen that.

 

earthbot1,

 

Great to hear of your hunting and finding.  Newbie question.  What is a cardboard aperture mask?  Why would one use it?

It makes the opening of the scope a bit narrower to help tame the chromatic effect a little bit on bright objects. So my 102mm becomes 70mm or so. Not sure what is perfect masking size, just experimenting at this point. I used to have a go to scope and enjoyed it much. But am trying the hunting now that I have a wide field to work with. I guess it would be nice to have both, but for now I am on a budget. 


Edited by earthbot1, 15 August 2015 - 07:25 PM.

 

#85 member010719

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Posted 16 August 2015 - 10:19 AM

Congratulation to Ed and to all newbies for the fast speed your are developing your observational skills.

Binocular sky gazing is great.

But it was mentioned more times- hand holding them  is hard.

I suggest you build an image stabilizer like the one created by Alan MacRoberts.

 

http://www.skyandtel...our-binoculars/

 

I built one and I'm happy with it.

 

 
Only when I want to do observations at the maximum resolution attainable with the binoculars (like the ''Astronomical League Binocular Double Star List'' or '''Spirit of 33 Binocular Double Stars'' ) I'm using the DIY tripod mounted Bino Lever.
 
Looking forward to your post.
 
Ziridava

 

#86 aeajr

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Posted 16 August 2015 - 10:35 AM

What an interesting idea.   May have to give that some consideration.


 

#87 aeajr

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 07:29 PM

I was working in the yard today.  I looked up around 5 pm and there was the moon, about 1/2 moon, smiling down at me from the daytime sky.   Well, I had never looked at the moon through a lens in the daytime.   So I finished what I was doing and went for the sky tools around 6:30 pm with sky very much in daylight.  No where near sunset.

 

Time to pull out the scopes and play with the vaious eyepieces plus some new toys.   :D

 

 

 

10X50 Binoculars - Gordon (Harbor Freight) - Binoculars are ALWAYS first.

 

Moon looked great though it was a little washed out against the daytime sky.  That was to be expected.  However it was a pleasant view through the binoculars.

 

 

 

Tasco Newtonian reflector, 3", 700 m F/9.2 with the .965" Focuser. I have Meade Plossil 40 mm eyepiece, about 17X and Tasco 12.5 mm eyepiece.  

 

After fussing with the scope for a while to get it lined up I had the moon in the eyepiece.  Got it focused and took a look.  There seemed to be good view down the center but everything from about 1/3 out seemed to be hazy, almost like there was fog on the glass, but there wasn't.   Could that be from the bright moon or from the bright background sky?

 

I pulled out my trusty Gordon (Harbor Freight) 10X50 binoculars.  Got a real example of wide field of view of the binoculars compared to the much narrower FOV of the Tasco F9.2 mm reflector scope.   10X compare to 17X contributed I am sure, but I have to say I liked the wide view of the binoculars.  But the 17X mag gave more detail of the craters.

 

Pulled out the 40 mm eyepiece and slipped in the 12.5 mm, about 56X.  Moon was gone from view.  I had to fuss around with the scope to get it back into the eyepiece.  Here was where the value of a solid mount was revealed, as this scope does not have a solid mount.  There is significant sway in the legs.  I actually used the sway in the tripod to find the moon and eventually get it back into the eyepiece.  I had to over shoot in two directions and lock things down so that it would shift back the other way and into the eyepiece.  No solid precision here.

 

OK, got it!  Cool.  Lots more magnification.  The moon just about filled the eyepiece.  Still had that glow in the outer 1/3 of the eyepiece but the center was fine.   More detail than the 40 mm eyepiece though I think the 40 mm Meade was sharper than the 12.5 mm Tasco eyepiece. 

 

I quickly saw how fast the moon moved across the sky.  I had to constantly keep adjusting the position of the scope to keep the moon in the eyepiece, especially at 56X. I can only imagine what it would be like to do this at 100X.   :(

 

 

Pull out the Meade ETX 80, 80 mm F/5 400 mm scope - Eyepieces - 26 mm, 9.6 mm and 6.4 mm  

 

I left the Tasco up and set the Meade next to it.    I did not bother to turn on the computer or align the mount.  I released the clutches and was operating fully on manual.  The fact that I can do this with this GoTo scope was one of the reasons I purchased it.  

 

There is no targeting scope on the ETX so I aligned it by eye.  I actually left the eyepiece out and looked down the star diagonal and moved the scope till I could see the moon in the mirror.   Cool!.  

 

I slipped in the 26mm eyepiece, about 15X.  Moved the scope around a hair each way till I had the moon centered.   Looked great.  The 400 mm FL Mead has a much wider FOV than the 700 mm FL Tasco.  It gives a much more binocular type view.  Very nice.    The focus was sharper than the Tasco but I still had that sort of haze/glow in the outer 1/3 of the FOV.  But the moon looked great.

 

OK pull the 28 mm eyepiece and slip in the 9.6m eyepiece, about 41X.   A few minor adjustments and we are focused and centered.   Great!  Things are pretty sharp and there is no loss of brightness as the moon and sky are quite bright.   That outer haze remains.

 

I decided to step back to the Tasco and do a comparison.   Well, in the time I was fussing with the ETX the moon had completely left the eyepiece of the Tasco.  So move it around and get it centered.  Focused.   And back to the Meade.  The Meade has sharper focus at this setting but they both look good.

 

Back to the Meade.  Had to recenter the moon.   Man that bugger moves fast.  I am begining to appreciate the automatic tracking the Meade ETX can do when I am using the computer.

 

Pull the 9.6 mm eyepiece and slip in the new Meade 6.4 mm eyepiece, about 62X.  Focus is sharp, and much more touchy at this maginification.  If this was a camera I would have noted the very narrow "depth of field", the range of in focus areas in the lens.

 

 

New Toys! - Barlow Lenses. 

 

I had been poking around on e-bay and found some unbranded barlow lenses for $10.   How good could they be?  But for $10 I ordered a 2X and a 3X.  The descriptions said they were made of metal and optical glass.  And so, when they arrived I noted that the lenses do appear to be glass.

 

So, pulled the 6.4 mm eyepiece out and slipped in the 2X Barlow.  Now I am about 120X.   Well depth of field is even narrower but I can get sharp focus so at least the 2X is OK.  

 

Pulled out the 3X barlow and put in the 9.6 eyepiece which should also give me about 120X.   Slipped it in and, yes, it gave me a similar view but with a more comfortable view and maybe a little better depth of field of focus.

 

Pulled the 9.6 eyepiece and slipped the 6.4 eyepiece into the 3X barlow.  Now we are at about 180X.  Had to recenter which was not easy.  Then focus.  Very high magnification but the depth of field, the range of what was in focus was very narrow.  But it worked.

 

I don't have any "quality barlow" to compare to but they were at least as good as the 2X barlow built into the scope and did not require the million turns to focus that the internal barlow requires.  So, for $10 each I have a 2X and 3X barlow.

 

So cool looking at the moon during the day.  Got the magnification up to 180 but not sure I like it that high on a daytime moon.  120 seemed pretty good.  I would probably not go higher than that typically.  Plenty of detail and reasonable depth of field of focus.

 

Eyepiece Adapter

 

I had purchased a 1.25 adapter for the Tasco, which normally  takes .965 eyepieces.   I tried the Meade 26 mm 1.25" eyepiece.  Could not get enough travel to focus.  Same with the 9.6mm eyepiece.  So it looks like the 1.25" eyepieces will not be able to be used in the Tasco telescope.  But, based on what I saw today, I don't really think I would like the view in the Tasco much above the 56X I have now.  So, no big loss.  

 

Comparison:

 

The Tasco, F/9.6 clearly gives a more narrow FOV compared to the F/5 Meade ETX  which has a somewhat narrower FOV compared to my 10X50 binoculars.

 

I like the wider FOV of the Meade compred to the Tasco.

 

The Mead ETX mount is MUCH more stable and solid compared to the Tasco.  Getting things into the eyepiece on the tasco was tough because the mount moved around so much.  Combine that with a smaller FOV and it became quite frustrating.   A sold mount is IMPORTANT!

 

 

Both scopes exhibited somewhat of a haze in the outer 1/3 of the view.   I am hopeful that was sue to the bright sky and the bright moon.   I had not noticed this at all in the past in either scope when used at night.

 

Given a choice today, even used manually, I like the shorter F/5 wider view of the Meade.

 

Hopefully the sky will be dark and clear tonight and I can go out and play with my toys.   :D

 

Clear skies!

 

Ed


Edited by aeajr, 22 August 2015 - 07:42 PM.

 

#88 Stargazer713

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 07:40 PM

Nice reports keep up the good work!


 

#89 aeajr

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Posted 23 August 2015 - 10:03 PM

Quick Look!

 

Putting out the garbage and I look up and the sky is clear.   I have about 15 minutes to steal a look.   Normally it would be with the binoculars but tonight I pull out the Tasco Newtonian. 

 

I don't have the time to do much of a set-up.   The Tasco 3" reflector is standing in the garage with a 40mm/15X eyepiece in.   Grab it and walk to the sidewalk.  What to look at?

 

My command of the sky is still very limited.   I spot Vega and the summer triangle.   Let's see if we can find Deneb and split this double star with the Tasco and 17.5X eyepiece.  

 

Can't see it in the spotting scope but it is about there.   So I look through the eyepiece and just sweep back and forth with a slightly shifting angle.

 

Well, what do you know, there is the "Coat Hanger".  Cool!   

 

I am becoming very aware of this FOV question.  I had a very clear shot and view of the coat hanger but I could not get the whole thing into the eyepiece at 17.5X based on the somewhat narrow view in this 9.2 focal ratio scope.  The 3" mirror pulled in plenty of light so the hanger is clear and bright, even in the very light polluted area where I was standing.  I was using trees to try and partially block 2 streetlights.

 

OK, now let's go back to looking for Deneb, almost overhead.   Took a few minutes but there it is.  At 17.5X I can just barely tell it is a double star and primarily because of the orange of one star and the blue of the other.  I can see the separation but just barely.    Knowing what you are looking for makes it easier to spot it.   If I had just been sweeping the sky I would never have picked up on the 2 star configuration.

 

 I swapped in the 12.5 mm 56X eyepiece.   The mount is so wiggly that the act of switching the eyepieces lost the star.  Had to hunt around to find it again, but eventually I did.  Hunting at higher mag is much harder.  But I found it.   Looks pretty good.  The separation between the two stars is now very clear.  :D   I smile. 

 

Total time, maybe 20 minutes, but enough to get my fix for the evening.   No long set-up, no cool down of mirrors because the scope is in the garage and standing all set to go.  Even with the small 3" mirror and the .965" eyepieces it was fun to split the double and to find the coat hanger.

 

I was looking almost directly overhead.  This is a lot easier for me with the Tasco reflector than it is with the Meade refractor.  The eyepiece on the Tasco, with the tripod fully extended is just about at eye level for me.  Looking at the same stars with the Mead would call for a chair or a knee on the ground.

 

Each design has its advantages and disadvantages.  Wide FOV vs. narrow.   High eyepiece vs. low eyepiece.  Nice to have both.  ;)

 

All good fun, and I get to share it here, with you.

 

Clear Skies!

 

Ed


 

#90 M57Guy

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Posted 23 August 2015 - 11:46 PM

Hello Ed,

 

Glad to hear you got a barlow.

 

Did you pick up a copy of Nightwatch by Terence Dickinson, yet?

 

https://astronomics....tion_p3693.aspx

 

A great read for all newbies.

 

best,

 

M57Guy


 

#91 aeajr

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 09:38 AM

No I have not.  I have more documentation now than I can deal with.  I have An Orion Star chart and an Orion moon chart up on my wall.  I have a Planisphere.  I have "Turn Left at Orion".   And I have the "Practical Skywatching" which is on loan from a friend.   I am overloaded with books, charts and such.   No more for now.


 

#92 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 09:52 AM

One thing I did is make a trip to the library. Our library had quite a few books. I checked out quite a few and started looking at them with the intent of buying what I need. Books are truly addictive! I may buy a couple of them in the end


 

#93 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 10:00 AM

I did some lunar observing from my yard last night. I'm within the city so light pollution is a problem, but lunar observing really isn't an issue. I started just before sundown and began with a 32MM Orion Plossl. My finder scope isn't aligned very well and need to get that aligned better, but didn't have too many issues. Later after sundown I added a filter as my eyes were burning from the brightness. I then added a 2X Orion Shorty barlow and focused in on the lower part off the moon and craters on the lower corner. The barlow was rather dirty at the time, but I still was able to see quite a bit of definition to the craters.

 

I ordered a Meade 5000 HD-60 25MM eyepiece as I was missing a 25MM (the most versatile off them all), so i'm excited about getting that

 

This past Saturday our Indiana Astronomical Society had a seminar at a nature park about 30 minutes west of town. Great seminar about the universe, Hubble Deep Field, galaxy collisions, etc. My 6 yr old asked quite a few good questions!

 

We were supposed to have observing after but the sky was cloudy


 

#94 M57Guy

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 08:57 PM

Hello Ed,

 

Acknowledging you're overloaded, Nightwatch really puts things in perspective for newbies, and beyond.

Mr. Dickinson is an excellent writer and teacher of everything astronomy.

I've read this book twice, more than 10 years apart between readings, simply to "reorganize" things.

 

After reading a couple of your threads now, several of the questions you ask are clearly answered in this simple to read but profoundly important tome.

I won’t mention it again after this post.

 

Best of luck,

 

M57Guy


 

#95 aeajr

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 11:00 PM

m57,

 

I very much appreciate your advice.   I will keep it in mind as I look for my next reference material.   Truly I will.

 

 

Tonight - The Moon

 

I did my first nighttime observation of the moon tonight.  It was rushed but enjoyable as I only had about 30 minutes for this little trip.   The seeing was not great as there was an obvious glow around the moon which I presume suggests a less than clear atmosphere between the moon and myself.

 

I pulled out both the Meade ETX 80 refractor and the Tasco 76mm reflector.  I wanted to compare them for this viewing of the moon.

 

The Tasco (FL 700) was using a 40 mm Meade 32 degree AFOV .965" eyepiece that yields 17.5X.

 

The Meade (FL 400) was using a 26 mm Meade, 52 degree AFOV 1.25" eyepiece that yields 15.4X

 

The size of the moon in each was comparable but it occupied about 1/2 the eyepiece in the Tasco but only about 1/4 the eyepiece of the Meade.   Detail was a bit sharper with the Meade, which was what I wanted to compare, but both were great views.  

 

It was amazing how fast the moon moved across the sky.   I looked through the Tasco, got it centered and looked for a few minutes.   I had to make a couple of adjustments to keep it in the center of the eyepiece.

 

Then I moved over to the Meade ETX 80.  I was using the scope manually.  I never tuned the GoTo computer on, I just released the clutches and set the scope on the moon.  I got it centered and focused and observed for a few minutes.   As this is a wider view I did not feel the need to adjust the scope as often but adjustments were needed.  The details were sharp and very pleasing.

 

By time I got back to the Tasco the moon was completely out of view. 

 

From this point on I stayed on the Meade.   I went up to a 9.7 mm eyepiece which yields about 41X and focused my attention around the poles where there were large craters that contrasted nicely against the black sky.  You could clearly see the rim of the craters defined by the shadows. The moon nearly filled the eyepiece at this point.

 

Jump to the 6.4 mm eyepiece, 62X.    Now the definition of the craters were even more impressive and the moon pretty much filled the eyepiece.  Focus was a little sensitive but worth it. Crisp edges and you could get a sense of the depth of some of the craters.   Moving to the more central plains the impact craters were smaller and less well defined by the shadows but they were easy to observe.  

 

Now, slip in the internal 2X barlow.   I did this with the 9.7 mm eyepiece for 82X and with the 6.4 mm eyepiece for 124X  At 124X the moon's craters had real depth and you could get a sense of how high some of those crater walls were.   I could only get a portion of the moon into view and at this magnification you could practically see the moon moving across the field of view.  I focused my attention around the poles where there was more detail to see and you had edge contrast with the night sky.

 

Recently I purchased a 2X barlow and a 3X barlow from a source on e-bay.  These are unbranded, $10 each.   How good could they be?  Well the 2X was actually a touch better than the 2X barlow built into the Meade ETX 80 and did not require the big focus changes the internal barlow needs.   As the moon is so bright there was no apparent loss of brightness but we will see how that looks when I use it on a deep space object.

 

I then pulled out the 2X barlow and mated the 3X barlow to the 6.4 mm eyepiece.  Now I am at 186X.   I was looking down into the craters.  Focus was very touchy but the parts that were in focus were pretty crisp.  Not bad for a $10 barlow.  I wonder how they would look with a good barlow.  ;)

 

As I had said I only had about 30 minutes for this session so I started packing up, quite pleased with the experience. 

 

Then I remembered that I had wanted to try stacking the barlow lenses.   So I put in the 2X barlow and added the 3X barlow to it.  Then I dropped in the 26mm/15.4X  eyepiece.  That should have yielded 15.4X times 6X with the two barlows or roughly 90X.  So it should have been a little smaller than when I was viewing at 124X and just a tad larger than the view at 82X.    Well that was exactly what I got.  The view was a little muddy and not at all crisp around the edges but I was able to get it into focus in the center.    Not a real pleasant view but at least I confirmed that I could stack the barlows.     

 

If I had done that with the 9.7 mm lense I would have been 246X.  With the 6.4 mm/62X  lens I would have been at 372X.   No doubt it would have worked but I wonder if I could have gotten either it into focus.   I will have to try it some day but I doubt it is something I will really use.   186X is likely about as high as this scope can be pushed with these cheap barlows and that might only be on the bright moon.  

 

So I packed it all up and went back into the house with a big smile on my face.  

 

I am still getting to know the scopes and the lenses, but each visit to the sky is a new adventure, a first, and I am having a ball!  :D

 

Clear Skies!

 

Ed


 

#96 SeaBee1

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 06:52 AM

Well, I sure do envy you right now as I am scope-less for the moment. I had borrowed a friends scope and had a blast with it, but had to return it  a couple weeks ago. Currently building a scope I can call my own...

 

Enjoying your posts!

 

Clear skies!

 

CB


 

#97 aeajr

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 07:03 AM

SeaBee1,

 

I hope you at least have a pair of binoculars.  For less than $40 a pair of 7x50s or 10X50s can show you a lot that the eye can't see. 


 

#98 SeaBee1

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 07:47 AM

I do indeed have a pair of binos, 7X50, but they are an el cheapo pair that leave a lot to be desired. I use them to view the moon when I can, but they don't show much otherwise. Or it could just be me... after repairing and viewing through my friends scope, my expectations were driven considerably higher... I will eventually get my own scope ready, it is just taking longer than I would like...

 

Best regards!

 

CB

 

P.S. if you are interested, here is a link to my repair thread and build thread for my 10" LINK

 

Clear skies!


 

#99 aeajr

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 08:37 AM

My 10X50s cost $20 from Harbor Freight.  They do OK.   I just bought a pair of Pentax 10X50s to compare and, while they were a hair better, not enough to justify the $50 price, plus there was a problem with one eyepiece.

 

I start almost every observation session with the binoculars.  I confirm some of the familiar stars and asterisms.  I am still not very knowledgeable of the sky so this helps me get oriented.  And some nights I still just pull out the binoculars for 15 minutes.

 

I will check out your link.


 

#100 SeaBee1

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 09:15 PM

The 10X50s were not noticeably better than the 7X50s? Hm... I had considered getting some 10X50s but I may wait on that a bit. I need to pour my extra cash into my 10" build anyway. I didn't think I would miss that 6" I borrowed, but man I do! After I had gotten it repaired, it gave some really nice views!

 

Ah well, such is life!

 

Best regards!

 

CB


 


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