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9.25 SCT, it ain't no planet scope

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#251 Sarkikos

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 12:28 PM

And what I care about is how much more detail I can get with imaging.  My location generally has poor to bad seeing, so I will never 'see' visually what I can get with 'lucky imaging'.  Not only do you need collimation and acclimation, but if you don't have excellent seeing when you "plunk it down,"  you will never get the views of detail on Mars and Jupiter you expect. If you're ignorant of these factors you will call it a 'bad scope, as some have claimed here.  So round and round this thread goes, with so much subjective preference with no point or conclusion possible.  

 

Yes, you can download images all you want, some of us prefer to try and make them and hope you like them.  And seeing is still by far the biggest limitation to producing good images, cause imagers already know that collimation and acclimation is critical but under your control.  It still amazes me how few of these 'naysayers' seem to follow any of the imaging and images posted every day, day after day on the planetary imaging forum.  

 

As professional astronomers have known for over a hundred years, images and data are the only objective form of making critical observations and discoveries or determining quality of an instrument in astronomy.  They gave up doing visual in the early 20th century.  Of course that shouldn't take away your preferred enjoyment of looking through a telescope, but its not going to settle any question of quality.  

Everyone should know what to expect from the seeing conditions where they observe.  Someone who lives under the jet stream should not expect good seeing.  They should probably get into deep sky instead of planet/lunar.  Luckily, where I live is not always under the jet stream.  My location has poor to excellent seeing, depending on the season.  From late Spring to late Fall I can experience many nights of good seeing, some nights of excellent seeing.  But from about Thanksgiving to Easter, I have better luck sticking to deep sky.

 

Some observers want to actually observe, rather than spend all their potential observing time trying to take pictures.  Observing is everything to me.  If I can't see it with my own eyes at the telescope, I'm not really interested. 

 

I'm not a professional astronomer, I don't intend to be and I don't want to play at being one.  I'm an amateur astronomer who likes to observe the object my telescope is pointed at, not look at it later in a picture.  

 

But to each their own.  As long as the imagers don't ruin my dark site with white light, let them take all the pictures they want.  :grin:

 

Mike


 

#252 Ron359

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 01:03 PM

Everyone should know what to expect from the seeing conditions where they observe.  Someone who lives under the jet stream should not expect good seeing.  They should probably get into deep sky instead of planet/lunar.  Luckily, where I live is not always under the jet stream.  My location has poor to excellent seeing, depending on the season.  From late Spring to late Fall I can experience many nights of good seeing, some nights of excellent seeing.  But from about Thanksgiving to Easter, I have better luck sticking to deep sky.

 

Some observers want to actually observe, rather than spend all their potential observing time trying to take pictures.  Observing is everything to me.  If I can't see it with my own eyes at the telescope, I'm not really interested. 

 

I'm not a professional astronomer, I don't intend to be and I don't want to play at being one.  I'm an amateur astronomer who likes to observe the object my telescope is pointed at, not look at it later in a picture.  

 

But to each their own.  As long as the imagers don't ruin my dark site with white light, let them take all the pictures they want.  grin.gif

 

Mike

I agree, no reason not to enjoy visual viewing, and you're lucky to have excellent seeing often enough to make it worthwhile.  I just wanted to point out, as others have, that seeing is the most critical factor and not under our control.  And visual is  just not going to settle any discussion about quality of a telescope or design.   Which I 'guess' is the point of this thread, so I don't really know why it goes on and on....but enjoy your views when you get them.  Gonna be awhile with all our major planets so low for a long time.  


 

#253 Jaimo!

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 02:32 PM

In my experience, the best planetary scopes are moderately-sized Dobs.  My 10" f/4.8 has given me the most detailed planetary views of any telescope I've ever owned or ever looked through.  Aperture is important.  Aperture done well is more important.

 

By the way, I'm talking about visual observing, not imaging.  Those are two entirely different things.  I have no interest in pictures.  They do not give a good indication of what can be seen with the eyes, even of a skillful observer.

 

Mike

 

 

I think the 9.25 SCT could be a good planet scope for visual, but you do have to work at it.  It's not the kind of scope you can just plunk down in the back yard and start seeing fine detail on Jupiter or Mars.  (Is there really such a scope?)  Collimation and acclimation is what it needs. 

 

I don't care about what a photo shows or doesn't show.  I can download astro pics all day from the internet.  What can you see with your eyes at the telescope?

 

Mike

 

 

Everyone should know what to expect from the seeing conditions where they observe.  Someone who lives under the jet stream should not expect good seeing.  They should probably get into deep sky instead of planet/lunar.  Luckily, where I live is not always under the jet stream.  My location has poor to excellent seeing, depending on the season.  From late Spring to late Fall I can experience many nights of good seeing, some nights of excellent seeing.  But from about Thanksgiving to Easter, I have better luck sticking to deep sky.

 

Some observers want to actually observe, rather than spend all their potential observing time trying to take pictures.  Observing is everything to me.  If I can't see it with my own eyes at the telescope, I'm not really interested. 

 

I'm not a professional astronomer, I don't intend to be and I don't want to play at being one.  I'm an amateur astronomer who likes to observe the object my telescope is pointed at, not look at it later in a picture.  

 

But to each their own.  As long as the imagers don't ruin my dark site with white light, let them take all the pictures they want.  grin.gif

 

To go back on topic, I think my C9.25 is an excellent planetary scope, both for visual AND for imaging.

 

Mike

Let me go out on a limb and make this bold statement:  "I think you might be a visual observer and not an imager... "  I was able to tease this out of the subtle clues you were leaving.

 

But to each their own.  As long as the visual observers don't ruin my dark site with white light, then let them observe all they want.  grin.gif

 

But to steer this back on topic, I think MY C9.25 is a wonderful scope and puts up great planetary views, both for visual and imaging.

 

Jaimo!


 

#254 Sarkikos

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 03:08 PM

In my experience, visual observers - except for the newest newbies - do not ruin sites with white light.  That's the job of imagers!  Even some experienced imagers who ought to know better ... or maybe they do know better but don't care.

 

:grin:

Mike


 

#255 Jaimo!

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 03:34 PM

Let's try and keep this on topic, you can start a new thread in "Light Pollution" or "Beginning Imaging".


 

#256 gfstallin

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Posted 07 November 2018 - 10:53 PM

 

Yes, I have to Plan on using a CAT, and give it plenty of time to adapt.  Most nights at The Swamp, that means letting the scope warm up going from indoors to outdoors.  Our temp changes during most sessions are gradual, which does help.

Subtropical World Problems lol.gif

 

Starting this weekend, most observing nights in the northeast involve letting your toes warm up gradually when going from outdoors to indoors so that the first feeling to come back is not pain. Maryland does not even get that bad. I remember, with absolutely no sense of nostalgia whatsoever, the cold-weather observing attempts of my college days in Vermont. 

 

George


Edited by gfstallin, 07 November 2018 - 10:54 PM.

 

#257 Sarkikos

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 07:22 AM

Let the toes warm up gradually? How do you do that?  Stick them in luke warm water when you get inside?  grin.gif  No seriously, I have a heat pump, so I don't have a choice.  All heating in my house is gradual. 

 

Maryland does get that bad if you have Raynaud's Syndrome.  But if you don't have Raynaud's Syndrome, you really don't understand how cold your hands and feet can get and how painful it is when they warm back up. coldday.gif       

When I'm at my dark site in the Winter - on the Eastern Shore of Maryland - every hour or so I warm up in the Forester ... with the engine on, of course.  I set up the vehicle so no white lights come on when I open the door or start the engine.  The daylight running lights only come on when I actually put the vehicle into gear and drive.  That's the way to do it. 

Nice and toasty!  mrevil.gif

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 08 November 2018 - 07:27 AM.

 

#258 Asbytec

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 07:29 AM

You guys need to retire to the tropics. The only time something get's cold is when the air conditioner is on. :)


 

#259 Bean614

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 05:39 PM

Regarding when we would all learn the results when the OP, "Deep13", finally collimated his scope, and tried again, the OP wrote that it probably wouldn't be until Spring, and then added:

 

    "Plus, during the academic year, I have very little time for such things." 

 

Really?  You seemed to make time to trash a good telescope.


 

#260 Magnetic Field

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 05:49 PM

Regarding when we would all learn the results when the OP, "Deep13", finally collimated his scope, and tried again, the OP wrote that it probably wouldn't be until Spring, and then added:

 

    "Plus, during the academic year, I have very little time for such things." 

 

Really?  You seemed to make time to trash a good telescope.

It is easier to write about collimation than actually performing collimation.


 

#261 Bean614

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 09:25 PM

Seriously??? I mean, do you really think so???  It's taken me longer to type this than it does to collimate my SCT'S.


 

#262 Asbytec

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 09:33 PM

I find collimating an SCT to be pretty easy once you get things moving in the right direction and nudged into place. That is, after you set it up outside...and all that. Takes a few minutes tops. 


 

#263 Deep13

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 12:57 AM

Regarding when we would all learn the results when the OP, "Deep13", finally collimated his scope, and tried again, the OP wrote that it probably wouldn't be until Spring, and then added:

"Plus, during the academic year, I have very little time for such things."

Really? You seemed to make time to trash a good telescope.


I didn't "trash" anything, as I've already explained. I am always astonished at how defensive people get about their hobby equipment choices, as if our egos were made of spun sugar. And yeah, CN doesn't take 45 minutes to set up, several hours to use, and another half hour to tear down, all in the middle of the night.
 

#264 Deep13

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 01:11 AM

I find collimating an SCT to be pretty easy once you get things moving in the right direction and nudged into place. That is, after you set it up outside...and all that. Takes a few minutes tops.


Okay, the set up steps are as follows:
1. put on boots and warm pants if winter and put the scope outside.
2. make sure the one spot in the yard where I can see the southern horizon and Polaris isn't soggy.
3. spray Yard Gard if summer.
4. open garage and carry AVX to observing spot. Put in approx. right position since Polaris is not yet visible.
5. Load EP case, counterweights, battery, EP case stand, radio, wires, dew shield, and controller onto wheelbarrow.
6. Push wheelbarrow to backyard.
7. return to garage for observing chair.
8. wait for darkness
9. align polar scope, then add weights.
10. go get scope.
11. attach scope, dewshield, balance scope, attach wires and controller.
12. Align mount, a process made difficult by all the trees to the immediate west. (The AVX insists on using western stars).
13. Go put on warm coat and hat, turn off lights.
14. Begin observing.
It takes more than a few minutes. Plus, I have to leave time to bring all that stuff back in.
 

#265 Tom Glenn

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 02:21 AM

Deep, I can't help with some of the items in your preparation list related to weather and the specifics of your observing location, although you don't need to precisely polar align the scope.  You can save considerable time by just lining up the RA axis with approximate true north.  Just eyeball it.  Stars will drift, but this won't affect collimation.  Just keep recentering with the hand controller.  You could also consider setting up your tripod and mount in your yard in a somewhat fixed location, polar aligning it precisely one time, and then keeping it there and just remove the scope and cover the mount with a tarp when you are done.  Then setup will be a breeze next time.  The reason your post has generated nearly 9000 views and 11 pages of responses is not because of what you said in your original post describing difficulties with the scope.  It was the title of your post which people objected to.  You made a firm statement that a scope was not good for planets, despite the fact that many people all over the world have great success with the very same scope.  If you had phrased your post as a simple question about how to maximize performance of your scope, this post would have generated very little emotion, and probably would have ended after a page or two stating the need to collimate the scope.  


 

#266 Asbytec

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 02:46 AM

You could just open the garage door and find a bright glint on something shiny. No care about cooling, alignment, distance or really anything else associated with a full blown observing session. Just put the scope and weights on the mount and point it down the street. Collimation will likely hold for a long while. In any case, if you're doing an observing session and setting up for it, anyway, you can check collimation and tweak it if necessary in less than, I dunno, maybe 10 minutes? 


 

#267 Sarkikos

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 07:39 AM

You can collimate an SCT in your house or garage.  Set up an artificial star at the top of an extended tripod.  Set up the SCT relatively low down at the opposite end of the room.  If you have a clear line-of-sight along a long hallway or across a couple rooms that will do nicely. 

 

Remember:  this is collimation, not star testing.  They are not the same thing and should not be confused. 

 

You don't need a long distance between the SCT and the artificial star to collimate.  There will be some induced spherical aberration, but it doesn't matter. Just tweak the collimation screws until the image is centered.  

 

Some people point their scope at the glint from a distant insulator on a power pole.  But I can't do that because all the lines in my neighborhood are underground.  I'm thankful for that every time there is a storm.  There are no glints of any kind that I can see from any direction at my home.  Just can't do it.  And I'm not about to shimmy up a tree to hang a Christmas bulb.  Especially since none of them are my trees.  So I use the artificial star.

 

Here's the artificial star I use to collimate my SCT's:  Hubble Artificial Star  $24.95

http://www.hubbleopt...cial-stars.html

 

If you are concerned that you can't get a really close collimation because you can't sharply focus the image of the artificial star over the short distance within your house, don't worry about it.  Just collimate as closely as you can using the out-of-focus diffraction rings.  When you're able to get the SCT outside, collimate more closely by sighting on Polaris, or another star if you have tracking.

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 09 November 2018 - 07:51 AM.

 

#268 Sarkikos

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 07:49 AM

It is easier to write about collimation than actually performing collimation.

I don't know.  Have you read some of the detailed collimation instructions from some experts? 

 

:grin:

Mike


 

#269 Asbytec

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 08:15 AM

I don't know. Have you read some of the detailed collimation instructions from some experts?

grin.gif
Mike

Under the night sky and during the day using a small distant glint of sunlight, collimate as close to focus as possible to see the Poisson spot at the center and a ring or three. I've seen instructions (and user images) that show the huge donut and an image of the secondary obstruction (shadow). That's too far from focus and not accurate enough, IMO and IME.

The closer to focus, the better. Then in focus, if possible, given the seeing and any thermals. Use the same process as out of focus. In focus, best we can tell, look for a uniform first ring and for a tendency to flare off to one side even during seeing. Look for a trend and collimate it out so any flaring trend to one side becomes more or less uniform all around. That's about as good as I have been able to get it. Thankfully, that's plenty good enough and the views are improved or, at least, not limited by miscollimation.

I guess with an artificial star indoors, a lot depends on how close the scope will come to focus. It may be close enough with a Poisson spot and a few defocused rings. If it's far enough to achieve focus, that's nice, too.

But, in the end, the huge donut and a shadow is not accurate enough.


Edited by Asbytec, 09 November 2018 - 09:19 AM.

 

#270 Sarkikos

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 08:34 AM

Under the night sky and during the day using a small distant glint of sunlight, collimate as close to focus as possible to see the Poisson spot at the center and a ring or three. I've seen instructions (and user images) that show the huge donut and an image of the secondary obstruction (shadow). That's too far from focus and not accurate enough, IMO and IME.

The closer to focus, the better. Then in focus, if possible, given the seeing and any thermals. Use the same process as out of focus.

In focus, best we can tell, look for a uniform first ring and for a tendency to flare off to one side even during seeing. Look for a trend and collimate it out so any flaring trend to one side becomes more or less uniform all around.

That's about as good as I have been able to get it. Thankfully, that's plenty good enough and the views are improved or, at least, not limited by miscollimation.

I guess with an artificial star indoors, a lot depends on how close the scope will come to focus. It may be close enough with a Poisson spot and a few defocused rings. If it's far enough to achieve focus, that's nice, too.

But, in the end, the huge donut and a shadow is not accurate enough.

As I said, there is no glint available to me, anywhere, at my home.  Don't assume that every observer has access to a glint.  I think many observers face the same situation.  So if you cannot use a glint, what else is available?  An artificial star. 

 

You don't need to see the image at perfectly sharp focus to arrive at close collimation.  You can do a lot with just the donut rings.  I know because I have.  The results at night show sharp images.  In my experience, this is fine for at least up to a C6.  For SCTs with much longer focal lengths, it would probably be better to do the collimation on a real star.

 

Of course, the longer the collimation distance between scope and artificial star the better, as this will allow a sharper focus.

 

However, if you know the collimation is off, why not collimate to moderately close inside the house?  Then when you can get the scope outside, you should do the final tweaks with a real star.  That's basically what I do in any case.  I always do a quick check of the collimation outside with a real star when I observe with a Cat or Newtonian. 

 

It is different for Newtonians, though, because you definitely can do a very close collimation inside your house with commonly available tools.  No glint or artificial star - or real star, for that matter - is necessary.

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 09 November 2018 - 10:34 AM.

 

#271 Asbytec

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 08:54 AM

Yea, no argument Mike. I did read you said no glints and no hankering for a Christmas ornament and choose an artificial star indoors.

I was speaking generally for those who may find a glint or two, sorry if that wasn't clear. I found them on roofing shingles, car chrome, tv antennae, and even a pile of sand with rocks on it. Lots of places on a sunny day.

Yes, you can get close with large donut rings indoors, then fine tune outdoors. That's fine. Not sure the minimum focus distance is on a C6, but its probably ok indoors. My MCT is ok for collimation at about 50ft, give or take. And you're right, dont "star test" that close.

I always check mine and tweak as needed. Takes a few minutes.
 

#272 Asbytec

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 09:20 AM

We should always check collimation and tweak as needed. Takes a few minutes.
 

#273 Asbytec

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 09:11 AM

Yea, no argument Mike. I did read you said no glints and no hankering for a Christmas ornament and choose an artificial star indoors.

I was speaking generally for those who may find a glint or two, sorry if that wasn't clear. I found them on roofing shingles, car chrome, tv antennae, and even a pile of sand with rocks on it. Lots of places on a sunny day.

Yes, you can get close with large donut rings indoors, then fine tune outdoors. That's fine. Not sure the minimum focus distance is on a C6, but its probably ok indoors. My MCT is ok for collimation at about 50ft, give or take. And you're right, dont "star test" that close.

I always check mine and tweak as needed. Takes a few minutes.
 

#274 earlyriser

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 09:51 AM

We should always check collimation and tweak as needed. Takes a few minutes.

I usually start observing without checking collimation unless the scope has been for a ride in the car since the last time I used it. If the stars look off after the scope has had time to cool down, then I check collimation. If the stars look okay, I just keep observing. 


 

#275 BillP

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 10:03 AM

I bought a 9.25 about a year ago to supplement and eventually replace a DIY 5" f/12 refractor. I've had it out serveral times, always for several hours. Defocused, a bright star looks like a compact disk. In focus on a planet, it's always a smudgy. It's like a thermal problem, the scope is always out for hours. The 5" still delivers sharp, though not especially bright images. And the 8" Dob still gives remarkably sharp images.

 

Not IME.  IMO what you are experiencing is the misnomer that aperture rules.  So you have a larger aperture instrument and expected it to just perform better.  Unfortunately nothing is further from the truth.  All scopes are "engineered" systems, and different designs behave differently in the real world due to their engineering peculiarities.  In the case of an SCT, they can be quite challenging to tame thermally, plus with its folded light path the light rays can be impacted multiple times by a single thermal region in t he scope exacerbating things further.  So I suspect the issue you are having is that, never achieving thermal balance for the scope so in effect viewing through the internal "seeing" of the scope as it sheds heat or tries to keep up with the changing outdoor temps.  SCT are also IME the most sensitive of the three major designs to being affected by body heat (I've done tests for myself that lead to that conclusion).  However, when one can get an SCT fully acclimated so no internal thermals, and of course it being well collimated, something like a C9.25 will kick the pants off of a 6" Apo (I've seen it for myself).  The issue of course is getting the engineered system to that state.  It is difficult many times with the SCT and requires active acclimation processes many times whereas the Refractor design generally gets to that state relatively quickly passively.  So the issue at hand is IMO really management of the scope so it can operate at its aperture's full potential.  SCTs just need more care and feeding to get there, especially in environments like the Northeast US where temps and humidity are always on the change over many evenings.

 

As others have pointed out the optical precision of the particular scope is also of course important.  But one can get a lemon with any design and from any branding (I've seen poor samples from all the major brandings, including those considered the best, so QC is never perfect).  My advice here is to always buy from dealers with no fault return policies so you can test what you get and return if not up to snuff.  Also buying from resellers that offer guarantees where they bench test the sample before selling to you is a godsend, like Company 7.


Edited by BillP, 09 November 2018 - 10:09 AM.

 


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