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APM 150 ED Binocular, My Take

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#201 oldmanrick

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 08:38 AM

The big APM 150 finally got to go comet hunting last night.

 

I rolled it out of the shop about sunset last night, as the sky had cleared nicely, and the wind that had blown all day was calming.  I picked a spot to set up that would give a good view to the W-NW.  Farther North there was a tree blocking the view, but according to Sky Safari, Comet NEOWISE should have been West of the tree.

 

As soon as the sun was well below the horizon, I began looking with unaided eyes at the general area where the comet should be located.  No luck, so began scanning with the APM 150, with the 30mm UFF's installed.  Still could not find the comet, so went back inside and brought out the Canon 18X50 IS binocular.

 

After getting new Az and Alt readings from Sky Safari, and checking them outside with the compass on my iPhone, I began scanning with the Canon 18X50.  Again no luck, so walked out to the end of the driveway which provided a clear view all of the way from West to North.  Re-checked the iPhone compass using the N-S fence line at the end of the driveway.  Compass was right on.  Established new landmarks using compass bearing provided by Sky Safari.  Scanned the whole area carefully, but no comet.

 

By now it was getting dark enough that I was sure the comet should be visible, based on my naked eye sighting Saturday morning.  I got a mechanical inclinometer that I had in the shop and found that it just fit the groove in the carrying handle of the APM 150, so set it in that groove, inclined the bino to +12 degrees, as indicated by Sky Safari, aligned the Az of the bino using the compass, and carefully looked at the entire FOV.  No comet to be seen.

 

After a quick scan with the 150, of the entire immediate area indicated by Sky Safari, I decided that Sky Safari must be providing an inaccurate location for the comet.

 

To get a wider view farther North, I moved the dolly carrying the tripod, mount, and APM 150, another +/- 30 feet out the driveway.  Began scanning again, concentrating on the area farther North, that had been hidden by the tree.  Suddenly, there it was, in the edge of the FOV!

 

The comet was several degrees North of the Az given by Sky Safari, and maybe a bit lower.  It also appeared much more diffuse than when I had last seen it on Saturday morning, with the tail being shorter and wider.  This would partially explain why I didn't pick it up using the Canon 18X50, plus the sky was lighter earlier in the evening.  I think it was about 10:30 PM when I finally spotted it with the 150.

 

An interesting side note is that although the sky had mostly cleared at sundown, as the evening got later, very dark opaque clouds began forming in the area where I was searching for the comet.  There was a large area of clear sky farther West leading me to believe the comet would be in the clear, then suddenly there would be significantly large black clouds scudding right to left through the area.  These clouds were forming very rapidly, but thankfully were also moving quickly out of the way.  By the time I quit observing the comet, the whole sky was mostly obscured by these opaque clouds, and I could only catch occasional short views of the comet through quickly moving holes.

 

It is slightly puzzling to me, why Sky Safari had the wrong coordinates for the comet, as they had just updated some of the information about it within the past few days.  Last night they listed its magnitude as +2.

 

Although not as spectacular as Saturday morning through the Lunt 100 bino, I'm glad I saw NEOWISE through the APM 150.  It has now had at least some success hunting a comet.

 

I tried briefly to spot Comet NEOWISE beginning at about 4:30 this morning, using the Canon 18X50 IS, but couldn't find it.  The sky was clear and it should have been easily visible.  This makes me wonder if it is not fading rapidly?

 

Rick


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#202 GamesForOne

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 09:44 AM

Hmm, I've had trouble not be able to spot it in the evening as well and I've been using SkySafari and iPhone compass too since I can't see stars as a reference. Is it because there is an error (varies with location, about 6 degrees here) in the compass vs. true north?

 

Maybe try this web page link on your phone next time:

 

https://www.ngdc.noa...clination.shtml

 

You'd think Apple would add this functionality to the iPhone Compass app since the iPhone also has GPS.

 

I hope it is not fading. I was looking forward to seeing it from now until the 23rd or so in the evening sky. The closest approach to Earth is on the 23rd.

 

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Edited by GamesForOne, 13 July 2020 - 09:45 AM.


#203 btschumy

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 09:46 AM

Rick,

 

I'm pretty sure SkySafari does not have the wrong coordinates or alt/az for the comet.  That math has been time-tested over the years.  

 

One possibility is that you did not have the time set to Now or that you location was set incorrectly.

 

Also, If you used the SkySafari compass to figure out where to look, then the error was probably caused by the known inaccuracies of digital compasses in mobile devices.



#204 ihf

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 10:44 AM

A friend of mine told me he had problems with SkySafari as well. Then he figured out that the NEOWISE satellite found more than one comet. So check the full name?



#205 oldmanrick

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 01:00 PM

Yes the comet was very disappointing last night in the 150, compared to last Saturday morning in the Lunt 100.  Saturday AM it was an easy naked eye find, and last night I couldn't even see it bare eye when I knew exactly where it was.

 

I did see another NEOWISE comet on the list in Sky Safari Pro, but it was shown as much farther West and lower.  I didn't look very far down my list in Sky Safari, (prioritized by magnitude), so I could have missed another one. 

 

I did check my compass with the fence along my West property line, known to run true East and West, and it was exactly right on.  This was at the time I was searching for the comet last night, and just 80 feet or so down the driveway from where the 150 was set up.

 

I looked for the comet again this morning when skies were perfectly clear.  It should have been in the same part of the sky as where I saw it Saturday morning, but I could not find it, even with my Canon 18X50 IS binocular.

 

I think I had the time set correctly to "now", on Sky Safari, as I was checking it between my phone and the iPad that I use for Sky Safari.  Sky Safari was constantly updating the coordinates, so I know that it was working.

 

The thing that causes me to think the comet may be fading is that I could not find it this morning, when Saturday morning it was an easy bare eye target, and a blaze of glory in the 100 at 31X.  Sky Safari showed it to be well up and a few degrees East of where I saw it Saturday.  I had a great view of the entire NE sky this morning.  The only explanations I can think of are either it hadn't come up yet or it has faded.  I certainly hope it is not the latter!

 

Thanks all for the links and advice.  I will keep trying and report back.

 

Rick


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#206 GamesForOne

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 01:31 PM

Right now it is very low to the horizon in both the morning and evening skies. Perhaps it is just the fact it is not well-positioned for observing against a contrasting darker sky. Maybe give it a couple more nights to get higher up in the evening. Fingers crossed.

 

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#207 Mr. Bill

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 02:20 PM

https://cometchasing...ets/2020_F3.pdf



#208 ArsMachina

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 02:21 PM

Yes the comet was very disappointing last night in the 150, compared to last Saturday morning in the Lunt 100.  

Same here.

 

Some days ago before sunrise it was very bright, like a torch held in the sky, easily visible with naked eyes.

Last night it was had to find and far less impressive.

 

I believe it needs a darker background actually it is too close to the sun.

But on the other hand it will be dimming from now, maybe the best Neowise days are over now :-(

 

I also will try again when the weather will allow.

 

Jochen



#209 MB_PL

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 04:18 PM

I'm at 52+ deg North and Neowise was yesterday and has been easy naked eyed today since about 22:30 CET from Bortle 8-9 skies. In a pair of Nikon Monarch 8x30s the core is very bright and the tail spans over three degrees. In my APM 120s (with pairs of LVW 22mm and TV plossle 32mm EPs) it is spectacular with clear differences in brightness of gases around the core and in the tail. I do observe from the 15th storey, though.

Edited by MB_PL, 13 July 2020 - 04:21 PM.

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#210 oldmanrick

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Posted 19 July 2020 - 10:30 AM

Comet Neowise made a good showing last night.  The sky had cleared nicely by sundown, (for the last several days, seems like a bunch of dark opaque clouds have been forming right in the area where Neowise appears), but last night it was perfectly clear, and by the lack of twinkling of the stars, I was guessing that seeing would be good.

 

I just had eye surgery last Wednesday, to remove a UV light-caused growth on my right eye.  (Had the left done earlier this year).  My right eye vision is still not great, but decided to go out about 10:30 PM, MDT, to see what I could see.  Took the Canon 18X50 IS, but first tried to spot the comet naked-eye.  From the driveway in front of the house, I thought I could just glimpse something that might be it using averted vision.  Put the Canon on it and sure enough, there was Neowise, front and center!

 

I hadn't planned to roll out the 150, but the comet looked so good at 18X through the Canon that I just had to try it, bloodshot, swollen and sore right eye and all.  I wore my progressive glasses to prevent contact between the eyes and eyepieces.  First tried the UFF 30mm 2" eyepieces, giving 28X.  Wow what a view!  With the head of the Comet just at the bottom of the FOV, the tail extended well past the top.  I estimated the visible tail to be at least 4 degrees long.  

 

While using the 30mm's, I swung the 150 around to take a quick look at Jupiter and Saturn.  Jupiters moons were nice bright points of light, with the two larger ones looking spherical, even at just 28X.  I thought I could see two of the equatorial bands, but at that scale, and my bleary eye, wasn't sure.  

 

Saturn and rings were clearly visible, and the gap between the planet and rings could easily be seen.  I swapped in the Morpheus 9mm eyepieces at 93X.  With these, I thought I saw the Cassini Division just briefly, but my vision wasn't good enough to be sure.  Jupiter's bands were very evident, and the four moons definitely appeared spherical, with color differences becoming noticeable.

 

Turned back around to look at Neowise using 93X.  I was surprised at how large the comet's nucleus appeared.  Neowise is approximately as far away as Mars, but the nucleus diameter appeared to be at least twice that of Mars when viewed at the same magnification.

 

Another surprising thing that I mentally noted about Neowise, was that the "debris cloud", or whatever the cloud around the nucleus is called, plus the first part of the tail, seemed to appear somewhat granular at times.  It appeared about the same at 28X and 93X though, so was probably an artifact of my poor vision.

 

To me, Neowise seems to be getting a progressively larger cloud around the nucleus, along with a widening tail, making it appear more and more diffuse.  Maybe just my eyes again?

 

By 11:30 MDT, Neowise was easily naked-eye visible, even with only one decent eye!  All in all a very nice viewing session.

 

Rick 


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#211 oldmanrick

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Posted 27 July 2020 - 10:39 AM

Out again last night to have another look at Comet NEOWISE, using the APM 150 bino.  Had a hard time finding the comet.  Could not spot it naked eye, and even after finding it with the big bino at 28X, I could barely imagine I could see it naked eye, when I knew exactly where it was located.

 

The comet was definitely dimmer than my last look, and the tail shorter and wider.  Another noticeable change was the greenish color of the nucleus, with the tail having more of an orange tint.

 

Spent a lot of time looking at the Moon, as well.  The area along the terminator was especially interesting, with lots of varied and extreme topographic features.  I studied some long "cracks" that appeared to be splits in the moon's crust, for some time with the 6.5 Morpheus eyepiece pair at 129X.

 

Also had looks at Saturn and Jupiter.  Thought I could see 5 moons around Saturn, but some could have been field stars.  Cassini Division was visible at 129X.

 

For some reason Jupiter did not seem to present as good an image as the other views.  Must have been some atmospheric turbulence localized in that area, although nearby Saturn was somewhat better.  I could still see 5 bands on Jupiter and of course all four moons were doing their usual dance.

 

Visited the Lagoon and Trifid nebulas, as well as M22 and M28.  Spectacular views of these as well.

 

All in all a very good night, even with the Moon being quite bright.

 

Had to quit about midnight, as I have a Dr. appointment to get my operated eye checked today.

 

Rick


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#212 oldmanrick

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 02:39 PM

Despite drifting smoke from nearby forest fires, thin variable high clouds, and the waxing moon, I decided to try one last look for Comet NEOWISE last night.  Did not use Sky Safari, as it does not accurately show the comet in the correct location.  Using the 2" APM 30mm UFF eyepiece pair, giving 28X, and a 2.6 degree FOV in the APM 150mm BT, began sweeping back and forth in the W-NW sky, raising the FOV upwards by about 2 degrees each sweep.

 

Finally spotted it, (I think), just a very dim, small, fuzzy, blue-greenish blob.  Using averted vision and a good imagination, I think I could see an extremely dim, short, fan shaped tail. 

 

From my position last night, the comet certainly was not naked eye visible.  The moonlight illuminating the high thin clouds and wildfire smoke certainly didn't help, but there is little doubt in my mind that the comet is giving me one of the very last views of it I will have.

 

On a brighter note, I've come to realize just how good the APM 150 is for terrestrial use.  While setting up before dark, I decided to check the communication towers and fire lookout on a mountain top, 9.04 miles distant with the the 6.5mm, (129X), Morpheus eyepiece pair.  There happened to be a white 4-door SUV parked just beside the fire lookout, and with the 150, I could make out the door handles on the SUV, and even the dark gaps around the door outlines.  Seeing was good, as the sun was low enough that ground heating had ceased and the atmosphere was quite hot, yesterday being the hottest day yet this year.  Apparently the atmosphere had reached some kind of thermal equilibrium.  I've occasionally watched ravens playing in the wind over this peak, and have been able to identify that they were ravens, partly by their antics, but also by shape, etc.  I use the 150 a lot for distant terrestrial wildlife and bird watching.  They present a very accurate view with good contrast, and continue this well towards darkness, compared to any of my other optics.

 

Rick 


Edited by oldmanrick, 01 August 2020 - 02:42 PM.


#213 salico

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 03:57 PM

On the 23rd was my only telescopic time with NEOWISE, clearly visible with the naked eye under some Bortle 4/5 skies on the flat roof, through the LOMO 80 BT by BINOPTIC at 20x and 40x, nice nucleus and tail - I unfortunatelly missed the unique option to observe it under good Bortle 4 skies with the new 12" OOUK f/6 NOCTUTEC BT,,,



#214 oldmanrick

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 01:07 PM

Great show by Jupiter last night!

 

Between 9:00 and 9:30, I had the 100mm Lunt BT set up on the deck and had taken a quick look at Jupiter with it at 79X, through the 7mm Delites.  At first, I could only see three moons, one away out to the right, one a short distance right, and the third almost touching the planet on the left side.  Seeing was only fair, and it was still pretty daylight, as Jupiter had just become visible naked eye.

 

I decided it was worthwhile to roll out the 150.  About 9:30 in the gathering twilight I proceeded to do this.  I had the Morpheus 6.5mm eyepiece pair installed, and at 129X, felt that this would be a good place to start viewing Jupiter.  With the 150, I quickly spotted Ganymede, just touching Jupiter on the right side.  Io was at the same position on the left side.  Both were slightly above the centerline of the planet, appearing like two tiny bright ears.

 

Even in the twilight, I was able to spot Ganymedes shadow, slightly left of center, and just at the top of the Northern Equatorial Belt.  Very soon Ganymede was pulling away from the planet edge, leaving a tiny black gap.  Also Io was disappearing into the left edge of the planet.

 

Seeing was not very good, as at times I had to wait for the atmosphere to calm down to even see Ganymedes shadow.  During the short interludes of calmer seeing, I could see  the shadow quite sharply, and even thought I spotted the Great Red Spot in the SEB directly below Ganymedes shadow.

 

As darkness slowly fell, seeing seemed to actually deteriorate.  A brisk breeze had come up here locally, and that didn't help, causing jiggles to my setup.

 

There were enough episodes of better seeing that I decided  to continue watching the shadow, GRS, and then Io traverse across Jupiter.  I thought that I would certainly be able to see Io's shadow, and possibly the moon itself at times during their transit.  For a long time I was able to do neither.  The seeing had deteriorated even a bit more, and it was just enough to ruin the view.

 

Finally, when Ganymedes shadow was nearing the right edge of Jupiter, the seeing quickly got better, the best I had seen all night.  I was able to spot Io's shadow not quite half way across the planet, and could clearly see the GRS when seeing was at its very best.  A little later, when Io was approaching the right edge of the planet, I was able to see the tiny white disc against the darker background of the planet.  At this time Ganymedes shadow and the GRS were about to disappear off the right edge.  Interestingly, the shadow and the GRS traversed at near the same rate, side by side, all of the way across the planet. 

 

Seeing was so good at this time, I decided to try the Morpheus 4.5mm eyepiece pair at 187X.  At this magnification I was able to see Io's shadow most of the time and the moons disc much of the time.  I continued watching until Io was well clear of the planet, and the shadow was nearing the edge.

 

One time while I was watching the shadow transit, a small progressive dim flash appeared in the FOV slightly left of, and above Jupiter.  The flash built from total darkness to its brightest, then back to totally dark in about a half second.  It didn't give the impression that it was moving, but at that duration it was hard to tell.  I could see nothing there after the flash was gone, and it didn't repeat, that I noticed.

 

Also took a look at Saturn before packing up.  At 187X, several moons were barely visible, and the Cassini Division could be seen.  This was one of the few times I have been able to see the Cassini Division.  I could also see some banding on Saturn, and one dark spot near the equator.

 

Packed up and called it a night about midnight.  Nights like this make the expense and hassle of the big 150mm BT worthwhile.

 

Rick


Edited by oldmanrick, 15 August 2020 - 01:14 PM.

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#215 ArsMachina

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 03:46 PM

Great read, Rick!

Makes me wish that my 150 will arrive soon :-)

 

Jochen



#216 oldmanrick

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Posted 16 August 2020 - 09:48 PM

Thanks, Jochen,  Seems I always get a little carried away and ramble on with my posts.  Glad you enjoyed!

 

Also hoping that your 150 90 degree arrives soon.  Will be interesting to read your reports, I'm sure.

 

Rick


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#217 charlesgeiger

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 12:45 AM

I noted in Sky Safari that the best viewing of the Perseids would be in November or December.  I forget which and that was on the 12 and 13th.  Obviously the Sky Safari was wrong.  I had the time set to 'now' so it was a very obvious error.  Anyhow, it was too cloudy for a view at my location.  I have also noted incorrect brightness estimates for Neowise as I studied it for 10 days in a row here in Portland, OR.  It was fading later July and into August but the Sky Safari didn't post a brightness change until some days later.  So apparently it doesn't update very frequently on stats. But it was always close to the posted position from the sky chart.

 

Charlie


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#218 btschumy

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 07:33 AM

Charlie,

 

I’m pretty sure that SkySafari was not wrong.  I’m not sure what you were looking at for the information, but if you search for the Perseid meteor shower, it is shown to peak on August 12th.  If you think there is an error, you can PM me to discuss it.

 

With respect to the magnitude of NEOWISE, that comes from the Minor Planet Center.  Pretty much every astronomy app out there was showing the comet as much dimmer than it really was.  SimCur finally contacted them and asked them to change the albedo which was incorrect.  After that the magnitude displayed was pretty close to visual reports.

 

Bill



#219 faackanders2

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Posted 17 August 2020 - 10:26 PM

2.3x40mm galilean binos would be beter for meteor showers than any hig power narrow FOV.  I even have a hands free head sett, but I would still miss about 50% of meteors compared to naked eye; but the ones I see woul be great.  Even better for fireworks where you know the origina and can pan up.


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#220 oldmanrick

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 02:46 PM

Had a great 3 hours out under the stars last night with the APM 150.

 

Most of my time was spent viewing targets in Sagittarius.  Saturn and Jupiter were very nice, with the Cassini division being visible in Saturns rings, and many bands visible on Jupiter.  Seeing was just good enough that I could effectively use the 4.5 Morpheus pair for 187X.

 

After looking at the planets at high power, I switched to the APM 2" 30mm UFF eyepiece pair to do some sweeping up and down mostly West of Jupiter.  I found the Lagoon nebula, Trifid nebula, Swan nebula, M22, and M23, among others.  These were spectacular, as transparency was very good, and countless interesting targets could be seen.

 

The Milky Way was mesmerizing, with millions of stars visible as well as many "faint fuzzies" of one kind or another.  Maybe when I get my Nexus DSC for my big fork mount I will be able to identify more of these.

 

As a parting shot, I took a quick look at Mars at 187X, but seeing provided only a shimmering, fuzzy view at that power, as the planet was still so low in the sky that I was looking through too much atmosphere.  I was able to make out some dark patterns on the face of the planet, plus whiteness at the northern polar cap.

 

The moon was lighting up the sky to the E-SE, so I packed up and went to bed.

 

Rick


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#221 ArsMachina

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 06:44 AM

It really seems as if these 150mm APM binos are very close to this "single all purpose instrument" we are all dreaming of.

For me it will be for sure, I am not planning to have another instrument beside.

Still waiting ...

 

Jochen


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#222 ZX12

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Posted 13 September 2020 - 11:28 PM

Hello Rick and Jochen,

 

 Rick, I'm glad you enjoy the APM150's as much as I do, especially the views they provide of the planets which was an unexpected bonus from a binocular. 

 

They have been my primary instrument now since arriving early last year, though I often have a 10" CFF Classical Cassegrain scope out with them.

They compete well with each other overall, but the 10" Cassegrain pulls ahead on the planets/Moon when the mirror is stable and seeing is good. I would say it behaves much like an 8" Apo refractor in sharpness.

With DSO's, the biggest difference between the two is lower power/larger field size options in the 150 and the ability to see fainter stars in the 10".

 

M31 still looks better in the 150's, partly due to the small field size of the long focal length Cassegrain. On the best nights I can see the entire shape of the galaxy with the dust lanes visible from my area, which is in a yellow zone on the LPM. 

 

The great thing about the 150's is when seeing is poor to fair, I can use powers from 25x-75x and still enjoy the sky as much as when conditions are good.

Most used eyepieces are the 30 UFF and 14 Delos for low powers, 8 or 10 Delos for mid, and 4.5 Morpheus for high.

 

Jochen, I have the 150SD on order as well, so it will be interesting to see how it compares to the 150ED.

 

Mike


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#223 oldmanrick

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Posted 14 September 2020 - 12:23 PM

Hi Mike,

 

Yes I'm enjoying the 150 a lot!  It is getting more use now that I have it more or less permanently mounted on the dolly, and can wheel it out most any time for a quick view or a longer session.  I find that I'm using it more than the 100 Lunt, even though I usually keep that one mounted on a light weight Gitzo CF tripod, and set up in the house where I can take it out to the deck or front yard easily.

 

The 150 provides wider, brighter views with any given eyepiece, and far exceeds the 100 in high power capability.

 

The 150, paired with the 2 inch, 30mm UFF eyepieces is awesome for scanning the Milky Way or searching for "faint fuzzies".  Also for terrestrial viewing.

 

I'm certainly envious of you and Jochen, with the SDs on order!  If I value my peace and well being, I won't be able to try those any time soon.  Just thankful that my wife agreed to let me buy the ED 150!

 

I'm currently scheduled to get my first cataract surgery done in November, and the second eye soon after, so maybe I'll be able to see the E and F stars in the Trapezium, after I'm all healed up.

 

I'm anxious to read your reports and comparison of the 150SD vs the current ED model.

 

Rick


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#224 ZX12

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Posted 14 September 2020 - 07:19 PM

Rick,

 

I recently acquired a 90 degree APM100SD for a very attractive price from a friend that found it wasn't quite as sharp as his Takahashi FC100.

They are what inspired me to go for the 150SD since they have excellent color correction.

 

They are equal to my APM150ED in sharpness, but with no visible color in focus. While the 150ED has some color on bright objects, they also have two very well figured and matched objectives.

 

If the 150SD can combine the color correction of the 100SD with the objective quality of my current 150ED, then I will be very satisfied.  

 

I wish you the best during your cataract surgery and hope you will get the most out of the views once healed.

 

Regards, Mike

 

 


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#225 Cestus

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Posted 15 September 2020 - 09:53 AM

Maybe if a rich uncle leaves me a legacy in his will I might be able to get one of these. It sounds fantastic.




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