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Farewell to my 5" Mak-Cass!

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#1 Lacaille

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:49 AM

Hi All, 

 

We have been spending part of each year in Strasbourg since 2015 and, since 2016, while here, I have been imaging with a beautiful little Celestron 127SLT Maksutov-Cassegrain from our third-floor apartment window.   This involved turning off the radiator and capturing out of the window over light-industrial firms and floodlit building sites, with folk wandering about in the flat overhead causing the floor to shake at critical moments.  

 

We are now selling up and will be spending more time in Canberra and so, with a heavy heart, I have sold this scope to a friend who collected it today.   It helped me to keep developing my imaging skills even when away from my 8SE and C11 in Canberra. It also allowed me to participate in the various CN "Small Bore Challenges", which are great fun.  I took it to Star Nights and have had queues of people gasping at Saturn (or maybe they were gasping at my French accent!).

 

I thought I would post here what I consider my best images with this scope as a sort of affectionate valedictory. I will really miss it!

 

If you are thinking of starting up in planetary observing or imaging, the 5" Mak-Cass scopes (there are various on the market) are excellent value for money I think.  The optics are very stable - in fact I don't really know how to collimate it!  And it is easily transportable. For moving it around the flat I leave the imaging train in place but can still lift it, tripod and all. I added a JMI electric focuser to assist in imaging.

 

Looking forward to getting back to Canberra and the C11 late in October!

 

Best wishes

 

Mark

 

Best images with Mak Cass at Strasbourg 2016 to 2019.jpg


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#2 AstroEthan

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 12:07 PM

I remember considering the same scope based on your recommendation when I thought my C8 would be too cumbersome for using at my campus (it is a little, but not as bad as I speculated). Based on pictures I've seen from 5" telescopes, I think it's the sweet spot for beginner scopes that will stay relevant after upgrading to something larger.


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#3 Lacaille

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 02:14 PM

Thanks Ethan, and, to be fair on my 8SE, I can carry that on its mount in one piece with imaging train in place. But you have to collimate it and you can't enter the "Small Bores". Am I talking myself into getting another Mak-Cass in Canberra?

A further point if anyone is considering one of these: if in an urban setting, check if the guided mount has a "solar system align" routine (the Celestron has this). From my apartment window, the light pollution and FOV is such that only the planets are visible - even a two-star align is difficult or impossible. Solar system align works very well indeed if your scope is well balanced on the mount.

Edited by Lacaille, 12 October 2019 - 02:20 PM.


#4 Kokatha man

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 06:52 PM

...reading the first paragraph of you first post here had me wondering if your scope might've fallen out the window Mark - & the thread title was a valedictory..! bigshock.gif :lol: 

 

A nice little montage of images as a memory! waytogo.gif waytogo.gif  


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#5 gfstallin

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 01:25 PM

Thanks Ethan, and, to be fair on my 8SE, I can carry that on its mount in one piece with imaging train in place. But you have to collimate it and you can't enter the "Small Bores". Am I talking myself into getting another Mak-Cass in Canberra?

 

Absolutely you should! I've not been to Australia, but I heard a rumor that the country's customs and border agents don't confiscate all telescopes smaller than C8s. lol.gif

 

I bought a used C5 recently just because one must have a small telescope for those quick peeks. For the price of a mid-range eyepiece, you have the peace of mind that can only come from having a telescope you can fit inside of a small paper bag or set up in minutes in case of emergencies. smile.gif Yes, there are astronomical emergencies. Just last summer I was outside sweeping the patio when I looked up and saw a bright star-like object at dusk that should not have been there. I pulled out my recently-purchased C5 on its AZ-GTi mount to inspect it and saw that it was a weather balloon (with the science package whipping around it in high winds). It was catching sunlight at altitude. Even some of the neighbors came over to see what the commotion (I was making) was about. This would have been tough to do with my equatorially-mounted C8.

 

I might have to travel to Europe during the Mercury transit, which counts as work-related emergency in my view. I cannot take a C8 with me. The C5 with the AZ-GTi I can pack up in carry-on luggage (I've already tested how to pack it). My only hesitation with doing so is unknown variables such as the weather and my work schedule. 

 

George


Edited by gfstallin, 13 October 2019 - 01:26 PM.

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#6 Lacaille

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 05:05 AM

Thanks for the likes and comments.

 

Darryl, no, I didn't lose it out the window. My main worry here has been potentially getting reported for terrorist activity (rocket-launcher shaped object poking out the window, red head torch, etc).

 

George, the Australian border authorities are fairly exigent but 5" scopes are indeed OK!  I would be interested in seeing a photo of how you pack everything!

 

Regards

 

Mark



#7 gfstallin

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 08:53 PM

Thanks for the likes and comments.

 

Darryl, no, I didn't lose it out the window. My main worry here has been potentially getting reported for terrorist activity (rocket-launcher shaped object poking out the window, red head torch, etc).

 

George, the Australian border authorities are fairly exigent but 5" scopes are indeed OK!  I would be interested in seeing a photo of how you pack everything!

 

Regards

 

Mark

Well, in case those border authorities aren't so keen on 5" schmidts and maks, here is the smuggling plan: 

 

Travel 2
Travel 1

 

I have foam in the front pockets of the carry-on to further protect the OTA. Eyepieces in bolt cases and some other accessories wrapped in small clothing items can go in the carry-on to keep everything from moving around and offer some further protection. I also have a camera case backpack I normally use for eyepieces that I could carry as my "personal" item, but that really isn't necessary. I have a small 6 ah battery that easily fits inside the carry-on as well and powers the mount. The tripod has to go into checked baggage, though I've seen people use smaller tripods that fit in carry-on luggage, I don't have a need to go that extreme. If I cannot check my luggage or carry a tripod in checked luggage, then that means I'm heading to an area where going out at night is considered suspect activity by local "authorities." 

 

Additionally, my phone is the hand controller, so that is one less piece of equipment I need. 

 

George


Edited by gfstallin, 14 October 2019 - 11:59 PM.

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#8 Lacaille

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Posted Yesterday, 05:54 AM

That's very helpful George, thanks.  Do you get pulled to one side for a closer inspection of the carry-on? It would look odd in the X Ray machine!



#9 gfstallin

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Posted Yesterday, 11:54 AM

That's very helpful George, thanks.  Do you get pulled to one side for a closer inspection of the carry-on? It would look odd in the X Ray machine!

I haven't gone through an airport with it yet. That test might be coming up in a few weeks when I travel to Switzerland. Normally, I wouldn't bother to bring a telescope for a work trip, but the next series of Mercury transits (2032, 2039) will not be possible for me to see in the United States. I figure I should do what I can to make sure I catch it. If it is cloudy in Geneva on 11 Nov., at least I will be able to say I was prepared and not feel as if I just let a rare opportunity pass by. 

 

I'd be curious if they didn't pull me over for a closer inspection. "There is a tube-shaped metal container, some sort of battery with a wire coming from it, a metal object with gears and wires, and small metallic tubes with glass optics embedded within them inside that suitcase. There is also a random tubular object with a battery and wrapped in a t-shirt. Oh yeah, there might be a random sock in there, you know, for appearances. You aren't going to inspect that bag, but you'll confiscate my 120 ml stick of deodorant?" lol.gif

 

In an old career, I'd become very used to the special attention of closer inspections; I was always "randomly" selected for further inspection because I typically flew with one-way tickets.

 

George


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#10 Lacaille

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Posted Yesterday, 02:48 PM

That's fantastic George! I do hope it stays clear for you, though you might have been better pushing for a meeting in North Africa at that time of year.

Best of luck with the security checks!

#11 gfstallin

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Posted Yesterday, 03:30 PM

Thanks! I know the odds of clear weather are quite low at that time of year. I lived in northern Italy in the Po valley for a few years and the transition from hot, relatively sunny Mediterranean summer to cloudy, rainy winter was always abrupt and rather depressing from astronomy point of view. 

 

George


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