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Questar Observing Reports (Post yours here)

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#1 Optics Patent

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 11:59 AM

My report doesn't deserve a whole thread, so I thought I'd offer this thread for other observation reports that are also worth sharing but not deserving of a new thread.  This is a fine place to comment on weather and conditions as well.

I had a much anticipated session with the Seven and the full aperture Questar solar filter I acquired earlier this year.  Texas summer heat was enough to demotivate me to stand out in the sun until fall finally arrived, with a crisp 70-degree day with clear blue skies and a gentle breeze yesterday.

 

With a 16mm Brandon, the field of view (without Barlow) was maybe less than a solar diameter.

 

Unlike an impressive recent lunar observation with striking texture on a smooth maria at the terminator, the solar disc was unimpressive and virtually featureless.  Plenty of mirage from the air movement seen at the limb, and a slight brightness fall-off at the limb, but no texture or spots.

 

Ho hum.  The brightness with the "salad plate" filter was comfortable (unlike the finder view that was on the bright side but not uncomfortable for brief periods).

 

Cloudy today. 

 

PS:  I encourage an astrophotographer to start a "Questar Astrophotography Images (Post yours here)" thread to consolidate all the wonderful images in one great thread.


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#2 Gregory Gross

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 03:31 PM

Unlike an impressive recent lunar observation with striking texture on a smooth maria at the terminator, the solar disc was unimpressive and virtually featureless.  Plenty of mirage from the air movement seen at the limb, and a slight brightness fall-off at the limb, but no texture or spots.
 
Ho hum.  The brightness with the "salad plate" filter was comfortable (unlike the finder view that was on the bright side but not uncomfortable for brief periods).

It sounds like the seeing wasn't too great when you observed the Sun in your Q7. What time of day were you out? I find that mid-morning hours before the heat of the Sun really starts to churn up the atmosphere is the best time for solar observing. I feel like I've gotten out too late with my solar gear when the clock ticks past 11 am or so.

 

Much to my surprise, a few people have reported on the thread "How Do You Use Your Questar?" that they've observed photospheric granulation with full-aperture solar filters attached to their 3.5" Qs. I would imagine that a 7-inch Q is going to exaggerate the effects that poor seeing has on bluring out any granulation one might be able to see. The next time you're out for a solar observing session, it would be very interesting to do a side-by-side comparison of the performance of your Q7 with a Q3.5 fitted with a full-aperture solar filter. Maybe the smaller scope will perform better?

 

Incidentally, that "slight brightness fall-off at the limb" is a phenomena called limb darkening. Essentially, photospheric gas is cooler, less dense, and less opaque at higher altitudes than it is further down. At the limb, we're seeing that gas only at a higher level, so it emits less light and appears darker. At the center of the disk, however, one is looking down into a deeper, hotter, more dense, and more opaque layer of the photosphere. I think it's really neat to see that effect. It's a reminder that the Sun is not a solid ball of matter but rather is a huge seething sphere of hydrogen.


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#3 Gregory Gross

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 04:32 PM

I was out with my '62 Questar this past Saturday night taking advantage of the clear weather we've been having. I'm finding more and more that my Questar wins out as the scope of choice during those nights when the weather is beautiful and the Moon is up for viewing.

 

This is the Questar forum, right? Let me gush a bit about my Q: I had no problems snapping all of the lunar features into sharp focus. I just knew I had nailed focus even in spite of the teeny tiny small focus knob. Very little if any mirror flop. I find that 90mm of aperture is just right for full-disk lunar observing and that the 40x eyepiece fits the Moon comfortably in what I roughly estimate to be its one-degree true field of view. My failed coatings even help to step down the brightness somewhat, making for a more comfortable observing experience.

 

Attached is a snap shot I took last Saturday with a Canon point-and-shoot camera aimed into the eyepiece.

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#4 Mike Allen

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 05:02 PM

Had my Questar 3.5 out last night.  Sky clear, transparent, temp 30 deg F.  Seeing a little rough, with stars displaying a spurious disk nice and round, but first diffraction ring broken up with turbulence.  Moon slightly west of meridian, and a day before first quarter.

 

Started in the lunar highlands forming the northern border of Mare Serenitatis.  The terminator sliced across the lava flows at the western end of Rima Calippus.  The rima could be seen, but fine details were difficult due to the seeing.  Valentine dome was hidden just inside the darkness behind the terminator.  The crater Posidonius appeared as a wonderful jumble of rimea and slumping.

 

I slowly cruised south into the western regions of Mare Tranquillitatis, where I spent some time studying the two big domes near crater Arago, alpha and beta.  They were easy to see.  I could even make out their rough summits caused by numerous protrusions.  The domes are about 25 km across and 300 meters high, with a slope of only 1.5 degrees.  They are kind of like the shield volcanoes here on earth.

 

As the Moon moved farther west, I switched to deep sky objects from Auriga, to the feet of Gemini.  I used chart 37 in the Interstellarum star atlas for my voyage of discovery.  I started in southern Auriga at the open cluster Mel 31, then followed a trail of stars to the nebula NGC 1931.  The nebula is easily seen,  considering its small diameter, along with the cluster St 9 in the same field of view.  A quick jump to M 36 was performed, then a slow, lazy walk following a trail of stars to M 35.  Along the way I stopped to gawk at the double stars Struve 753 and Struve 764.  M 35 was a real treat, along with the much more difficult cluster NGC 2158.  My final walk through the stars last night proved to be the proverbial “bridge too far”.  From M 35 I carefully moved north towards the reflection nebula VdB 65.  Using the 16mm Brandon and my star atlas, I stalked my prey, moving from one group of stars to another, while turning the slow motion controls in RA and DEC.

When I finally arrived at the location of the nebula, I saw.......nothing.  I even pulled out my Millenium star atlas to confirm my position.  All the stars were there as shown on the atlas.  Even the 10.5 magnitude star that illuminates the nebula could be seen.  I will try again when there is no moonlight to hinder the view.


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#5 rcwolpert

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 06:54 PM

Excellent report, Mike! Love these!


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#6 medpeds

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 07:52 PM

Finally a sunny (but chilly) day! I decided to setup my new Q with its tripod legs on the carpet of my 2nd floor home office and open up the window to lazily observe the sun. After a very quick indoor "polar" alignment, I hooked up the PG III for the first time. Estimated time from pulling the Q out of the box to successfully seeing the (featureless) solar disc in my 24 mm ocular was maybe at most 5 minutes! Believe or not, the alignment was pretty good, and I only had to make rare adjustments to keep the solar disc in the field of view.

 

Later in the afternoon, I attempted to view the gibbous moon through upstairs windows, but there was a lot of distortion from the window glass so I went outside and set up the Q on a tripod alt-az for seated observation. Beautiful views of Copernicus. Vallis alpes was very well demarcated and much better seen than in my prior telescopes. It was so nice to be able to finger-flick from low to high power without having to change eyepieces. I identified several new craters of interest.

 

My hands were getting cold, and I knew Venus would be visible around the corner of the house, so I picked up the tripod-laden Q and easily moved it to get a better view towards the SW. Venus was gibbous with no discernible color

 

All in all a very enjoyable 1 1/2 hours exploring solar system wonders and further reinforcing why I am totally enamored with my Questar!


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#7 DRohrman

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 03:23 PM

January 5, 2020. Tycho and the south limb.

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#8 Codbear

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Posted 19 January 2020 - 04:52 PM

The Moon - January 3rd, 5:20 pm with 2018 Titanium Questar 7 Astro model.

 

Yuri, the owner of Telescope Engineering Company and maker of my TEC180 refractor, which my Q7 measures up to extremely well, even in spite of the central obstruction, told me that the human eye is about twice as sensitive to light during the 20 minutes or so before full darkness as it is after night has fully set in.

 

I set up the Q7 on a StellarVue M2 mount on a Manfrotto 161 tripod with an Ethos 21mm and 2.50 Dioptrx to compensate for my significant astigmatism. Because my telescope room is kept at the same temp as the outside, there were zero cooldown issues. 

 

The Moon had that almost crystalline appearance that it takes on in this short timeframe before complete nightfall. the views were nothing short of spectacular. Montes Apenninus was amazing, even considering it was 2-3 days past ideal seeing. Copernicus was very impressive as well.

 

The most impressive sight though was Mare Humorum. The clarity was incredible. No internal waves in the OTA and no soft views. With a 2x Powermate and a 13mm Ethos, I was up to about 390x with almost perfect clarity. I counted 17 craters in Humorum and stopped counting, though there were certainly several others I could barely see.

 

This was probably the best view of a gibbous Moon I have ever had. The session lasted only 15 minutes but quality clearly exceeded quantity. And when I was done, I picked the whole system up, shuffled 6 feet back into the telescope room, closed the french doors and I was done!

 

Sam


Edited by Codbear, 19 January 2020 - 04:55 PM.

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#9 justfred

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Posted 22 January 2020 - 11:42 AM

I had the Q out last night in the driveway. It was a little chilly but severe clear. I took in the usual suspects in Auriga and Orion and four new ones for me: The Christmas Tree Cluster(NGC2264),  Kimble's Cascade, a cute little sparkling open cluster (NGC1502) at the SE end of the Cascade,  and Stock 2 a large faint open cluster not far from the Cascade.  I was impressed with Kimble - a very long almost straight line of stars (asterism).

 

Included some colorful doubles: Eta Cas and Iota Cnc.

 

It was very transparent. The Eskimo was obvious and M1 was a faint glow that you had to wait for.

 

The little '66 Q Standard held its own. Eyepiece was the 24mm Brandon with the internal barlow from time to time.

 

I came in a little after midnight when my feet got cold... it was 27 deg F - cold for Alabama.

 

I have been retired for 22 days now and I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it. Every night is a Friday night and every morning is a Saturday morning.

 

Fred


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#10 LunarObserver

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 11:33 AM

Fred,

Congrats on retirement!   Are you planning to go to Rainwater Observatory in April?  Being retired and all...

 

Clear skies,

David



#11 justfred

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 02:30 PM

Hey there, David.

 

Thanks! This retirement is going to take some getting used to - I still feel like I'm late for a meeting!

 

Yes to Mid South Star Gaze. It will be held April 22 - 25 and I'll post something here once the Registration opens up on the Rainwater website.

 

I chatted with Rob Pettengill yesterday and he is going to have a presentation for us on imaging with the Questar 3.5. That will be fun!

 

Thanks again,

 

Fred



#12 oldmanastro

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Posted 01 March 2020 - 04:57 PM

I found the correct thread for this report. My Questar 3.5" is just a week old in my hands. After spending my first two nights evaluating the optics and correcting a slight mis-collimation, last night I was able to do the things that this telescope was designed for, visual observation.  The Moon was at a good altitude and just about four days old. The views with the 16mm Brandon were crystal clear even with the Barlow lens. I used the details in the craters Theophilus, Cyrillus and Catharina to see at what power they would crumble. To my great delight they held even with my 4mm UO orthoscopic. That's 324x! After spending sometime on the moon, I did some deep sky objects. Using my trusty and very old Norton's Star Atlas and the Questar finder with the 16mm Brandon the objects were easily located. M46 and 47 were great in the pitch black field. M48 showed a swarm of stars. M50 and NGC2244 provided quite pleasant views as well as the rich cluster M41. Finally I went on to NGC2264 with its bright central star. Just as a blanket of high clouds started to cover everything I was resolving the double star mu Canis Major. That was my last object. The Questar delivered what it promises, superb optics, resolution to spare and the mechanical finesse of a carefully handcrafted instrument. The finder coupled to the 16mm Brandon matched so well to the Norton's that finding the deep sky objects was really easy. The best finder ever. This telescope is really a small self contained observatory.

 

Clear Skies!

 

Guido


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#13 oldmanastro

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Posted 08 March 2020 - 11:04 PM

Yesterday night I was able to observe some doubles with the Questar. The first one was Eta Orionis, a nice bright and easy pair for this telescope. Both primary and secondary were well separated and showing their bright white color. Then I came up to mu Canis Majoris. This is a pair that I have observed before. This time even at 324x they were not only well separated but showing great color contrast with the orange-reddish primary and bluish secondary. The secondary was located just a bit outside the first diffraction ring. It made it look like a diamond ring. The next target was 52 Orionis. At 1.2" separation this is a good test for the Questar. At high power and when seeing permitted, I am sure that I saw a hint of separation. At other times a good figure 8. Clouds started creeping in from the north and ended this short observing window. Again, the Questar made everything easy and pleasant. 

 

Clear Skies,

 

Guido


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#14 Joe Bergeron

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Posted 09 March 2020 - 12:36 PM

87970343_10157082095097444_3067930422689136640_n.jpg I used my Questar to observe Venus through a window screen, and it looked like this. Pretty!


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#15 oldmanastro

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Posted 09 March 2020 - 12:55 PM

attachicon.gif87970343_10157082095097444_3067930422689136640_n.jpgI used my Questar to observe Venus through a window screen, and it looked like this. Pretty!

This image brought memories from long ago when I built a diffraction screen (out of window screen). It was supposed to increase contrast on the planets specially Venus. The instructions came out of a Review of Popular Astronomy issue. I still have them. Later on I read that these diffraction screens were just like filters. They reduced glare. Images of the planets through them were a lot like your image.

 

Clear Skies!

 

Guido



#16 justfred

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 04:53 PM

I held a secluded suburban Messier Marathon last night. The skies cleared up for the first time in weeks and the club events have all been cancelled so I decided to see just what could be observed from the driveway here at home. Only 55 of the 110 objects can be seen from our house here in the suburbs south of Birmingham. Trees, the house itself, and Oak Mountain due south obstruct the rest. Everything below -5 deg declination is hidden. I still ended up seeing 39 of the objects that were available. The remaining 16 were just too faint for the little 89mm Mak on this night. I could "see" objects down to mag 9.3 but nothing fainter. Not bad for Bortle 5/6 skies. Clouds stayed away, temps were in the mid 50's, seeing and transparency were average, and there was no wind or moon to contend with. Eyepiece used was a 24mm Brandon with the internal barlow giving the best views of the galaxies. I took breaks for supper and a short nap around 3am waiting for more objects to clear the trees. I finished up at 5am. I moved the scope three times during the night to different positions. The Q is perfect for this. Mine is mounted on a TriStand and you just pick the whole thing up and do a quick alignment at the new spot. Leave the Powerguide running and you're good to go as soon as you're aligned.

 

I used the Don Machholz search sequence off of the SEDS site. That list, the Questar and TriStand, a small folding aluminum table, and a Star Bound observing chair were all I needed.

 

We can't all get together right now but we can still do what we can from where we are and use the forums to stay connected.

 

Did I mention I had fun? :-)

 

Fred


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#17 cbwerner

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 08:31 PM

Well done, Fred! Cloudy here, so no opps yet. bawling.gif


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#18 Erik Bakker

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 06:20 AM

I am sure you had a very fun night out with your Questar Fred!

 

Thanks for sharing it here waytogo.gif



#19 Terra Nova

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:28 AM

Fred, thanks for your wonderful report! It’s an inspiration for a fun activity in these homebound times! I want to try it once the weather here clears! :bow:



#20 justfred

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 05:45 PM

Thanks, everyone. I'm going to work on the Caldwell list next. Although I'll try for just a few a night :-)  I should be able to see 30 of them over the next few weeks from here and maybe a few more if the sky lets me go fainter than 9.3. Not likely here in the humid Southeast... :-( 

 

Lots of stuff to keep us busy for as long as it takes. Everyone please do your part to help things get better.

 

Everyone also let us know what you're seeing!

 

Fred


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#21 oldmanastro

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 09:34 AM

Finally after almost two weeks of rain and clouds, a clear night with only occasional clouds coming and going. I went out to my observing spot on the roof and the sky was clear at the moment with a hint of clouds in the western horizon. The stars were twinkling regularly in a transparent sky. It was a small telescope night. The Questar was out and polar aligned in my Celestar Wedgepod. I went directly to M35 in Gemini. It was already lower in the sky but the view was splendid. The cluster occupied most of the field with the 16mm Brandon. The Y asterism that I always see in the centre was clearly there among the plethora of pinpoint stars. NGC 2392 was next. It was an easy find using the Norton's and the Questar finder. The central brightness was clearly discernible in this planetary nebula. It was even better at 180x using the barlow. Delta Geminorum was next. Nice and easy pair for the Questar and good contrast against a dark field. Interestingly I had no luck with Kappa Geminorum  but it could have been the seeing conditions and the fact that it was low in the sky. 38 Gem was easy showing a clean split and very nice contrast but this is an easy one for the Questar. I jumped to Cancer hunting for M67. Again an easy one for the Questar finder and an excellent view with the 16mm of this rich cluster. The Beehive (M44) could not be left behind and it was a great sight of very bright pinpoint stars covering the whole field in both the 16 and 24mm Brandons. Two doubles were observed in Cancer, 57 Cancri and OStrube 215. Both at 1.5" separation and clean splits . They are above the Dawes limit for the Questar but right there at the Raleigh limit. From Cancer I went to Leo to get a glimpse of Algieba. It looks like a textbook image of a perfect splitter double with the intense yellowish-orange colors. Porrina in Virgo was next. A great view of the white-white pair. Finally I wanted to take my first look at Cor Caroli with the Questar. At this place polar alignment means that the telescope is looking at Polaris 18 degrees above the horizon. Looking at Cor Caroli meant a bit of observing contortionist position but it was there. I never get tired of this double. One of my favorite color contrasts with the bluish primary and yellow secondary. 

 

It was already 12 midnight when I called it a night. 

 

Clear Skies!

 

Guido


Edited by oldmanastro, 30 March 2020 - 01:13 PM.

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#22 rcwolpert

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 09:43 AM

Guido, greatly enjoyed your report!  Thanks.


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#23 oldmanastro

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 09:49 AM

Guido, greatly enjoyed your report!  Thanks.

Thank you and as you can see my autocorrect converted Algieba into Algebra!!lol.gif



#24 justfred

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 11:51 AM

Great report, Guido.

 

And I am jealous of your Southern latitude!  I had a glimpse of the Carina Nebula at the Winter Star Party in the Florida Keys earlier this year. 

 

Omega Centauri is as low as we  go here at 33degN. 

 

Thanks,

 

Fred



#25 oldmanastro

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 01:25 PM

Great report, Guido.

 

And I am jealous of your Southern latitude!  I had a glimpse of the Carina Nebula at the Winter Star Party in the Florida Keys earlier this year. 

 

Omega Centauri is as low as we  go here at 33degN. 

 

Thanks,

 

Fred

Thanks Fred. My best skies are to the south- south east. Yesterday clouds were hampering my southern views but later at night I could see the Southern Cross rising low in the south. Planets are also high here. On the other side of the coin, we get a lot of Saharan dust during the summer that obscures DSOs observations and makes sky transparency very poor. It also increases the daily heat and sustains it during the night. No fun observing at night with 90 degrees and 70% or more humidity. There are some great nights in the summer but they are a few. I have yet to take a look at the Carina Nebula with the Questar. Lets see if the weather behaves tonight.

 

Clear Skies,

 

Guido


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