Last night I had the first serious night without moon and with quite good conditions, I observed from 10 pm to 1 am:
At the beginning it was not really dark, which was noticeable in a gray sky background.
Recently also a neighbor has "embellished" his balcony railing with light bulbs which he has switched off only about 0:30 o'clock.
The balcony is 200 meters away, but it still disturbs enormously.
Nevertheless, it is obviously, that for really good observations I must go out on the field.
Towards the end of my session most light polluters incl. street lighting were off, which I clearly noticed in the contrast, nevertheless remains a certain basic brightness by individual illuminated neighbor windows, even if they are quite far away.
That's why I'm glad the setup is still mobile, I took it out in 4 pieces:
- Tripod with column and fluidhead.
- The bino itself
- The eyepiece case
- The stool
Let's start the review with the tripod, fluidhead and the center column.
As expected, the Neumann tripod is a rock, it doesn't move, how could it?
I use the fluid head completely without friction so that there is absolutely no resistance in either axis.
But for this the system must be 100% horizontal, otherwise the bino will start rotating on its own.
My first plan was to align the system with a large bullseye level at the beginning of a session, but even that is not accurate enough.
However, this is not a problem, because as soon as the bino starts moving by itself, you simply turn the opposite adjusting screw of the tripod a little bit and it fits.
After observing once in each direction, the system is aligned and stays that way.
I also had to fine-tune the ALT axis on the fluid head, as you can adjust the spring force and shift the center of gravity.
This now also fits perfectly and the bino remains stable in any position and has no resistance when moving - an absolute dream!
By the way, the Fluidhead is very sensitive.
Already when I take the smartphone out of the holder, the bino is no longer balanced and must be adjusted.
I am therefore very glad to have made my eyepieces all weight equal, that saves me a lot of readjustment while observing.
Yes, no question, a crank column must be cranked, the electric lifting column was pure luxury in this respect at the touch of a button on the remote control ￼.
Still, I prefer the crank column.
Apart from charging and hauling the battery, I always struggled with the cables in the dark, so even the lifting column is not completely without shade.
Cranking the column is unproblematic as long as the crank is not straight on the back.
Left and right is no problem, with both hands the load can be lifted and lowered without effort.
Of course, many crank turns are necessary for large angle differences, but that's just the way it is.
Yesterday I jumped around wildly in the sky, on a more planned observation night you set the tripod so that the crank is optimally positioned and you make rather few angular jumps.
Conclusion: Did the cranking bother me?
No, not really, even though I did a lot of cranking yesterday and had to stand up part of the time to do it.
For me, the cranking is perfect.
I almost forgot about the issue of vibrations and re-swing time because it's non-existent.
At least it wasn't yesterday when I used the Ethos 17mm up to 6mm - so magnified up to 140x.
I was observing a lot near the zenith with fully extended column and there I noticed nothing negative, even when I then extra times wiggled the bino and observed the reaction in the eyepiece.
So also here absolute satisfaction, clear at moon and planets with up to 240x it will be minimally more, but far from disturbing.
So much for the mechanics, which is convincing in every respect, but what does the thing do optically?
The seeing yesterday was not perfect but still pretty good.
Vega showed zero color focally and extrafocally and the diffraction rings extrafocally and infrafocally are just perfect.
At the beginning I had the feeling that the stars are not these needles on black velvet as I had hoped for, but this was due to the still too bright sky on the one hand and on the other hand a 150 bino needs some cooling time.
Anyway, after half an hour everything was perfect.
I have a hard time judging the performance of objects, it has been years since I last looked through a serious instrument.
The well known "candles" like M31, M42 or my favorite object the Double Cluster were not accessible yesterday.
But I saw M13 and M57 for the first time with the 150 APM.
M13 was beautifully resolved in 10mm and 6mm, but I expected more in brightness.
Without direct comparison this is difficult, but at that time I had compared M13 with the Doppelborg and the C8 bino, where the C8 performed better.
My feeling at that time told me, 6" Apo bino is on par with the C8 bino.
Whether this is really the case I will not be able to find out.
M57 on the other hand was more impressive than I had hoped for, beautifully large and I had the definite impression that the ring was bluish, which can't be because M57 is not blue.
M81 / 82 again very nice, M51 both components well visible but no spirals at all.
Of course I used the StarSense Explorer again and this time I took the trouble to align it very precisely to a star right at the beginning using the ball head.
It was worth it, the accuracy remained throughout the evening and was extremely precise.
Only yesterday I noticed that you can also zoom in in the Starsense app.
Previously, I had always entered an object in the search and then approached that.
But zooming in the app opens up a whole new set of possibilities.
At some point I landed at the Black Eye Galaxy and by zooming in the app, all the galaxies of the Virgo cluster appeared in the app.
I was here with 6mm (140x) and centered one galaxy after the other in the app and then saw them directly in the eyepieces.
This was a completely new observing experience for me, no searching or star hopping, but like walking in the sky and checking out one object after the other.
I was extremely excited!
But while it was quite dark also a disadvantage of the app has shown:
Of course I ran it in night mode, but the status bar and also the taskbar at the bottom of the iPhone are unaffectedly bright and blinding.
This could be solved by using a transparency foil instead of night mode, I'll just tape off the areas with black electrical tape soon.
I already knew the wide field qualities of the bino for star clusters, and it is certainly the perfect instrument for that.
Yesterday I was mainly using 6mm and 10mm and wanted to see what it could do on the smaller and fainter DS objects.
And yes, the 8mm in between is missing and definitely needs to be in the eyepiece case in the future. Often the 10x was too faint and the 6x already too dark.
I have seen so many galaxies, nebulae and KS as never before during an observation.
I was less interested in details than in "can I recognize this thing" and there was no object that I selected in the app and did not see afterwards at least as "smudge" in the eyepiece.
For the most part, though, there wasn't much more to it than the rough shape.
The Owl Nebula was clearly visible, but only a gray "blob".
As I said, I lack the direct comparison to other instruments and I haven't looked through a telescope for a very long time.
Of course I know that I can't expect Hubble images in the eyepieces and the bino effect is clear especially with the faint galaxies.
Again and again I looked at one of the galaxies with only one eye to get the impression how it would look like in a 6" refractor.
It's like pulling away a curtain when observing with both eyes....
I think I need to observe regularly now, also to train my eyes again.
And I need to compare the bino directly at meetings with other instruments to see what it really does.
And I will do a step up from iPhone Pro to iPad pro for StarSensing: