Mission completed :-)
APM XWA 3.5 and 4.7mm
Ethos 6mm - 17mm
No more glass eyepieces to come :-)
You forgot the 55mm Plossls!
Better get a bigger case
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Posted 31 May 2021 - 07:25 AM
Mission completed :-)
APM XWA 3.5 and 4.7mm
Ethos 6mm - 17mm
No more glass eyepieces to come :-)
You forgot the 55mm Plossls!
Better get a bigger case
Posted 31 May 2021 - 07:29 AM
There will be another case only for NV :-)
Posted 15 June 2021 - 08:25 AM
Last night I did it again, the moon showed a narrow crescent and set early, the forecast was promising:
I was outside from 10pm to 1am and by the end of the session the Milky Way was visible to the naked eye.
Nevertheless the sky was not really dark, especially towards the east you can see the light dome of a city, which is 30km away.
To warm up in the twilight I observed the moon with all eyepieces available to me.
Each magnification from 25x to 240x has its charm, in the course of the observation I could observe also a star cover by the dark moon disk - very impressive sky mechanics live.
Yesterday also the shadowed part of the moon was slightly illuminated and so you could always see the complete outline, which I like very much.
Especially great is the very fine outgoing part of the terminator at its ends, this is really fun with high magnification.
The seeing was really good and the 240x was usable without problems, but I prefer the 180x, observing is much more relaxed with it.
Really nice are the 100° eyepieces, which always show me a very large area.
About in the middle of the illuminated area were some very interesting structures and here you can see with 2 eyes a very clear and great 3D effect.
The image looks really plastic.
The direct comparison with a squinted eye makes the difference very clear.
These are the moments when I know I made the right decision with the 150 bino.
I then paused to wait until the moon disappeared behind the mountain and the sky became darker.
Then, of course, the first thing I did was briefly set up the StarSense on a bright star, which I now do with the ball head and no longer in the app.
This is faster and more accurate.
After that you don't have to worry about the software, the accuracy is 100%.
I don't have to say much more about the tripod and fluidhead.
The tripod is once set up with the 3 screws on the feet and the fluidhead is moved once into balance, then no more changes are necessary for the entire observation time.
One can then simply forget about the technique and just use it.
The ease with which the heavyweight bino can be moved in both axes and remain stationary in any position after release is always unbelievably good.
The cranking column also works perfectly, I specifically did not even pay attention to it, the cranking is not an unpleasant or strenuous procedure for me, it goes in both directions extremely easily and is part of it like the swiveling of the bino.
Of course, I did star tests with both tubes again, which went especially well yesterday because I have not had such good seeing so far.
Both optics are absolutely perfect, but I knew that before
Since I have not prepared for the observation night, I use the Starsense - this time with the display completely switched to red beforehand, for object search.
To do this, I zoom into the app until galaxies, star clusters and nebulae are displayed to me, I then approach them one after the other and am curious whether I can see them in the eyepieces.
This works really well and I really can not imagine anything better to quickly, easily and accurately approach even faint objects.
Unfortunately most of the objects are now at low altitude already, the Virgo galaxies additionally also in the light bell of Mannheim.
Nevertheless I was amazed to see all galaxies displayed by the app clearly in the eyepieces.
M81/82 I had to visit too, of course, even if they are not as nice in the zenith as during the last observation.
Here I also played with the magnifications and went up to 140x, where the background then also gets nice and dark.
Special highlights were the Bumbbell Galaxy and M57, also here I worked my way through the magnifications to gain experience.
In the past, changing eyepieces was always a laborious story.
Clamp instrument, reposition, find star to focus on, focus, find object again.
Especially the last point was not always easy at higher magnifications.
Today, thanks to Starsense, this is completely unproblematic - I can choose a star further away to focus on and, thanks to the app, I'm back in the target area in a second.
The night now really consists of observing and not of searching...
I couldn't see a single nebula in the eyepiece, but I didn't expect that.
For that I would need a much darker location and would also have to use filters.
But I will soon get closer to this area with a night vision device :-)
Towards the end of the session the double cluster and Andromeda appeared behind the trees to the north and of course I had to have a look at them.
Hi/Chi as always beautiful, no matter if with 25x and much field around or with 140x finest stars, it is a pure joy.
Also M31, M32 and M110 inspire me again and again.
It is also really crazy to just wander through the Milky Way with the Ethos 17 and 13, there are so many incredibly fine and beautiful details as well as star patterns and different star colors to discover, I also spent some time at the color play of Albireo.
Really impressive is the optical quality of the bino.
If you take the necessary time when focusing, the stars are really pinpoint fine, which I like extremely well and was an important reason for a double refractor.
This session was again more of a test run than serious observing for me.
I jumped from object to object, played with the technique to get to know it even better and looked for the limits.
I can say without reservation, this bino and this setup does 100% exactly what I hoped for and actually did not think it would be possible in this perfection.
The only drawback is the weight, but I knew that before
To overcome the inner swine to build up is definitely an issue, I have to think about how I can leave tripod, column and fluidhead permanently built up and only have to carry bino and eyepiece case.
My reports will now also become less, I think to the bino and the technique everything is said.
There will be no more changes, because I see no more potential for optimization in any area.
In the future I will report then only from special observations more exactly around the potential of the bino itself to light up.
Posted 15 June 2021 - 09:06 AM
Great report, Jochen! I'm happy to hear that your 150 SD is working out so well for you.
I also do a lot of the same kind of scanning and just enjoying the sights as you have described here. Main difference is that I don't know the night sky well enough know what I'm looking at much of the time. If I take the time, I can usually figure it out when it's a real interesting target. I've got to get my Nexus DSC figured out better so I can use it as you do your Starsense.
Just for a bit of comparison, my 150 ED is very good on the moon up to 187X with the Morpheus 4.5 pair, when seeing allows. When seeing is outstanding, I have had some good useable views of the moon as high as 279X with the combination of the Morpheus 9mm pair and the ES 3X focal extenders. I do not like using this much magnification, as tiny shakes in the instrument and mounting system plus rapid movement of the target through the FOV make for a hectic operation.
I have also attempted a couple of star tests, but am unexperienced as to just what I should be looking for. To me each barrel is essentially the same and look O.K. in my 150 ED.
I certainly encourage you to find a way to keep your outfit set up, if at all possible. Even though somewhat crude, my big wheeled dolly makes a world of difference as to how much my 150 gets used, and how much risk is reduced by not having to wrestle it up into the mount each time I use it.
Congrats and Clear Skies!
Posted 15 June 2021 - 09:46 AM
there is no difference, I also do not know the night sky very well :-)
I do know some highlights but nothing more.
So using an app which is pointing me to the interesting targets is very welcome.
But I hope to learn the night sky somewhat better by time...
Yes, there are high mags possible, but I prefer not to go to the limit, observing is way more relaxed then and I do not miss details.
For the sky tests I am just looking that the circles are perfectly round and identical at each side of the focus.
For setting up I have to cary a chair, the eyepiece case, the tripod, the head and the bino.
I can carry the tripod and head in one piece but it is heady and unhandy.
The bino alone and the eyepiece case are not a problem, the weight is (still) fine for me and making the way just twice also would be OK.
So I need a solution to leave the tripod, head and seat outside.
On the other hand I do have three places in my garden to observe from which are providing different viewing directions...
Perhaps cutting down an old tree and limiting to one universal observing position would be the first decision to make.
And I do definitively need to bring that bino to darker places!
Posted 26 June 2021 - 08:48 AM
From yesterday afternoon it looked as if there could be an observation gap around midnight for 2-3 hours, exactly then, when also the planets become visible.
When I could see then starting from 23:00 o'clock stars I took the APM outside..
I knew that the conditions would not be perfect, but I wanted to see in particular how "large" Saturn and Jupiter would be with my eyepieces, i.e. whether I would be satisfied with the magnifications possible with the APM 150
I also wanted to see if the XWA 4.7 and 3.5 would be useful at all on the planets.
And I wanted to finally try to see Pluto and Neptune, both of which I had never seen before :-)
Really the conditions were not good, there were always cirrus in the air, in addition the full moon, which was graced by a halo ...
The edge of the moon flickered and also showed some color in places.
Star tests also showed rather fidgety diffraction figures.
Still I went for it, I wanted to finally see Saturn live again in good size and quality.
The StarSense system worked perfectly again, once adjusted it hits 100% during the whole observing time, you don't worry about it anymore and just use it.
What's great is that it allows you to easily jump back and forth between objects without having to search for a long time each time.
I like to focus on a medium bright star when changing eyepieces, what was a mess to do in the past because the search for the actual object to be observed was so annoying.
Thanks to StarSense this is now fully unproblematic.
Since Saturn and Jupiter were still behind a mountain, I first tried Pluto, which was quite close to the full moon - no chance...
When Saturn finally became visible the first images were quite disappointing, but when it was higher in the sky after 30 minutes I got excited.
Also Saturn showed a clear halo in the eyepieces, which spoke for the humidity in the air :-(
Nevertheless it was relatively crisp and the Cassini division was visible in glimpses at the beginning, later continuously.
I was able to increase magnification over time from 140 to 180 to 240x, while conditions were getting better, but were still far from perfect.
From the moons only Titan was visible, as said, the sky was very bright...
With Jupiter the same game, at first not very good but with increasing altitude and time it became better.
Of course cloud bands were visible, but unfortunately quite low in contrast.
Because of the higher brightness Jupiter had a more pronounced halo than Saturn, and also at the edges of Jupiter there was a lot of wobbling.
Four moons were visible, some of them even as clear slices, for me a completely new experience :-)
Around 3 o'clock the conditions became worse again and I ended the session, of course not without having a look at Neptune now showing up behind the mountain :-)
Of course I did my usual game this time to close one eye and compare it directly to the binocular observation.
This time I was not interested in the increased light gathering power but I wanted to see what the additional virtual magnification is all about.
One always reads that the factor is around 1.25 and I think that's right, Saturn centered in the field of view appeared to me 25% larger with both eyes than with one eye.
Really great is the plasticity the planet gains with 2 eyes, no, of course not three-dimensional, but clearly somehow plastic and really very aesthetic.
Already after the few observations the complete setup has become second nature to me, everything is completely intuitive, you just use it and can completely concentrate on observing.
Even though the conditions were mediocre at best I can say that I have never seen such a great Saturn, even with the 12.5" Portaball.
My personal need for a "planetary telescope" is for sure covered with the 150mm APM, that's all I need.
At open star clusters as well as Milky Way hopping it is perfect as expected and at galaxies it even exceeded my expectations.
Even faint fuzzies, which I always found quite boring and uninteresting (monocular), have their charm with the 150 bino, which I never expected.
The weak point are definitely the globular clusters, here more aperture is not to compensate, but I was always aware of that.
But this doesn't mean that you can't observe globular clusters with pleasure, but 12.5" shine much more...
What would be possible with filters in the matter of nebulae I will not even try out, to this topic I take a completely different way.
I am also very satisfied with my choice of eyepiece, I simply like these wide fields and I have absolutely nothing to criticize about the optical quality.
My fear that the tracking at 240x could already degenerate into stress and shaky images due to oscillation was absolutely unfounded.
The 150 APM meets my expectations 100%, rather they are even exceeded.
Also the choice of the mount with tripod, crank column and fluid head is perfect.
I can't think of any instrument that could give me more pleasure (with the same usability).
That's why I know I don't need to look for other instruments anymore, for me the maximum feasible has been reached.
However, the sky must also fit to it, with observations under not 100% perfect conditions, the instrument can not play out its qualities of course.
I'm really curious what awaits me at the eyepieces, if the conditions are really right...
Posted 26 June 2021 - 10:44 AM
It is a great and well tuned setup. Congratulations for having the vision to assemble it! I hope the next project turns out as nicely.
Posted 26 June 2021 - 12:15 PM
That is true and the funny part is, that all came together while going the way.
One year ago I was still planning with a big fork mount, I was not aware of the existence of the elephant stand and this wonderful center column was not even available.
Fortunately the right parts came together at the right time.
For sure having all my eyepieces at the same weight and focus is a central part for that comfortable observing I am now enjoying.
From all what I have seen and heard so far about NV I am very sure that it will be the perfect companion to my actual setup.
Posted 26 June 2021 - 01:11 PM
Congrat's Jochen! I'm happy to hear that your APM 150 SD outfit is working out so well for you.
I've discovered, the same as you, that good seeing and clear skies really bring out the best with these big bino's. Unfortunately, our skies here have been cloudy much of the time, and when not cloudy the jet stream is raising havoc.
It must be very satisfying to have assembled an outfit that fits your needs as well as this one does.
Keep on looking for those great targets, hope you find Pluto, and clear skies to you!
Posted 05 July 2021 - 03:19 AM
I got some PM recently asking about the StarSense Explorer.
As I can describe it hardly with my words I looked for a video and found a quite good one.
The interesting part starts at 8.25 before that only the telescope n general is described.
All you need to do is buying a small Celestron Telescope to get the smartphone craddle and the code to unlock the app.
The craddle can easily be taken off the Celestron Telescope and be attached to your scope.
Even this is working well I made my own craddle only using the original mirror:
The main reason was that this aluminium craddle matches my iPhone perfectly and is less bulky.
Between the craddle and the Bino I put a small ballhead:
Posted 15 July 2021 - 07:09 PM
Thank Jochen for all the pictures etc. Very nice to follow your project
I have a question about the Elephant stand.
See my attached picture (red arrows). Where are these good for? (maybe stupid question). But i also noticed those without the rubber? dampers underneath.
Posted 16 July 2021 - 06:23 AM
These three screws are needed to bring the tripod into equilibrium.
This is necessary for a proper operation of the fluid head.
Without friction, what I prefer, the fluidhead is very sensible and the bino will move alone from gravity.
The three round plastic pads below I made for soft or unequal grounds
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