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First Light - Apertura AD8

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#1 Quibbley

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 09:33 PM

I guess the astronomy gods smiled upon me. My Apertura AD8 telescope wasn't supposed to arrive until the end of October or early November. It arrived this past Friday. I ordered it from Highpoint Scientific and ended up with only a three week wait. I assembled the telescope and collimated it without any problems and aligned the spotting scope. This is my first telescope with significant light gathering capabilities. I had been using my 20 year old Meade ETX 60 with 350mm focal length which produces only 39x with a 9mm eye piece. This is not bad but I wanted something bigger. 

 

Tonight was the first clear night since Friday. I wanted to pass along the highlights of my first light observations. 

 

I live in a small city, bortle 7, with street lights in front on my house. However, I was able to observe the moon, Jupiter, and Saturn using the 30mm and 9mm eye pieces that came with the scope along with a 2x Barlow lens that I purchased separately. I tried eye pieces by themselves and with the Barlow lens. I was able to see more details without the Barlow lens but the Barlow lens definitely made everything bigger in the EP. Thank goodness the telescope came with a 35mm extension tube because I needed this in order to get a focus. 

 

Telescope focal length is 1200mm so using the 30mm EP gives 40x and the 9mm gives 133x without the Barlow lens. The best views for came with using the 9mm EP without the Barlow lens. 
 

For Jupiter, I believe the image in the EP was inverted, I could make out what I believe is the Northern Equatorial Band just below the center of the planet (as seen in the inverted image in the EP). It looked like a fuzzy dark band. I could not make out anymore bands. I saw what I suspect is the GRS, top left portion of the planet at about the ten o'clock position (again, as seen in the inverted image in the EP). It looked like a slightly dark smudge, not very red.

For Saturn, I had no problems seeing the rings however there wasn't much detail. I could see what looked like a faint cloud band just below the rings. I guess it could have been the shadow from the rings; I'm not sure.

 

The moon looked fantastic. I could see a lot shadow details the various mountains and craters. I could see a little atmospheric distortion at high magnification 266x ( 9mm EP and 2x barlow lens) but the moon was starting to get low in the sky so I was looking through a lot of atmosphere. From my location, the moon was right over a shopping center so there is a lot of light pollution and radiated heat too. But the moon was still pretty bright though. I used the moon filter that came with the telescope.

 

I have a UHC and polarizing filter on order. They should arrive tomorrow. I have darker skies, bortle 4, about 40 minutes away. I will definitely have to pack up things and head out to darker skies for better observations.  

 

In all my excitement, I forgot to have a look at Mars. I guess I will have to take the telescope out again tomorrow night. laugh.gif


Edited by Quibbley, 21 September 2020 - 10:32 AM.

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#2 JohnBear

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 10:56 PM

Nice first light report. They are always interesting (and a bit nostalgic) for many of us.

 

It sounds like what you should expect staring out. As you gain experience, YOU will be able to find more detail in the images using the same EPs under the same conditions. Also viewing under calm, clear, and darker skies will end ups showing a whole lot more detail and much fainter DSO objects will become visible.



#3 DC869

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 11:27 PM

I enjoyed reading your 1st light report. I also live under bortle 7 skies and have an 8" dob with similar EPs. So far my 9mm has not been a very good performer, so I was surprised when you said it gave the best views. There are a lot of interesting variables at play in this pursuit, aren't there.



#4 StillLearning

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 03:59 AM

I have an AD8 also. You can skip the extension on the 30mm and simply tighten it down without seating it all the way in.

#5 Silver450nm

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 07:46 AM

Thats great your new scope arrived. I also ordered an ad8 from highpoint about a month ago and its scheduled to arrive today. Must be they got a shipment in.

Have fun with that new scope!

#6 LIVE LONG

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 09:18 AM

   Congratulations on your new scope purchase. You will be amazed at how many DSO"S you will be able to see with the increase in aperture. Good luck and clear skies!



#7 desertstars

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 12:03 PM

 

 

In all my excitement, I forgot to have a look at Mars. I guess I will have to take the telescope out again tomorrow night. laugh.gif

That sounds like a fine excuse to me! grin.gif



#8 MrRoberts

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 01:47 PM

Hope you get many clear nights to sit back and enjoy the wonders flowerred.gif



#9 Quibbley

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 01:14 AM

Thanks everyone. I got the telescope out again tonight to look at the moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. The atmosphere was a little better tonight. I could see both a Northern and Southern equatorial bands on Jupiter. I could just barely make out the Cassini Division on Saturn's rings. Mars was a small link pinkish sphere with a barely visible dark area on the surface. I could not see the ice caps. Perhaps I need to pick up a set of LRGB filters to help bring out more details. I need to do some research on planetary filters to learn more. As Dee said above, there are a lot of variables.
 

I got to try out my new 6mm Baader Ortho EP as well. The 9mm Super Plossl was a little sharper than the 6mm EP. So far I think the images are slightly better using the 9mm EP.

 

I have a Thousands Oaks Solarlite filter on order. I remember looking at sun spots with a K-Mart Focal brand 30x table top telescope as a kid. I would like to see sun spots again.

 

Thanks again everyone. Now it's time for me to accumulate some experience to improve my observation skills, my knowledge moon's topology, and how to navigate around the night skies.



#10 SteveG

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 12:31 PM

Thanks everyone. I got the telescope out again tonight to look at the moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. The atmosphere was a little better tonight. I could see both a Northern and Southern equatorial bands on Jupiter. I could just barely make out the Cassini Division on Saturn's rings. Mars was a small link pinkish sphere with a barely visible dark area on the surface. I could not see the ice caps. Perhaps I need to pick up a set of LRGB filters to help bring out more details. I need to do some research on planetary filters to learn more. As Dee said above, there are a lot of variables.
 

I got to try out my new 6mm Baader Ortho EP as well. The 9mm Super Plossl was a little sharper than the 6mm EP. So far I think the images are slightly better using the 9mm EP.

 

I have a Thousands Oaks Solarlite filter on order. I remember looking at sun spots with a K-Mart Focal brand 30x table top telescope as a kid. I would like to see sun spots again.

 

Thanks again everyone. Now it's time for me to accumulate some experience to improve my observation skills, my knowledge moon's topology, and how to navigate around the night skies.

Glad your new scope is working out, and what you’re describing sounds exactly as I see through my scopes.

 

The GRS on Jupiter has diminished in both size and color. You’ll get better at seeing it. Note that on a long viewing session, it will move across the face of Jupiter. It only takes about 10 hours for a full revolution of the planet.

 

The shadow you saw on Saturn is actually and atmospheric band on the planet. Next time you view Saturn, try to determine which side of Saturn’s sphere that the rings pass in front of, or behind the disk. Then you can look at the rings where they are behind, and look for the planets shadow on the rings themselves.

 

Mars will take higher power than both Jupiter and Saturn, provided it is high enough in the sky. The south polar cap was bright and distinct in my 4” refractor the other night, using about 180x.

 

I hope you removed the filters to see the planets in their natural light. I’ve never had a filtered view show me something that couldn’t be seen on the planets with an unfiltered eyepiece. YMMV



#11 Quibbley

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 08:42 PM

Hi Steve,

 

Thanks for confirming what I am seeing. I have viewed Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon with and without filters. I viewed Mars without filters only. The Orion UltraBlock tends to darken things up a bit and gives a bluish hue to the image so I haven't used this when viewing Mars. I may give this a try anyway just see to how it looks. I need the practice anyhow with trying study the images in the eye piece to discern details.

 

I think my light polluted atmosphere is my biggest impediment to get sharper images. Anything approaching 200x and above provides less detailed views. I know Newtonian scopes are not known for sharp crisp images but I think the AD8 can do better with darker skies.


Edited by Quibbley, 22 September 2020 - 08:43 PM.


#12 Quibbley

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 08:58 PM

I have an AD8 also. You can skip the extension on the 30mm and simply tighten it down without seating it all the way in.

Thanks, this nice to know. I figured this out as well. I can adjust the seating depth of the eye piece, i.e. not seat as deep to give a little more extension. 
 

 

Thats great your new scope arrived. I also ordered an ad8 from highpoint about a month ago and its scheduled to arrive today. Must be they got a shipment in.

Have fun with that new scope!

Let us know if you received your scope. I hope everything arrived okay. Assembly was a piece of cake and collimation wasn’t as tough as expected. I have been checking/adjusting every time I take out my scope. It always seems to be off a little with each outing. Perhaps I may be causing the mirrors to move as I transport the scope indoors/outdoors. Anyhow, it only takes a few minutes to get things aligned using the laser collimating. 



#13 Silver450nm

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 09:28 PM

Quibbley, my scope came in last night. I put it together quik and took it out. I didnt collimate or even let it cool because it was about 8:30 when i got home and had to put it together. I just ran out the door with it and my box of eyepieces. Spent about 2 hours checking things out in sky. Noticed it was brighter and clearer than my celestron 5 inch scope. Brought it inside when done, checked collimation and it was pretty close. Tweaked it, now its ready for its next outting.

Seems like a well built scope, we should be able to get some good use out of them.

Enjoy, clear skies

#14 CowTipton

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Posted 24 September 2020 - 01:36 PM

I ordered an AD8 from HPS on 9/10 and the estimate says mid-late October for delivery.

*hoping they get 'em early*

 

This thread has me excited.

By comparison, my only other scope has been an old, beat up Tasco 9f refractor.

I can't wait to see the difference in viewing even in the suburban skies (bortle 5 or so)

 

I hope you guys post any updates on accessories you end up buying as I'll be following closely to learn from others who have the same equipment.



#15 Quibbley

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Posted 24 September 2020 - 06:48 PM

I ordered an AD8 from HPS on 9/10 and the estimate says mid-late October for delivery.

*hoping they get 'em early*

 

This thread has me excited.

By comparison, my only other scope has been an old, beat up Tasco 9f refractor.

I can't wait to see the difference in viewing even in the suburban skies (bortle 5 or so)

 

I hope you guys post any updates on accessories you end up buying as I'll be following closely to learn from others who have the same equipment.

I don't know if my actual wait time will translate to your wait time but I order my scope on 8/31 and it was delivered on 9/18.
 

I received my Thousand Oaks solar filter today but the remnants of tropical storm Beta are moving through my area for the next couple of days. It will be a few days before I will be able to do any viewing with it. 

I hope you get your scope pretty quickly. I was like a kid on Christmas morning when I got mine. Keep us updated. 


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#16 SteveG

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 07:22 PM

Hi Steve,

 

 

I think my light polluted atmosphere is my biggest impediment to get sharper images. Anything approaching 200x and above provides less detailed views. I know Newtonian scopes are not known for sharp crisp images but I think the AD8 can do better with darker skies.

Light pollution has zero effect on sharpness. In fact, it’s a little easier to discern planetary details with some ambient light. The problem you were having is twofold:

1. The planets are very low in the sky, except Mars.

2. The atmosphere was not steady, caused blurred views.

 

You also need to cool the scope by letting it sit outside, uncapped, for 10-20 minutes before using high powers. I point the objective down, and rack the focuser out (with no diagonal in place). This allows the warm air to escape from inside the tube.


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#17 Quibbley

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 11:53 PM

Hi Steve - Thanks for the advice. Jupiter and Saturn don't really get all that high in the sky and I was viewing them kinda of early. So I think you’re right; the atmosphere was affecting sharpness quite a bit.

I take my scope out between an hour or two before viewing, uncapped. However, I would point the open end of the OTA downward in order to avoid anything from falling into the tube. Also, I have not run the battery operating fan that comes already attached to the OTA. 
 

I will tilt the OTA upward to facilitate the airflow. Should I run the fan if the scope has been out for more than an hour?



#18 coopman

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 10:21 AM

Many people who live in light polluted areas become planetary observers because the LP has no effect on what the planets have to show.  



#19 Frugal Astronomer

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 02:47 PM

I have the AD8 (received in March) and love it.  Yes, I would run the fan.  I put my scope out about an hour to 45 minutes before I plan to use it.  I turn the fan on about 30 minutes before use and run it the whole time I'm observing.  The temperature is going to continue changing while you're out and the fan will help to keep equalizing temps inside and outside the telescope.  

 

I really like the Paradigm eyepieces in this scope (about $60 each).  I have the 25, 18, and 12 plus a 2.5x Barlow.  My best view of the planets on a good night have been with the 12mm and Barlow.  I can see Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars with clear detail.  Colored bands on Jupiter, GRS (when it's visible), and occasionally the dark dot shadow of a Galilean moon passing in front.  Cloud band on Saturn, clear Cassini division, and shadow from the planet on the back of the rings.  I can see the south polar ice cap and dark mare region on Mars.  Of course, this is from a Bortle 5 location with good seeing.  But planet viewing should be less affected by light pollution than by seeing conditions.  If you can find them, Neptune and Uranus are also visible right now with this scope.

 

I don't know how you're finding things, but I put a degree circle on the bottom of the base and stuck a digital angle finder on the OTA.  I can find things very quickly using real-time coordinates from Stellarium.  Hunting down DSO's is difficult without some help as sometimes there just aren't enough visible stars to "star-hop" by.  I would think that your Bortle 7 skies will make that even tougher.

 

Happy viewing!



#20 SteveG

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 03:28 PM

Hi Steve - Thanks for the advice. Jupiter and Saturn don't really get all that high in the sky and I was viewing them kinda of early. So I think you’re right; the atmosphere was affecting sharpness quite a bit.

I take my scope out between an hour or two before viewing, uncapped. However, I would point the open end of the OTA downward in order to avoid anything from falling into the tube. Also, I have not run the battery operating fan that comes already attached to the OTA. 
 

I will tilt the OTA upward to facilitate the airflow. Should I run the fan if the scope has been out for more than an hour?

For my dobsonians I point the scope about 45 deg. I avoid having the optic (mirror or lens) pointing straight up.

 

You absolutely want to use the fan on the back. In fact, while the scope is cooling, put a box fan on it if you are home and can do so. Give it 45 min to an hour or more before using at high power.


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#21 Quibbley

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 01:40 AM

Thanks guys. I will start using the fan going forward. I wonder if I can run the fan via a USB battery pack instead of using AA batteries.

 

Also I already bought a digital angle finder from Harbor Freight. I went to the local Office Depot this afternoon to have a degree wheel printed out for my base. I need to trim it and take it back to be laminated. I haven’t finalized the details for adding the degree wheel yet.

 

I had clear skies tonight so I took the scope out again. I viewed Jupiter and Saturn when they were a little higher in the sky. I saw the most detail that I have seen to date. I could easily see the Cassini Division on Saturn's rings. I could see the Northern and Southern Equatorial bands easily and I could barely make out the darker color swirls in the light colored Equatorial zone band. The rest of the time I spent looking at the moon.


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#22 Men2Boyz

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 11:13 PM

Congrats on your new scope. I’m interested in the Harbor Freight digital inclinometer to go with my dob. They no longer sell the unilluminated version at my local stores and the version I saw did not have +/- .1 degree accuracy. I don’t know how much accuracy is needed. Is it working out for you? What app are you using to get your DSO data?



#23 Quibbley

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 08:50 PM

I haven't modified my scope yet for the degree wheel. I have the degree wheel printed out. I am still mulling over the details for the changes to the base.

 

The Harbor Freight digital angle finder that I have is SKU# 63615. SKU# 95998 brings up the same product as well. The picture on their website shows an illuminated display but the display on my unit does not have a backlight. Most likely they have not updated their product image for this item. I’m not too concerned though since I have a headlamp with a red light that I wear when observing.

 

The user instructions for the Harbor Freight angle finder says the unit is accurate to +/- 0.3 degree which is probably accurate enough to get me in the neighborhood of where I will want to be.

I see where a lot of people use the Wixey angle finder. That may be an option for you if you want the 0.1 degree accuracy.


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#24 Men2Boyz

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 11:04 AM

I actually want a display without backlight but most all digital inclinometers nowadays have backlit display, none are red backlit. Several people here are using older non backlit Harbor Freight unit successfully, so the +/- .3 degree must be accurate enough for use. Thanks for information.



#25 Card1951

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 07:32 AM

I ordered the AD8 from High Point two days ago. Any recommendations for upgrading the EP and a good Barlow? Christmas is coming and I want to put it on my list! 




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