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09-06-2006 02:40 AM  14 years ago
debogus

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Beauklahoma,peoples republic of mexifornia,USSA

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Pretty sure the only one I could afford is the PST
Dave
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09-06-2006 04:49 PM  14 years ago
Branzzz

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Singapore

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sorry if this sounds dumb, but how does one use an equatorial mount when the location is near or in the southern hamisphere? how do you align it to polaris?Raptor 50V2
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09-07-2006 12:39 PM  14 years ago
Luckylandings

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Oregon USA

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More ?'s
I just have a cheap Tosco. But have enjoyed it quit a bit.
Do the motorized one's that supposedly track the constellations with the correct timing actually work well? Or I have seen one that hooks to your PC and it goes into motorized auto and finds constellations and planets for you via calendar date. Are these worth the hype? Or would it be better to just spend the $ on a better and higher powered scope later? Thanks
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09-07-2006 02:08 PM  14 years ago
drksky

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Bloomington, Illinois

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how does one use an equatorial mount when the location is near or in the southern hamisphere? how do you align it to polaris?
You don't If you are south of the equator, you must align the mount to the south celestial pole...AND...you must set the motor drive (if equipped) to run in reverse. I have never been south of the equator, so I cannot comment on how to find the SCP. I only know that is a little trickier than finding the NCP because there isn't a bright star such as Polaris as near the SCP as Polaris is. The closest is sigma Octanis. The 18th brightest star in the constellation Octanis. Stars' greek names are in the order of their apparent brightness from earth, i.e. Alpha Orionis is the brightest star in Orion (Rigel), Beta is the second (Betelgeuse) and so on.

Here is a couple of links that explain souther celestial pole alignment:

http://www.enzerink.net/peter/astro.../polaralign.htm
http://www.users.bigpond.com/lansma...r_alignment.htm
AIM & Yahoo IM: drksky1056
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09-07-2006 02:37 PM  14 years ago
drksky

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Bloomington, Illinois

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Do the motorized one's that supposedly track the constellations with the correct timing actually work well?
I've never had the opportunity to use one of the fancy computer-controlled scopes, but I hear they work quite well. Even without being polar aligned, they supposedly are able to find and track objects using only your input latitude and longitude.

Personally, I think a beginner is better off getting more scope than mount. Unless you are doing photography, an equatorial mount isn't necessary. You'd be better off with a large Newtonian reflector on a Dobsonian mount. As I said earlier, I started out with a home-built 6" dobsonian made out of plywood (except for the optics, of course ) and a Telrad, zero-power reflex finder and a set of star charts. I felt I got quite a bit of satisfaction finding things the hard way. Plus I was able to have a nice set of optics for about $200

Of biggest importance for a mount is its stability. If you put a $2K scope on a flimsy mount or tripod, it's nothing but an exercise if frustration because of all the vibrations.

Here are some examples of what a dobsonin scope looks like:
http://www.obsessiontelescopes.com/

The mount they are on is Altitude-Azimuth (like a camera tripod) instead of equatorial. Here's a Celestron that would make an excellent scope to start with:
http://secure.sciencecompany.com/Ce...WrHUNMxBKXQxhcq

That's the 8" model that offers an f/6 focal ratio and a 2" focuser with a 1-1/4" adapter for $399. They also offer a 6" model that's about $100 cheaper and would still be a good scope to have, although it only has a 1-1/4" focuser. It's nice to be able to use 2" eyepieces for deep-sky observing for a nice big field of view.

Now compare that to an Orion 8" with one of the computerized finder systems:
http://www.telescope.com/jump.jsp?i...T&itemID=233730

Sure you get the nice easy button to find stuff, but at a cost of $300 more which coule be well-spend on a couple of nice eyepieces.

As before, I recommend to anyone that they get a Telrad finder. They do nothing more than project three concentric circles against the sky for finding objects, but I have found them to be much easier to use than finder scopes which have the image backwards, upside down, or both. Here's what they are:
http://www.backyard-astro.com/equip...rad/telrad.html

At about $40 bucks, I think they are the best thing that happened to observational astronomy.
AIM & Yahoo IM: drksky1056
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09-07-2006 04:59 PM  14 years ago
Branzzz

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how stable is the dobsonian mount on rough fields? the three studs on the bottom look a little small, and there won't be any level surface to place it on except something that's like a football field in a bad condition...

i'm very attracted by the orion scopes' low prices. how do they compare to similar sized celestrons?
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09-07-2006 07:26 PM  14 years ago
drksky

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Bloomington, Illinois

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how stable is the dobsonian mount on rough fields?
I would imagine that they would do fine. Even though the "feet" are small, the flat bottom between them would provide an adequae surface. If all else fails, you could carry a piece of plywood to put it on

As far as the optics, I can't really comment on either Celestron or Orion for lack of experience with either. However, the mirror I used for my home-built was from Orion and proved to have very good resolution and no horrible errors in it.
AIM & Yahoo IM: drksky1056
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09-07-2006 08:05 PM  14 years ago
Luckylandings

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Oregon USA

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drksky,
Thanks for the info. and the links.. Much appreciated!
I have viewed the "Sea of Tranquility" and minor things of the sort with my kids. Have also taken them up into the mountains a few times during meteor showers. Have seen some really good shows and a few that came so close that they lit up the whole area. And as I mentioned before, I really have enjoyed it so far! But I have only seen one planet besides the moon through my scope I think.. Saturn maybe? Not sure as I found it one night by accident. It was just the brightest star in the sky that night. It was like neon blue with gases red/blue blur around it. May have just been a large star though. Would like to learn more so I know what the heck I am looking at.lol Have always been interested in the constellations, etc. and I have learned how to find different things by going off of different points of Orion. But there is so much up there to learn about that I would never claim to be even an armature astronomer. Never really knew anyone that was into it to pick up things from without spending a fortune. And between helis, planes, kids, guitar, I don't really have much extra time to join a club. So I sure do appreciate you sharing your knowledge of the subject.. Thanks again. James
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09-08-2006 01:24 AM  14 years ago
drksky

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Never really knew anyone that was into it to pick up things from without spending a fortune.
It all depends on what can satisfy you

I would start by getting some simply star charts...something that doesn't go any deeper than many 11th magnitude (9th is the dimmest that most people eyes can see on a very dark night), and get ones that have the constellation lines drawn out (that is, the figures that the constellations are supposed to look like). Leave the scope at home and just spend some time identifying constellations. Try to find a few that you aren't familiar with. Most people already know Ursa Major and Minor and Orion. These are some of the brightest and most recognizable. Something like a planesphere can help quite bit...like this:
http://skymaps.com/store/cat04.html
These little wheels can be set for month and time and will show you what constellations are above the horizon. This place even has one that you can download and print the top and bottom plates and put one together yourself for free. Just make sure you get the bottom plate for your latitude.

Get a flashlight that has a red filter on it. Our eyes are less sensative to red light and a red flashlight won't ruin your pupil dialation once you're out in the dark. When you get to a dark sight, don't try and do anything right away, let your eyes get used to the dark. You'll be surprised how much more you will be able to see if you're in complete darkness for about 10 minutes. Just use this time to look at constellations.

Something else that you can get that doesn't cost much (relatively) is a good pair of binoculars. I never went anywhere without my 10X50 Minoltas. Again, cheaper here is not better. Cheaper binocs tend to have plastic lenses and lousy prism sytems. Here's Celestron's line made especially for astronomy:
http://www.celestron.com/c2/category.php?CatID=28
The 12X60 or 15X70 would be excellent. (The first number is the magnification, the second is the aperture size in mm). I'm betting that Tasco refractor you have is probably a 60mm, and you'd be surprised what you can see with binocs. Just try and position yourself so that your elbows are on a solid surface to minimize vibrations, or better yet, mount them some way on a camera tripod.

As I've said before, astronomy isn't all about high magnification. It's more about light-gathering capability and a solid platform. Almost the entire Messier list is observable with binocs (I think 101 out of 110 objects) and there are a dozen or so Messier's that can be seen with the naked eye! The Orion nebula is the most well-know (the "sword" below his belt), but not as well known that can be seen naked eye (from an appropriately dark site) is M-31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and M-33 (another galaxy in triangulum). These two galaxies are so HUGE, it'll surprise you when you find them. In fact, the Andromeda galaxy can only be view in portions through a moderately magnified telescope (30X or so). It will stretch across half the field of view in a pair of binocs.

Ok, I'm done now...I feel like I'm teaching a class I don't mind thought. I've always enjoyed evangelizing stuff I'm interested in.

Do a search on Amazon for beginner astronomy books. They will go a long way towards providing you with information that could otherwise be gleaned through a club.

Check out the local club (even if you don't want to join). Chances are, they will hold several public observing sessions throughout the year centered around some event like a lunar eclipse or a meteor shower, but sometimes they do this just to raise awareness of the club and recruit members. It's a good time to go out and talk with like-minded people who will be able to answer your questions as well.

When I was 13 or 14, I had a Tasco refractor. I used it to view the moon and some binary stars, mostly. Then one night, I saw this bright yellow star in the southern sky and though it might look interesting. Once I got it within the field of view, I couldn't believe what I was seeing! I had "discovered" the planet Saturn and was astonished that I was able to make out the rings through this cheap-o telescope (that's what it was....really). I made my parents come out and see, cause they couldn't believe that I was seeing what I was seeing. From that moment I was hooked. Even though I'm not very active in the hobby right now, the first thing I do when I go outside at night is look up. Never know when I'll be right in the middle of a bright comet passage or meteor shower that I didn't know about.

What it sounds like you found was Mars. Saturn has a distinctly yellow color and you can definately separate the rings from the disk of the planet, depending on the current orientation of the rings (not sure what it is right now, but it changes throughout the year from edge-on to about 1/4 face-on).

Ok...now I'm done
AIM & Yahoo IM: drksky1056
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09-08-2006 01:24 AM  14 years ago
drksky

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Sheesh...I just wrote a book...AIM & Yahoo IM: drksky1056
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09-08-2006 06:39 AM  14 years ago
Branzzz

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Singapore

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ah one more thing! what's a good site to read reviews of scopes? esp those from meade, celestron and orion?

drsky, your explanations have been outstanding...thank you so much for your help
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09-08-2006 10:10 AM  14 years ago
Luckylandings

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drsky, your explanations have been outstanding...thank you so much for your help
Ditto.
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09-08-2006 01:51 PM  14 years ago
drksky

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Bloomington, Illinois

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http://www.scopereviews.com/

http://www.scopereviews.com/list.html

http://www.cloudynights.com/

http://www.skynewsmagazine.com/page...opereviews.html

That'll get you started. Do a Google search for "Telescope Review" and you'll get a bunch of hits.
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09-12-2006 06:53 PM  14 years ago
Branzzz

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Singapore

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i've decided to get the orion apex 102mm because it's a good terrestrial and great astronomy scope. have been reading the reviews and they're all good. will be getting the small table top EQ mount so i can use it in my girlfriend's rooftop gardenRaptor 50V2
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09-12-2006 07:29 PM  14 years ago
drksky

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That'll be a nice scope for terrestrial, planetary and stellar viewing. but not as good for nebulae, galaxies and such because of the f/12.7 focal ration. It'll probably be adequate for what you want to do, but remember that if you want to get into more deep sky observing in the future, go for large-aperture and short focal lengths (f/6 or so).AIM & Yahoo IM: drksky1056
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09-12-2006 07:55 PM  14 years ago
tvoydan

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http://www.astromart.com for used scope prices and to research prices.

Not sure if anyone mentioned this is this post yet, but look into a Zhumell or GSO dob type scope. They run around $300 for the 8" with eyepeices and I think around $500 for the 10". They're the best buy for the money right now. The Meade Lightbridges truss tube models are also quite nice for the money and a 12.5" is far more portable.

Orion and Celetron make similar Zhumell scopes, they're all clones made by GSO in China.

Tom

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09-12-2006 07:59 PM  14 years ago
tvoydan

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By the way Branzz, an 8" reflector dobs will blow the socks of that Orion scope your're looking at buying. Across the board aperature rules and will give you better views both planetary and deep space.


Tom

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09-12-2006 08:31 PM  14 years ago
Branzzz

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thanks for your reply...yeah i did consider the dobs, but the cost to ship it halfway across the world would be astronomical(pun intended). moreover i prefer something that's more versatile and small enough to take on the subway...

how does focal ratio affect the objects you can view? how would a DSO, for example M31, compare in a high or low focal ratio scope?
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09-12-2006 10:09 PM  14 years ago
tvoydan

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Focal Length
The longer focal ratio is going to have a smaller secondary mirror in the Mak-Cass and Schmidt-Cass type scopes. This will produce better contrast in what yor're looking at since there is a smaller central obstruction.

The view in a 10" f6.3 LX200 are not very impressive, but a 10" f10 LX200 are very nice. The f6.3 scope is considered a photographic scope. The shorter focal lengths are better for photographic work on deep space objects.

With a newtonian dob, the shorter focal lengths are generally to cut down on the size of the scope. A 12" f7 scope is going to be 84" long (7 feet) requiring a ladder to use. An f5 is only 60" (5 feet), within most peoples reach. When you get into larger 18" scopes, you start to see F4 scopes to keep the length down. But again, the larger secondary mirror creates a larger obstruction and lowers contrast. This is more important on planetary viewing.

Again, for deep space, you want the largest primary mirror you can get your hands on for light grasp. Just for the record, a 10" dob is the most practicle for portability and 12" is on the edge of portability.

Orion Apex makes a 127mm (5" which might be an even better choice. Portability is always a main concern when making a chice also.

Meade makes an ETX line of scopes you may want to look into also. But the orion Apex looks pretty good also.

Tom

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09-12-2006 10:28 PM  14 years ago
Branzzz

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yeah the 127mm would be the perfect one if not for the large price jump over the 102mm. the 102 has a f ratio of 12.7. how would that fare against DSOs?

i'm using money from my bursary to get the scope...but i don't wanna invest too much. trying to control my budget right now, don't wanna go overboard like i did with my helis...
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