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Thread: Amateur Astronomers?

  1. #1

    Amateur Astronomers?

    Do many of you own your own telescope(s)?

  2. #2
    I have an old pair of binoculars in the attic


  3. #3

  4. #4
    Yes, A sky Watcher 114P newt on a DOB.

  5. #5
    I have:

    a reflector (standard azimuth mount).
    a light bucket reflector (Dobsonian mount)
    a refractor (azimuth mount)

    Hardly ever used except to shoot the moon as there is too much light pollution around here and I don't get out into the country (enough) where you can see the sky (so to speak).

  6. #6
    Oh well I suppose I can do sensible post too....

    I have a field-portable apo from Pentax (75EDHF) this pic is not mine (yukk at those curtains) as I can't be bothered to take it from it's case and assemble it at the moment:





    ... I have had it for a long time - they don't make them any more. No "goto" electronic drive, just a clock-drive with slew. Amazingly portable, all fits inside a single case - the ally tripod is rock solid and the German equatorial mount is really smooth (has an alignment scope built inside).

  7. #7
    Originally Posted by Para Handy View Post (Source)
    Oh well I suppose I can do sensible post too....

    I have a field-portable apo from Pentax (75EDHF) this pic is not mine (yukk at those curtains) as I can't be bothered to take it from it's case and assemble it at the moment:


    https://i.imgur.com/3JjdsDF.jpg


    ... I have had it for a long time - they don't make them any more. No "goto" electronic drive, just a clock-drive with slew. Amazingly portable, all fits inside a single case - the ally tripod is rock solid and the German equatorial mount is really smooth (has an alignment scope built inside).
    Beautiful material

  8. #8
    I kind of gave up after a cheap telescope or two in the past. I did take a college Astro 101 course which helped with the basic ideas. Maybe someday I'll seriously get more into it. Maybe if ED has spacelegs and a detailed Earth someday, there could be observatories that one could use in game to examine the stars and constellations of the skybox.

  9. #9
    I would have hoped this subform would be more active than it is. I guess another good question is, what public Astronomy forum are you a member or which do you prefer?

  10. #10
    Originally Posted by Para Handy View Post (Source)
    Oh well I suppose I can do sensible post too....

    I have a field-portable apo from Pentax (75EDHF) this pic is not mine (yukk at those curtains) as I can't be bothered to take it from it's case and assemble it at the moment:


    https://i.imgur.com/3JjdsDF.jpg


    ... I have had it for a long time - they don't make them any more. No "goto" electronic drive, just a clock-drive with slew. Amazingly portable, all fits inside a single case - the ally tripod is rock solid and the German equatorial mount is really smooth (has an alignment scope built inside).
    A Pentax Apo, quite the gear! It should be great for photo work too.

    Originally Posted by krylite View Post (Source)
    I kind of gave up after a cheap telescope or two in the past.
    This is the kind of damage to the hobby that "junk" scopes may do sometimes. All kind of fancy colourful images of planets and cosmic marvels on the box, boasting absurd magnifications like 4-5-600x (not mentioning the fact that magnification is not really an intrinsic feature of the telescope, and almost the last thing to judge its quality), then what you get is cheap plasticky thing, with plastic lens, plastic focuser and even worse plastic mounts. For beginners expecting amateur astronomy to be about seeing huge planets and vivid cosmic landscapes as advertised, the actual experience can be quite demotivating.

    But if stargazing really interests you, don't give up! A 50€/£/$ beginners' mini-dob like Celestron Firstscope or similar products from parent brands (you'll find the same scope also under Skywatcher and Orion brands, and probably others) is already light years ahead any similarly priced toy store offering. They're literally "actual" telescopes shrinked to small shelf size, I've had one for some time (now passed on to my nieces) and it was a little joy to use under almost any sky, just get a bit out of the city, pop it on the car's bonnet and off you go stargazing.

    Originally Posted by Don Alvarez View Post (Source)
    I would have hoped this subform would be more active than it is. I guess another good question is, what public Astronomy forum are you a member or which do you prefer?
    Something I always wondered too, apparently very few amateur astronomers (or even simple astrophiles, as I prefer to define myself) for a game centered around rather "hardcore" astronomy. I'm still convinced there are quite a few around indeed, but many don't even know of the existence of this little corner of the forums. About astronomy forum, no one I'm member of, just a lurker of most of them (I'm a self-taught observer/photographer, lurking made up quite a big part of the self-teaching process), but I usually try to steer clear of my native language ones...I'm quite sure that most of the silent community of Italian astro amateurs is the usual group of very pleasant and friendly guy they are expected to be, but the vocal part roaming the forums often times comes through as a bunch of snobbish and obnoxious elitists, of the "Noob advice? You won't go nowhere with less than 200 mm and 2000+ € gear, don't even bother starting" kind.

    And now, you gentlemen please allow me to pull out my tube for everyone to see. The size might not look like much, but I'll assure you it can give hours and hours of enjoyment, if properly used.





    It's a tiny Skywatcher "Skymax" Maksutov-Cassegrain scope, 102 mm aperture for 1300 mm of focal length on its measly EQ2 manually guided German mount (the Manfrotto tripod helps a bit with stability compared to the dreadful factory one).
    Being limited for 99% of the time to heavy light-polluted skies I opted for a tool mostly suited for planetary observations, having more than a meter of focal length folded in a 2 liter bottle size is a good thing to have.
    Here I captured it in solar-observing mode, with the DIY Astrosolar cell mounted on and also coupled to the Canon 60D I use for planetary photography. With some spare sheet from it I also made a couple tiny cells for the binos too:


    Some of the images I managed to get with my very cheap (relatively speaking) gear so far:

    - Single capture of a 70% gibbous Moon
    http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv...load_id=134659

    - Mosaic composite of 75% gibbous Moon (beware, large image)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/127997...85080/sizes/o/

    - Sunspots with close-ups from some months ago
    http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv...load_id=138820

    - Saturn
    http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv...load_id=136790

    - Short timelapse of a Ganymede transit in front of Jupiter (Io barely visible in the background too)
    http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv...load_id=134720

  11. #11
    Originally Posted by AkenBosch View Post (Source)
    A Pentax Apo, quite the gear! It should be great for photo work too.

    ........

    It's a tiny Skywatcher "Skymax" Maksutov-Cassegrain scope, 102 mm aperture for 1300 mm of focal length on its measly EQ2 manually guided German mount (the Manfrotto tripod helps a bit with stability compared to the dreadful factory one).
    .......
    Some of the images I managed to get with my very cheap (relatively speaking) gear so far:
    .
    - Mosaic composite of 75% gibbous Moon (beware, large image)
    1. Yea the APO has a lovely flat field and is very suited to photography - unfortunately I don't drive any more and live in an urban area now so I have not continued to pursue that.

    2. I think that Skywatcher does a good job - it (or similar) was one of the models I suggested to a friend a while back (he went Meade in the end).

    3. Love the sharpness in the lunar images, really shows off the crater walls etc.

  12. #12
    Originally Posted by AkenBosch View Post (Source)
    But if stargazing really interests you, don't give up! A 50€/£/$ beginners' mini-dob like Celestron Firstscope or similar products from parent brands (you'll find the same scope also under Skywatcher and Orion brands, and probably others) is already light years ahead any similarly priced toy store offering. They're literally "actual" telescopes shrinked to small shelf size, I've had one for some time (now passed on to my nieces) and it was a little joy to use under almost any sky, just get a bit out of the city, pop it on the car's bonnet and off you go stargazing.
    Thats exactly where I started. I still have the firstscope, but now it just adorns the dresser while the 10" SkyLine and the i80 Short tube refactor get the lion share of use these days.




    Nice Pics. I'm still a long ways away from dipping into AP wholeheartedly.

    Question about the Baader solar filter you use in your pictures. Is that how it looks visually, or is that photo processed somehow? I used Thousand Oaks film for the eclipse, give a nice orange image and you can see the sunspots, but no detail like that.

  13. #13
    Originally Posted by Don Alvarez View Post (Source)
    Question about the Baader solar filter you use in your pictures. Is that how it looks visually, or is that photo processed somehow? I used Thousand Oaks film for the eclipse, give a nice orange image and you can see the sunspots, but no detail like that.

    Final images are quite heavily processed to extrapolate every possible bit of information...usually the original material is a messy pixel soup!
    Astrosolar gives a neutral/white hue visually, but usually during processing a little bit of yellow/reddish tint comes out so I dial it down again to a more neutral white, as for the quality it's of course no match compared to a Herschel wedge, but I'd say it's pretty much on the same level with any good glass filter (so I think on par with Thousands Oaks more or less), and easily superior to classic mylar films.

    Other than processing, detail is also very much dependent on the quality of seeing, and it's rare enough to have it good with the Sun while observing from the city due to heavy thermals soaring from the asphalt, the best I ever experienced happened on that 3rd of September image, and it clearly shows in the close-up detail, it was a real joy to witness even directly at the eyepiece.

    To give an idea, here's a raw unprocessed capture of our star with the humongous sunspot AR2192 from some years ago:



    And here's a final processed image from a centered video recorded immediately after that (a nerve-wracking activity when you do it on full manual ):

    http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv...load_id=103922

    Something like that i80 short tube of your is the toy I've always planned to get after the little Mak for having again a bit of wide field playtime, but for the forseeable future financial priorities have been diverted elsewhere...in the meantime, given the dire economic conjuncture, I made quite the bargain at a thrift store some weeks ago: bought a full mounting gear, steel tripod plus GEM mount with 1/2 Kg counterweight, unknown category but judging by the heftiness I'd say EQ2 equivalent at least, EQ3 at best, largely better in any case than my current one...sold for 35 €, the store owner probably didn't have the slightest clue about the kind of stuff he was selling.
    I can't directly test it with the Mak because the latter comes with a threaded flat plate while this mount has a more ordinary dovetail already equipped with small diameter rings...I just need to find a OTA to fit in there ...

  14. #14
    Originally Posted by AkenBosch View Post (Source)
    Final images are quite heavily processed to extrapolate every possible bit of information...usually the original material is a messy pixel soup!
    Astrosolar gives a neutral/white hue visually, but usually during processing a little bit of yellow/reddish tint comes out so I dial it down again to a more neutral white, as for the quality it's of course no match compared to a Herschel wedge, but I'd say it's pretty much on the same level with any good glass filter (so I think on par with Thousands Oaks more or less), and easily superior to classic mylar films.

    Other than processing, detail is also very much dependent on the quality of seeing, and it's rare enough to have it good with the Sun while observing from the city due to heavy thermals soaring from the asphalt, the best I ever experienced happened on that 3rd of September image, and it clearly shows in the close-up detail, it was a real joy to witness even directly at the eyepiece.

    To give an idea, here's a raw unprocessed capture of our star with the humongous sunspot AR2192 from some years ago:

    https://youtu.be/3mp7LOb8BTI

    And here's a final processed image from a centered video recorded immediately after that (a nerve-wracking activity when you do it on full manual ):

    http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv...load_id=103922
    That's nice work. I was curious because it resembles pictures I've seen from people using alot more expensive solar equipment. Very nice pics.

    Something like that i80 short tube of your is the toy I've always planned to get after the little Mak for having again a bit of wide field playtime, but for the forseeable future financial priorities have been diverted elsewhere...in the meantime, given the dire economic conjuncture, I made quite the bargain at a thrift store some weeks ago: bought a full mounting gear, steel tripod plus GEM mount with 1/2 Kg counterweight, unknown category but judging by the heftiness I'd say EQ2 equivalent at least, EQ3 at best, largely better in any case than my current one...sold for 35 €, the store owner probably didn't have the slightest clue about the kind of stuff he was selling.
    I can't directly test it with the Mak because the latter comes with a threaded flat plate while this mount has a more ordinary dovetail already equipped with small diameter rings...I just need to find a OTA to fit in there ...
    I got that because it's the same basically as the discontinued Orion ST80 that has such a great following, and it is a nice rich field scope (the new Orion one bearing that name is just not the same quality) I've known some people who buy Meade's AdventureScope 80 just for the OTA, because it is identical to the i80 with different paint and the exception it doesn't have the dovetail bolted to the tube like the i80 does, so you'd have to buy rings with it. But it can be had for less than $100 US

    You know I keep hearing about deals on astronomy in these thrift shops, I should probably go check one out

  15. #15
    Originally Posted by Don Alvarez View Post (Source)
    You know I keep hearing about deals on astronomy in these thrift shops, I should probably go check one out
    Yes you probably should! It's not everyday you'll find something interesting of course, but in between that 99,9% of crap something good may pop up sometimes...I've been visiting a few of them around my city in recent weeks (in the quest of finding Pokemon cartridges for my SO's Nintendo DS...previously bought for 18 € at a thrift store, of course! ), that one was actually the first were I found some proper optical equipment other than the usual batch of rusty chinese binoculars from the '80s...there was also a Newton OTA, a 130/600, but it was one of those cheap variants with a dreadful built-in barlow and definitely not worth the 150 € they asked for it. My theory is that the owners clearly recognised that as a telescope, hence something that has to be worth something, but thought of the equatorial mount as just a fancy tripod with knobs and stuff to get rid off asap:


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