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    WWWringer's Avatar
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    Default COLD but clear last night ...



    Since I introduced myself a few months ago -

    Hi there, from Grimsby, Ontario

    - things have improved greatly in the `glass department' and I got some good viewing in yesterday evening.

    My brother has had in storage for the last 20-25 years one of the first Meade 8" SCT's, a Celestron Comet Catcher, and some very nice Tele Vue eye pieces - 40mm, 26mm, and 13mm Possls and a 9mm Nagler. I don't know why he lost interest but I finally shamed him into lending me, on a permanent basis, his unused telescopes and accessories. (Thanks bro'!)

    I've had the 8" Meade out a few times but the Comet Catcher (on a photographic tripod) has gotten more use as it is easy to haul it outside for some quick impromptu viewing.
    But yesterday it was clear all day and forecast to stay that way so I planned on using the Meade. It had been about 3 weeks since I had done any observing - cloudy all day most days and then as I get the dogs out for the last time before bed I'd find it had cleared off or was still cloudy. But yesterday promised clear skies so I started to prepare before it got dark.

    Just for some background - I have a very narrow patch of sky to view from the backyard. The Meade runs on AC and I haven't bought a `power pack' yet so just backyard viewing for now.
    A ridge line running basically East-West (part of the Niagara Escarpment) rising up 50-75 feet borders the backyard to the south with lots of trees on it.
    To the North following the ridge line is a row of houses - ours included. My narrow patch of sky is defined by the ridge line and row of houses.

    I set up the Meade just as it was getting dark. Polar alignment was crude - if I aim for that part of the roof I'm close .. and it was. I wanted to get started early because Orion's M42 hides behind a big black walnut on the ridge by mid-evening. The scope had a lot of cooling to do - it was pretty cold last night.
    So M42 was the first target for the evening. Without too much fumbling I had M42 in view with the Tele Vue 40mm Plossl. Even with the 40mm I could make out the 4 stars of the Trapezium. Then I switched over to the 13mm and the view was spectacular. I got my wife and youngest (16) son to come out and check it out too. Viewing was good and seemed very steady - but I'm pretty new so I have limited observing time to make reliable judgements.

    Next target was Mars - but it comes up over the row of houses so I decided to wait for awhile before doing any observing. I didn't want to look through any `escaping heat' off the houses. I went in and had some supper with the family.
    When I came back out Mars was well away from being above the roof lines of the houses and looked very bright in 13mm Plossl. I thought I could discern some darker areas on the disk with a bit of averted eye viewing but I need to invest in some filters. I did try covering about 2/3's of the objective (?) of the SCT with a piece of paper which helped a bit but not enough. The nearly full disk of Mars was still neat to see - especially as I had watched a show that afternoon on Discovery about the challenges of landing humans on Mars and protecting them as they did research on the surface.

    It had gotten colder and the light breeze was now a significant wind making it even colder of course but I wasn't ready to quit just yet. Stellarium provided a few ideas - open clusters - so I decided to try for them. Obviously the old Meade isn't a `Go To' scope so I decided to use Capella as a starting point. I got its RA/Dec from Stellarium and put Capella in the centre of my 40mm eyepiece. I set the RA scale for Capella and then came back in to get the settings for M36.
    I set the RA and Dec and without too much searching there it was. The 40mm EP was perfect for viewing it. Next I tried for M37 and it was in view without any searching after setting the RA and Dec. I just had to wait a bit to get back some night vision from running into a warm house and looking at the computer display. I was doubting my success, "Is that really M36??" so I decided to use this method to look at M38 then hop to M36 and then M37. Without too much difficulty it worked - nice open clusters and different clusters too.

    It was getting really chilly with the wind so at 2230 Local I packed up the scope. After getting everything inside and looking at Stellarium again, I noticed that M35 wasn't that far off and I could have added that to the evening. Too late. So some preparation time with Stellarium in the afternoon ahead of viewing will be part of my routine when I plan on doing some serious viewing.

    The best part of the evening though, was confirmation that my wife is just as interested in astronomy as I am and I have a `star party buddy' to share the viewing. She was bundled up keeping warm and stayed outside to protect her night vision while I dashed back and forth from Stellarium to Scope.

    My thanks in general to the Astronomy Forum for telling me about Stellarium and pointing me towards a user group for older Meade SCT's.

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  3. #2
    WWPierre's Avatar
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    Salut, Wringer. That is so cool that your wife is an astronomer too. Most stuff will eventually pass through your patch of sky, but, of course, you already know that. Nice AAR. (after action report)
    Last edited by WWPierre; 02-08-2010 at 07:39 PM.
    Meade 16" LightBridge; Celestron G-8N Bird-Jones/motorized EQ5; Orion 127 Mak/go-to EQ5; Burgess 127f8 refractor; Sky-Watcher 5" F/5 collapsible dob; 90mm Mak/motorized EQ2; Royal Astro 76/910-GEM; Meade 60x700 refractor/alt/az; Zhumell 25x100 Coin Ops; GalilleoScope. Celestron 8mm-24mm zoom; lots of fixed EPs,some good, some..not so much. A small collection of surveying instruments; a forest of tripods; Canon Rebel Xti. Confirmed gadget junkie; Custodian of the Magnetic North Pole (Send $1.00 to Pierre each time you use a compass.)
    49-41-37.03N 123-09-29.61W Calculated magnetic declination: 17° 39' East

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    Great report Wringer. Sounds like a very successful evening all round.
    Thanks for posting.
    Declan.
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    Thanks for sharing your night with us. Now only if my brother......
    SXINIAS

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  6. #5
    WWWringer's Avatar
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    Thanks for the kind comments. This certainly is a welcoming spot for all enthusiasts of every level.

    I forgot to mention that Mary (my wife) and I also took a quick peak at the Pleiades too.

    I know from reading that perhaps a telescope isn't the best instrument for viewing the Pleiades but with the 40mm EP I was able to sweep slowly from one side to the other by using the RA adjustment. I set it up for Mary like that too and she enjoyed the "panorama view" as well.

    The next step is to find a (relatively) dark sky location that is easy to drive to and park. I'm only a few miles from `farm' country where the only street lights are at corners. Finding a safe spot to pull off and park is the trick.
    I think a short road trip this summer to darker skies locations may be in the cards too.

    I'm travelling/at work right now so it will naked eye viewing for the next few days. Maybe the sun will stir things up a bit and I'll get to see some `close-in' Aurora on the way from Calgary to Frankfurt this evening. (Say Hi to the WW's for me Pierre if you make the meeting)

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    Will do, Wringer. Have fun in Frankfurt.

    My most expensive EP was chosen partly for the full view of the Pleiades it affords.
    Meade 16" LightBridge; Celestron G-8N Bird-Jones/motorized EQ5; Orion 127 Mak/go-to EQ5; Burgess 127f8 refractor; Sky-Watcher 5" F/5 collapsible dob; 90mm Mak/motorized EQ2; Royal Astro 76/910-GEM; Meade 60x700 refractor/alt/az; Zhumell 25x100 Coin Ops; GalilleoScope. Celestron 8mm-24mm zoom; lots of fixed EPs,some good, some..not so much. A small collection of surveying instruments; a forest of tripods; Canon Rebel Xti. Confirmed gadget junkie; Custodian of the Magnetic North Pole (Send $1.00 to Pierre each time you use a compass.)
    49-41-37.03N 123-09-29.61W Calculated magnetic declination: 17° 39' East

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    Quote Originally Posted by WWPierre View Post

    My most expensive EP was chosen partly for the full view of the Pleiades it affords.
    What ep is that Pierre? Would like to get one if possible.
    Declan.
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    WWPierre's Avatar
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    Well, DSW, basically it is the eyepiece which will give you the widest possible view commensurate with the specs of your scope. In my case it was the Siebert Ultra 30mm, shown at the bottom of this page. You first do the math to figure out the widest view/longest eyepiece that your scope can handle. In my case it was 32mm. I made the mistake of ordering a 35mm at first, and had to exchange it for the 30mm because the exit pupil (which is the governing factor) was too big, and produced blackout and kidney beaning.
    Last edited by WWPierre; 02-10-2010 at 07:42 PM.
    Meade 16" LightBridge; Celestron G-8N Bird-Jones/motorized EQ5; Orion 127 Mak/go-to EQ5; Burgess 127f8 refractor; Sky-Watcher 5" F/5 collapsible dob; 90mm Mak/motorized EQ2; Royal Astro 76/910-GEM; Meade 60x700 refractor/alt/az; Zhumell 25x100 Coin Ops; GalilleoScope. Celestron 8mm-24mm zoom; lots of fixed EPs,some good, some..not so much. A small collection of surveying instruments; a forest of tripods; Canon Rebel Xti. Confirmed gadget junkie; Custodian of the Magnetic North Pole (Send $1.00 to Pierre each time you use a compass.)
    49-41-37.03N 123-09-29.61W Calculated magnetic declination: 17° 39' East

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  11. #9
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    Thanks for that Pierre. I must reread the scope manual again. to get some facts and figures lodged in my head. I am pretty poor when it comes to the maths of astronomy. But I am getting better...slowly.
    Declan.
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  12. #10
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    Repaired the link.
    Meade 16" LightBridge; Celestron G-8N Bird-Jones/motorized EQ5; Orion 127 Mak/go-to EQ5; Burgess 127f8 refractor; Sky-Watcher 5" F/5 collapsible dob; 90mm Mak/motorized EQ2; Royal Astro 76/910-GEM; Meade 60x700 refractor/alt/az; Zhumell 25x100 Coin Ops; GalilleoScope. Celestron 8mm-24mm zoom; lots of fixed EPs,some good, some..not so much. A small collection of surveying instruments; a forest of tripods; Canon Rebel Xti. Confirmed gadget junkie; Custodian of the Magnetic North Pole (Send $1.00 to Pierre each time you use a compass.)
    49-41-37.03N 123-09-29.61W Calculated magnetic declination: 17° 39' East

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