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  1. #1
    ScottTheGeek's Avatar
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    Default 10X50 Pentax 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Light



    So, I've been out several times with my new binocs with the goal of just looking around and getting familiar with the sky. Light is a huge problem here. This particular undisclosed location in the desert is being built up quite a bit and the unbelievably bright "light-all" carts used to light up everything at night are slowly being replaced by regular street lights that seem quite dim by comparison. I've found a spot next to a huge gravel pile that is out by a newly built building that is at least 200 yards away from light-all carts. I have my binocs, a stiff-brimmed hat and one of those quick-spread metal framed canvas chairs with the beer holders.

    I've had no planned targets beyond Jupiter and "around Orion." The first night (without the hat) I pointed toward Jupiter expecting to see a bright disk and nothing more. As I tried to keep the binocs steady using the strap around the elbows method, I noticed Jupiter looked a bit weird. A little misshapen. As I tried to relax and be still, I thought there might be something else there. A tiny dim light above it... A moon? Holy smokes is that a moon?!? The realization that you can see the moons of Jupiter through binocs caused too much excited shaking, making it impossible to see the moon again. So I moved to Orion and saw lots of shaking stars below the belt, but couldn't really make out any nebula. I spent the rest of that night being amazed by how many stars are in what seem initially like blank areas of the sky.

    Night two was spent with a stiff brimmed hat, and I used a combo of strap around the elbows and binocs held with fingers against the hat brim method to steady the binocs. This time, I was sure I could see one moon above Jupiter, and was fairly certain I could see another above and one below Jupiter. Wow. Three moons and Jupiter. I could also definitely see a cloud around a bright area in the Orion nebula. The rest of the night was spent training my eyes to see tiny tiny stars. Suddenly dim areas resolved into clusters of stars. Wow. Clusters were appearing everywhere! I have no idea what clusters they were (besides the Pleiades).

    Night three was much like night two minus Jupiter. I was trying to learn my way around a bit. I would try to find something interesting, then look at other stuff for a while, then try to find that first interesting thing again. While looking at random areas, I came across this very dim smudge. I stared for a long time and it never resolved to a cluster or nebula or anything. Just a smudge. Very dim and it wouldn't appear unless I used my peripheral vision for a while, then centered it. Still just a smudge. I took note of it's surroundings but couldn't find much to aid me in finding it again so I kept the binocs pointed at it while I removed my face and looked around with the naked eye. Off to the right was a triangle of stars that pointed right at it. I could find it at will now. Wow. I found myself saying that over and over those last two nights.

    So since then it's been cloudy or foggy or I've just been too tired after 12-hour shifts to go out. But I got on Stellarium to find out what that smudge is. Took me a while due to different angles and such but I found the triangle that pointed to... Andromeda Galaxy! Wow. Just... wow.
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  2. #2
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    Default

    That's awesome Scott!!! Congrats on bagging Andromeda
    Sorry to hear about your light issues, but I guess that not sorry since I live deep in a white zone, lol

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  3. #3
    dmbryan's Avatar
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    Binocs are a blast to use. Are you able to keep the binocs still using the method you described?
    name: Derek

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  4. #4
    ScottTheGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmbryan View Post
    Are you able to keep the binocs still using the method you described?
    Steady enough I suppose. Using both methods at the same time tend to fatigue my arms pretty quickly so that can add to the shake. Letting the arms rest a lot works though. It would help a lot if I had access to a lawn chair of some sort, but it's either the canvas folding chair or one of those horrid metal folding chairs for me.

    I find that if I concentrate on how I'm holding the binocs and placing the strap and all of that tends to make it worse. Once I get my grip and everything in place I have to think to myself "OK, forget the grip, just relax and look," and I find that the shakes smooth out a good bit. There's still movement, but it's more rhythmic and easier to she through or ignore and the tiny quick shakes that ruin your view almost entirely disappear.
    ScottTheGeek
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  5. #5
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    I encourage you to consider a tripod if it is affordable. A lightweight photographer's tripod with pan head, extended legs. Tripods don't have to be hugely expensive to be decent and robust, but I would counsel against spending much less than about 100 dollars, depending on the steepness of discounts. But, if your binos have a screw receptacle, then a tripod will relieve you of arm stress, and it will be much more stable. It gets tricker overhead, of course, but objects within about 60 degrees of the local horizon will be much easier to see.

    -Crandell

  6. #6
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    "While looking at random areas, I came across this very dim smudge."

    Maybe Andromeda? It appears as a smudge to me also. 10x50 Binos. If you were looking off to the west I would be willing to bet thats what it was.

    Then again I could be totaly wrong too!
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