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#709087 - 03/14/12 05:32 AM Re: Amateur Astronomy, anyone? [Re: JasonB]
JasonB Offline
Sharp -Shooter
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/27/04
Posts: 14068
Loc: Cape Spencer, New Brunswick, C...
This is my telescope, and its builder. It's an Orion 8" F6 (1200 mm) primary mirror, and I usually use 32mm and 12mm eyepieces with a 2x barlow. Effectively gives me 32, 16, 12 and 6mm, for 37.5X, 75X, 100X and 200X, though its a rare day that allows 200x.



Barry gave me the telescope when he built a larger (13") one, and I've since made some minor mechanical/structural improvements to this one, but it's still pretty "stock". Weighs about 35#, and is easily carried or put in a car's back seat. It's quick to tear down if one wishes, and then it all packs into a pretty small box.

It's a pretty nice mid-range instrument.

My talking about the new binos here at work had another coworker out on his patio last weekend, with a 50mm Celestron scope, admiring the moon... Trying to get the fellow to stop out my way for a bit of observing some time....

J
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#710323 - 03/23/12 06:16 AM Re: Amateur Astronomy, anyone? [Re: JasonB]
JasonB Offline
Sharp -Shooter
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/27/04
Posts: 14068
Loc: Cape Spencer, New Brunswick, C...


Here's a solar projector I built to add to a small Russian LOMO (20x, 40mm) Mak-gregorian spotting telescope I have. This sort of arrangement will work on any telescope smaller than about 3" aperature, so long as the internals of the scope are not plastic (which presents a melting hazard!).

This spotting scope had no tripod mount, so I made one with abs pipe and a maple block. The projector attachment slipps into 2 holes in the maple mounting block, with 3/16" steel rods.



At the eyepiece of the scope is a plywood disk, just to cast a shadow over the viewing screen.

Then an aluminum strut is mounted to this, and carries a plywood ring with maple screw lugs at the back end. A translucent screen (in this case, a plastic drafting medium, but waxed paper is almost as good, and white paper works too) is clipped to the ring. The translucent screen I used allows the image to be viewed from both sides of the screen.



With this, you can easily observe any significant sunspots, Mercury transiting the sun (occasionally) or Venus doing the same (one opportunity this summer, best for west coasters, then no chance in our lifetimes), or solar eclipses. You can see a hint of the spherical shape of the sun in the way the image darkens towards the edges... Called Limb Darkening, it makes the sun appear distinctly not flat.



There were only 2 tiny sunspots visible yesterday, and they're too subtle to be seen in the photos, sadly.

J
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#710581 - 03/26/12 06:24 AM Re: Amateur Astronomy, anyone? [Re: JasonB]
JasonB Offline
Sharp -Shooter
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/27/04
Posts: 14068
Loc: Cape Spencer, New Brunswick, C...
Well, I decided to clean my 8" telescope's mirror this Friday past. And it went well!

It's always risky to clean these. The mirrored surface is the one in front, and the coatings are pretty fragile. You basically can't touch the front surface without risking scratches... But I got it done.

I flushed the mirror in the sink for about 10 minutes, then used some sterile cotton to coax off any remaining bits, and rinsed with distilled water (to avoid water spotting), before reinstalling the mirror and re-aligning the optical system. All told, it took less than an hour. The mirror's not perfectly clean, but it's as clean as it needs to be.

Once it was all together again, I carried the scope outside. Enjoyed views of the days-old crescent moon, Jupiter and his 4 amigoes, and Mars and Orion's nebula. The sky wasn't cooperating really well, so I let it go at that Friday night. I was in again before Saturn rose at about 10:30...

Saturday evening surprised me by having a reasonably still atmosphere. Viewing the power plant across the bay with binoculars revealed little of the "wavyness" (called "Seeing") that had plagued the last few days. Out goes the scope again.

Now, the astronomy community has been abuzz the last few days with news of a new supernova discovered in the nearby galaxy M95, that popped off on March 16th. At 13th magnitude, this should be in reach of my telescope (that's about 7 magnitudes dimmer than what's visible to the naked eye, and 1.5 mag brighter than the dimmest I can detect with this instrument).

M95 is easy to find right now, only a degree or so east of Mars. The supernova stood out easily too, a pinprick of light on the edge of the faint bright cored smudge that is the galaxy itself. Too cool!

M95 is in the midst of a cluster of galaxies, so I also enjoyed M96, m106 and a few other fainter galaxies nearby.

Finally, as Saturn cleared the low trees to the east, I turned my scope to the ringed planet. The rings stand out very well in almost any scope, even binoculars with better than 10x. To me, it always looks like a cardboard cutout floating in space. Being low in the horizon, I couldn't distinguish cloud formations or see much detail in the ring system (beyond the Cassini division, the dark space between the most prominant rings). Surrounding the giant, however, was a group of faint speckles, one fairly bright, a couple faint and a couple more on the edge of detectability, seeming to shimmer in and out of existance. These were 5 of the great planet's moons, Triton the bright one, Tethys, Dione and Rhea, with Mimas barely there.

All in all, a nice evening of observing.

J
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#710652 - 03/26/12 01:58 PM Re: Amateur Astronomy, anyone? [Re: JasonB]
grizzly Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/19/02
Posts: 6769
Loc: penna.

...seems like a very enjoyable hobby. you certainly have the passion for it. i can only imagine what discoveries the hubble has revealed. blush
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#710719 - 03/27/12 05:41 AM Re: Amateur Astronomy, anyone? [Re: JasonB]
JasonB Offline
Sharp -Shooter
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/27/04
Posts: 14068
Loc: Cape Spencer, New Brunswick, C...
Yup, I find it very interesting.... Not sure how many others here do, but I gotta post somewhere, LOL.

Astronomy's interesting to me because we can all do it. And modest equipment today is only 60 years behind the state-of-the-art.... Amateur astronomy is one of the very few scientific persuits where amateurs can and do make significant contributions.

The objects I was observing on the weekend - galaxies and supernovas - Mankind only decided what these were in the 1930's. Until 1920, it was hotly debated whether galaxies were nebulae (clouds) in our galaxy (the Milky Way), in which case the Milky Way WAS the universe, or if they were outside.

Indeed it was Hubble who settled the matter.

J
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#710732 - 03/27/12 06:14 AM Re: Amateur Astronomy, anyone? [Re: JasonB]
mommapup. Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/19/07
Posts: 16520
Loc: SW Michigan
smile I'm a star gazer too! Nothing nicer than kicking back on a warm summer night and gazing at the sky. wink Hahaha!

I'm not versed in the names, heck, I can't even pronounce most of them, but the night sky will draw me in...
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#710733 - 03/27/12 06:17 AM Re: Amateur Astronomy, anyone? [Re: JasonB]
JasonB Offline
Sharp -Shooter
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/27/04
Posts: 14068
Loc: Cape Spencer, New Brunswick, C...
I've been playing with this hobby for about 10 years now, and am just beginning to know my way 'round the sky. Thank gods for starcharts. smile

J
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#711563 - 04/03/12 04:27 AM Re: Amateur Astronomy, anyone? [Re: JasonB]
Andy52 Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/30/05
Posts: 28
Loc: Putnam Valley, NY
Hi Jason, I retired about a year ago and only just started to get back into astronomy. I have always been interested in it, but never seemed to have the time. I live about 50 miles north of NYC and have to deal with light pollution ugh! A few years ago bought a etx125, nice scope, but no longer made.
There is a man, Mike Weasner, that started a web site about the etx scope about 15 years ago. I know you donít have one, but his web site has many interesting things on it and many helpful tips. Site is www.weasner.com .
I went to Mc Donald observatory in February, boy that was a treat. They really have Dark Sky. I wish that they would start putting up lights that pointed down and not up. Enjoy.

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#711695 - 04/04/12 06:37 AM Re: Amateur Astronomy, anyone? [Re: JasonB]
mommapup. Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/19/07
Posts: 16520
Loc: SW Michigan
Quote:
GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- The planet Venus has been show-stopping lately, but tonight, she's putting on an act she only does once every eight years.

Weather-permitting, stargazers should look to the western horizon at sunset Tuesday to see Venus align with a cluster of stars known as the Pleiades, according to NASA.

The seven-star cluster, aptly nicknamed the "Seven Sisters," are 400 light years away, meaning they typically are just barely visible to the naked eye.

Venus will situate itself "amidst" the cluster at sunset Tuesday, creating a dazzling display that seems to enhance Venus's glow and accentuate the elusive Pleiades, NASA said.

Essentially, it will look like a supernova exploded amid the Pleiades. This phenomenon, as mentioned above, happens once every eight years.

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#712156 - 04/08/12 08:10 AM Re: Amateur Astronomy, anyone? [Re: JasonB]
Able_Dog Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 33517
Loc: N Georgia
An archaeologist living for several years with a VERY primitive tribe in South America woke one day to see them engaging in all sorts of activity.

When he asked what was going on he was told "their star was coming" and they showed him a sketch on the inside of a cave with a star (planet?) and an orbit. About 10 years later (mid 1930s I think) the Naval Observatory (Palomar) discovered a new star(planet) and the orbit matched the orbit sketched on the wall of the cave. And the closest point of the orbit to the earth would have occurred on the day of their celebration!

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