Any Astronomers among us ?

Discussion in 'Hobbies' started by scotjimland, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Been thinking (yes I know that's dangerous) about getting into astronomy .. live in a great place with very little light pollution and love looking at the night sky with binoculars, but know very little about the hobby or what telescope to buy.

    I would like to buy a quality instrument that I won't outgrow in a few months .. not fussy if it's second hand or not.. . would also like to take photos using an SLR Nikon .. If possible, budget around £500

    I've already read quite a lot on the internet about buying a first telescope, different types , sizes and the costs.. etc not really fussy about a 'Go To' scope.. I think I would prefer to learn rather than take the easy route.. but nothing beats personal recommendations...

    all advice gratefully received.. assume I know zilch .. which is true :Laughing:
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  2. olley

    olley Funster

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    Good programme on tv this week Jim all about the stars and planets, started lastnight, well worth watching.

    Ian
     
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  3. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    indeed Ian.. was glued to it ... :Smile:
     
  4. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    Don't make my mistake. Bought one with full electronic control. So I ended up with a poor quality scope and a load of motors I don't really need.

    Go for the biggest aperture you can afford, no frills.

    There is an easier way with far better views Redshift.

    Though I cherish the night I showed my 5 YO grandson Jupiter and it's moons, he's never forgotten. Saturn is pretty satisfying.

    I have a pair of 70x15 binoculars that are at least as good as the scope. Can easily resolve Jupiter's moons.

    PS BUT when it's good for viewing it's *&*&*&^&%^% COLD.
     
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  5. thehutchies

    thehutchies Funster

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    We can see Jodrell Bank from our van!

    The kids had our Newtonian reflecting telescope out a couple of weeks ago to look at the moons of Jupiter. Just waiting for a good night to look at Saturn's rings now.

    They won't be seeing much on the programme tonight because it's thick cloud from horizon to horizon here.
     
  6. magicsurfbus

    magicsurfbus Funster

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    I used to take a lot of night sky photographs using 400 ASA/ISO slide film, with exposure times running up to minutes.

    If you're buying a digital camera make sure you can expose your shots for more than 30 seconds, which is sometimes the default maximum shutter speed. It'll need a 'B' (Bulb) setting. You'll also need a good cable release and tripod to minimise camera movement when taking night sky shots.

    Second thing to look for is a good ISO range, although higher ISO means grainier shot. My Canon goes up to something silly like 11000 plus, which I'll probably never use but it's good to know it's there.

    Thirdly, the higher the image resolution in Megapixels, the greater chance you've got of selectively cropping a photo and still getting a quality outcome. Classic example is the moon - it doesn't have to fill the viewfinder using an expensive high magnification lens if the image resolution is high in the first place. All you do is zoom in with your editing software and re-crop the image.

    Fourthly, ignore all references to digital magnification for the lens - look at optical magnification only.

    I also agree with the earlier comment about widest possible/affordable aperture for the lens.

    With astronomical photography it's either going to be near earth objects like the Moon and Sun (ie eclipses) or it's going to be lots of little dots or lines in the sky, with the occasional streak of a meteor if you're lucky. Occasionally you might catch a comet tail, and that's where the high ISO will come in handy. To take galaxies and nebulae requires lots of highly specialised equipment, but there's still plenty to do with a normal camera and a bit of patience and imagination. Another option is to project images through a telescope onto some sort of screen, then photograph the image - I once did that with sunspots.

    You should enjoy it - I did. Fond memories of dragging a 6" Reflector and tripod onto a certain SW London Golf Course at night and setting up in a bunker for some photography. The next morning's golfers must have thought aliens had landed.
     
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  7. Campercaillie

    Campercaillie Read Only Funster

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    As you say Jim, Scotland is a great place for stargazing - Crystal clear night, minus double figures - you can't beat it! I was out last night with my telescope. It's only a birdwatcher's scope but with a 20-60 zoom it gave a lovely view of Jupiter's moons. If you want to go down the route to astronomical scopes you can do no worse than trying Warehouse Express. I've used them many times for photographic gear, and they have an astronomical range - First class service.

    http://www.wexphotographic.com/astronomy/s1000

    Edit: The guy on BBC last night's recommendation: "Keep it simple," which I think would apply particularly to beginners. (Might even look into it myself!)
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  8. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Yes it is.. but I'm now living on the Suffolk coast.. not as good as the Highlands for light pollution .. but probably less rain :Laughing:

    will have a look at Warehouse express.


    EDIT

    just had a look and fancy this one .. what do you think ?
    http://www.wexphotographic.com/buy-sky-watcher-explorer-200-eq-5-newtonian-reflector-telescope/p10561
    thanks
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
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  9. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    Moon crater
    I Phone 4 :Wink:
     

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  10. Campercaillie

    Campercaillie Read Only Funster

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    [​IMG]

    Who's that in there? Have they got hook-ups?
     
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  11. StitchUp

    StitchUp Read Only Funster

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    I got this one on my Brownie box camera a few years back:

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    must be the late shift now on .. .:Laughing:
     
  13. StitchUp

    StitchUp Read Only Funster

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    You can tell who the people of leisure are :BigGrin:

    Stargazing on BBC is amazing - on again this evening.
     
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  14. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    Some of the best astronomical photography of planets is now done using digital images because a digital image can be "stacked". This is where a large number of separate exposures are combined using software to produce a single picture which shows much better definition than any single image. This is because planet features will stay in the same place but the "noise" on the images will differ between each shot. The software doing the stacking filters out what changes and leaves what is constant.

    An example is shown here: http://webpages.charter.net/darksky25/Astronomy/stacking/stacking.html

    This was done from only a few images, some folk take hundreds and sometimes thousands of images in order to get the perfect picture.

    It can also be done with video: http://blog.meetthegimp.org/image-stacking-in-astronomy/ Which shows an amazing picture of Saturn taken with what appears to be a very small telescope, although it has a very impressive mount, no doubt to keep it still and pointing at the right place when using high maginifications.
     
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  15. 182570

    182570 Read Only Funster

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    great hobby

    As an amateur astronomer of many years standing, the best advice I can give is join somewhere like The stargazers lounge(on the net) it is a forum like this for astronomers,and just as helpful.with regards to buying a scope,the best advice I can give is don't rush into buying anything until you know what type of astronomy interests you,there are so many branches requiring different equipment,I personally have a 100 mm refractor with russian optics for general viewing and an 80 ed refactor and a Canon 100d camera (non modded for pictures)but if you want to go that route you will need a 'goto'be warned its a hobby that consumes loads of time,but is massively rewarding.:thumb:
     
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  16. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    All you need at my place tonight is a pair of 12 x 40 Bino's. The sky is full. It gets so dark here in winter I can get lost on the 30 yard trek form office to house. Going to be another cold one tonight.
     
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  17. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    Me thinks that has more to do with the Bar in the office, than the amount of light,
    If you were still sober you'd remember the torch:RollEyes:
    G
     
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  18. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    What a coincidence.. Last evening, my neighbour came around and asked if I'd like to have a peek through his telescope..

    He has a small shed/observatory but I had never seen inside it.. so off I went full of expectation..

    Inside he has a concrete plinth with a substation steel column, with a motorised mount.. the scope is a 5" refractor.. no idea what make but it looked expensive.. anyhow..

    After a bit of faffing about he offered me a look.. I was totally underwhelmed.. I saw a few stars.. nothing to get excited about .. so I asked.. what am I looking at.. he said .. Orion's belt .. well.. no wow factor here.. so I asked to look at a planet .. after another 10 mins faffing about he had it looking at Jupiter... again.. totally underwhelmed.. a very small bluish planet about the size of a pea.. :Sad: nice.. but no wow factor.. but not wanting to sound rude I made a few ahhhs and wows, that's great..

    Anyway... I asked some advice about a 'starter' scope .. not too expensive but one that would do the business. After some discussion he suggested the one I had been looking at .. see earlier link..

    So it is ordered... hopefully delivered today or tomorrow.. here's hoping for more clear nights.. will report back when I have it working ... or not .. :Laughing:

    It may be in the classifieds soon.. :Laughing:
     
  19. thehutchies

    thehutchies Funster

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    I'm afraid seeing the moons of Jupiter is about as exciting as it gets for 'domestic' stuff, Jim :Smile:

    It's great to look at the moon in detail and a few of the planets are revealed but as far as the stars go, a telescope just lets you see more tiny points of light.
    As you were looking at Orion you would have seen an area where new stars are being created; you would have seen a cool reddish star and a hotter bluish star.

    You do really need to know what you're looking at though, before you see it, for it to make sense.
     
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  20. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    just what I told Jan .. when we met.. :Laughing:
     
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