Backyard observing upper end

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Backyard observing upper end

#1  Postby Macdoc » Jun 13, 2020 6:22 pm

Partner is retiring soon and is a space junkie. The sky out on the table lands can be spectacular away from the city loom.
( I got a first hand glimpse 40 km out on the barrier reef with clear skies and a meteor shower from Halley debris .... life time experience ).

At this point it is purely "look at" ...not astrophotograhy ....she's an experienced off shore sailor so astro-navigation not a mystery.

Since we need to drive to dark sky ( 1/2 hour ) it needs to be physically small enough for one person to move and assemble tho I suspect most often would be two people.

Have a Honda CRV for transport.

There is a used

Image

Celestron CPC 8" XLT Computerized Scope w/ accessories, rarely used and like new


for $1900 cdn ask with lots of accessories including a battery booster pack.

Now this image is put up as an example andI know it's pretty fine telescope.

Image

What would that look like observing instead of photographing??

Review here is good but the scope itself weighs 42 lb. That's edgy but doable

https://www.cloudynights.com/articles/c ... 0xlt-r1526

The step down to the 6" series reduces weight and cost but quite a penalty for capture.
https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/revi ... pe-review/

Open for other suggestions with the idea that deep space objects be accessible by eye .

We were looking at some Meade models as well. :popcorn:
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#2  Postby theropod_V_2.0 » Jun 13, 2020 7:04 pm

Stay away from Meade stuff. They have some seriously wonky end user agreements.

I would opt for an equatorial goto mount as such allows for some astrophotography without jumping through hoops as an alt/az does. One either has to use a wedge on the alt/az or deal with derotation of the field. A good EQ mount is hard to beat.

No visual results will match those photos as usually dozens and dozens of images are stacked in software to eliminate noise and bring out detail. A 6” scope will invite use simply by virtue of its portability. A 41 pound scope may not sound like all that much, but setup and teardown will be a real bitch. One false move and the scope can be ruined, and maybe the mount. The 6” scope in the cat design will allow for some stunning views. Be aware that all such scopes have a rather narrow field of view in comparison to a Newtonian, or Refractor, but some of that can be overcome with the right eyepieces. I own a Celestron C-90 Maksutov Cassegrain and have not been afflicted with aperture fever, yet.

With your access to dark skies you might be surprised at what a smaller scope can do, and I’m absolutely sure a smaller scope will get more use. I also have a little DIY 60mm refractor I built myself, and the nebula of Orion just jump out. Andromeda is also stunning through that little scope as all of it fits in the field of view. My C-90 does this too, but Andromeda falls out of the FOV. Jupiter, through the little Mak is amazing. The GRS, when facing us, is as clear as day. I can resolve the Cassini division in Saturns rings with the Mak, but not quite with the 60.

I would try to contact a local astronomy club and get some first hand-in hand exposure to different scopes and mounts when they hold their next “star party”. Most such clubs live to educate noobs, and are happy to let one look through their equipment and will talk your ear off about this stuff. You just might end up joining them!

What ever you decide I wish you well. I don’t get near enough good seeing nights here in the south.

RS
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#3  Postby Alan B » Jun 14, 2020 10:42 am

I envy you two. I had to move house some years ago and astronomy was not my first concern. So I'm stuck with North facing through trees and invasive street lights. My age and health now, does not allow me to travel to remote dark spots.
My Orion 6" Mak. and computer controlled Eq. tripod are just 'gathering dust' - they are properly covered, of course. I will donate them to my sons (eventually).

:(
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#4  Postby Macdoc » Jun 14, 2020 11:41 am

Thanks

I would try to contact a local astronomy club and get some first hand-in hand exposure to different scopes and mounts when they hold their next “star party”. Most such clubs live to educate noobs, and are happy to let one look through their equipment and will talk your ear off about this stuff. You just might end up joining them!


That's what Jude wants to do. Sounds like a 6" something is more than adequate. '
Is there a Celestron 6" anyone would recommend?? This won't happen too soon but gathering info.
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#5  Postby theropod_V_2.0 » Jun 14, 2020 1:13 pm

I’d go with one of the scope linked below. In fact I am seriously considering buying this scope and mounting it on an iOptron CEM25P, which is a very accurate goto EQ mount. The Celestron AVX mounts are hit and miss on quality. They don’t have true bearings, but bushings. The iOptron mount is just slightly more expensive, but a better mount by far. The iOptron mount can’t learn and save periodic error correction is its major flaw, but out of the box they are guaranteed to be hyper accurate.

Scope:
https://www.celestron.com/products/adva ... -telescope

Mount:
https://www.ioptron.com/product-p/7100p-hc.htm

RS
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#6  Postby theropod_V_2.0 » Jun 14, 2020 1:15 pm

Sad, Alan, sad.

RS
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#7  Postby theropod_V_2.0 » Jun 14, 2020 1:34 pm

One other thing:

CAT scopes require a “cool down” period before they start to really providing good images. The larger the scope the longer it takes to reach this equilibrium, and the upper end sizes can take HOURS to get right. If the night time temps drop quickly for a long time a big CAT might never equalize its internal temperature with the ambient air temp. Most of the reason for this is the sealed construction of the design. A Newtonian has a huge hole in the “objective”end and heat just flows out like water, and refractors have their objective lens directly exposed to the air. Some people remove the eyepiece and turn the OTA (Optical Tube Assembly) objective down so the residual heat has an escape path, but that scares the hell out of me as it breaks the seal and could allow foreign debris to get inside the scope. A CAT is very touchy when it comes to alignment of the corrector plate with the main mirror, and internal cleaning is something I would leave to a paid expert. With proper care it is possible that such internal cleaning to never be needed. I personally absolutely love CATs and MAKs. The short OTA is easier on the mount and wind has far less surface area to work on, and wind with a wobbly mount is a study in frustration.

RS
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#8  Postby The_Metatron » Jun 14, 2020 4:35 pm

If you're interested, you can borrow my Meade 7" Mak-Cas atop a Losmandy GM-8 equatorial mount for a few months to try one out. I live between Seattle and Portland. Stop by.
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#9  Postby Macdoc » Jun 14, 2020 8:48 pm

Bit of a hike from Toronto and it's going to Australia but thanks.
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#10  Postby theropod_V_2.0 » Jun 14, 2020 9:28 pm

Jesse must be seriously over astronomy as he made me the same offer, and I visited his house! That’s some serious kit he has.

He lives within striking distance of some of the darkest skies in the USA. Miners Point lookout in the Washington Cascades is up there around 10K feet, and the crest of the mountain range blocks all the light pollution from the big cities to the west. The western skies almost kept us in Oregon. Almost.

RS
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#11  Postby The_Metatron » Jun 14, 2020 10:07 pm

Not really, but the hardware isn't consumable, and was built to be used. Not doing anyone any good at all in my house. It would be good to see it get put to use, and of course, I'd expect copies of the photos...
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#12  Postby theropod_V_2.0 » Jun 14, 2020 10:19 pm

As summer approaches my nights out get more frequent, and I often find myself thinking what a big scope on a good mount would be like. If I hadn’t spent $4k to get a near antique pickup to run, and drive, again that iOptron EQ would already be here. Fucking machines.

I say that and my truck is running better than it ever has.

RS
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#13  Postby Matt_B » Jun 15, 2020 1:24 am

I'll take the opposite line and suggest getting a good pair of binoculars. Or, if you've already got some, just get out there and use them. Unless you're a particularly avid astronomer - to the extent that you're going to start attaching instruments to it - telescopes are far more of an encumbrance than they are useful. Most of what you're going to be looking at is points of light, after all, and you can pretty much count the objects in the Messier catalogue that you can't adequately resolve with a decent pair of 10x50s on one hand. Jupiter's larger satellites can also be seen. Saturn's rings is pushing it though.

Bearing all that in mind, if you still want to get a telescope, I'd suggest starting with a modestly sized Dobsonian. They're a favourite among amateur astronomers because they're really quick to set up, you get a lot of aperture for your buck, and the minimal amount of optics in the way means they'll totally ace those last few fuzzy clusters and distant galaxies that the binocs aren't up to as well as give you a lot more detail in the others.

Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes on equatorial mounts of the sort that have been mostly discussed here are obviously far better for serious observing, and pretty much essential when you're doing imaging and spectra, but I'd suggest holding off because the greater complexity of use is going to be very off-putting until you're absolutely certain about why you need one. Other than a few projects I did at university with their equipment, I've still yet to get to that point myself.
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#14  Postby theropod_V_2.0 » Jun 15, 2020 4:00 am

Hmm, EQ mounts, to me, are a breeze. My simple little iOptron SkyTracker Pro with a modest polar scope can keep Jupiter in the FOV all night long with the 32mm EP in the C-90 Mak. I’ve watched moon shadow transits with just that setup. All I need do is spend about 5 minutes really getting Polaris on the gradient circle position as indicated by an app iOptron released. It takes my GPS data and puts Polaris as a green dot along a clockface of the setting circle. Match that in the little alignment scope with the adjusters, slowly lock it down, and readjust as torque is applied, and you’re good. Keep in mind this is a cheap little photo tracker, and my little C-90 is at its max load. Besides, everyone should learn how to drift align an EQ mount since Polaris might not be viewable from your location. A mountain might get in the way.

What I have against Newtonian scopes is the open end of the OTA exposing the mirror to mother nature, the spiders for the secondary mirror and collimating the damned things. Granted, modern mirror surfaces are/can be much better than a decade ago, but dust and gunk gets on it eventually. Just cleaning the primary mirror is a bitch. The spiders impart a spike distortion unless arched absolutely perfectly, and then still be robust enough to carry the secondary mirror without moving. Some Newtonian scopes require collimating with each move of any significance, and can be a frustrating bitch to do in the field. We won’t go into astigmatisms, frame distortions or the myriad of issues that a cheap Newtonian could present.

Yes, CAT scopes have issues. A narrow FOV, long cool down time that increases with size and secondary mirror obstruction. The up side is that a modern CAT scope made by any of the big 3 will probably never have to be collimated unless disassembled for deep cleaning. The focus on these scopes is usually butter smooth, but doesn’t drift. Mine is a dream. CATs take up less space when traveling, and even a 10” Mak could fit in an overhead compartment.

Yes, we are talking about a pretty serious investment here, and a Newtonian does win the coins battle. Then again more Fords are sold than Rolls Royces. If I were getting a scope on a whim the Newt wins hands down. If I’m ready to do some work, like study the dust lanes of Andromeda, give me a CAT.

RS
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#15  Postby The_Metatron » Jun 15, 2020 2:31 pm

Before I scorched the electronic brains out of my original Meade LX-200 GOTO fork mount, I got to use it a few times in Belgium with a colleague who had a gigantic 10" Meade Newtonian. That thing looked like a water heater.

He knew his way around the sky. He usually had what he wanted in the eyepiece before I got the GOTO scope tracking.

The GM-8 is not GOTO, though. I have to get it there myself, then the mount holds it perfectly.
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Re: Backyard observing upper end

#16  Postby Macdoc » Jun 21, 2020 5:42 am

Thanks for the insights ....will access the knowledge pool when we are ready to buy something.
Might even be less cost

Amateur astronomers file class-action lawsuits alleging telescope price-fixing conspiracy

B.C. residents named in lawsuits brought in U.S. against major manufacturers

Jason Proctor · CBC News · Posted: Jun 20, 2020 1:00 AM PT | Last Updated: June 20


https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british- ... -1.5617766
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