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Thread: Anyone into astronomy?

  1. #1
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    Question Anyone into astronomy?

    I bought a Meade DS-114 back in 2002; got it at Waly world for about $300. The boss' Mom worked there and got it for me. I wasn't impressed; couldn't get the StaryNight bundled software to work right with the autostar cause it needed a cable. Spent a "cold" November trying to get it to work right and should have gotten West Nile because of all the mosquito bites I suffered. I finally asked her Mom to take it back and return it. She did...

    6 months or so later I learned she actually kept it. I didn't care because I got a brand new GeForce 3 video card. I have always thought of borrowing the scope if any big events came up and never got around to it. 2 weeks ago I had the boss ask her Mom because of Jupiter's "closness" and the Hartly comet that is getting fairly close this month. She said a "wire" needed fixed and I went and got it. Turns out the 12v battery pack (10xAA) was cracked and the wire broke. I took the connector off and put it on the 12V out on my blue/green laser power supply and it powered right up. Being I am much more experienced in things it took me about a week to get my old windows 98 laptop, celeron 433 w/128MB RAM... up and running and a cable made that goes from RS232 to RJ9 to control this beast through the StaryNight astronomy program.

    I did have to search every damn CD I have in my burnt data disc STACKs... took me two hours and it was the last damn one... I must have had 50 that didn't have lables. My next goal, even thos I ain't supposed to spend $ on this, is to get a camera mount for the eyepiece.

    Just curious if anyone is into this other money pit of a hobby.
    Love, peace, and grease,

    allthat... aka: aaron@pangolin

  2. #2
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    I use a TV-85 on a self built portable heliostat mount to watch the sun, when it's active. Dragged a 17.5" reflector up to local hill tops before that. Good rule with scopes like you describe is spend 3/4 of the budget on the mount. Best optics in the world are worthless if the thing jiggles too much to focus properly. Your best bet is to take it to a local star party. Better yet, sell it and use the money to go to a big local star party and enjoy views through the big expensive scopes set up all over the place. Look through a bunch of scopes, not just the biggest ones. Amateur astronomers love sharing views!

  3. #3
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    Default Scopes

    Hey Aaron,
    I have a Meade DS-2114ATS reflector. It has the auto tracking and software, but I rarely even turn it on. I think it takes too long to set everything up for the 1/2 hour of viewing I will end up doing. When I do set up I just manually move the scope.
    I made my own camera mount for my little point and shoot camera. It works so so. I want to get a CCD camera for multiple exposures, then the software allows you to layer and align each exposure for amazing pics.
    I bought a solar filter a couple years ago for viewing sun spots. This is by far the coolest, just be careful not to blind yourself. There is just something wrong with staring at the sun through a telescope.
    I've only been to 1 star party. I would love to go to more.
    Chris

  4. #4
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    I owned a Celestron C8 http://www.celestron.com/c3/product....D=11&ProdID=60 with a goto mount a few years ago, used a canon EOS 400 camera and a modified webcam to take pictures...was awesome.
    I had to sell it because of lack of space to place the mount after i bought another house.

    Some day i will buy another one.

  5. #5
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    Smile

    Both DZ and Astroguy are avid astronomy buffs. I'm sure they can offer lots of good advice.

    Adam

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lazerjock View Post
    Hey Aaron,

    I bought a solar filter a couple years ago for viewing sun spots. This is by far the coolest, just be careful not to blind yourself. There is just something wrong with staring at the sun through a telescope.
    I've only been to 1 star party. I would love to go to more.
    Chris
    There is absolutely NOTHING dangerous about it, unless one uses a smoked glass filter that goes on top of the eyepiece like they sold with department store telescopes in the '60s. Those will crack with your eye possibly right next to them, and the danger is from glass chips, not the image of the sun. Don't believe everything your mother told you (the spreaders of "old wives tales").

    There is absolutely NOTHING "wrong" about staring at the sun through a telescope fitted with proper filters!!!!! It's a beautiful sight. Waaaaaay more interesting than looking at stars so far away they don't affect us at all. Looking at the sun is looking at the face of God. Modern filters make it as safe as riding a bicycle, which is an extremely safe thing to do (regardless of what those same "old wives" say about helmets, with as much validity).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by allthatwhichis View Post
    Just curious if anyone is into this other money pit of a hobby.
    Yep, I have a C8 that I use to do a lot of astrophotography with. I also have an 8" dob, I hand figured and polished the primary myself. I still have both scopes, I haven't had them out in a while. The local astronomy club travels outside of town twice a month on weekends, which is generally when I'm busy with work.

    When I did the astrophotography thing, it was almost all with emulsion film, I only have about 2 or 3 pics done with a CCD. I first tried just regular, off the shelf film which worked pretty good. I finally got my hands on a hyper kit which made a world of difference. Basically, you stick the roll of film in a canister, pump out the air and fill it with nitrogen and let it cook for about a week. The side by side compairison between hypered and unhypered film was amazing.

    There were a vast number of tricks to get a good pic, I could go out and spend hours taking long exposure pics and would be lucky of one if them turned out ok. The longest exposure I took was 60 minutes, the entire time was spent staring into the off-axis guider and making corrections via a small hand held remote. If I wasn't perfectly polar aligned there would be image rotation, if I didn't get the focus just right I'd have a hole bunch of donut looking objects or if I bumped the telescope during exposure then the pic would be ruined. I even went so far as to hold up a black peice of cardboard in front of the scope before I opened or closed the shutter so that the vibration would stop, just from the shutter of the camera opening and closing! And then, when you go to have the film developed, you have to hope the operator doesn't cut up the film in the wrong place or "throw it out for you since there wasn't anything on the film."

    Here's a couple of the good ones from the many hundreds I've taken. http://www.photonlexicon.com/forums/album.php?albumid=7

    There is absolutely NOTHING "wrong" about staring at the sun through a telescope fitted with proper filters!!!!!
    I knew a guy that had a scope specifically for looking at the sun. It had no filters at all. It was a 4" reflector with an uncoated primary and an uncoated secondary. So basically at the eyepeice, you were getting around 4% of 4% of light from the sun, supposedly it was safe.

    My next goal, even thos I ain't supposed to spend $ on this, is to get a camera mount for the eyepiece.
    What type of camera? I *might* have something.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DZ View Post


    I knew a guy that had a scope specifically for looking at the sun. It had no filters at all. It was a 4" reflector with an uncoated primary and an uncoated secondary. So basically at the eyepeice, you were getting around 4% of 4% of light from the sun, supposedly it was safe.



    What type of camera? I *might* have something.
    Great pics!

    I'd be careful with that design (also from the '60s) too. IR and UV are only attenuated as much as visible light, but can be more damaging. Modern mylar filters for white light viewing are super cheap, and very safe.

  9. #9
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    I think astronomy is cool. I am a Virgo.

  10. #10
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    I've had very little (OK - zero) participation in astronomy since leaving high school, but I'm quite a fan of some of the deep-space imagery that has come out of the Hubble program.

    I definitely recommend the Hubble IMAX show - in a full-domed planetarium - for anyone that gets the opportunity!
    RR

    Metrologic HeNe 3.3mw Modulated laser, 2 Radio Shack motors, and a broken mirror.
    1979.
    Sweet.....

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