Author Archives: Andrew Thornett

Orion Premium Linear Binoviewer

My best purchase from the Practical Astronomy Show. These binoviewers differ from other makes in that they do not require any extra in-focus. You never see these on sale….but this one was around £100 off new price! I have tried binoviewers before but the need to use a Barlow lens in order to obtain focus on my Newtonian telescopes has meant that they weren’t very practical. I decent read a review in one of the astronomy magazine about this binoviewers and the reviewer was so impressed he bought one!

I tried it today on my Orion 10″ Dobsonian telescope. In order to get focus, I had to use an extension tube plus my Tele Vue Paracorr – the latter has a long tube and I can pull it out quite a distance to act as an extension tube. All of this suggests that I will easily obtain focus on the night sky.

At the Practical Astronomy Show I purchased a pair of discounted APM ultra flat field 18mm 65 AFOV eyepiece and I already had a pair on Tele Vue Nagler 7mm eyepiece.

The view of the trees at the bottom of the garden was amazing! This the first time I have ever had a proper binocular view through a telescope without any sense of strain on my eyes! Both pairs of eyepiece worked well. I can’t wait to get out under the night sky. Only problem is this could work out really expensive on eyepiece with my having to buy a second one to accompany some of those I already have…..

Andy

  

Always worth having a bag of eyepiece caps so if you see any being sold cheap I recommend you purchase some spares in 1.25 inch and 2 inch varieties for both ends of the eyepiece. Below is my bag – the cheap 18mm eyepiece did not come with caps so good job I had some spare.

The attachments I used to obtain focus – this was opposite of in focus = out focus – as I was focusing on the trees at the bottom of my garden which are closer than infinity.

The Tele Vue Paracorr is one of my best ever purchases – so useful!

Adding Sky Watcher finder scope style mounting shoes to Orion UK 10″ Dobsonian telescope

My trusty and well used Orion 10″ Dobsonian telescope does not have Sky Watcher style finder scope shoes – a nuisance as I would like to use a finder scope with it and also attach my heated laser finder device which has Sky Watcher style finder bracket.

So today out came the glue gun and I attached two finder shoes to the tube. If the glue gun turns off with time not to be strong enough then I will bolt them on but hopefully this won’t be needed as not much weight on them.

The other advantage of using the glue gun initially is that I can change position of the finder shoes if it turns out they are not in the best place in practice.

Andy

I chose a rather cold day to do this!

OK so in the next picture it looks a mess. However, once the glue has cooled I will then be able to tidy it up and I would rather put a bit more glue on so that my stuff does not fall off the scope, including my bargain from the Practical Astronomy Show – right angled 9×50 finder scope with illuminated eyepiece for only £45, which I bought especially to put on this scope!

 

Practical Astronomy Show 2019

What a brilliant day! We are all hoping that the organisers will run this show again next year. This is possibly the best show we will go to this year! Helped by great venue, interesting speakers, masses of atro stuff to look at, plenty of space in capacious halls to wonder around, lots of bargains,  friendly and relaxed atmosphere, efficient catering at a reasonable price, central location, lecture theatre where you can actually hear the speakers and see the slides whereber you sat, and of course no entry charge! Why can’t all amateur astronomy shows be like this?

Several members of RAG attended the inaugrel Practical Astronomy Show today near Kettering 9/3/2019, including myself, Pete Hill, Heather, Rob Leonard, Terry Grimes, Ed Mann, Pete and Paul, Neil Wyatt, Ken Critchon. We should have more of these club outings to things astronomical!

The emphasis of this new show was on practical aspects of amateur astronomy, so no professional academics or folks from NASA bit rather likes of Paul Money, Gary Palmer and Damian Peach gave talks.

Paul Money started the talks with a jaunt through his observing career and a jolly look at his aperture fever and increasing expenditure on telescopes over the years until eventually he bought a 500mm Dobsonian telescope. Usually these purchases occured after he fell in love with a telescope or other bit of astro kit after reviewing it for BBC Sky at Night magazine. His poor wife – at least that is what most wives would say! How did he get away with it – the question most of us would ask!

The talks were great fun and, given that both show and talks were all free, well attended with relaxed feel. Unlike Astrofest which feels so serious, today was about fun, fun, fun! The lecture room housed about 200 attendees and sound and visuals were good. The free tickets meant that the lectures were full, and it was important to arrive early to get tickets for the talks. We were impressed with rthe quality and passion of the speakers, with something for everyone regardless of your level of experience and knowledge in astronomy.

There were a large number of vendors in the three rooms used for the show. Many of them are not seen at other shows, as the prices for vendors was much cheaper to attend PAS than Astrofest or the International Astronomy Show. Astrofest is still the place to go for definitive lectures by leading professional astronomers and celebrity speakers but PAS is setting itself up as the conference for those us who want advice on how to observe or photograph the night sky.

We were also impressed by the catering with a reasonable selection at an acceptable price, with efficient service so that you did not need to wait too long.

Unlike Astrofest in January this year where sale items were few and limited when present, there were a fair number of true bargains at the show today – masses of cheap space allowed vendors to empty cupboards and bring along their findings and sell them cheap – some of this stuff was excellent and in new or as new condition:

Andy

Pete and Heather join the queue to go into the show:

Spectrometer for sale:

   

Yours truly models a new scope for the home observatory……How can I sneak that one home without being noticed? Actually, I am not even sure if it will fit in the new Peter Bolas Observatory at Rosliston Forestry Centre (RAG’s home in Derbyshire, England, UK).

Damian Peach speaking on high resolution astrophotography below:

Bargain I picked up at show – a right angled finder scope with illuminated eyepiece on Sky Watcher mounting bracket for £45! Used but in excellent condition (below):

Temporary roof for log cabin observatory

The storm on Sunday night blew off a large patch of the roofing felt on my log cabin observatory in Lichfield. I am very grateful to the help of Damian and Rhys last night, as we struggled against the wind to put a temporary covering over the cabin. This involved cutting down a tarpaulin from Screwfix to appropriate size in the dark and wobbling about on a step-ladder as we tacked it on. We discovered that the underside was a better colour so we installed it upside-down!

Now I need to buy some proper roofing felt and do it properly……

NB Double doors are to allow the 16″ Dobsonian on its castors to be rolled out onto the lawn.

Andy

Log cabin with new temporary roof:

Solar images from Lichfield Part II

Since I came back to post previous photos taken about 50-60 mins ago, a new prominence has appeared on the leading solar limb – show below: Samsung S7 phone/Celestron NexYZ phone adapter/Tele Vue 8-24mm eyepiece set at 24mm/Sky Watcher 80mm Equinox Pro 80mm telescope/Manfrotto mount.

The following photos are all of same prominence and show some change in its structure over even few seconds to couple minutes.

Andy

Solar images from Lichfield 23/2/2019

Solar Photographs using Samsung S7 Phone in Celestron NexYZ smartphone holder on Tele Vue 8-24mm eyepiece (24mm setting) on Sky Watcher DayStar Quark Hydrogen Alpha eyepiece on Manfrotto mount.

Chance to try out the NexYZ on solar imaging. Could not get it to work with Tele Vue 32mm Plossl for some reason but worked with 8-24mm Tele Vue zoom eyepiece on 24mm setting.

Detail of edge of Sun shown in photos below – no major prominences today according to GONG (http://halpha.nso.edu/). The fuzz on edge of Sun is real – it represents prominence activity all around the Sun – the photos are not out of focus.

Andy

Images show well that edge of Sun is not a sharp edge but a fuzz of small prominence activity:

Following image repeated 3x – no major prominences today but this one shows a very faint prominence which is not easily seen in first image but more obvious in next two where I have emphasised it with some processing in GIMP2 software: