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dpippel

Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems
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I've never really participated much in any After Hours Lounge threads but thought I'd start this and see where, if anywhere, it goes. I know that many of us here are geeks to some extent or another, and I mean that in the most positive sense, so I figured there would be at least a few forum members who are into amateur astronomy.

I've been a sucker for the night sky most of my life, and have drifted in and out of being active in the hobby several times over the past four and a half decades. I've dabbled here and there in basic astrophotography, but find that my real love is simple visual observing. There's just something magical about sitting at the telescope, gazing upon objects that are hundreds, thousands, and millions of light-years away, with the realization that due to the limitations of the speed of light, the universe is really a huge time machine. It boggles the mind in a very good way, and the beauty on display out there is captivating.

Right now I own three scopes - a Celestron C9.25" Edge HD SCT on a Celestron CGX equatorial mount, an all-original and minty "classic" orange-tube 1975 Celestron C8 SCT on a sand-cast fork mount, and an Astro-Tech AT102ED 4" refractor that I use with a Stellarvue M002C manual alt-az mount. I also own a pair of Swarovski EL 8.5x42 binoculars that I use for both astronomical observing and birding/general use. A few scope pics are attached below.

Is anyone else at HTF into this amazing hobby, or interested in starting out?
 
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dpippel

Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems
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This is my workhorse, the C9.25" Edge, and one of the best telescopes optically that I've ever owned, and I've owned quite a few! The first pic is the scope on my CGX mount set up in my backyard observing spot, and the second is the same rig in the field at a dark site west of Phoenix that I go to regularly. The scope is wrapped in an insulating material called Reflectix in the second photo. This helps prevent temperature gradients from forming inside the tube, which keeps air currents and heat plumes inside the telescope to a minimum. These have the same effect on viewing as poor atmospheric seeing, but can be dealt with pretty effectively using this system.

9.25 Edge.jpg


IMG_6265.jpg
 

Edwin-S

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I have a 10" Newtonian 'scope on a basic German equatorial mount. I've owned it for years, but only used it rarely. Astronomy isn't a hobby that goes well with someone who worked night shifts for 20 years.

I work days now, but the idea of sitting outside in freezing weather, the best time for viewing, doesn't excite me now that I'm getting older.

Still, who knows, might try using it again sometime. Not a convenient 'scope for portability though.
 

dpippel

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This is my 1975 sand-cast C8, which I was lucky enough to find locally. It's in almost 100% brand-new condition, and I'm fortunate to have it. This is the telescope that really brought "serious" amateur astronomy to the masses. Its combination of 8" mirror, portable SCT design, low weight, and portability really changed the hobby forever.

You can see my assistant taking it easy to the left of the eyepiece. ;)

IMG_6412.jpeg
IMG_6413.jpeg
 
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dpippel

Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems
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I have a 10" Newtonian 'scope on a basic German equatorial mount. I've owned it for years, but only used it rarely. Astronomy isn't a hobby that goes well with someone who worked night shifts for 20 years.

I work days now, but the idea of sitting outside in freezing weather, the best time for viewing, doesn't excite me now that I'm getting older.

Still, who knows, might try using it again sometime. Not a convenient 'scope for portability though.
Wow, that's got to be a bit of a beast, Edwin! And yes, this time of year at high latitudes can be brutally cold for observing. I'm lucky enough to live where it's warm, relatively speaking, in the winter. Still, when the temps are dipping into the 30's at night it can be hard to get motivated. I find that I'm more active for long observing sessions April-October down here in Arizona, when the summer Milky Way is up all night.
 

Bryan^H

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I've never really participated much in any After Hours Lounge threads but thought I'd start this and see where, if anywhere, it goes. I know that many of us here are geeks to some extent or another, and I mean that in the most positive sense, so I figured there would be at least a few forum members who are into amateur astronomy. I've been a sucker for the night sky most of my life, and have drifted in and out of being active in the hobby several times over the past four and a half decades. I've dabbled here and there in basic astrophotography, but find that my real love is simple visual observing. There's just something magical about sitting at the telescope, gazing upon objects that are hundreds, thousands, and millions of light-years away, with the realization that due to the limitations of the speed of light, the universe is really a huge time machine. It boggles the mind in a very good way, and the beauty on display out there is captivating.

Right now I own three scopes - a Celestron C9.25" Edge HD SCT on a Celestron CGX equatorial mount, an all-original and minty "classic" orange-tube 1975 Celestron C8 SCT on a sand-cast fork mount, and an Astro-Tech AT102ED 4" refractor that I use with a Stellarvue M002C manual alt-az mount. I also own a pair of Swarovski EL 8.5x42 binoculars that I use for both astronomical observing and birding/general use. A few scope pics are attached below.

Is anyone else at HTF into this amazing hobby, or interested in starting out?
Love the hobby, although in Michigan there is a very short span of use (Usually between late June, and early October) for comfortable outside stargazing. The Star chart apps have been an amazing addition to the hobby, and added so much more information, and curiosity, it enhanced my love of star gazing very much.

I've waited so long to upgrade from my Celestron Reflector, but this is certainly going to be mine by early Spring:

My dream telescope along with a wide viewing eyepiece it should provide everything I need.
 

dpippel

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Love the hobby, although in Michigan there is a very short span of use (Usually between late June, and early October) for comfortable outside stargazing. The Star chart apps have been an amazing addition to the hobby, and added so much more information, and curiosity, it enhanced my love of star gazing very much.

I've waited so long as to upgrade from my Celestron Reflector, but this is certainly going to be mine by early Spring:
That's a nice instrument, Bryan! I've never seen one in person, but have heard nothing but good things. David Levy lives a couple of hours south of me, near Vail, AZ. I imagine he's still hunting comets. :)

I agree with you about the impact of the software that's available these days. I use the iOS version of Sky Safari Pro to control my CGX mount, and it's simply fabulous. Having the ability to slew your scope to any object in the sky just by tapping on a star map displayed on an iPad is a game-changer, and the amount of information the app brings to your fingertips is amazing. It really enhances the entire experience for me as well and has revolutionized my time at the eyepiece.
 

Bryan^H

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That's a nice instrument, Bryan! I've never seen one in person, but have heard nothing but good things. David Levy lives a couple of hours south of me, near Vail, AZ. I imagine he's still hunting comets. :)

I agree with you about the impact of the software that's available these days. I use the iOS version of Sky Safari Pro to control my CGX mount, and it's simply fabulous. Having the ability to slew your scope to any object in the sky just by tapping on s star map displayed on an iPad is a game-changer, and the amount of information the app brings to your fingertips is amazing. It really enhances the entire experience for me as well and has revolutionized my time at the eyepiece.
I know, and not that I was losing interest but Sky Safari, and others like it have added so much more enjoyment. I would also like to get into Astro photography at some point. It would be so nice to share deep space pics with others.

Eyepieces like this are essential for me, and now affordable:
1640280874138.png
 

dpippel

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I know, and not that I was losing interest but Sky Safari, and others like it have added so much more enjoyment. I would also like to get into Astro photography at some point. It would be so nice to share deep space pics with others.

Eyepieces like this are essential for me, and now affordable:
View attachment 122168
Yep, eyepieces are the hidden money pit for visual observers. :) Sure, you can spend $1000-$6000 on a good scope/mount setup, but then you have to buy a stable of eyepieces to use with it. Depending on your needs and how much of a perfectionist you are, that cost can easily reach several thousand dollars. I made the "mistake" of buying into Tele Vue early on, and due to their extremely high quality and range of options I've stayed with them pretty much exclusively over the years. Even though their products are expensive, they are superb eyepieces and I'm fortunate to be able to afford them.

BUT, high-quality, affordable eyepieces have become much more available over the past 10-15 years. Companies like Explore Scientific have brought widefield eyepieces with excellent optics down to price points that don't break the bank, and the hobby is better and more attainable because of it.
 

Edwin-S

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Wow, that's got to be a bit of a beast, Edwin! And yes, this time of year at high latitudes can be brutally cold for observing. I'm lucky enough to live where it's warm, relatively speaking, in the winter. Still, when the temps are dipping into the 30's at night it can be hard to get motivated. I find that I'm more active for long observing sessions April-October down here in Arizona, when the summer Milky Way is up all night.

Yeah. It definitely is meant more for a permanent set up, where the mount is aligned and left in place, either in a shelter or with a protective cover. If I was to do it all over again I would have gone with cassegraine or similar type of arrangement; however, when I bought mine the going rate for a Celestron was about twice what I paid for the newtonian. Back in the 80s that was around 1200 IIRC.

I was trying to remember who I bought it from, until BrianH mentioned Meade. That was the company I purchased it from. If I get some time, I'll post a picture, but it is pretty basic looking compared to today's products.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Hi Sam - Newsletter?

That's probably just his way of saying he'll add this thread to his watchlist (like me), haha...

I had considered diving in myself in part for my kids, but just never got going largely due to the logistics involved, especially living here near the heart of NYC and not a driver (to bring the kids out somewhere better for such on a regular enough basis)... Just seemed to require too big a lifestyle change to make it work... and I was already doing the (Suzuki-style) music thing w/ them that's rather time consuming...

But always did love the idea of astronomy though (and took a couple college courses I loved in it back in my day)... and nowadays, I understand one could rent viewing time slots on others' scope setups, etc over the net, but I haven't tried so far...

I do have a somewhat older church friend here in Brooklyn who pursues the hobby fairly seriously though and occasionally see his relatively modest astrophotos shared. He often enough drives out away from the city w/ one of his rigs and goes to at least one dedicated camping event every summer for this -- he's also a scout master type (along w/ his 2 now-college-aged sons), and another buddy of mine has joined them (w/ his son who's same age as my 14-yo daughter) at that camping event in recent years...

I also got to know someone over the net (who lives in California not far from Yosemite out around Mariposa) thru researching, etc. the aforementioned music thing who used to build very serious, custom rigs for serious hobbyists...

_Man_
 
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Scott Voth

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I've accumulated a few telescopes. I have a Celestron CPC 8 as well as an old Nexstar 6 but I prefer refractors so I have a Televue NP101 and a Stellarvue 70. I like the refractors better since you can set them up fast with no culmination corrections. I also have two solar telescopes. I only do visual at this point.
 

dpippel

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I've accumulated a few telescopes. I have a Celestron CPC 8 as well as an old Nexstar 6 but I prefer refractors so I have a Televue NP101 and a Stellarvue 70. I like the refractors better since you can set them up fast with no culmination corrections. I also have two solar telescopes. I only do visual at this point.
Sounds like you have a nice little stable of scopes there, Scott. Flexibility is a good thing. I use my 4" refractor as my grab-and-go setup as well, and as you said it's convenient to be able to set it up so quickly and move it around if need be. When I'm observing from a dark site where wide fields of view can be truly appreciated, my binoculars also get used pretty frequently, and I've been thinking about getting a gravity chair to use for bino viewing.
 

dpippel

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Man, is it 2022 already? I'm already suffering from the "lack of planet blues." Saturn left us a while ago, and now Jupiter is so low in the west at sunset from my location it's unobservable for all intents and purposes. Too much atmosphere to look through. As I'm sure a lot of people did, I got pretty spoiled by the apparitions of Jupiter and Saturn last year and their super-close conjunction the year before on the Winter Solstice (12/21/20). While 2021 wasn't the best they've ever been due to their relatively low altitude above the southern horizon, they were up all night together for months, and for a while moved right through the southern Milky Way. Spectacular from a dark site. I actually got to taking them a little bit for granted, and now that they're gone for months I'm missing how easy it was to set up in the backyard and enjoy a few hours of gas giant time.

Planetary observing is probably my favorite thing to do at the telescope. It's great for suburban observers because, along with lunar observing, light pollution isn't a real factor. So for viewing at home now I'll probably move on to double stars. They're very numerous, and many also don't require a dark site to appreciate.

I also picked up a new (used) scope - a Stellarvue SV102 Access f/7 4" refractor that I found for a great price. I already own an Astro-Tech AT102ED 4" refractor, but the Stellarvue is a step up in build quality, has better objective glass (FPL-53 and lanthanum), and a rotatable 2.5" rack and pinion focuser which is more suited to astrophotography, something I'll be dabbling in this year. So, the Astro-Tech will be sold and I'll spend some time getting to know the new instrument. Here are a couple of pics. I hope some of you have been able to get out under the stars a bit.

IMG_6655.jpg IMG_6657.jpg
 
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Old Dog

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I have a couple of Celestron scopes, a C5 and a C9.25 used on a CG-5 mount. Unfortunately, not used much of late. I was just getting interested in taking pictures and bought the Celestron NexImage 5 plus a laptop to start doing some astro work, but my situation changed and I got rather busy. I just didn't have the time, or enthusiam, to be spending hours out at night after that. I did do some experimenting with the Neximage on the C5, taking videos of land based objects and then creating a picture from the video (using Registax). I had no idea how it would turn out. Quite a bit of playing around, but I am sure it gets easier with practice. I was quite happy with what I achieved, being a total novice, and surprised at the level of detail that could be realised, especially after seeing the quality of the initial video. The pic is the light sensor on top of a street light around 100m away. Hopefully I get the chance to point it skyward in the not too distant future.
Sensor 03.06 II.jpg
 

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