I already blogged about the new Phone Skope adapter that I was able to review as a demo unit. On August 1st, I took it back out to see what I could get for Jupiter and Saturn. Between July 31st and August 1st outings (i.e., during the day on the 1st), I revisited online what various people were doing with different scopes and smartphones to get seemingly much more impressive results than I was. I knew, for example, that Andrew Symes used video, and I had experimented a bit with video, but without much luck.
But when I reviewed a whole bunch of posts online on Facebook, google images, and Cloudy Nights, I had a small eureka moment. Not only were all of them using video, they were all using WAY more power than I was. While I was going up to a 15mm Plossl on my scope, which gives me about 135x magnification, I was reluctant to go much higher at risk of introducing too much turbulence and noise in the images. » Read the rest
I haven’t started my official evaluation test yet for my using my scope (Attempt #0 of 5 to save my hobby), mostly as I am still struggling to figure out what exactly is causing the alignment problems. After lots of back and forth with a few people online and by email, the list of potential problems is known but not insignificant.
First and foremost, apparently the three-star method I’ve been using is notoriously prone to margins of errors. Nice. I don’t know how I missed that previously, but considering that’s the approach I’ve been using since the beginning, not encouraging. Apparently, I’m just a fucking idiot.
Second, I need to make sure everything is fine for the actual mechanics of it. This includes five things:
Reset everything in the hand controller to factory defaults — done;
Checking to make sure I have adequate power…I used fresh brand new batteries tonight, and it seems to be the same results as when I use my Lithium Ion pack, so I don’t think power is a problem — done;
Checking my basic left-right play (none) and up-down play (went to zenith, returned to horizontal, stops when coming down, no problem) — done;
Checking my slew motion…after I take my finger off the button, it doesn’t “stop” immediately like a brake, but it does stop within half a second or so…I don’t know if that’s a problem or not — pending;
I still need to check backlash for settings — pending;
Third, for the preferred two-star alignment, I confess it sounded less accurate to me originally so I never really considered it. » Read the rest
My frustration levels are off the chart with my astronomy hobby. I just can’t seem to raise my capacity high enough to have a consistently positive outing. This is what I was afraid of when I bought the scope and was the main reason I went with the scope I did — a Celestron NexStar 8SE. Designed as an “easy” entry scope, it comes with a bunch of computerized innards that basically allow you to point it at three bright stars, tell the computer in it where they are, the computer figures out which ones are which, and bob’s your uncle, the scope is fully aligned. On a stock alt-azimuth scope, there’s not much finesse for the user to worry about in the setup. Or so I thought.
However, early on, I was using it and I could find a few things once aligned, but not much that wasn’t already visible to the naked eye. » Read the rest
Last weekend, I was beset with lousy viewing due to low lying haze. Despite a fantastic forecast, I had haze going up to around 20-30 degrees above the horizon, so much so that Jupiter was nothing more than a round orange-y blob in the scope. We saw Arcturus and Antares, and a low-quality sight of Saturn, but I couldn’t get the scope to align. No biggie, I was also having power problems, and I thought that was the cause.
Last night though I headed off to the AstroPontiac viewing site. My friend Stephan is spearheading the initiative to bring a dark sky viewing site to the area, and he has been working on it for just over 7 years. I’m on the board and manage the website, but the yeoman duties fall to him for most of it. The site is next to Gatineau Park’s Luskville Waterfall Trail (sentier de les chutes de Luskville), and it is relatively stunning. » Read the rest
I posted awhile ago about restarting my hobby (#50by50 #05 – Re-start my astronomy hobby), and some other posts over the last couple of years about trying to figure out proper alignments and use of my Celestron 8SE scope. This past weekend, we were heading to my wife’s family’s cottage near Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon, and I was debating whether or not to take the scope. Their property has a lot of trees so Eastern views are out, but if I put my scope next to the lake, I have a pretty good SW view.
I hemmed, I hawed. Then I pulled up the Clear Sky Chart for Fenelon Falls (who knew there was even one for the area?), and the decision was made — every indicator for Saturday night was off the charts. I’m usually doing viewing in the Ottawa area and lucky to get medium predictions for quality (3/5), while the one for Saturday in Fenelon had 4s and even 5s! » Read the rest