New toy

Some of you may already know this through other means, but I thought I’d better put something up here anyway :)
After many months of umm-ing and arr-ing (me hearties!) I’ve finally upped and bought myself a telescope. Primarily, I want to be doing astrophotography with the SLR I’ve got, but some of it is bound to be just looking around the heavens for the hell of it, really. I’ve not yet fetched the camera mount for the scope, that’s on its way, hopefully it’ll be in the shop this weekend, so a quick trip to West Bridgeford on Saturday may well be in order.

For those that want the gory details, it’s an Orion Optics Europa 200 Newtonian Reflector. That’s an 8 inch aperture :) I’ve only had two nights with it so far that haven’t been really cloudy, and the first night I found that the optics were all out of kilter. So that was that night wasted, it’s impossible to calibrate in the dark :(
The calibration (collimation, it’s properly called) is a long and complex process, basically because of the craziness of the mounts on newtonian reflectors. Have a look at this page for the gory details. They make it sound a lot easier than it actually is – especially as I don’t have a collimating eyepiece or a laser colimator – Hmmmpf :(

So, last night I got in from work, looking forward to using my nice calibrated scope, when I find that the cloud cover forecast for the whole eveneing was 100% until about 11pm when it dropped to 98% cover. And tonight is even worse as it’s supposed to be 100% cover all night (until 4am, at least).

So, I still have yet to see anything interesting beyond a very blurred Orion Nebula. Bummer.

2 thoughts on “New toy”

  1. Cool. We got a small 3 inch reflector for the big one for xmas, as she was going on about it and I’ve always thought it might be interesting. It’s really too small to make out much detail in deep space objects, but my jaw was on the floor when we got a decent look at the Moon. Of course, we’ve only had 3 clear nights with the Moon out when I’ve been at home since we got it – I think I need to move to Arizona before I could take this up as a ‘full time’ hobby…

    Please do post images/descriptions of any pictures you take once you have your mount sorted: I really want a mount for this one, but I’m holding off for the moment as the mount is more than the telescope (it is a cheap one, mind !), and I can’t decide if I want to use my camera or make a custom bolt on for a webcam: there’s some stunning galleries out there with a tracking mount and some interpolation software that takes half an hour (or more) webcam footage and rebuilds a real image from all of the noise. I *might* even be able to get a blurry coloured blob for a nebula if I go that way !

    The high point so far was being able to distinguish clearly the gap between Saturn and its rings. You know – the sort of thing that you’ll be able to count the individual rings types of, but we got excited by one big white ring anyway !

  2. With the scope, I got a Vixen GP mount (which is an equatorial mount with a Polarscope). I’ve not yet managed to get that side of things working properly yet, as I don’t really need it yet (!) because of the no camera adapter situation. However, I’ve got the motors to properly drive the thing, so hopefully I won’t need a guide scope and tracking software, although you never know, do you :)
    The interpolation software (I’m assuming you’re talking about Registax) has just had a new version come out, and I can’t work the darn thing at all. Most of the people on the UK Astroimaging forums are saying stick with v2 until v3 has been used by others for some time, and is therefore a known quantity. Anything for an easy life, I say :)

    I’ve not yet managed to get a look at a planet, although the detail on the moon is, as you say, stunning; especially at the junction between dark and light, where mountain tops are lit but the base isn’t.

    I’ll be putting photos and stuff up here when I get everything up and running for the camera. That won’t be too long, unless I pluck up the courage to send of my 300D to have the IR filter removed as it cuts off most of the Ha band IR (which is precisely what one needs for astrophotography). I dunno. We’ll see :)

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