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Milky Way above the Grand Canyon Star Party

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Posts Made By: Tom Hole

July 16, 2003 09:42 AM Forum: Equipment Talk


Posted By Tom Hole

The horse is dead. Long live the horse.

July 19, 2003 04:24 AM Forum: Equipment Talk


Posted By Tom Hole

Is there a mount somewhere? Lot's of nice pictures of a box that doesn't hold the scope very well.

Someone offered to go over and look at it for you. I'd go for that option myself.

Clear skies,


July 23, 2003 01:36 AM Forum: Binoviewers

Binoviewers at a star party Part I

Posted By Tom Hole

I went to our club's star party this past Saturday and had a lot of fun with the binoviewers. I was looking forward to trying them out in the club's new Celestron CGE1400. I had the Televue binos with the pair of 16 Nagler type 5's that are on loan (my Denks are still travelling around the northeast corridor on loan). I wanted to use them in the CGE1400 without a corrector and do some comparing with
the cyclops view, but mostly I wanted to see what the other club members thought.

Well, the first thing I figured out was 16mm ep's in a 3910mm focal length scope is a bit too much power for most viewing. So I used the 32mm plossls instead. The comparison for cyclops was a 31mm Nagler.

First target was M13. What a view with the 31mm Nagler. More stars than I could ever hope for in my 10" dob. I slid the TV bino in with the 32mm plossls and was treated to a wonderful view as well. Not quite as sharp or bright, but very comfortable and impressive. I have found that you need to let the view settle in with the binos. It seems my brain takes a moment or two to get the image merged and focused. During this settle in time, the view is very
soft and ill defined. After the settle in time (maybe 1 sec and no, this is not scope motion) things take on a very pleasing dimension. Others in the observatory mentioned the dimmer image. No one else at the party was a binoviewer.

Next up was the Ring and Dumbbell nebulae. I tried a trick with a Lumicon UHC filter on one ep and that worked wonderfully. The nebulae through the binos were more pleasing to view, almost surreal through that large aperture. Yup, a bit dimmer but I didn't care so much with the 14" scope. This was a solo show so no one else got to
have a look.

Next stop was Mars. I had spent about 30 minutes on Mars with my XT10 and the binos and then went inside for a peak with the 16 Naglers on the CGE1400. Had a crowd inside the observatory and everyone was excited about getting a look. Well I slid the binos in and got a good focus and was wowed beyond description. I was also a bit flabbergasted that 4" of aperture could crush my 10" dob so handilly. This was the best view of Mars I have had this season.
This was in average seeing and below average transparency. Other folks also declared an abrupt "wow!" and could not believe the view. It was truely remarkable. We never even put in a single ep because everyone wanted to see Mars through the binos. Very, very good.

July 23, 2003 01:37 AM Forum: Binoviewers

Binoviewers at a star party Part II

Posted By Tom Hole

Next up was the rising moon. I knew what to expect from my
experience with my 10" dob, but I was not prepared for what the 14" telescope had to offer. Words cannot describe the view. The CGE mount is very nice and I was able to fly over Luna with the hand paddle. Especially nice was the trip up the terminator. Everyone shared the view and ran outside to grab everyone they could find. Each "wow" made me smile and hope that someone else would discover the fun of binoviewing.

I casually polled everyone about merging the views and no one had any issues.

That was it for the night as the clouds rolled in. I was impressed with the CGE1400 and binos. That is certainly an enormous binoviewer accessory though. I don't see anything that large in my future, but it sure is nice to have access to one at a dark site in an observatory. It was fun sharing the binoviewers with others. I thought the initial reaction was a bit aloof, but that changed as the night went on. I don't think I had any immediate converts, but
I'm sure I got some folks thinking about them. I might loan one of my binoviewers to the club for a while and let folks use them on their own.

Clear skies,


August 2, 2003 11:56 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Something to mount on a GEM

Posted By Tom Hole

This kinda goes along with the previous post, but opposite. I have a nice fellow making me a beefy goto GEM. Current estimates put its load capacity at 30+ lbs photographic and 40+ lbs for visual. This will sit on a 6" diameter 1/4" wall thickness portable aluminium pier. My current scope is a 10" orion dob. I also have a Burgess 127mm f/8 achromat on order. The 10" dob OTA may end up on the GEM, but it is currently sitting on my eq platform. For the forseeable future, I am visual only.

Anyway, I may want to try out one of those catadioptric scopes on this mount to see if they suit my style. I think the Celestron 9.25 might be the cat's meow. Anything else I should consider? Price should be < $1000.

Please don't turn this into a cat vs newt vs refractor thread or, worse, a larger apertures are more adversly effected by poor seeing than smaller apertures. I want to decide that on my own. That's why I'm looking to add a cat to my kennel.

Clear skies,


August 4, 2003 02:18 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Need help with dovetail systems

Posted By Tom Hole

First some background. That spiffy new goto GEM that Jon Davis is building me now needs a way to attach a telescope to it. John has asked me to send him whatever saddle plate I would like installed so he can put it on. "What in blazes is a saddle plate?" (asked in my best Slim Pickens impression). So, I need some help. I don't know squat about dovetail mounting systems.

Here's what I think I know:

1. You need a saddle plate on the mount
2. You need a dovetail bar that the scope rings mount to

Now that I've summed it all up, it looks like I know less than I thought.

Some questions:

1. Do I need a dovetail mount?
2. Do all mounts have a dovetail system?
3. If not, what did you put on your mount to quickly remove the OTA?

Here's what I could find as options for a dovetail mounting system on the GI-1 Abrams mount (or any mount for that matter):

Losmandy GM-8
Losmandy G-11
William Optics Dovetail System
Can't figure out if Vixen dovetail is proprietary or what

I like the GM-8 option because it's cheap ($52 for the saddle plate) but is it strong enough to hold 35 lbs? I also couldn't figure out whether the GM8 saddle plate accepted the standard Losmandy dovetails. I'm all cornfused. I wish there were a telescope shop nearby so I could go by and figure out what I want, but there isn't so I can't and that's bad.

So, help me buy something to send to John to put on my fancy new mount. PLEEEAAASSSEEE!!!!

Clear skies,


August 11, 2003 12:06 AM Forum: Chinese Optics Imports

The Burgess are coming, the Burgess are coming!!!

Posted By Tom Hole

I think we may be able to send out the "One if by land" signal. Exciting stuff. My custom mount may not get here before the 1278, so I may have to go slummin' for a mount amongst my local club members. Have I mentioned that I'm excited?

Clear skies,


August 12, 2003 03:19 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Tube rings for 10" newt OTA

Posted By Tom Hole

I have a 10" Orion XT10 dob. I have a custom mount on the way that looks like this (it's not quite complete yet):

Payload is 60 lbs. It's getting a full Autostar goto install as well. I am also getting a sturdy portable pier for the mount.

So, I am looking at mounting my XT10 OTA on it. I think I need a set of tube rings for it. Orion sells a set at a bargain price ($33):

Any other options that won't break the bank? Initially I am going to run in alt/az goto with the mount, so rotating rings aren't a must. Visual only for now.

Also, any recommendation for the length of a dovetail bar for it?



August 12, 2003 10:43 PM Forum: Chinese Optics Imports

If Orion can make a $429 80mm APO then...

Posted By Tom Hole

I'll bet they are planning to make a <$1,000 127mm or maybe even a 150mm APO. I'll take Bill's version any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Clear skies,


August 14, 2003 09:40 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

Cassini truck driving school Part I

Posted By Tom Hole

I just had the best night of viewing ever. The seeing held up all night at a solid 9 and the transparency improved to very good. This may have been a once in a lifetime evening of spectacular viewing. I haven't gone to bed yet.

Mars was very clear, but I have seen it better. The moon really washed out the contrast and fine detail. I tried every filter combination I could, but I could not equal the view I had last week when the seeing was just as good and the moon was not out. But last week I only had 15 minutes of great viewing. Tonight I was only limited by sunrise. I was able to make out the north polar cap for the first time and see some dark details within the south polar cap along with all the maria that is usually present. Sure was fun not seeing any ripples.

I already posted my moon adventure. I discovered something interesting. I roll my XT10 around a lot and tonight was a virtual roller derby. This is so I can see around all the trees. Well, I usually don't bother with checking collimation between rolls, but tonight something caught my eye. I was craterlete hunting in Plato. This certainly challenges the reolution of the XT10. In one spot, I had a spectacular view of as many craterletes as I could count. Best view ever of Plato. I went back to Mars for a bit as the moon went behind a tree. I had to roll the scope around to get at Mars. Later, when the moon popped out from behind the tree, I pointed the XT10 back at Plato and the Alpine Valley for some more surfing. Well, I could only spy 4 craterletes and they were a little fuzzy. Seeing was still great and the transparency had actually improved since the last look at the moon. So, I checked the collimation. Secondary was fine, but the primary was off a bit. The return donut on the barlowed laser spot target thingy was off by about 1 to 1.5 mm. I adjsuted the primary about 1/32nd of a turn and went back to Plato. Holy craterletes, Batman. All the little craterletes were back and the 4 that were there before were now looking sharp as ever. Collimation is kinda critical for getting the most out of these f/4.7 scopes. I didn't realize how sensitive they were until tonight.