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Posts Made By: Robert Howe

March 20, 2004 09:59 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Upcoming Transit of Venus--what to bring?

Posted By Robert Howe

Hey folks,

I am thinking of going to Rome or Tel-Aviv for the Transit of Venus on June 8. The question is, what is the most effective equipment to bring? I've a lovely 130mm refractor and a Losmandy G11, which I think are too much trouble to ship; a TV 85 and a double-loaded Maxscope 30. The TV and Maxscope will go nicely on my Gibraltar mount, but this is not sufficiently stable to do the tiny little Maxscope (400 mm FL) at higher powers (I have been practicing at home), for which I usually use the Losmandy. Suggestions? Anyone got an H-alpha loaded Questar I can borrow? Ideas for a cheaper, reliable tracking mount I can get? Could I mount the HAlpha filters and diagonal on the TV 85 and bring some other telescope for white light viewing?

I am posting this also to the Equipment Talk, Questar and Coronado fora.

Ciao

Robert Howe
Wilbraham, MA

March 20, 2004 10:00 PM Forum: Coronado-Lunt-DayStar Solar Filters

HAlpha viewing of the Transit of Venus

Posted By Robert Howe

Hey folks,

I am thinking of going to Rome or Tel-Aviv for the Transit of Venus on June 8. The question is, what is the most effective equipment to bring? I've a lovely 130mm refractor and a Losmandy G11, which I think are too much trouble to ship; a TV 85 and a double-loaded Maxscope 30. The TV and Maxscope will go nicely on my Gibraltar mount, but this is not sufficiently stable to do the tiny little Maxscope (400 mm FL) at higher powers (I have been practicing at home), for which I usually use the Losmandy. Suggestions? Anyone got an H-alpha loaded Questar I can borrow? Ideas for a cheaper, reliable tracking mount I can get? Could I mount the HAlpha filters and diagonal on the TV 85 and bring some other telescope for white light viewing?

I am posting this also to the Equipment Talk, Questar and Coronado fora.

Ciao

Robert Howe
Wilbraham, MA

March 30, 2004 09:30 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Mount for a binoscope

Posted By Robert Howe

Somehow I convinced myself that I could not live without a Borg 100 mm binoscope. The optics are very sweet, but the OTAs, being permanently mounted together, overwhelm the chintzy fork mount that the maker provided with it. On that mount, it is too shaky to take above about 80x. When I dovetail it to a Losmandy G11, I can take it to 250 or 300x, but of course I have to view at *crazy* angles.

What high quality fork or alt-az mount might I use here? The total wt is about 15 pounds, and something with tracking capabilities--like a Celestron or Meade fork mount for their SCTs--might serve me well. It can go on a doveplate, or, there are screwholes drilled in the sides of the mounting apparatus that holds the two OTAs. Suggestions?

April 18, 2004 10:37 PM Forum: Maksutovs

Which 'scope to buy?

Posted By Robert Howe

Hi everyone,

I seek a fine telescope for deep space work, visual for now but adding photographic capabilities in time. Let me describe my telescopes and problems below, I will ask which telescopes people recommend.

I now own or have access to an 11 inch Starmaster Dobsonian f/5.5; an AstroPhysics 155 EDFS f/7, 6.1 inch aperture; an AP 130 f/6 (5 inch), and my own Borg 100ED f/6.4 refractors binocular telescope (4 inches/eye).

I have been diligently comparing the deep sky performance of these very fine puppies this winter. The Starmaster is wonderful except for the prolonged cooldown time and the inability to track objects (although Sky Commander works surprisingly well to find things). It has the brightest views of DS objects but performs less well at altitudes below 40 degrees, and it is very clunky to move about. A big Dobsonian thus seems unlikely to meet my needs.

The APs are wonderful scopes but I cannot handle the 155 comfortably. Given that the eyepiece is located on the telescope's rump, I need to elevate my tripod (Losmandy G11 with Gemini) about a foot in order to see things to the south without lying on the ground. This is particularly important in the muddiness of a warm spring night. Thus the tube rings are at my head height. Putting this 23 pound telescope in its cradle is always a little bit scary, as I must carry it down three porch stairs and then lift it to head height; I fear that I will drop it someday and be left with $6000 worth of bent aluminum tubing and glass dust.

The 130 is much more tractable but of course lacks aperture for fine deep sky work. I intend to keep it as an all-purpose-except-grab-and-go telescope.

The Borgs are superior to the AP 130 for deep space, no doubt due to the binocular vision, but the larger apertures of the AP155 and Starmaster more than compensate perceptually for the binocular vision.

ITE sells a bunch of Maksutov-Cassegrains and Mak-Newts that may work for me. I have been lusting after the Intes Micro 8" f/6 MN 86, but it is almost twice as heavy and equally long as the AP155; does the EP being located in front solve my problem? The Intes MK 91 f/13.5 is also heavy, but shorter, so perhaps I need not raise the tripod, but it would seem to have a limited FOV. The Intes Micro Alter M703 7" F/10 Maksutov-Cassegrain, Intes Micro Alter M715 7" F/15 Maksutov-Cassegrain, Intes MN71 7" F/6 Maksutov-Newtonian and Intes Micro MN76 7" F/6 Maksutov-Newtonian all have some appeal.

Will any of these 7 inch telescopes give me deep sky performance similar to the 11 inch Starmaster? How will a 7 inch Mak-Newt or Mak-Cass telescope compare in performance with, say, a Celestron 9.25 or 11 inch Schmidt-Cass? How will it compare in usability to the AP 155?

What do you folks recommend? I will be very interested by your replies.

Best wishes, and thanks,

Robert Howe
Wilbraham MA

May 2, 2004 09:12 AM Forum: Astro-Physics

Pearls Sought for the Visual Use of AP155

Posted By Robert Howe

Hi Guys and Gals,

You all know I am fairly new to AP products, having bought a very recent 130 f/6 in September and a 1998ish 155 f/7 last month. I intend the smaller one for routine viewing (at which it excells) and the larger one to replace an 11 inch Dobsonian for deep sky use.

I have been doing comparisons for the last few nights and find that, even more so than the fabulous optics and views, my overiding impression of the 155 is of...difficulty of use. Bear with me, I love the views through this telescope. But on a Losmandy G11, the big refractor's EP is commonly near the ground. No problem, I'll just set the legs longer. Now, with the legs extended, the mount is so high that placing the OTA into the tube rings becomes a bit hazardous, as taking that weight up to my nose level is a bit of a challenge. It worries me that I will drop the OTA someday and be left with a multi K$ pile of glass dust and dented aluminum.

I'm pleased with the performance of the 155 on such deep space objects as I have viewed (the moon being fairly bright of late) and have worked out a routine for setting up in minimal time and effort (see below*), but I wonder if the aim of having a "killer optics" scope for DS use might be more safely met with a Mak-Next or Mak-Cass of similar aperture.

Any suggestions to make the AP155 easier to use? The previous owner suggested measuring the positions of the OTA in the rings and of the counterweight on its shaft, which has removed the need for balancing the telescope on the mount at each use. Other pearls, anyone?

Ciao

Robert

*Here's my routine.
Dinnertime, place AP and EP cases on back porch to cool. Place mount on back walk, with legs on marked locations for rough polar alignment, and level it. Place counterwieght on shaft at pre-measured height for specific telescope.

Dusk, before Polaris visible, open up tube rings with hinges down, place OTA to predetermined location, add diagonal, finder, EP, tighten everything down, fire up Gemini and use to view evening planets or moon.

Evening, after Polaris visible, place polar alignment scope, align carefully, cold-start Gemini and view night sky objects.

1 am, tear down.

May 2, 2004 09:19 AM Forum: Beginning Astronomy?

Pearls for using a big refractor

Posted By Robert Howe

Hi Guys and Gals,

I am fairly new to refractors, having seen my first world-class one last August; having got the bug, I bought a very nice 130 mm f/6 in September and a 155mm f/7 last month. I intend the smaller one for routine viewing (at which it excells) and the larger one to replace an 11 inch Dobsonian for deep sky use.

I have been doing comparisons for the last few nights and find that, even more so than the fabulous optics and views, my overiding impression of the 155 is of...difficulty of use. On a Losmandy G11, the big refractor's EP is commonly near the ground. No problem, I'll just set the legs longer. Now, with the legs extended, the mount is so high that placing the OTA into the tube rings becomes a bit hazardous, as taking that weight up to my nose level is a bit of a challenge. It worries me that I will drop the OTA someday and be left with a multi K$ pile of glass dust and dented aluminum.

I'm pleased with the performance of the 155 on such deep space objects as I have viewed (the moon being fairly bright of late) and have worked out a routine for setting up in minimal time and effort (see below*), but I wonder if the aim of having a "killer optics" scope for DS use might be more safely met with a Mak-Next or Mak-Cass of similar aperture.

Any suggestions to make the 155 easier to use? The previous owner suggested measuring the positions of the OTA in the rings and of the counterweight on its shaft, which has removed the need for balancing the telescope on the mount at each use. Other pearls, anyone?

Ciao

Robert

*Here's my routine.
Dinnertime, place telescope and EP cases on back porch to cool. Place mount on back walk, with legs on marked locations for rough polar alignment, and level it. Place counterwieght on shaft at pre-measured height for specific telescope.

Dusk, before Polaris visible, open up tube rings with hinges down, place OTA to predetermined location, add diagonal, finder, EP, tighten everything down, fire up Gemini and use to view evening planets or moon.

Evening, after Polaris visible, place polar alignment scope, align carefully, cold-start Gemini and view night sky objects.

1 am, tear down.

June 8, 2004 02:36 PM Forum: Solar System Observing

Interesting transit observations (western Mass)

Posted By Robert Howe

Saw the Transit from Western Mass, not Rome Italy as I had hoped--my wife put her foot down on the cost of the trip. Ready to roll and listening to Beethoven at 0450, using the moon to focus my 'scopes. Cloudy at sunrise, first views at 0536, no views at all 0545-0600, clouds disappearing 0600-0615, clear skies 0616 to final contact 0726. Had three 'scopes, an AP 130 with a white light filter and a Tak binoviewer & 19 mm Panoptics; a TV85 with a white light filter, 9 or 13 mm Nagler 6; and piggybacked to the TV, my double loaded Solar Max 40 with a Cemax 18mm on the 2x Cemax Barlow or plain 12 mm. I have for your discussion what I hope are several interesting observations.

First, on the trio of 'scopes, when the sun was red, between clouds but still very low (0536-0545) I could hardly find ol' Sol, atmospheric haze etc blocking so much of the sun light that the Orion white light filters filtered away everything.

Second, in clear skies on the white light filters there was a pronounced refraction ring around the Venusian image: with my diagonal so placed that Venus was moving towards the upper right, it had a distinct green band around from 8 to 1 o'clock and a red band from 1 to 6. 6 to 8 was clear. This increased as the planet approached the Solar limb. I presume this to be Venusian atmospheric diffraction but do not recall reading about this.

Third, the double mounted Max was not such a good idea (although I only figured this out driving home) as it of course reduced my visibility of the sun in HA early on. I should have started single loaded then added the second one after 0616.

Fourth, the binoviewer added little to my pleasure, my Universal Astronomics mount was inadequate to give me a perfectly still view (as my Gibraltar did for the tiny 'scopes) so I ended up almost bagging the AP and spent 90% of my viewing swapping between the TV and Max40.

Finally, the contacts were very different in the two scopes. In the TV, the upper edge of the planet developed a pronounced dewdrop effect, as I had expected; the lower edge of the contact remained crisp and sharply angled, just like that fabulous shot from New Jersey. On the Solar Max this did not occur, there was no smearing whatsoever. Contact 3 occurred about 40 seconds earlier in the TV than in the SMax, and contact 4, about a minute earlier in the TV (I could anticipate this by having the images at similar magnifications and seeing which was "closest" to the solar limb).

Presumably the dewdrop effect is an optical illusion...?!...and the SolarMax sees farther out into the gassiness of the Sun...

Who has comments/ proofs/ refutations of these observations?

Ciao

Robert Howe

June 17, 2004 06:38 AM Forum: Astro-Physics

Stowaway and Traveler

Posted By Robert Howe

Hello friends,

Given the highly-unlikely chance that one could find a second hand Traveler or f/7 Stowaway, which would be the better scope for general use and for travel? The Stowaway is of course lighter and has less aperture but I note on the AP website that the FLs, magnifications and FOVs are very similar. The finest telescopic view I have *ever* seen was the crescent moon and a single nearby star, through a Stowaway this spring. Does the Stowaway differ enough from the TeleVue 85, presently my travel scope, enough to warrant the change? All opinions will be gratefully received.

Robert Howe

July 21, 2004 10:08 PM Forum: Astro-Physics

What to choose?

Posted By Robert Howe

Hey gals and pals,

Presently I own a lovely AP130 f/6, perhaps 2 years old. This is my primary viewing instrument for all uses. I also have an 11 inch Starmaster for use on deep space objects, which I intend to replace in the next year with another Starmaster of larger diameter mirror.

My present travel scope is a TV85, which I am very fond of; also it has the advantage for travel of being expendable, for if damaged, it can be replaced, hopefully with insurance money, out of dealer stock. It seems a little small for anything but travel, however; and I wish it were even bigger for travel; while in the south recently, viewing objects such as Omega Centauri which I had never before seen, I yearned for another half inch of aperture.

Anyway, the AP130 is certainly not a scope to carry on vacation, nor to set up for a quick peek at the moon before dinner, so I have sought an AP refractor in the 100 mm range. Through friends I have access to purchase any of these three instruments: a Stowaway f/7, a recent Traveler, or an early 1990s AP 102mm, f/8. All are in fine optical condition. Each is within my budget, but *all* are not.

Given my needs, which one of these instruments would you buy, and why? Do I have anything to gain by getting any of them? The 102 is clearly not a travel instrument, but the FL being longer than the 130, might it be a better 'scope for routine use, esp. on planets? The aperture question would mitigate in favor of the Traveler, but the Traveler being FL600 or so makes it no better than the TV85 for quick peeks at Jupiter.

All opinions will be gratefully received.

Robert Howe

August 1, 2004 06:18 PM Forum: Coronado-Lunt-DayStar Solar Filters

What's the best product for Detailed Viewing?

Posted By Robert Howe

Hi all

I seek the optimum Coronado system for detailed solar viewing. I have a MaxScope 40, double loaded, which I like very much. The second etalon makes it possible to get a very narrow bandwidth. But I can't get it to magnify the sun the way a small refractor will, for example, magnify the moon. This leaves me in the lurch for detailed viewing of the surface of the sun.

When I take off the extra etalon, the bandwidth increases and the image gets much less compelling. So I am worried that a MaxScope 60 or 70 or even 90, single loaded, might not give me better views. Any ideas? Should I try one of these other animals, or put an etalon and Blocking filter on one of my nice refractors?

Robert Howe
Wilbraham MA