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Posts Made By: Kim Colter

April 20, 2002 04:13 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Which company ships scopes safely?

Posted By Kim Colter

Does anyone have an opinion about which of the major international shipping companies is best at handling well packed astronomy equipment with care?

May 1, 2002 09:16 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Measuring red shift

Posted By Kim Colter

Fairly frequently our astronomy club secretary who is also the Presidential award winning high school physics teacher brings the physics students out to my large Dob for a session of stargazing. I have been wondering what equipment would be necessary to actually measure redshift of objects. The large Dob is not a driven scope but I have other scopes that can be equatorially mounted and are capable of imaging. I think I heard that SBIG had some type of spectroscope for "us amateurs." Is it beyond reason to try to assemble the equipment for amateurs to attempt to measure red shift for purpose of education of students about how this information is actually obtained? How bright would an object have to be for one to gather enough light to create a spectrogram that would allow doing this? I am an absolute neophyte on this subject--armed with a spectrogram how does one know what the wavelengths are to know how much shift has occurred? I'm hoping that Maurice and some of the other physicists out there will weigh in on this one.

June 17, 2002 01:31 AM Forum: Star Parties

Only regrets/Grand Canyon star party

Posted By Kim Colter

My only regrets about a wonderful trip to the north rim version of the Grand Canyon Star Party were that I didn't get to meet Mark Rieck. Mark, I will simply have to come again. It was a joy to meet such nice people as Jim Mahon, Richard Wade, John Woodard, Nancy Christopherson, Karen and Delroy, and others. Jim and Richard did yeoman service on solar and eclipse version and I can say with certainty that they planted the seeds of astronomy fever in young and old alike. It isn't easy to maintain intense enthusiasm about solar prominence viewing for four and five hours in a row but Jim and Richard made sure that the 489th person to look through the scope got the same attention as the first. I heard at least two people say, "I never do things like this. When the folks back home hear that I took up with strangers and drove out to Cape Royal in the middle of the night to look through some strange guy's telescope they will think I went off the deep end..." The truth is that with this crowd no one is a stranger for long. New friendships were forged and may be the most enduring memory of this gathering.
The skies at the north rim and in Escalante are spectacular in the extreme. I can corroborate Jim's observation that we could both see M13 and M5 naked eye with a 3 day moon high in the sky--indeed I could see my shadow from the moon and M13 and M5 at the same time. The horizons from Cape Royal and from Grand Staircase/Escalante monument in southeastern Utah were much like I would imagine one would have in the middle of the ocean. What magical places these are!
Richard Wade's generosity with his 20 inch Dob had to be experienced to be believed. On the several occasions when I felt like I was taking over his instrument he would cackle his wonderful laugh and allow that he was having fun seeing me have so much fun. When you are with Jim Mahon you have have instant identification of everything that flies--B1B, B2 refueling on a tanker at night, C130, space shuttle, Iridium flare that had to be -7 or -8 out at Escalante.
John Woodard and his sister Nancy are wonderful people who educated us about flightless wasps in the desert, Tarantula wasps, Grand Canyon hiking, the Alaska marine highway where John works, as well as sharing their telescopes, water, and creating desert "banquets."
We also thank those on the South Rim for the laser light show at midnight on Wednesday. Sorry we didn't have the equipment to reciprocate.
A return to Midwestern skies on a "clear" day has reminded me of something Maurice Clark said in the observing forum about the difference between the skies in Perth, Australia and Minnesota. It is indeed a different kind of blue. Midwestern "blue" sky looks like "sky au lait" compared to the intense blue of the western desert or that of Southwest Australia. In two weeks out west I never saw a drop of dew.

June 24, 2002 07:01 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Takahashi finder brackets

Posted By Kim Colter

Can anyone tell me about the base of Takahashi finder brackets that attach to their scopes? I am wondering if a TAK 11X70 finder that I own could be attached to a Yang tube TMB scope that I own using a TAK bracket or whether I will have to stay with Losmandy rings to do so. If any one can supply the dimensions of the "foot" of a TAK finder bracket I would appreciate it. I note that TAK apparently makes both a single and double ring bracket for the 11X70 finder--does anyone know if the "foot" of both brackets is the same size? Many thanks for any help provided.

July 18, 2002 04:10 PM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Florida Panhandle seeing conditions

Posted By Kim Colter

Seeking experience of those who live in the Florida Panhandle. I have experienced the extraordinary planetary seeing conditions at WSP on two trips down there. Does the panhandle up around Pensacola experience such splendid seeing conditions? My father lives in Pensacola area now and I need to know if I should take my scope when I go for a visit (after the planets are back in the sky...) Thanks

August 15, 2002 03:19 PM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Pease 1

Posted By Kim Colter

My observing buddy, Mark Birkmann, and I convincingly saw Pease 1 last night. M15 was just west of the meridian, seeing was surprisingly good considering that a front had just passed through. The finder charts at were of inestimable value. It was best seen at mag of 586X. (9mm Nagler plus Paracorr in 40 inch f5 Dob.) Blinking with an OIII filter convinced us we were seeing the planetary. After the planetary was identified with the OIII filter it was possible to discern that it was different than the other stars in the cluster even when the filter wasn't used. Toughest part was trying to coordinate blinking the right portion of the globular cluster with the filter as it drifted through the field of view rather rapidly at such high magnification. This activity took place about 14 feet off the deck of the observatory. At one point I found myself leaning out a bit far from the ladder while making a series of passes while blinking and wishing I had moved the ladder a tad closer to the eyepiece. Mark used a different asterism than the one suggested at the blackskies website above. Pease 1 is located approximately halfway between a "double" star that is located NNE of the core of the globular on a line drawn from that optical double to the center of cluster. The optical double is itself halfway between two other stars that create an asterism that looks like a very short "T" with the short upright of the "T" pointing towards the center of M15. I would estimate that the separation between this "optical double" and Pease 1 is about 15 to 20 arc seconds. Finder chart 2 at the blackskies site shows both asterisms that can be used to starhop to Pease 1.

August 26, 2002 08:55 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Anybody own a StarChair?

Posted By Kim Colter

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who owns one of the 3000 series Starchairs manufactured in Adelaide, Australia. Have you mounted really large binoculars on it (greater than 100mm?) How responsive was the company? Any problems to date? Are you transporting it from place to place or leaving it in one location? Thanks

September 13, 2002 07:07 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing


Posted By Kim Colter

No, I can't say I have seen spokes in Saturn's rings. I have been seeing something in these stellar seeing conditions we have been having. What I see is primarily at the ansae and looks sometimes like the crepe ring has bled up on the B ring. Missouri has had an almost unprecedented run of clear steady early mornings that has seen me out 15 of the last 17 mornings for the 2 or 3 hours before dawn. On the best days I have been able to use 405X on Saturn with 7 inches of aperture without losing image quality. I wish I had been using larger aperture on some of these mornings.
I have seen the Voyager pictures of spokes. I would be interested in hearing from those who have seen them about what they saw, how they compared to the voyager pics, what aperture and magnification was needed to see them, etc. I know Kevin Barker has seen them and I am sure others have as well. Keep the stable air coming. In these early am hours I have been splitting 0.8 and 0.9 arc second doubles nicely. I need to find some .5 to .7 doubles that are well placed at that hour. Suggestions?
Kim Colter

September 21, 2002 12:56 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

TeleVue 2 inch Powermates

Posted By Kim Colter

I would be eager to hear from those who have used the 2" Televue Powermate Barlows, particularly the new 2X but also the 4X. I have been very pleased with the performance of the 1.25 inch Powermates. Are the 2 inch Powermates as good? If you use a TeleVue coma corrector in your f4 or f5 scope do you take it out when you use the 2 inch Powermate? Thanks
Kim Colter

November 13, 2002 09:04 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Futile hunt for Abell 7 in Lepus

Posted By Kim Colter

My observing buddy Bob Kirschenmann and I enjoyed an unusually splendid sky last night (for the Midwest in November.) While looking at the raspberry planetary in Lepus (IC 418) I noticed on the Keppler and Sanner deep sky cards the indicated location for Abel 7. I figured if it was on the cards it was probably within the reach of large aperture dobs--so--I put in the OIII filter and began what looked like an easy star hop to it from a bright star in the northwest corner of Lepus. I found the little nearby galaxy without too much difficulty. I noted that it was said to be quite large on the card, 700 X 700 arc seconds. I found some "faint nebulosity" in the area but hunted to the point of frustration for the planetary. Today I signed on and found Tom Polakis' excellent blacksky site with the entire gallery of astrophotos of the Abell planetaries. With averted vision looking at my monitor I think I saw Abell 7 in the photo gallery. I found another web site with a photo of it that had a line drawn to what looked like, well, nothing, on the photo.
Have others had a go at this planetary with any more success than we had? I really shouldn't include Bob in the failure to find this, he was down on the short ladder at the 12.5 finder without any OIII filter--he clearly didn't have a chance.
We did hunt down the "integral sign galaxy" and the other adjacent face on galaxy. They form a sort of miniature version of M81 and M82. Couldn't say I was able to see the warped ends of the integral sign galaxy. Bob wanted to nickname it the "copay" galaxy because of the twist he put his knee into on the ladder in order to see it--he figured medical attention might be necessary if he held this position for very long.
M42 was splendid and colorful, Bob found the horsehead in the big scope and in the 12.5 finder with aid of H beta filter.