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Posts Made By: Rick Wiseman

September 1, 2004 06:46 AM Forum: Solar System Observing

What did I see last night?

Posted By Rick Wiseman

About 30 minutes after sunset, as I was setting up my scope, I observed a silvery-white hazy object in the southwest. It was about the size of a large jet, moving about the same speed. In 7x50 binoculars, it would not resolve into a solid object, but was somewhat linear brighter on the ends, and looked like it was seen through fog. You could see stars through it. The cloud slowed as it neared the zenith and became larger, to about 1 degree, approximately square. It dimmed and disappeared. What did I see? Some unusual reflection from a cloud? It moved like a smoke ring, slowing, getting larger and finally dissipating.

Anybody else see it? I live in western Ohio.

November 19, 2004 06:01 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

Modify Meade DS-90 for 1-1/4" EPs

Posted By Rick Wiseman

Does anyone know if you can buy a different backplate for the focuser tube on a Meade DS-90 EX refractor, so I can use my 1-1/4" eyepieces? The scope originally was made for .965" eyepieces (3 EPs, Barlow and diagonal provided with scope.)

Are all the DS-90s this way?

The views are pretty good with the .965" eyepieces, but I knwo they would be much better with 1.25s.

Thanks for your help.


December 8, 2004 08:06 AM Forum: Beginning Astronomy?


Posted By Rick Wiseman

Many articles and forum posts come with disclaimers - "This was beautiful in my Teleview using a 31mm Nagler " or "I live in New Mexico, where good seeing is common", or "You can only see this object in scopes larger than a 12"."

All the astrophotos we see are long-exposure, beautiful images, about which everyone admits "you won't see this with the naked eye through the eyepiece?" (This, incidentally, was recently the subject of legal procedure against a large telescope maker.) Will anyone make astro-photos that look just like we see it?

There's a sense of frustration, here.

I want to read reports of the beautiful objects I can see through light pollution with my cheap 3-1/2" achromat refractor. In reading the forums, I sense there are a lot of people out there in the same boat.

Kudos to the Astromart editor for recognizing this and making the recent change to add the forum sections "After Dark" and "Beginners". So all you "poor boys" and "newbies", living in the 'burbs - post on these forums! And be sure to be descriptive!

February 2, 2005 09:12 AM Forum: Telescope Making

Making Finder Scope out of old 7 x 50 Binos

Posted By Rick Wiseman

I have an old pair of 7 x 50 binos from the late 1960's. The focuser casting broke and the eyepieces fall out! These were my first astro binoculars and the optics are coated and pretty good. I don't want to just toss them out, and I could use a better finder scope, maybe using the prisms to make a 90 degree finder scope.

Are there any plans how to make such a beast? Any help on disassembling the old binos?

You help is appreciated. grin

Rick Wiseman

February 11, 2005 06:00 AM Forum: After Dark

Million stars around M35

Posted By Rick Wiseman

I had out my 4.5" f5 reflector last night, and took a look at M35 at medium power (12.5mm EP). Wow! A million stars filled my field of view.

I could see the little NGC open cluster next to M35, but both open clusters seemed to blend into the background stars.

I also checked out Orion's sword then turned around to the northwest and looked at the Cassieopeia (spelling?) OC's and the Double Cluster. What a riot of stars.

It's been a long, cloudy Winter.

Rick Wiseman

February 28, 2005 06:26 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

M81 and M82

Posted By Rick Wiseman

We had a clear evening Saturday here in Ohio. I was delighted to find M81 and M82 for the first time. They were both easy to find in my 90mm refractor at 80x.

I thought M82 was the neater of the two. The edge-on appearance was new for me, and a few of the little filaments were occasionally visible. M81 looked quite large with averted vision. The elliptical shape was clear, but no brightening of spiral arms.

I need to find a darker observing site.

My son came out and we looked at Mizar for a minute. Then Polaris, but he wasn't able to see the dim secondary star. Then I aimed south and found Nu-1 CMa, which is a nice little double.

M47 was beautiful, but still no joy with M46. M46 looked wonderful last winter in my 4.5" - f5 reflector. I think the magnification in the refractor is too high, and it gives too narrow a field of view.

The Moon came up about 9:00, and the sky became way too bright for DSOs. I was getting cold and went in, but we had a nice session.

Rick Wiseman

March 15, 2005 11:15 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Great night for observing

Posted By Rick Wiseman

Sunday I noticed that the clouds had cleared off after dark and decided to take a look. I asked my daughters if they wanted to see Jupiter and Saturn through the telescope.

I used the 90mm refractor at 40X, 80X, and 133X. The seeing was very good, and the clarity was excellent. My daughter easily found "the Little Dipper" - the Visual Limiting Magnitude was around 6. The street lights in town weren't lighting up any haze or fog in the sky tonight.

Started out with Jupiter, 133X showed the excellent seeing even though it was only about 20 deg. elevation in the southeast. I could only detect a little waviness in the image. The equatorial bands showed dimension and many narrow bands were easily visible toward the poles. I could probably use higher power this night.

Saturn was very well placed about 10 degrees from the zenith. 40X showed lots of brightish background stars near the planet. At 133X the shadow of the planet on the rings was the best ever (near quadrature). Also For the first time I saw the Cassini division around the rings easily.

I didn't want to bore my daughter. She was generous and said I should look at whatever I had planned. So we identified a few constellations and discussed who originally picked the constellation names and shapes. She named the large triangle of stars at south end of Canis Major and brighter stars curving eastward into Puppis "a broken sword".

CMa: Found M41 at 40X, nice and bright at 80X.

Pup: My daughter saw "millions of stars" in M46 at 80X before I did. She has better vision than I have. M46 was the best I've ever seen. We looked for a long time. I didn't observe the NGC2438 planetary nebula in M46, but I should have paid more attention. I probably would have found it. M47 was much brighter but sparser than M46. The little open cluster NGC2423 just north of M47 was easy.

Gem: M35 was beautiful and bright at 80X, richer than M47. My daughter noted many double stars in the cluster. The nearby open cluster NGC2158 was easy to see at 80X.

I hunted in Leo at 40X and found M65 and M66 for the first time. But I didn't see the third NGC galaxy in the triangle, I was probably looking in the wrong place. The two galaxies seemed fairly dim at first, but it was very easy to keep both in same FOV. Switching to 80X helped a lot, and darkened the background. Both looked like narrowish ellipses and were easy to see.

Hunted in Ursa Major at 40X again and found M81 and M82. M81 was obviously bigger and brighter than M65, M66, and M82. Changing to 80X the darker background helped a lot again. I noted the arrangement of the four stars to the 'left' of M81. Also noted the bright core, but not as much of the elliptical form was visible as in an earlier observation. I would do well to spend a longer time on this. M82 at 80X showed its familiar shape. These two galaxies were crossing the meridian as I observed them.

A great night and I was happy my teenage daughter got to observe with me. Thanks for reading my long-winded report.

Rick W
McCartyville, Ohio

March 31, 2005 09:53 AM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

A little frustrated

Posted By Rick Wiseman

Last night's observing turned out to be somewhat frustrating with a lot of "did not finds". We had a fairly bright sky with poor transparency, seeing was not that good and some scattered clouds moved in. I was able to adjust my observing to avoid the clouds.

I started out hunting around in CVn at 40X for M51 and M94, but I couldn't find either.

My daughter came out, so I moved to Saturn. We did see a nice 3D effect due to the shadow of the planet on the rings.

At the Pleiades my daughter noted many doubles and triples. She described a "river" of about 7 dimmmer stars in a bent line toward the southwest.

We moved to M42 but weren't able to trace it very far because of conditions. My daughter finally picked out the Trapezium and also saw M43. The brighter double near Iota Ori was clear at 40X. At 80X, both the brighter and dimmer doubles were easy to see.

At 40X We were able to see Sigma Ori as a bright double, with a wider, dimmer double close by. At 80X we could easily see the third star in Sigma. Nice star grouping.

I moved to CVn again and searched at 40X for M51 quite a while, but no joy. Is that thing really there, or are you guys making it up? Actually the bright skies and poor transparency smoked it.

I aimed at Mizar and Alcor in UMa. My daughter was not aware of the naked eye double in the handle of the Big Dipper. She thought that was pretty cool. But she also saw that Mizar is a very bright double itself in the scope.

Went back to CVn and searched for M94 some more. I finally found a small dim smudge of nucleus at 40X. But I could not recover the galaxy when I switched to 80X due to the poor transparency. I found a nearby asterism that I will call the "fish" or "kite". It is diamond shaped with a single star for a tail, with all the stars about the same magnitude. There is a nice double at the top apex. I will use this in the future to help find M94.

While searching for M94, I discovered that Alpha CVn is itself a nice bright double. It reminded me of Mizar, although it's not as bright. It has a similar separation and difference in brightness between the primary and secondary.

My daughter and I spent time looking at the Messier open clusters in Aur and Gem. Even these were a little affected by the deteriorating seeing.

I guess the lesson I should take is to forget about DSO's on marginal viewing nights.

Rick Wiseman
90mm refractor

April 19, 2005 12:19 PM Forum: Solar System Observing

Solar system objects at dusk

Posted By Rick Wiseman

I posted most of my recent posts under the Deep Sky Observing. Last night I noticed that the sky was not completely cloud-free and the moon was shining brightly. No deep sky observing tonight.

I have heard that observing the moon and planets during dusk would cut down the glare, and result in a better view, so I decided to try that. I set up my 90mm refractor right in the front driveway. No worries or cussing about street lights or stray headlights from passing traffic! I set up with a 12.5mm eyepiece (80X). It is notable that I did not have to use my 25mm eyepiece at all this night.

I aimed first at the 11 day old moon. The fine features I saw were simply fantastic! Large craters ranging from Copenicus, Clavius, Tycho, Plato, Archimedes, and too many others to name. The arc of smaller craters within Clavius was easily visible at 80X and also a short straight rille or line of hills stretched away from the peaks. Drowned craters at the edges of Mares Imbrium and Tranqulitatum. Many tiny craters within the maria and the rippled surface of Mare Imbrium. Also a tiny mountain peak in the lower left side of Imbrium. I spent a long time observing the moon, and never saw (or paid attention to) any yellow or purple fringes from my achro refractor.

Then I aimed the scope towards Saturn. I found it at 80X using the guide scope. It was still dusk and I could barely see Titan above and slightly right of the planet. But the detail was wonderful. The shadow of the planet on the rings and 3D effect were clearly visible. Switching to 133X, and could still see details clearly. I thought about going to higher power using my older .965" eyepieces, but I didn't go for them. The Cassini division was razor sharp all around the rings, and the shadow of the rings on the planet came in and out of view. I also saw the dusky area toward the pole on the yellowish disc for the first time.

It was getting steadily darker, and I aimed at Jupiter in the southeast sky. Again, I found it using the guide scope at 80X. As with Saturn, tonight's was probably the best view I have ever had. Three moons were visible, one must have been occulted or in transit. Two on one side, one relatively distant on other side. The cloud bands and zones were very clear on the planet. The wide dark bands flanking the equator had wavy details visible at their edges. The darker bands were visible toward the poles. The was some particular dark detail at the edge of the lower band, away from the equator. Red spot or moon shadow? Couldn't tell.

I told the guys at work this morning, that the things I saw last night were cool enough to give a guy a woo--- , well, you know what I mean.

In the recent past, I have been spending most of my observing time searching for DSO's, and shunning the nights when the moon was bright. Now I will probably change my observing habits to include more of these carefree dusk sessions looking at solar system objects.

Rick Wiseman

August 19, 2005 12:00 PM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Near Full Moon Nights

Posted By Rick Wiseman


What do you all do when the moon is near full? Deep sky is out. No planets positioned well for observation. Even looking at the moon itself is not very interesting!

Don't you hate it when those rain clouds move out, and the sky looks so clear and blue, and then you see the big round moon rising in the east?