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Posts Made By: Joplin Motisher-Chittenden

June 30, 2003 04:44 AM Forum: CCD Imaging and Processing/Solar System

Mars this morning

Posted By Joplin Motisher-Chittenden

I thought I would try out my new Philips ToUcam Pro webcam along with the adapter I bodged together for it yesterday. Used a Vixen FL80S (80mm F8 fluorite refractor), 2x barlow, and Baader UV-IR-cut filter. Used 25 frames averaged in Keith's Image Stacker (I'm on a Mac). Result was resampled in Photoshop 6 and sharpening and minor color correction applied. I can't wait to use this camera with my 10" newtonian !

July 3, 2003 02:16 PM Forum: Insects - Flowers and Other Small Stuff - Photos

Itsy bitsy spider

Posted By Joplin Motisher-Chittenden

A neat spider I spotted a while back while hiking.

September 17, 2003 03:37 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Celestron CGE1400 vs. CGE1100

Posted By Joplin Motisher-Chittenden

I have a friend that wants to purchase a large Goto Schimdt Cassegrain setup. At first he was interested in the Meade 14" LX200. I steered him away from that because of the weight (he needs to be able to set it up by himself). He has some interest in astrophotography so I made a recommendation of the CGE1400 ( Celetron C-14 and CGE equatorial goto mount). My main concern with that setup is that the mount may be stressed a bit for astrophotography once the standard widefield refractor, camera, etc are attached to the C-14. I'm thinking that a C-11 on the CGE mount or a comparable goto equatorial would probably be more practical in the long run. The cost limit is about $6K for the scope and mount. Any thoughts, recommendations, or experiences to relate would be appreciated.


November 14, 2003 11:37 PM Forum: Chinese Optics Imports

1278 First light observing report

Posted By Joplin Motisher-Chittenden

I thought you guys could use some good news regarding the 1278 scopes that have been delayed in shipping. I drove to Knoxville today (360 miles round trip from Greenville, SC) and picked up my 1278. It is at this moment set up and tracking Saturn in my front yard. Unfortunately the clouds have rolled in and there isn't much too see right now so I'm inside posting this message. I did get some really nice views of Saturn, Mars, and Gamma Andromedae before the clouds rolled in. Despite so-so seeing the optical performance of this scope looks to be excellent with only minimal color fringing on bright objects. I haven't looked through very many achromatic refractors but it appears to show much less color fringing than a Meade AR6 (to be expected) and not that much more than a Meade 5" ED refractor that I have looked through a number of times. Also, the focuser on this scope is excellent, it has a solid and smooth feel to it and has no trouble holding a couple pounds of 2" diagonal and eyepiece. The scope came with the 50mm finder and bracket as well as a 1.25" mirror diagonal, and a pair of tube rings. Bill offered me a Vixen/ CG-5 dovetail plate for the scope but I didn't need it. Last but not least, it came with the now infamous thumbscrews that attach the rings to the dovetail plate/ etc. So the good news is that the optical quality is fine (at least on my sample). The bad news is that the delay in shipping is due to a pair of little thumbscrews. The factory FedExed the thumbscrews on Monday the 10th so they should arrive very soon. I was lucky enough to get the last 2 screws he had from a visit to the factory. Of course Bill is still going to ship the 2" diagonal and fine focus unit when they arrive. Sorry for the long post, I'm also going to post some images of the scope.


November 16, 2003 08:54 AM Forum: Chinese Optics Imports

1278 Observing Report from SC

Posted By Joplin Motisher-Chittenden

I had the 1278 out last night for a multi-club dark sky observing session in the Sumter National Forest. The conditions were good to excellent with high, thin clouds drifting by at times. First target was Vega, which was a bit obove the trees in the west. I used it to adjust the finderscope then inserted a 7mm Pentax XL eyepiece for 142x magnification. Vega appeared as a brilliant white orb surrounded by a dim violet halo. I headed over to the Ring Nebula and was surprized by the contrast of the image. The ring structure was very clearly defined as well as some irregularities in it (no filter was used). The Dumbell Nebula was also quite nice and revealed a hint of texture/ structure. I couldn't wait any longer at this point - I had to check out Mars. I raised the power to 220x (9mm ortho, 2x barlow) and observed some well defined albedo features and the minisicule polar cap. I ran the power up to 275x (3.6mm Apogee Easy View) and was very impressed. The image was only beginning to break down under seeing conditions that were only average. I decided to drop the power down to 33x and hunt down some clusters, etc. with my 30mm 1rpd 80deg. eyepiece. First was the double cluster, always a favorite of mine the two clusters were stunning and well framed within the 2.37deg. field of view. Again, the contrast of the image was startling and the colorful stars in and between the clusters were quite beautiful. Next was the Veil Nebula (same eyepiece and an Orion Ultrablock filter) which was quite nice despite some thin clouds in that area of the sky. I also gave M31 in Andromeda, M36 and M38 in Auriga, the Pleiades, and M42 in Orion a good look. I needed a good dose of globular cluster at this point so I set the scope on M15 in Pegasus with the 7mm (142x) it was quite nice with a few individual stars resolved. I also had a look at it with a nearby Takahashi 250mm Mewlon Dall-Kirkham which of course blew the 1278 away, but that is to be expected when you compare a scope to one with twice the aperture and 20x the price. Next was the double star Zeta Aquarii, which was nicely split at 142x. I had the Mewlon beat here since the seeing conditions had deteriorated a bit and the image in it was a mess :-)
At this point Saturn was rising above the trees in the East. The image was a mess at first due to the seeing but gradually settled down as Saturn rose in the sky. Saturn showed only a hint of a Violet halo and revealed some nice ring structure and a couple cloud bands on the disk at 220x. Last object observed was the last quarter moon which was obscured at times by the clouds that were moving in. The image was nice at 50x but the seeing was terrible down low in the sky. The moon showed the characteristic thin violet or green halo on either side of focus one would expect from an achromat.


November 21, 2003 02:03 PM Forum: Chinese Optics Imports

RA finder mod. for stock 1278 finder

Posted By Joplin Motisher-Chittenden

Some how I ended up with two identical 50mm finders for my 1278 (both the stock 7x50 straight type). Even with my rather large mount for the 1278 (dovetail saddle is nearly at eye level) I have to kneel on the ground to view through the finder at zenith. This leaves two options, move the finder further up tube or mount a right angle finder to it. Since I have two of these finders I decided to modify one to take the standard 1.25" diagonal that came with the scope. It was actually not that difficult since the helical threaded eyepiece holder has an I.D. just a bit smaller than 1.25"
I couldn't get the objective cell off the finder so I unscrewed the helical eyepiece holder from the other end and cut off a 70mm section of the tube. Then I chucked the helical eyepiece holder in a drill press between the chuck and a rubber sanding drum attachment. I ran the drill press at low speed and carefully held a coarse file to it to take down the threading so it would sleeve fit in the chopped down finder tube. I used a small grinding attachment in the drill press at higher speed to take down the threads inside the helical eyepiece holder so it would accept the 1.25" diagonal. Last step was to tap a small thread for a setscrew. The best part is that it will accept better crosshair eyepieces or the stock eyepiece once you clean the helical grease off of it.


December 8, 2003 06:13 PM Forum: Digital SLR AstroPhotography

Coolpix / Pentax XL adapter

Posted By Joplin Motisher-Chittenden

I thought I'd post some images of a an adapter I made a while back to fit my 28mm threaded Nikon Coolpix 995 to my Pentax XL 7mm eyepiece. I used a couple plumbing parts and step rings. It is a tight friction fit around the eyepiece's rubber grip ring. It also allows the entire zoom range of the 995 to be used without vignetting.

December 25, 2003 05:57 PM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

Starling and Cat

Posted By Joplin Motisher-Chittenden

I was at a relative's house for Christmas dinner, peering out the window at the Starling flock feasting on the feeders. I turned around at one point and heard a tremendous clank against the window. Evidently a cat had scared the birds and one had flown smack into the window. The stunned starling sat with its legs outstretched on the porch while the cat curiously walked around it. The bird wouldn't even so much as twitch and the cat didn't know what to do. I snapped a couple images with my digital camera, then went outside to see whether the bird was injured. I made a few steps towards it, then it flew up to a high branch on a nearby tree, evidently uninjured.

Merry Christmas,


February 19, 2004 02:46 PM Forum: Wildlife Photography

Sun dog and wispy clouds

Posted By Joplin Motisher-Chittenden

I noticed this sun dog while cleaning out my car and took a few images with the Coolpix.

February 28, 2004 12:21 PM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker ?

Posted By Joplin Motisher-Chittenden

This bird really liked the sap in this maple tree. It was pretty oblivious to me as I was less than 20 feet away with my conspicous red Tasco 9VR and Coolpix camera. I'm assuming that it is a Yellow Bellied since the yellow on the underside was quite obvious when the bird was in the sun.