New member introduction

  • mjc
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Hi fellow members

I joined this site - I think end of December - and just want to introduce myself. I'm mjc in D15. I observe only from my back garden.

About a year ago my other half bought me an ETX 70 from one of the german discount stores - knowing that I was interested in astronomy - more reading of than practising.

I have to say that it was the best value for money I could have imagined. I backed up the acquisition with a Meade LPI shortly afterwards. I have to qualify this to highlight that I have had problems with using the ETX 70 and at times was frustrated to the point of wanting to do a John Cleese and wacking it with a tree branch. Same goes for the software - but value for money I have had.

Once I decided that I was prepared to deal with the frustrations that this hobby has I decided to upgrade - I sourced a Skywatcher 203mm aperture Newt on Dobsonian mount from the UK. It's not large - it's respectable - but I have to say it somewhat startled the other half for its size. To be true, I have to say that I was taken aback a little as well. The comforts of the goto scope where missed. I had an increased appreciation of those among us that are so familiar with the sky that they can star hop and are comfortable with the nudgings that Dobsonian mounts require. I find that there is added difficulty in navigation with light polluted skies. I bought a couple of books and read of such practices as "Messier Marathons" - which is not for me - but after a period of time relalized what joy it must bring to those who engage in this (but it still doesn't ring my bell). It must be great to be so familiar with the sky that one can navigate it with such ease.
However, I do believe that this practice is more for those who drive to dark sites and not for the surburban gardens (please correct me if you feel that I'm wrong). Following my experience with the LPI (I had great joy in imaging the moon, Jupiter and Saturn) I relalised that eyeballing is not my primary goal. This is for a couple of reasons.
1) It's easier to share the experience/hobby with a captured image than to expect someone to particiapate at an actual obseravational session.
2) With taking images one can actually do metrics - measure relative magntudes (variable stars etc) do spectrocscopy etc. (haven't really attained this with the LPI - but hope to do so going forward) - I've captured the spectrum (with ETX 70) of Vega with a diffraction grating but soon realised that the Bayer Matrix on chip makes life awkward in quantitive analysis. Also - in my experience - chromatic aberration was quite observable as well.

As my interest grew so did my technological demands - I have recently sourced and obtained an EQ6 Pro mount to which I mounted the OTA of the earlier Dobsonian purchase (and, boy, is the weight of this mount a challenge for a non-manual type of person). I have ordered - and hope to receive tomorow an Atik 16-IC imager.
I have great expectations of what this will allow compared to what I could achieve with the LPI. I've started to play with EQMOD and I'm impressed thus far and the hand controller will likely be history from here onwards.

It is my, tentative plan to remove my ETX 70 from its current ALT/Az fork mount and use it as an autoguider scope alongside my 203mm on the EQ6 Pro Mount using PHP of which I have had a brief exposure. Initally I intend to use the LPI as guide camera - but only if the EQ6 Pro is unable to track accuratly enough over a 2 minute exposure subframe (my tentative threshold). I realise that the LPI will be limited in this role but I think I'd like to "reuse" as much as possible before replacement.

I still have to work out how to do that.

In summary, my interest in astronomy is this, I wish to empirically confirm, by myself, some of the stuff that we read about. I want to experience some of this wonder myself - and maybe get a few good pictures/images in the process.

At present I can't say that I really know where I'm going - but I feel that I'm not far from the mark and haven't made a really bum call yet.

Clear skies to you all.

14 years 1 month ago #76535

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Replied by Frank Ryan on topic Re:New member introduction

Hi Mjc.
Welcome to the boards.
Your beginnings into astrophotography are quite typical
for someone set to succeed.
You've overcome the frustrations of cheap scopes,
bought a little bigger even though there were obviously
raised eyebrows in your household,
learned the basics with the basic gear and now moving
on and re-using the old gear.

I'm glad your happy to say that astrophotography is your
choice over visual observing.
I'm caught between the two with a high bias
towards visual observing but each to their own and that's
what makes this hobby great. The diversity of areas within it.

There are some very experienced and talented deep sky astrophotographers
whom are members of this board and you will learn a lot from
them here if you ask.

When I joined these boards 5 years ago I thought any kind of
astrophotography was well beyond my reach but the feedback
and constructive criticism I got from these guys really
helped and encouraged me to keep going and at least now
I'm not afraid to at least give something a go.

You say you have light pollution issues.
How bad are they?
I now some of the lads image from Dublin and still get
amazing results.
There are a lot of new filters on the market and techinques
in processing to help you get the best results so unless
you are in a very lit up area you should be grand.
(I'm assuming from your gear & post it's deep sky your interested in)

all the best- looking forward to seeing how you go.
My Astrophotography
Shannonside Astronomy Club __________________________________________
Meade ETX-125PE, Bresser 10 x 50 Binos & Me Peepers
14 years 1 month ago #76540

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  • DaveGrennan
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Replied by DaveGrennan on topic Re:New member introduction

Hey Mjc,

Your most welcome. Its great to see someone who has made sensible choices as far as your first steps are concerned. Often people spend lots of money on a poor choice of equipment and end up here because they can't use the kit.

I note your first tentative steps in spectroscopy. I'm currently building a high resolution spectroscope. I also note you have encountered the challenges of a bayer matrix. At least you now know this so when you do decided to step up a gear with your camera you will avoid a single shot colour camera in favour of a monochrome imager which avoids all of those issues.

When your ready to do a bit of autoguiding you will find lots of help from others who have been down that road already so don;t be afraid to ask.

Don't knock the LPI/EQ6 as an autoguiding setup. Only very expensive mounts can do 2 minutes unguided so don;t let that be your benchmark. Once autoguiding you will be able to do 2 minutes and a lot more. The key thing you need to get sorted is rigidly attaching the guidescope to the main scope any flexure at all will deliver poor results. So get this right and PHD will look after the rest.
Best Wishes,

Regards and Clear Skies,

J41 - Raheny Observatory.
Equipment List here
Last edit: 14 years 1 month ago by DaveGrennan.
14 years 1 month ago #76549

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Replied by calchas on topic Re:New member introduction

Hi mjc

I'm also fairly new, so won't add much the good advice from the guru's here. However I have also joined the IAS and we meet in Dunsink mounthly. There is a meeting tonight and all are welcome. I live in Holystown D15 and use my back garden but am starting to think of getting to dark sites now and then.

All the best
14 years 1 month ago #76550

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Replied by michaeloconnell on topic Re:New member introduction

Hi mjc,

welcome aboard!

14 years 1 month ago #76552

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Replied by mjc on topic Re:New member introduction

Thanks to all peeps for the welcome.

In answer to Barberskum - I'm probably painting a poorer light pollution picture than I intended and I'm not too concerned about impact in imaging. While it varies (moisture in the atmosphere?) - and looking back at some of my observations - I reckon that I can often see mag 4 (naked eye) keeping reasonably high altitude and not too far from the meridian. I've seen mag 9 M57 through my 8" Dob - but it was hard to find. It doesn't help, of course, that I'm never dark adapted when viewing from the back garden. Maybe another motivation for explorations into CCD imaging. Light tresspass and poor discipline being the culprets (and not necessarily in that order).

DaveGrennan - I thank you for your comments - I realise that rigidity/flexure is the the demon that haunts guiding.
I saw a great presentation / web video by Craig Stark that emphasised this - see "Guiding on the Cheap".


I think it was this that finally clinched it with me to download PHD - which I only validated to work with my mount via EQMOD and verified that it works with the LPI. I haven't done any actual guiding yet.

I might engage you in a conversation on spectroscopy - this rings my bell.
I wish to do a little more experimentation with my defraction grating. Is there a forum-category where we can discuss spectroscopy a little?

Calchas - thanks for the pointer to IAS and the regular Dunsink meet - I shall consider both.

14 years 1 month ago #76589

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