An Amateur (Hardly that even) Astronomers Plight...

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votefornimitz

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Haven't been around recently, you can thank my "Assign ~140 problems a night" Pre-Calc teacher for that, but I am having difficulty with some astronomy things.....<br /><br />Up until recently, I would survey the night sky ( 9pm, coordinates ~30,-81) with binoculars, determining which of the 13 brightest stars visible from the northern hemisphere were visible that night. I had plans on buying a 150$ Meade telescope, but was given an old telescope buy my Uncle 20 minutes before I made the trip to Walmart to get the Meade telescope. <br /><br />The telescope works well, but it puts me in sort of a dilemma, as I am clueless as to where anything I could see via the telescope is in the night sky, save the moon, and on certain nights Venus. Sky charts are less than helpful, and factoring in the Earths rotation, practically useless. Anyone know of a website or anything that will let me know the altitude and azimuth of the major viewable objects at a given time, rather than general quantities for them?<br /><br />Any help is greatly appreciated.... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <span style="color:#993366">In the event of a full scale nuclear war or NEO impact event, there are two categories of underground shelters available to the public, distinguished by depth underground: bunkers and graves...</span> </div>
 
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Boris_Badenov

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Hi VFN, Iwondered if you were getting tortured by a teacher or if you got suckered into a visit to Vogons lab. <img src="/images/icons/crazy.gif" /><br /><br />Try this site.<br /><br /> Dark Sky Finder — a web tool for stargazing <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#993300"><span class="body"><font size="2" color="#3366ff"><div align="center">. </div><div align="center">Never roll in the mud with a pig. You'll both get dirty & the pig likes it.</div></font></span></font> </div>
 
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votefornimitz

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Thanks, I'll give it whirl this morning when Venus is really visible...<br /><br />And Pre-Calc is easy, just with that amount of problems, the time consumed almost isn't worth the completion grades given on the homework... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <span style="color:#993366">In the event of a full scale nuclear war or NEO impact event, there are two categories of underground shelters available to the public, distinguished by depth underground: bunkers and graves...</span> </div>
 
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Boris_Badenov

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Here's another one.<br /><br /> Your Sky <br /><br />Calculus has always been beyond me. The best I've ever done has been Algebra. I just finished the Real Estate Salesperson class at the local Community Collage & I did well at the math because I payed attention to Algebra in High School oh so many years ago. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#993300"><span class="body"><font size="2" color="#3366ff"><div align="center">. </div><div align="center">Never roll in the mud with a pig. You'll both get dirty & the pig likes it.</div></font></span></font> </div>
 
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votefornimitz

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Thanks, stopping by to let you all know I found my problem...<br /><br />Turns out there is so much light pollution in my area, on the 2 brightest stars of Ursa Minor are visible to the naked eye.... And when I was searching for Polaris, I was looking North, trying to discern the outline of Ursa Minor...<br /><br />Eventually I found what I though was Polaris, so I kept my telescope trained on it for two hours to gauge its movement... <br />It didn't move much, so I concluded it was Polaris... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <span style="color:#993366">In the event of a full scale nuclear war or NEO impact event, there are two categories of underground shelters available to the public, distinguished by depth underground: bunkers and graves...</span> </div>
 
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yevaud

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Heya Nim! How's it shaking? We were wondering where you were. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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votefornimitz

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Chaotic....<br />I'd always heard 11th grade IB was the worse...<br />Even still I was surprised by the rigor of what we are doing...<br />Ironically enough, my grades are better than they ever have been....<br /><br />How are things up there for you?<br /><br />This whole thread started when I decided that if I am going to major in Astrophysics I should have atleast some clue (understatement) of where things are up in the sky, so I went out cataloging with a cheap pair of binoculars...<br />Now I've upgraded to a cheap telescope...<br /><br />On that night, I tried digiscoping some pictures of the Pleiades, but was getting blank black images... Any idea how to get actual images out it? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <span style="color:#993366">In the event of a full scale nuclear war or NEO impact event, there are two categories of underground shelters available to the public, distinguished by depth underground: bunkers and graves...</span> </div>
 
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yevaud

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Yes. Astro-photography requires very sensitive film (at least ASA 400 minimum) and very long exposure times.<br /><br />Suggestion: see if there is a "public night" at a local University's Observatory (I worked for mine on those nights). They usually have no problem with amateurs they have gotten to know making use of their facilities.<br /><br />Also, if you want to prepare in well in advance, access MIT's Open Courseware. You can take their Astronomy courses free and with no real pressure to yourself. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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votefornimitz

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Thanks for the MIT page, unfortunately I am going to need a bit of calculus for their introduction to astronomy course, and I am only 9 weeks into PreCalc...<br /><br />And I thought <url> Digiscoping </url> could be done with a simple digital camera, thats not the case? <br />Otherwise I am going to have to pay 100-600$ for one of those cameras that attaches to the telescopes eyepiece.... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <span style="color:#993366">In the event of a full scale nuclear war or NEO impact event, there are two categories of underground shelters available to the public, distinguished by depth underground: bunkers and graves...</span> </div>
 
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yevaud

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There are versions of digital cameras that have adjustable exposure times, up to <i>very</i> long exposure times. Unfortunately, I can't remember the models. Sorry. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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billslugg

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Most any camera can take a picture through a telescope, assuming you can get it mounted somehow, the PROBLEM then becomes focusing. If you have a single lens reflex, you can look through the eyepiece. If you have no SLR you can mount the camera, open the back, put a piece of ground glass on the film plane, focus, install film and shoot away. If you have a disposable camera you are pretty much out of luck because they only focus down to about 5 feet and only with really good light and great depth of field. The apparent distance of the image viewed through the eyepiece of a telescope is usually about 2 feet.<br /><br />Do not forget now, if you are going to take a flash picture of the moon, you must wait 5 seconds after you trigger the flash before you open the shutter. Don't blame me if it doesn't come out! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p> </div>
 
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adrenalynn

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So much to cover for astrophotography, so much to cover.<br /><br />If your telescope doesn't track, you'll have to learn to "guide". Otherwise, everything will be a blur from sky movement.<br /><br />You can use a free program like Registax to stack shorter images together, capturing more light and detail through piling images on top of each other.<br /><br />You're going to want to start with something very bright. The moon or mars or venus.<br /><br />Start with a low power lens (if you're doing through-the-lens photos). You can also do afocal - attaching the camera to the telescope without a lens. Effectively, the telescope is the lens, directing light directly on to the imager.<br /><br />If you have a tracking scope, you can also "piggyback" your camera. Mounting it to the scope with the camera's own lens and the scope's motor.<br /><br />Tell us about your scope? What is it? Brand, size, etc? What lenses do you have available to you? Anything like a Barlow doubler or tripler?<br /><br />Also, tell us about your camera? Make and model?<br /><br />Astrophotography is one of the most involved and difficult passions I've ever undertaken. Also one of the most rewarding. We'll getcha started once we figure out what you're working with! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>.</p><p><font size="3">bipartisan</font>  (<span style="color:blue" class="pointer"><span class="pron"><font face="Lucida Sans Unicode" size="2">bī-pär'tĭ-zən, -sən</font></span></span>) [Adj.]  Maintaining the ability to blame republications when your stimulus plan proves to be a devastating failure.</p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000"><font color="#ff0000">IMPE</font><font color="#c0c0c0">ACH</font> <font color="#0000ff"><font color="#c0c0c0">O</font>BAMA</font>!</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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yevaud

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He apparently has a "cheap" 'scope with no motor drive, and a digital camera with insufficient exposure time. He made that quite clear. It's very simple, really. Without the buckaroolos to purchase a better one with a drive and a far better camera, he should really associate himself with a local observatory or a very good Astronomy club. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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adrenalynn

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Agreed! But there are lots of fun things to start off photographing. The moon offers lots of opportunity. The colored disks of venus or mars.<br /><br />It can help build the passion to the point that, in combination with a good club, you MAKE the finances available. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>.</p><p><font size="3">bipartisan</font>  (<span style="color:blue" class="pointer"><span class="pron"><font face="Lucida Sans Unicode" size="2">bī-pär'tĭ-zən, -sən</font></span></span>) [Adj.]  Maintaining the ability to blame republications when your stimulus plan proves to be a devastating failure.</p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000"><font color="#ff0000">IMPE</font><font color="#c0c0c0">ACH</font> <font color="#0000ff"><font color="#c0c0c0">O</font>BAMA</font>!</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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votefornimitz

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Yeah, both those statements are unfortunately very accurate. Thanks for your help though, as I would have spent weeks trying to get it work...<br /><br />And I'll see what astronomy groups are around....<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />I'll report back later, school starts up again tomorrow so I'll be strapped for time for a while... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <span style="color:#993366">In the event of a full scale nuclear war or NEO impact event, there are two categories of underground shelters available to the public, distinguished by depth underground: bunkers and graves...</span> </div>
 
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votefornimitz

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Gah, new issues....<br />I was looking at the moon tonight, between the clouds mind you, with a 25 mm eye piece and a diagonal mirror. Wanting more magnification, I remove the diagonal mirror and place a 3x Barlow Lens in with the 25 mm eyepiece. I get a blurry outline of the moon with black inside of it. I try to focus it with the focusing knobs, to no avail. I then removed the Barlow lens and place the 25 mm eyepiece in alone, still blurry outline of the moon. Thinking it was the eyepiece, I place a 12.5 mm eyepience in its stead....<br /><br />Still blurry, despite attempts at focusing...Clouds covered up the moon before I could try to place the diagonal mirror back in, so I am going to try again tomorrow with it...I'd still rather know what the heck is going on though... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <span style="color:#993366">In the event of a full scale nuclear war or NEO impact event, there are two categories of underground shelters available to the public, distinguished by depth underground: bunkers and graves...</span> </div>
 
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adrenalynn

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I don't think you ever told us what kind of scope (make/model) you have.<br /><br />I'd lean towards backfocus issues with the barlow, or a lens not in all the way.<br /><br />Basically, if the lens is lifted too far away from the scope body, the focuser may not have enough travel range to focus the image in the eyepiece. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>.</p><p><font size="3">bipartisan</font>  (<span style="color:blue" class="pointer"><span class="pron"><font face="Lucida Sans Unicode" size="2">bī-pär'tĭ-zən, -sən</font></span></span>) [Adj.]  Maintaining the ability to blame republications when your stimulus plan proves to be a devastating failure.</p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000"><font color="#ff0000">IMPE</font><font color="#c0c0c0">ACH</font> <font color="#0000ff"><font color="#c0c0c0">O</font>BAMA</font>!</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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votefornimitz

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Tasco Model #58...<br />If it has an actual name its not printed on any of the paperwork...<br />It has a focal length of 700 mm (60 mm Objective Diameter)<br />and comes with two eyepieces, a 25 mm and a 12.5 mm (Lacking the 4mm one that was in the parts list, much to my chagrin.) It came with a diagonal mirror, a 1.5x erecting eyepiece and a 3x Barlow lens...<br /><br />Originally I had planned to purchase a more powerful Meade will full tracking capability, but my parents insisted that I research it prior to buying it not only online, but also asking family members about it that wouldn't have a clue (the are so picky on how I spend my money), so I asked my great uncle, an avid outdoors man, and he decided to just give me his old telescope in exchange for me installing a larger hard drive on his computer...<br /><br />It was free, but I'll probably end up buying the Meade by christmas... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <span style="color:#993366">In the event of a full scale nuclear war or NEO impact event, there are two categories of underground shelters available to the public, distinguished by depth underground: bunkers and graves...</span> </div>
 
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adrenalynn

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I'm in 110% agreement with you Eddie.<br /><br />A Skyquest Intelliscope 6" with the object locator (which can teach you tremendous amounts about the sky). $500.<br /><br />Remember - I'm posting my astrophotography here with a 5".<br /><br />It's not motorized, but there are projects all over the Internet for building your own motorized system for dobs. <br /><br />But the *really* screamin' deal, as far as I'm concerned, is the Celestron StarSeeker 130mm (~5") scope. Motorized, push-button go-to. With very little work, you can even use it for astrophotography. Not super long exposure stuff, but it still tracks.<br /><br />I've bought these as gifts and even have one here. $400 gives you 5" of aperture, motorized tracking, computerized push-button go-to, even the ability to interface it over RS232 to a computer and use computerized GoTo from things like StarryNight. f/5.1 makes it perfect for nebula viewing and short exposure stacked photography.<br /><br />And it's Celestron. Dollar for dollar, a cheap Celestron will dominate a cheap Meade any day, and twice on Tuesdays. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br /><br />Heck, it even comes with a copy of StarryNight SE!<br /><br />http://www.telescope.com/control/product/~category_id=goto_computerized/~pcategory=telescopes/~product_id=09748 <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>.</p><p><font size="3">bipartisan</font>  (<span style="color:blue" class="pointer"><span class="pron"><font face="Lucida Sans Unicode" size="2">bī-pär'tĭ-zən, -sən</font></span></span>) [Adj.]  Maintaining the ability to blame republications when your stimulus plan proves to be a devastating failure.</p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000"><font color="#ff0000">IMPE</font><font color="#c0c0c0">ACH</font> <font color="#0000ff"><font color="#c0c0c0">O</font>BAMA</font>!</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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adrenalynn

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You know, the whole with with Chinese-made-anything is how good the OEM's QA is. Nearly all my manufacturing is done in China - and it's all top-notch.<br /><br />A fast scope is definitely at least an intermediate-level scope - agreed. But it also has more "growth-room". That's important for me in recommendations with limited budgets. For the majority I know, planetary and lunar observing start to get old. They get a scope expecting to see hubble-like images and the scope gets put in the closet and eventually ebay'd. There are multiple lifetimes of deep sky low mag. observing out there, but only a half dozen planetary objects worth talking about in a small scope. <br /><br />Another factor that retires a lot of scopes is not being able to find anything. This is where Orion's new "Intelliscope" line of dobs really shines (as do the inexpensive GoTo scopes). GoTo scopes taught me more about the night sky than thousands of hours of observing and several semesters of astronomy ever did. You don't have to have your scope point at a locater (bright named) star and tell you the name of it too many times before you can look up in the sky and identify them right off. How many people who *can* identify Orion by sight even know that M42/M43 exist? I'd say a small fraction.<br /><br />Let's say you buy a nice little 8" dob and wake up tomorrow and say: "I'd really like to try my hand at astrophotography. I've got this cheapie little webcam gathering dust here..." Even with the Intelliscopes, you're SOL unless you start a major build project, and are quite handy.<br /><br />Anyway - I'm beating on this drum a little hard. I have many dobs. Light-buckets certainly have their place, especially in the hands of an experienced visual astronomer. Nowhere can you find the light gathering of a dob for that kinda money. A gigantic nearly half meter truss dob can be had for less than a modest Celestron SC. (If you want to run with Meade). I actually have my eye on one for a <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>.</p><p><font size="3">bipartisan</font>  (<span style="color:blue" class="pointer"><span class="pron"><font face="Lucida Sans Unicode" size="2">bī-pär'tĭ-zən, -sən</font></span></span>) [Adj.]  Maintaining the ability to blame republications when your stimulus plan proves to be a devastating failure.</p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000"><font color="#ff0000">IMPE</font><font color="#c0c0c0">ACH</font> <font color="#0000ff"><font color="#c0c0c0">O</font>BAMA</font>!</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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adrenalynn

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That would be pretty cool - but a CG5 GoTo equatorial mount would be _way_ cooler. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>.</p><p><font size="3">bipartisan</font>  (<span style="color:blue" class="pointer"><span class="pron"><font face="Lucida Sans Unicode" size="2">bī-pär'tĭ-zən, -sən</font></span></span>) [Adj.]  Maintaining the ability to blame republications when your stimulus plan proves to be a devastating failure.</p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000"><font color="#ff0000">IMPE</font><font color="#c0c0c0">ACH</font> <font color="#0000ff"><font color="#c0c0c0">O</font>BAMA</font>!</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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votefornimitz

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Thanks CE and Adrenalynn, Pity is that I can only observe Venus during the weekends because of when it actually becomes visible... I've been on break the past week because of a Nor'easter, but things are finally starting to clear up...<br />Honestly the most impressive thing I have seen so far has to have been the Pleiades, any more open clusters like that visible in the Northern Hemisphere winter sky? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <span style="color:#993366">In the event of a full scale nuclear war or NEO impact event, there are two categories of underground shelters available to the public, distinguished by depth underground: bunkers and graves...</span> </div>
 
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votefornimitz

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Thanks Eddie, you gave me something to do tonight other than pass out candy... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <span style="color:#993366">In the event of a full scale nuclear war or NEO impact event, there are two categories of underground shelters available to the public, distinguished by depth underground: bunkers and graves...</span> </div>
 
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3488

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If you are up late enough, try the Beehive / M44 in Cancer.<br /><br />Don't forget, Mars is becoming bright & closer in Gemini.<br /><br />Andrew Brown. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080">"I suddenly noticed an anomaly to the left of Io, just off the rim of that world. It was extremely large with respect to the overall size of Io and crescent shaped. It seemed unbelievable that something that big had not been visible before".</font> <em><strong><font color="#000000">Linda Morabito </font></strong><font color="#800000">on discovering that the Jupiter moon Io was volcanically active. Friday 9th March 1979.</font></em></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://www.launchphotography.com/</font><br /><br /><font size="1" color="#000080">http://anthmartian.googlepages.com/thisislandearth</font></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://web.me.com/meridianijournal</font></p> </div>
 
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votefornimitz

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Once again, about 90% cloud cover...<br />Good thing i'm not worried about being consistent... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <span style="color:#993366">In the event of a full scale nuclear war or NEO impact event, there are two categories of underground shelters available to the public, distinguished by depth underground: bunkers and graves...</span> </div>
 
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