Telescope Questions & Reviews

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nevers

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Before the "event" we had a pretty good thread going with lots of telescope reviews. Now that it's gone, I think it's time to start another.<br /><br />If you have a question about a telescope or any piece of astronomy equimpment, it would be nice to keep it somewhere like in here so we don't have lots of little thread clouding up the "space". (Just a thought)<br /><br />If you'd like to post a review about something you have had experience with, please do that also. Thanks!
 
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nevers

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I have a question: anybody have experience with Meade's LXD55 mount and/or Autostar? More specifically with alignment problems. I'm having quite a fit with mine, it seems rather sporadic.
 
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delphinus

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Define sporadic? Are you getting any error messages or anything?<br /><br />I take it this is a brand new calibration?
 
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nevers

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Yes, it's a brand new 'scope: right out of the shrink wrap. And of course I've set the mount to 36 degrees (for Las Vegas) punched in my exact longitude and latitude (for my backyard), correct time and date, daylight savings (yes)...bla, bla, bla<br /><br />Sporadic: when aligned with Polaris through the illuminated reticle (as prescribed in the directions), the tripod perfectly level, 2 star alignment is usually off about 2 degrees. Sometimes it gets the first star right in the center of the EP, then the next star is way off. Adjust using the directional arrows to center the star: "Alignment Successful". "GoTo" M57. Hello, there it is right in the middle. "GoTo" M15: way off. Move to "Home Position", Realign, 2 Star alignment, first star (same as last time: Vega) is way off: about 2 degrees. Second star, way off about 2 degrees. Go through the process again, both alignment stars with EP's FOV. "GoTo" M57...nowhere near. Argh...! Check Polar Alignment, right on, go through the whole process again: nails it all the first time and finds all objects with or right on the edge of the EP's FOV: Sporadic.<br /><br />The part that's not clear is the directions for using the polar alignment reticle. Move the 'scope mount until Polaris is superimposed on the graduated area of the reticle (between 40' and 60'). The center crosshair denotes the North celestial pole. Use the latitude T-handle screws and the fine azimuth control knobs to fine tune the mount adjustments until the reticle pattern is more precisely superimposed over the appropriate position.<br /><br />Between 40' and 60' is a lot to "play" with. It seems to work better if I align Polaris to the crosshairs and not where they say. What is the "40' and 60'" anyway? I live at 36'.<br /><br />I'm probably not doing something right. Please help an old fashioned Dobsonian user. This new fangled stuff is driving me bonkers! Once I center an object (with the new 'scope) the tracking works fine, it's just the "making the computer po
 
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tfwthom

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Ya know Brad.....one of these days you're going to finally take my advice and save your money to buy a top quality scope/mount.<br /><br />After all the problems we had with the LXD55 mount you should have rethought buying one. It's been sitting for about a year now and we've been using the Gibraltar mount. The Orion Atlas (?) mount might have been a better buy if you wanted tracking. You don't have a problem finding objects anyway.<br /><br />LXD55 is just a CG5 head, works ok for tracking but the gears are way to sloppy, too much backlash for go-to. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1" color="#3366ff">www.siriuslookers.org</font> </div>
 
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nevers

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One of these days I hope to be able to afford your advice! <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br /><br />- Celestron CG-5 Computerized Mount = $699<br />- Losmandy GM-8 Mount w/ Gemini GoTo System = $2495<br />- Vixen Sphinx SXW Equatorial Mount w/Starbook = $1825<br /><br />If I remember right, you got your LXD55 from a friend of ours. Maybe I'm wrong. I was sure a new one would perform a little better. I checked around (at GCSP too) and found mixed feelings as to the mounts reliability. The two 'scopes that I looked through had no problems "GoTo"ing objects. I asked about the Orion Atlas: I heard that one does not track well.<br /><br />Anyway, I've done a little more reading and I'm not ruling out the factor of operator error yet. I'm going out tonight with the 'scope and will report my findings. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
 
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nevers

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Hey Thom,<br /><br />Yes, you are right. I asked around at a couple of 'scope dealers about the LXD75. (3 Star alignment, better tripod, same OTA) Meade says the new 'scopes should be out by the end of June: that's this year. I mean, was this year. All the dealers said the same thing: If I ordered one today, in reality I'd be lucky if it was delivered 4 months from now. Plus, they gave me $100 bucks off for the 55!<br /><br />Anyway...fixin' to head out the door for Lovell Canyon...be back later.
 
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nevers

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Is 85 degrees really considered heat!?!?!?! It's 11am and already it's 103 degrees! <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> About the Solar Filter: I agree with Thom. I have a Solar Filter for my Orion 100mm (3.9") AstroView Refractor. I found that at powers of greater than 40x, the image really degraded unless it was a totally perfect day and the Sun near Zenith.<br /><br />On another note: I've been out all night at Lovell Canyon. It's about 30 miles from downtown Las Vegas but on the other side of the mountains. I still get a lot of light pollution there but I took some pictures anyway. <br /><br />This is my first attempt (in dark skies?) with my new 'scope. I had some troubles with it but found (online) what I was doing wrong. The pictures below have been stack using Registax 2. Each single frame, about 15 frames per object, was stacked together. I only adjusted the contrast and brightness and then lightly sharpened the image. I hope you like them, I can hardly wait to get to true dark skies! <br /><br />More later on how I got it to align right. I don't mean aligned near the edge of the EP's FOV, I mean DEAD CENTER! And each and every time and every object I looked at. I'm stoked!<br /><br />Oh yeah, each frame was a 15 second exposure at f/2.
 
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nevers

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Here is how I got AutoStar to work:<br /><br />I did some more reading about the alignment and found the manual that comes with the ‘scope does not really explain the alignment process very well. I found a website online that does. Last night I went out with new directions in hand and everything went perfect!<br /><br />Before using the ‘scope at night, set it up during the daylight and under “Setup”: chose “Train Drive” to train the motors. Second, the tripod and mount have to be perfectly level. I got a bubble level for that. If you move the bubble from leg to leg, leveling each one as you go and making adjustments, leveling can be achieved. There is a little ledge on top of each leg you can place the bubble on. Of course the tripod has to be aligned in the first place to as close to north as possible: align the ‘scope with the illuminated reticle as stated in the manual. When you turn on AutoStar enter your date, time and location but skip the alignment step and go to “Setup/High Precision”. Chose “On” and then go back to “Setup/Align” and go to “One Star” alignment: chose Polaris. When the ‘scope has stopped moving use the fine tuning altitude and azimuth and center Polaris in the center of your Eyepiece and press “Enter”.<br /><br />When I did this the scope automatically went to two other stars for confirmation. Using the directional arrows, I centered them in the EP and pressed “Enter” and now I was ready to go.<br /><br />When you select an object, before slewing to that object the program chooses a nearby star and slews to it. It asks you to center the star and then continues to the object you have chosen. Each time the "nearby" star was in the EP's FOV and only slight (if any) correcton had to be made. I could not believe the results and maybe I just got lucky: each and every object I “GoTo’d” was DEAD CENTER in the 26mm EP! It was not on the edge of the FOV like most other Meade’s with AutoStar that I’ve seen. I observed for 6 hours and not once had to readjust:
 
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raven2490

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I really like the idea of having an auto tracker .. I even considered buy a meade telescope .. on my 6" short tube ...how Can I add/buy an auto tracker for my telescope.. w/o losing my arm and my leg lol .. thanx and response will be greatly appreciated <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <br /><br />this telescope is similar to what I have .. thanx again <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=28181&item=3826096736&rd=1
 
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vgeric

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My lord NEVERS... How I would love to have a scope that was capable of even seeing images like you see in your pictures! Those are some great pics by the way. (85 degrees? psh! <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" />)
 
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nevers

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Hi Raven - <br /><br />There are tracking motors available from a couple of companies. It all depends on the kind of mount you have. Orion sells them for their EQ1, EQ2 & EQ3 mounts for somewhere in the neighborhood of $60. I've also seen them here: Telescope Warehouse I've never ordered anything from them but have talked to them on the phone about things I wanted to get. If you tell us exactly what brand of 'scope you have I might be able to nail down a better answer for you.
 
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nevers

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Hi c-lou - <br /><br />I hate to blow the "Orion" horn again but, it's all I really know and can afford. If your thinking about the set from Celestron you may want to consider this set: Orion Expanse Series for $169.<br /><br />Another place to find "non-designer" equipment is here: Apogee Inc. . Pick up a copy of either Sky & Telescope or Astronomy magazine, in the back they have lots of ads for companies that sell astronomical equipment for reasonalble prices. Have you thought about getting a 2x Shorty Barlow? It will vitually double the number of EP's you have.<br /><br />Thom and some of the others might have some better advice.<br /><br />Ok, I'll give you 85 degrees & the added humidity as hot. I forgot about humidity and how awful it is!
 
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nevers

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Hi Eric -<br /><br />Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the pictures. I just wish I could take time-exposed pix with my 16" 'scope!
 
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nevers

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Hi Thom -<br /><br />Can you give Ron a message for me? Tell him thanks for the advice about taking multiple shots of the same object and THEN stacking them. Before, I was taking only one frame and copying a number of times and then stacking them all together. It worked ok but not as nearly as well as how he told me to do it. I only wish I had taken more shots instead of the 10 -15 frames I took. I can't wait for Orion to come out!
 
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bbrock

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I have recently pruchased an Orion XT10. I'm not real experienced at using it. The Dob came with a 10mm and 25mm eyepiece. I also purchased a 2x barlow. The max magnification I will get is 240x with the equipment I have. I need to find out from those of you with a lot of experience, what is the best reasonable maginification I could expect ( theoretically 600x with crystal clear, magnitude 6 sky) What should I actually try to achieve and be satisfied with?
 
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nevers

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Hi Raven - <br /><br />The picture on the link looks very similar to some of the Orion scopes that accept the Astrotrack or the EQ-1 drive. I'm not the type to piece things together and try and stay with things that are made for each other. I know lots of people get things from one company and things from another and make them work together fine, I'm just not one of those people. I wish I could be of better service and say "yes, that's the exact one you need for your 'scope". However, they do look very similar to each other. You may want to look for yourself at Orion Telescopes & Binoculars .
 
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nevers

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c_lou - <br /><br />I would agree with crazyeddie wholeheartedly: I have the Orion Sirius Plossl 40mm, it's like looking at the stars through a soda straw.<br /><br />BBrock -<br /><br />I have an XT10 also. Last year I pushed Mars to about 400 - 470x and got some awesome detail. But, that was from the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I usually stay within the realm of 60x (20mm EP) for most objects and sometimes 200x (6mm EP) for the Ring Nebula (M57). Rather then magnification, you may want to consider a "Nebula" filter of some kind: an "Oxygen 3" (O-III) would be the best if you can afford one. Once again, crazyeddie's suggestions are right on the money.
 
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raven2490

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Nevers ...<br /><br />Once again thanx a million ur answers have been great and really appreciated <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
 
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petepan

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Hi All,<br /><br />I was wondering if anyone knows of the quality of the Guan Sheng range of 'scopes. <br /><br />I was interested in a <br />GS-600, 8" F4 reflector i saw advertised, only $799 (Aust). comes with <br /><br />6x 30mm Finder scope <br />4x 20mm Polar-alignment scope <br />4 plossels <br /><br />beats my lowly 4.5" Tasco reflector.<br /><br />The more i think about it the more i want it!! <br />Any comments?<br /><br />Cheers<br />Peter<br />
 
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bbrock

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NEVERS & crazyeddie<br /><br />I appreciate your response. I'm in central Kentucky and the summer humidity is not kind to star gazers. Last night I struggled to study M101 and the best I could do with the 10" Dob was 120x. M101 looked like Magnitude 15 ( I don't see how Stary Night can classify M101 as Magnitude 8.5 ) I might look into higher magnification in the future, for now I will settle for a maximum of 240x. I do need to invest is a good filter. Any suggestions on washing out humid, muggy sky polution? Light polution isn't a big problem where I'm at.
 
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