This is my on-line portal of my start up and experiences taking Photos.
Welcome to my very little place on the great web.There are amateur astronomers like the late and Great Sir Patrick Moore CBE, FRS and FRAS.Then at the bottom of the esteemed list are other amateurs.Then below them there is Me.I hope you find my little site ok, and you never know you may get some inspiration on how to start this great hobby.The reason I have started this website is primary for my own observations and logs.However I have found many pitfalls so far, so hopefully you may be able to learn from my mistakes. You never know I may save you a little bit of frustration and perhaps ££.
Please note the Blog has now been removed. I may re-instate it at a later time. The reason for removal is the scum that use it to post obscene comments and use it to send out spam emails. The hosting for this website was nearly capped because of the bandwidth used. Thanks to my hosting provider we managed to sort it out. But it has left me with the decision to abandon the blog for now. I may look at it again in the future.I hope that you find it useful, if not please drop me a line as to how I can improve it. What would you want to see. Pictures will be uploaded when I take them. I am not trying to keep up with the big boys, Nasa etc. There are plenty of websites out there you just need to search. Hopefully you will find the article about starting up useful. It may save you a bit of Earth coins in that it may prevent you buying the wrong equipment. for starting up please click the more info button below.
When I was a little lad aged 12 my dear departed dad brought back a small desktop telescope from a business trip.I never did ask him why, I had never shown any interest in much at that age except Football.I started to use it as best as I could. The only object I really knew about was the big thing in the night sky. The moon.Even though the scope was tiny, probably no bigger than a 2 inch refractor as my memory recalls, I was hooked. The detail.I immediately saved up my pocket money and joined a club I heard about in the library. For those who may be a lot younger than me. A library = a place for books, especially books of reference. There was no internet at the time.The 2 choices I had, I believe was the British Interplanetary Society and The British Astronomical Society. I joined the latter.Boy was that a mistake. No offence BAA, but for a young 12 year old, the publications meant as much to me at the time as E=MC2 .The journals were all about angles. I remember trying to attach a plumb line to the scope and a cheap ( school kid remember) plastic protractor.Ok, so I will move on. I gave up my interest for the moment and concentrated on other things that were starting to appeal to me in my youth. Enough said on that.Moving swiftly on. At the age of 17 I joined the Royal Navy and again never thought too much of astronomy.Move forward a few years and I had a boy. As a proud dad when he was old enough I purchased a Telescope, something we could share in. Again, not much reading, but I purchased a 3 inch refractor.Still in the Navy and still moving around I did what I could , pointing out the little blob that was Saturn, the little red blob that was Mars.He never really got into this, but strangely, when my wife looked at Saturn as another Planet, she became hooked as I did all those years back.So with a young family ( 2 boys now ) I purchased a telescope that I thought would be ok. This was mainly for my lovely wife, Debra. She did not know her way around the night sky, I sort of did, but again no expert. Cassiopeia, Orion, ‘The Plough’ etc. So we invested in a Meade goto 4.5 inch reflector.This was purchased mainly for my wife because I was now spending a long time away from home due to certain world events.On my return I discovered the ground behind my house had been purchased and bungalows for the elderly had been built.Not a problem until they complained about NO street light. So the council installed some. This was now right at the back of my house , so we sold the 4.5 inch Meade and waited for a while. Now I am out of the Royal Navy .My purchase is now a shiny new Celestron NexStar 6SE Computerised Telescope. Ok not a great big leap in size, but hopefully a great big leap in enjoyment and detail.We shall see.
So we had one decent night of stars. Out went the gear and out went I, ½ an hour later. So in the brief 40 minutes I was out I learnt another 2 valuable lessons as my Blog says.I now need to get a dew shield and a head torch. The Power bank I have is great for normal stuff, but as I am learning I kept having to lift it up to read the manual and then make adjustments to the scope. So I needed 3 hands. Of course I haven’t got 3. So Lift up, read, put the power tank back down and enter what I have just read. This made me miss a very important step.I now have to start again. I could have done it on the night again , but that’s when second lesson learnt came up, I now need a dew shield. By the time I had finished messing about the scope lens was just white with dew. :-( So everything back in and I will have to try again.
Please see the Blog.
British Astronaut Tim Peake
does ‘London Marathon’.
British astronaut Tim Peake blasted off today right on schedule at 11:03 GMT, heading for the International Space Station
The Basics and ONLY the basicsOk where to start the Great hobby.First question you need to ask. What type of astronomy floats your boat.This is my simple list, I am sure there are others out there that will go into more detail, but hey, this is a start-up siteArmchair TV astronomyPlanetary AstronomySolar Astronomy – keeping this separate from planetary but both could be classed as Solar. Deep Sky AstronomyRadio AstronomyTaking the last one first, Radio astronomy, sorry I can’t help here. Although in the UK this would be brilliant if it could be done cheaply.Armchair astronomy.This is basically watching fantastic TV programs, BBC sky at night and others. But also using then many different software packages out there on your computer or laptop.So What software do I recommend. For the computer Redshift http://www.redshift-live.com/ For the ipad, android phones and tablets. This has to be the excellent Skysafari http://www.southernstars.com/ . A note on this. I have purchased the in app applications to remove advertising. It is not a lot. However if you decide to purchase a celestron telescope then you can download the celestron app, this is basically a re-badged skysafari application but has extra functions to ‘drive’ the scope.So perhaps when you take your dog for a walk one starry night and look up and wonder ‘what’s that bright star. Simply use the software and perhaps it’s not a star but Venus. The software on a tablet or phone is ideal. It can give you ‘live’ views, showing you exactly what is above you as you point the camera up. Even set the software to ‘night’ mode which will send the screen red. However if you are taking your dog for a walk you probably don’t need this function just yet. It will show you what stars are around. It will also show constellations. Learning the various constellations is useful, but I have to say not necessary in this day and age. I started off with The observers book on astronomy. This was by The late Sir Patrick Moore and I still have a copy. In this and other books ( not listed) there are always pointers. Learn how to find one constellation and from there jump to others. Ideal to start to find your way around.Ok, you now have more than a passing interest in what’s above you. So if this hobby is for you or perhaps your children who have shown an interest, what’s next.You have impressed the kids and your partner by pointing out things in the sky above. Now why not think about showing them actually what you have pointed out. Ok this can once again be done in the comfort of your armchair. But let’s get a little serious. And to get serious you need equipment.This is where you need to know what field to go in to from the list.Next Page 2
Page 2Whatever field you decide is for you and yours, my first bit of advice for you to take or leave. Don’t go cheap, like I did.The old saying “You get what you pay for” really does come in to play with Telescopes and Binoculars.Now right up front, I can’t ‘do’ binoculars. My wife can, but me I’m useless. You can see quite good with these, but obviously the power is somewhat limited. Ideal for general views, perhaps visible comets and you may just pick up the 4 largest moons of Jupiter.Again though if you are going to use binoculars get good optics, and you may find you need a mount. Simply because you are looking up and holding with 2 hands.This causes quite a lot of ‘dither’ i.e shaking.So if you are going to get a mount, then why not go the full hog and get a telescope.Firstly, back to my main point, don’t be tempted by cheap ones. Don’t be put off by expensive ones.So decide what part of astronomy is for you.Why should I ask this.Well what you want out of your hobby depends on what equipment you need.Telescope.So before we look at the equipment you need we need to talk about Named Manufacturers v cheap and cheerful.Looking at any telescope from a decent manufacturer may seem very expensive. Why Pay £450 ( and more ) for a telescope when you can get one from Argos for £75.I am not advising on any Brand, Meade, Celestron and Skwatcher etc. or Type, e.g. Reflector v Refractor v Dobsonian v Maksutov Cassegrain, etc. But please, please do not go cheap. If you can’t afford your dream telescope ( like me ) then start with perhaps a good quality Dobsonian. But read on.If you buy cheap like I did, it ruins the hobby. Basically it nearly puts you off the hobby. I had a 3” Refractor. Can’t remember the make but it did not cost many pennies. I do believe that I purchased from Argos ( other stores are available), but it was so long ago that I can’t remember.Eagerly awaiting my first clear view of Saturn. It did show it and I could make out the rings. But stars just looked like blurred ( Not my focus) white dots, no colour distinction. So this was Ok for Saturn and Jupiter moons, the rest forget about it.The focusing mechanism was gear and cog, very clunky and not very precise.So without further ado or advice I ‘stepped up’ to a 4 inch reflector. But a good make. Meade with Goto.Although I am not knocking Meade, the step up wasn’t really a step up. Not much difference in what I saw, but optics better.The main reason I got this was the goto computer, with a sky tour. I should have waited.So where does that leave you. Ok a little advice. Planetary, go as big as you can afford in the telescope manufacturer and type that you want. I would say at least a 6 inch telescope is the minimum.For deep sky , again as a rule of thumb. Go for at least an 8 Inch.Look at the type of mount you want. Note if you have yet to purchase a ‘tracking mount ‘ is advisable. Perhaps, if you don’t know your way around, maybe consider, as I did a goto telescope.When you are looking at the moon in high power, or a planet, without tracking the image in the eyepiece will swiftly move.Try doing a drawing of a section of the moon without one and you are always going to get frustrated.Also , you find the perfect view, you are excited and you go get the kids or the wife, drag them out from a nice warm house into the cold, then spend 30 minutes trying to find the subject again, show it to 1 child, then by the time the next one looks at the view it’s gone again. Yes it really will be that quick.Page 3
Page 3ViewingSo you have decided on your equipment. You are in to deep sky and decide to start with a chosen model. Before you purchase, another thing to consider.Your view. Are you in a ‘polluted’ night sky area, i.e. a city.There are filters you can get, but this is a start up page, don’t run before you walk.Perhaps a short drive away is a clear sky away from light polluted skies.This has to be your next consideration. Portability.The equatorial mounts and telescope package can be quite hefty to keep moving around. Plus you have to ‘unstrap’ the telescope from the mount. Then there are the counter balance weights.It all adds up to quite a bit of weight. Will it fit in the car?I used to own ( briefly ) a 6 inch refractor. This with the counter weights was a beast to store when not in use and move around.So big that I eventually I sold it. Basically wrong telescope for my needs.I eventually settled on a small table top skywatcher telescope for portability while I had the Beast. Defeated the object really.I still have the small telescope and have given this to my granddaughter.GOTOI have now purchased a 6 inch Celestron Nexstar 6Se with Goto.This suits me. I wish I had the information I have given here before I made any purchases.This has a goto. Basically out of the box, it works.Although I have some ( not much) knowledge of the night sky, I still find it hard to see faint objects ( galaxies ) even when I know where to look.With a GOTO , there are other goto scopes from other manufacturers , fitted it’s a doddle to get goingNo Knowledge is required. This is the important part, so I will say it again. NO knowledge is required.Now I do know someone who bought this scope at the same time as me, and struggled. So here is another golden tip.On a clear DAY, make sure you set up the telescope correctly. By looking down the barrel or finderscope, point it to a distant day light object. In my case it was a TV transmitter mast. The telescope is powerful so managed to get the top tip of the mast in the main view. Then adjusted ( keep both eyes open ) the finder scope to match the ‘main view’ .That’s it. You are now set up.Next, on a clear night take the scope out to get acclimatised to the temperature. Make yourself a cup of tea.Right after about ½ an hour you are ready to use the telescope in all it’s glory.You do not need to know anything, you just need to be able to see stars.Pick your 3 brightest stars.Take lens caps offTurn on the goto, enter your location, time and date.Then follow the instructions for the make of telescope. These will be basically, slew the telescope using the controls to the first star. When you see it in the finder scope, check the main view. It should be there. Make any minor adjustments using up, down, left and right buttons. Accept this as your first star, repeat with the other 2. Top Tip Go from right to left, something about keeping the gear chain all correct. This will keep the scope accurate.That’s it. You have aligned your telescope and it will track.Again the sky is literally the limit. The GOTO software will give you options, sky tour = This will give you objects that are interesting in the night sky for the time and date. Solar Objects = planets and the moon.Of course there are deep sky objects. You can select any that are available.Use this in conjunction with the skysafari software. You are now an amateur astronomer.The ‘itch’ has been scratched you are up and running.What’s next………Well you probably don’t need this page or website anymore. Good Luck and I wish you starry nights.