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Author Topic: Taking up astronomy  (Read 35517 times)

Tom

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Taking up astronomy
« on: December 07, 2005, 09:36:39 AM »
We've seen a few posts from astronomers here recently, so I thought it might be appropriate to ask some basic questions:

I see a wide variety of telescopes when I walk around the stores, but have no idea what's a decent one vs a toy. What are the things to look for in a 'scope and what are the minimum requirements for a newcomer to this activity? How much ($) are we talking about? What are the good brands? It's pretty tough to try out a 'scope in a store in daylight, so how do you know it will do the job?

Is this a case of continual upgrading of equipment? Is it better to get an inexpensive 'scope to start with, or skip a few steps and start with a better one?

To me, as someone who knows nothing about astronomy, 'scopes mean optics and optics mean you get what you pay for. Is this a correct perspective?
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Kenneth

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2005, 10:22:36 AM »
Tom,

I found this link with some useful information.

http://www.ralentz.com/old/astro/tele-amat-purchase.html
Kenneth H, from League City TX, currently in Lakeland Florida !!

Tom

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2005, 12:03:53 PM »
Kenneth, thanls for that link. Lots of useful information and advice there - more than I can digest in one reading. The author also has a good sense of humor.

I understand his suggestion of joining an astronomy club, but that's not something that some of us would want to do. I'm wondering if astronomy is a hobby of many RVers. After all, they have plenty of opportunity to be beneath the stars.
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Ned

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2005, 12:28:37 PM »
To do amateur astronomy, you don't need anything beyond your eyes and a star chart or planisphere.  In the desert, away from the lights of the city, there are so many naked eye objects to see that you never knew were there.  A pair of 7x50 binoculars will let you see so much more that you may never need a telescope.  Mount the binoculars on a tripod for best viewing.  Higher power than 7x50 will require it.

Check out http://skymaps.com/ for free star charts.
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Jim Dick

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2005, 01:03:39 PM »
Tom,

Years ago I had a refractor telescope which we sometimes set up in the backyard. It was a cheap one and the performance mirrored its cost. I think you need to spend a decent amount before you get one that can really perform. I used to have a brochure from one company which I think was Meade. Can't remember for sure. I do know the scope I was looking at was around $400. I think that might work pretty well. :)

I think if I ever did it again I would opt for the reflector scope as that type is designed pretty much for astronomy and not a multipurpose scope. There are some pretty nice looking units that are not too large though I would have a problem finding a place for one unless I removed something. The desert would be a great spot to do some star gazing.

As Ned mentioned, a good set of binoculars will open up a lot of vistas that the ordinary eye might miss. I would opt for the 10X50 minimum with IS. A tripod would definitely help and Russ has one of the neatest setups I have seen. It makes it extremely easy to pan the skies without having to "lock" the unit in place. Perhaps he'll bring it to QZ this year???

When we were in Tucson many years ago, before the RV, we had a private tour of Colossal Caves. After the tour, which was around 6pm, we came out into a dark parking lot where we couldn't see a thing. The UofA astronomy club had set up several high powered scopes for us to gaze at various star clusters and nebulae. Each one was trained on a different point in space. I was blown away with what I could see. Of course these are monsters compared to what a normal individual might own. We could see twin stars and nebulae that you would never see with binoculars. It's one experience I will not forget.

Jim

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Tom

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2005, 01:13:00 PM »
Thanks Jim. Meade was one of the two "good" makes mentioned in the referenced article.
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valleygeocacher

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2005, 05:10:22 PM »
This is one of the best links I've seen re "Getting Started"
http://skyandtelescope.com/howto/basics/

Sky & Telescope Magazine's advice says, "The most important aspect of selecting a telescope is the size of the objective." That's the "far" end of the telescope. The size for amateur 'scopes ranges up to 18-24" in diameter. Those can be pretty cheap if one can get by with a low-cost or home-made mount like the one on page seven of this link.
http://skyandtelescope.com/howto/scopes/article_241_1.asp

My own Celestron is exactly like the one shown on Page two of that link; small, but adequate for occasional viewing; even has computer-controlled star-following.

The top image on Page three of that link shows one that's several times better.

Page 7 shows a home-made mount that works great.

Don't be misled by Department Store 'scopes that claim "500- power". That's deceptive; you can increase the power of your eyepiece and get higher magnification, but not necessarily good resolution. Do get several eyepieces; you'll often find the need to go up or down in power, ant that's accomplished by simply changing eyepieces, a ten-second procedure.

Try going to one of the Astronomy Forums and talking to the pro-ams. This google search gives hundreds of those:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=astronomy+listserv
« Last Edit: December 09, 2005, 05:16:03 PM by valleygeocacher »

Tom

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2005, 05:16:18 PM »
Thanks for those links.

Just for clarification, I'm not planning to take up astronomy personally, although I might one day. The reason I started this topic is that I'd seen a few astronomy-related messages here and it just made sense that this might be an ideal hobby for some RVers. Hopefully, this discussion will help answer questions for budding astronomers, or even encourage some folks to take up the hobby.
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valleygeocacher

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2005, 05:23:21 AM »
The real problem with astronomy as an RVer hobby is the LIGHT POLLUTION. Our ranch in North Texas is ideal; no street lights, no neighbors for 1/4 mile; dark as the bottom of a well. It's just too cold up there in winter -- and that's when the skies are clearest.

Most parks such as Quiet Village-2 in South Texas are so light-polluted that it's simply a waste of time to get the scope out. The population in this park is composed of a half-dozen Texans and 200+ scaredy-cat snowbirds. The snowbirds are continually on a campaign to ADD MORE STREET LIGHTS. Several more were installed last year. The glow from those lights totally rules out star-gazing.

BTW, security was never a problem in QV; before the campaign started, it had been 2-3 years since a QV resident had a theft.

Tom

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2005, 10:27:35 AM »
I didn't consider the issue of light pollution. Presumably, somewhere like the desert around Quartzsite, away from the town, would be OK.
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Ned

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2005, 10:46:57 AM »
Light pollution is possibly the biggest obstacle to amateur astronomy unless you want to go far out of town to find good seeing conditions.  The city of Tucson has done a good job of controlling light pollution due to the proximity of several large observatories (like Kitt peak), unfortunately, the RV parks haven't followed suit.  Even here in the Yuma foothills with no street lights, people keep putting lights on their walls and ruining the seeing.  I'm afraid that backyard astronomy has almost disappeared as a result of too much lighting everywhere.
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Marsha/CA

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2005, 12:20:21 PM »
Tom,

Tim has a 10" Meade refractor scope that weights a ton.  It has a computer program, which when you punch in what you want to see, it goes and finds it.  My kinda scope.  We've had the thing for nearly 15 years.  He also has a CCD camera which connects to the eye piece and I was supposed to begin my world of astrophotography.  We haven't started that as of yet.  (grin).  He also has a cord that connects to the telescope and then to the computer.  As we sit in our warm coach, we can move the scope all over the sky.  It's fun to look at everything on the computer, but not near as exciting as looking through the eyepiece of the scope.

If we were ever to go full time, we would opt to sell the big scope and buy a Meade or Celestron long tube reflector telescope on a tripod with a computer driven program.  It's light, easy to carry and store, and gets great views of the sky. 

As others have mentioned, backlighting can be a very big problem; as well as bright moon.   A no moon, crisp, cold high elevation location is the best situation for star gazing. 

There are also quite a few internet forums similiar to this one where people RVing can make connections, ask questions and get together.  One of the biggest areas for groups to star gaze out here in So Cal is in the desert near Borrego Springs in a valley called "Shelter Valley".  There is also a horse camp nearby that location and we try to get out there in the winter for riding and skygazing.

I've never been to Quartzsite, wonder if there would be too much backlight for us to bring the scope?

Marsha~
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Carl L

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2005, 12:43:30 PM »
Los Angeles has an interesting situation with respect to light pollution.   The Mt. Wilson Observatory overlooks downtown LA directly and is only about 16 airline miles from it.    The Observatory and its 100" reflector are still active in spite of the 15 million person megalopolis below.  (see http://www.mtwilson.edu/ )

The trick is the marine layer.  Most days of the year, it is 1500-3000 feet deep and full of fog/smog.   The water vapor traps the urban light pollution in it below the thermocline.   On such nights, one can stand on Mt. Wilson and see LA below as a glowing cloud of light stretching over a thousand or so square miles.   The sky above is perfectly dark and full of stars.   Quite spectacular.

That said, us folk down in the murk get to see stars only in the fall and winter and then only after a storm or during Santa Ana weather.
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Tom

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2005, 01:16:54 PM »
Thanks Masha. That all sounds quite complicated. Sitting inside the coach looking at the computer can't be called stargazing though, surely  ??? Is this the techie version of it?
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Tom

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2005, 01:19:14 PM »
Carl,

I recall one of my profs in college had previously worked in the LA basin doing something or other with smog and fog studies. He showed us time lapsed photography taken up on the hills and it was quite revealing to watch.

BTW they the Lick obervatory on Mount Hamilton, above San Jose, similar to the Wilson Obs. Quite a drag getting up there, with lots of switchbacks, but a great view of the valley or fog or smog below.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2005, 01:22:34 PM by Tom »
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Marsha/CA

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2005, 01:20:03 PM »
Yep...it's the techie version.  My favorite method is the good ole bionocular method.  But the scope produces the bigger "wow" factor.

Marsha~
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Ken K

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2005, 10:13:28 PM »
Tom, second Marsha's comments.  A few years back I got the Meade EXT- the smaller one before the automatic tracking. Ordered a couple of different eyepieces and was very impressed with what I could see. The first time you see Saturns rings - well, pretty cool. Anyway, suburban light, smog, etc. really does effect your view, but you usually will still see the larger planets.   
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valleygeocacher

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2005, 05:56:46 AM »
Regarding the smog and light pollution, I'm always reminded of how we've ruined so much of what we once took for granted.

In the 40's when I first started flying, my first solo cross country was too uneventful; It was from Meacham Field (Ft. Worth) to Abilene and return. When I took off from Abilene for the return flight, at 8,000-feet altitude, I could see the cement plant that was next to Meacham. Get lost? No way. Just point the nose of the J5 East and home in on the cement plant's smoke.

You can barely see that smoke from 20 miles away now.

Never realized then how that smoke could change things so much in just a half-century.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2005, 12:01:20 PM by valleygeocacher »

valleygeocacher

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2005, 12:01:48 PM »
Try http://cgi.ebay.com/New-White-6-Short-Tube-Newtonian-Reflector-Telescope_W0QQitemZ7570656264QQcategoryZ28181QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

on eBay.

This one is typical of a good starter 'scope, and not too big for most RV's, although the user would probably want/need a couple of different-power eyepieces.

enjoy

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2006, 01:53:18 PM »
At http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/whatsup_2006_book.html is a free downloadable book in PDF form that has a different sky watching task for every day of 2006.  It's a 13.5MB file, so don't try this without a fast connection.
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Smoky

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2006, 12:37:19 AM »
I sure hope folks will bring their scopes to the QZ rally!
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2012, 01:20:27 AM »
Hi Tom,

Blimey, this is an old topic still on the front of the board!

Well I thought it worth putting this information up if anyone does read it.

I am into photography - will put something up about this elsewhere - and really fancied getting into Astro Photography. So I joined what I consider to be the best forum for information and suggest anyone interested join. They are a great bunch of people and will give you as much help and advice as you need:

http://stargazerslounge.com/

Having spent a few thousand pound on the gear I then discovered I was struggling. This is because I suffer with pure double vision! I see two of everything. Sounds awful but like everything if you have had the problem for a long time - I believe over 30 years - then it is just normal. My eyes are not crossed and no the optician cannot sort it out! So every time I tried to align the scope to set it up I was struggling to see the stars to calibrate off! Well in truth I could see too many of them!

In the end I gave it up and sold most, but not all yet of my kit.

Best regards

Chris

Tom

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2012, 01:56:25 AM »
Aye, this is an old tooic. We don't seem to have too many discussions on this subject.
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Great Horned Owl

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2012, 03:36:57 AM »
Ev though this is an old topic, i'll add my 2 cents worth. The best prices on equipment are at Astronomics. Their web site also has an excellent section on how to pick a telescope. See http://astronomics.com/main/category.asp/catalog_name/Astronomics/category_name/How%20to%20pick%20a%20telescope/Page/1

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #24 on: June 16, 2012, 08:30:49 AM »
This is coincidental. It just so happens that today is the first day of the annual Star Party at the Grand Canyon. It is amazing. The skies at the Canyon are about as clear as you will see in North America. The party lasts for the next week. About 60 telescopes from the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association will be set up in the Visitor's Center parking lot from dusk till dawn with free viewing for every one. If you love astronomy and are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon then try and time your visit for the middle of June near the New Moon phase.

http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/grand-canyon-star-party.htm
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #25 on: June 16, 2012, 12:12:59 PM »
Don't know how clear the skies at Grand Canyon are going to be. Between the pollution from the coal-fired power plants in the area and the smoke from the fires, our blue skies aren't.
 
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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2012, 03:10:40 AM »
Greetings,

Astronomer here also. I am a astrophotographer and use to shoot film. Hypered my film so I could shoot longer without reciprocity failer (where the film stops being sensitive after the first few minutes). Digital is the way to go now a days.

Selecting an RV that can haul my scope is one of my considerations.

Astronomy is a part of nature and enjoyable hobby that doesn't require a lot of money. You can buy a dobsonian telescope that can see a lot of things for a few hundered dollars. Best!
CamperAL (Indiana)
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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2012, 02:05:36 AM »
Greetings,

Keeping the thread alive (and RV related), perhaps interested members could attempted to have a mini rally at one of the star parties where astronomy and astrophotography take place. I'd suggest the Texas Star Party or the Oregon Star Party. One could plan other sight seeing trips before or after the star party. Might even get someone who is a bit more knowledgeable to show us the ropes on taking digital shots at the shows. Best!
CamperAL (Indiana)
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Jim Dick

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #28 on: November 07, 2012, 01:33:02 AM »
CamperAl,

Where and when do these parties take place??
Jim

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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #29 on: November 07, 2012, 02:02:59 AM »
Hi Jim and all,

The Oregon Star Party was August 14th through the 19th this year. Great viewing as I have been there several times. Here is a link: http://www.oregonstarparty.org/index.cfm       You can see the milky way from one end of the horizon to the other!!! Location is 45 miles east of Prineville, Oregon.

It will be held near a new moon date next year (better seeing without the moon) sometime around August. Very pretty scenery.

The Texas Star Party will be held May 5th to the 12th, 2013 next year. Here is a link to that one as well: http://texasstarparty.org/ 
and is near Fort Davis, Texas. The McDonald Observatory is close by and can be toured.

I might add for new comers to the astronomy star parties that making sure you have no bright lights on during observing time is a requirement. Takes about 30 minutes to get your eyes adapted to dark settings. Plus some sensitive equipment in use that could get fried with a sudden burst of headlights or inside lighting turned on. Most astronomers pull lights out or put a red filter over lighting so it isn't a problem. These places don't accept light night arrivals  for the same reason. There not unfriendly but many people have time, mileage and equipment invested in these star parties. New comers welcomed for sure. Just ask questions.

One thing we might be able to do is set up near either place to be part of the star party. There is a lot of room at the OSP. Best!
CamperAL (Indiana)
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Jim Dick

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #30 on: November 07, 2012, 03:30:11 AM »
CamperAl,

Darn, both of those dates clash with our work commitment at Yellowstone NP. Sure sounds like a neat happening!  :)
Jim

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #31 on: November 08, 2012, 01:25:19 AM »
Hi Jim,

I'd offer to take your place so you could get to one of the star parties, but I might make a mess  :o and don't want people to avoid Yellowstone. We plan on going to Yellowstone sometime soon and if at all possible in an RV. I will make an effort to contact you if we do.

There are other star parties also. You  can look those up by simply typing in Star Party in a search engine. Anyone that would go would enjoy it. Nice quiet nights with thousands of stars. At one, Jupiter was casting my shadow on a white chair, that is just  how dark it is at one of these. We might also try to form an informal group of stargazers and have a RV Form Star Gaze. Perhaps Tucson during the winter time. Best to all!
CamperAL (Indiana)
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Jim Dick

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #32 on: November 09, 2012, 09:21:06 AM »
CamperAL,

We will be there all summer this coming year. Pancake Bill will also be there. He's our District Manager.
Jim

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #33 on: November 21, 2013, 02:15:24 AM »
Greetings,

I know this is an older topic but wanted to post here anyway as there are few topics that are astronomy related.

Don't know if I can get enough interest here or not. Might have to post other places and try to find interested parties but would like to see some sort of activities that are both RV and astronomy related that could be conducted together once or even several times a year if there is enough interest. My idea is a sort of a mobil astronomy club.

Astronomy deals with the physical study/observing of the sky (not to be confused with astrology which is different subject).

One avenue might be to contact astronomers directly. Since I know many astronomers being one myself, I could probably get things rolling.
It would be nice to plan some sort of informal event to get other like minded people or those who might want to learn a bit about stargazing under clear skies. We could stargaze at night and do RV activities by day (usually a bit later in the morning as your always tired after a part night or more under the stars.

I thought this event might coinside with other RV Forum activities, either before or after such events.

I did find one location where a group might stay on the boarder of New Mexico and Arizona. I am not in any way linked to these folks and have yet to contact them. They apparently have groups come in already. I'll post the link I ran across tonight for those who might want to comment and offer up advise. Rates seem reasonable and there would be other astronomy like minded folks. This is just an idea I am throwing out and perhaps there are better places.

http://rustysrvranch.com/home.htm

I realize in the spectrum of RV'n, there are a ton of things that people can do. I want to do many of those myself. I have yet to buy an RV but am working on that. In the mean time I could assess the idea. I have planned a major yearly convention (along with others) and think this could be some fun of a different nature for some of the folks who RV here.

Always interested in ideas thoughts from the experts here. My best!
CamperAL (Indiana)
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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #34 on: November 23, 2013, 02:24:51 PM »
I can hear the crickets chirping. Apparently there isn't any astronomers here. Oh well.
CamperAL (Indiana)
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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #35 on: January 13, 2014, 05:44:05 AM »
Since there doesn't seem to be too much interest in Astronomy while RV'n, I thought I might suggest a possible idea. I know that I am new here and it takes time for people to get to know you. I am still about a year out from purchase of an RV (unless the right deal comes along). I plan on attending some of the forum member campouts. I will offer up stargazing to those folks who might want to look threw a decent sized telescope at various objects. Moon, planets and brighter deep sky objects are always attention getting viewing. It is a way to get to know a bit about astronomy and have fun standing around the scope talking while others are looking. I usually have interesting facts I share for such "star parties" and always interested in people throwing out  information that know better than me.

The advantage of this type of star gaze is you can come and go when ever you want. Ideally would try to have a star gaze about ever clear night. Usually you don't have to climb up more than one step of a ladder to see through the eyepiece. I will offer up information when I attend one of these Framily campouts. Quartzite seems like a good spot as well as Catalina State Park.

Usually I have some extraterrestrial objects I pass out as well  ;) Best!
« Last Edit: January 13, 2014, 05:53:44 AM by camperAL »
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #36 on: January 13, 2014, 06:35:33 AM »
Good idea Al; That could create a real interest in the subject.

A couple of the guys in the photography club I recently started are very active in astro photography. Through a couple of demos and explanations, I've learned that so much of what they "see" is only visible after post processing of the images captured on camera.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #37 on: January 13, 2014, 08:29:48 AM »
Hi Tom,

Astrophotography is something I have participated in for well over 4 decades. I have a lab at my house (which is seldom used these days) and use to process after a night out taking photos. Perhaps I need to post some photos here somewhere. Developing photos right after taking them helps you figure out what you are doing wrong. With the digital cameras these days, with a little effort, you can take some outstanding shots of sky objects. Trick is to start with brighter objects and work your way down to fainter objects. There is also the art of guiding your telescope to follow the object so it doesn't drift in your picture. A complicated process for sure but rewarding when you get a nice shot.

It is one reason astronomers don't want bright street lights around where they are doing astronomy. Things we look at are hundreds of thousands times fainter than a dim setting at night. I like the idea of an invite for people to see things. Craters on the Moon, Saturn's Ring, Jupiter's Moons, double stars, galaxies, nebula and a great many other objects are out there just waiting to be discovered! I'd like to be the astronomer in the group if it's not too far off the norm for people. I am sure we would have fun and always nice to learn a bit about something that is a mystery for most people.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #38 on: January 13, 2014, 08:39:58 AM »
 
Quote
There is also the art of guiding your telescope to follow the object so it doesn't drift in your picture.

Aye, it's fascinating listening to these guys talk about how they do that.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #39 on: January 13, 2014, 10:05:16 AM »
Every year in June there is a one week star party at the Grand Canyon put on by the Tucson Astronomy Club. About 60 telescopes are set up and there are no street lights for hundreds of miles.

http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/grand-canyon-star-party.htm
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #40 on: January 13, 2014, 10:18:17 PM »
Here is another perspective on the subject.  I am the worst at identifing stars.  Last night at a campfire here at Quartzsite the lady camped next to us pulled out her IPAD and she had an app that you used by pointing it at a portion of the sky.  It would then bring up a star map with the idenity of the stars that you were pointing at.  It was amazing to me.  She even said that you could point it down and the stars on the other side of the earth would be identified.  I will ask her tomorrow for the name and details of the app.  This would make all the difference in my interest in star gazing.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #41 on: January 13, 2014, 10:53:55 PM »
There are several star identification apps for both iOS and Android. Click on an identified star and a bunch of info pops up about it. I have read about a new telescope coming out that can be attached to a tablet or a phone. Click on a star and the tablet directs the telescope to point right at the star.

Celestron COSMOS 90GT Wi-Fi telescope

http://www.celestron.com/portal/cosmos-90gt-wifi-telescope.html
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #42 on: January 14, 2014, 01:36:42 AM »
I have read about a new telescope coming out that can be attached to a tablet or a phone. Click on a star and the tablet directs the telescope to point right at the star.

Celestron COSMOS 90GT Wi-Fi telescope

http://www.celestron.com/portal/cosmos-90gt-wifi-telescope.html

Hi SeilerBird and all,

That makes sense because a lot of the new telescopes sold over the last few years have computers on them. You find two stars to set the scope up an then all you have to do is select an object in the data base and the scope finds it. I don't really need a computer as I know most of the constellations and planets by just looking. However computerize saves time when people are wanting to look through the telescope.

The Grand Canyon Star Party sounds like it would be fun. A chance to look through a lot of different scopes under dark skies. I know some people in the Tucson Astro group. Would like to become a member when I retire and attend meetings. There are also a lot of other star gazing events nation wide. Texas Star Party, Oregon Star Party and many more. These are pretty serious star gazing though and knowing basic rules are important if you attend, like no bright flashlights. Most of us use red lens over flashlights to protect night vision. Astronomers are more than glad to help new comers and you just need to read the info and ask questions. Like any hobby.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #43 on: January 14, 2014, 06:47:49 AM »
Astronomers are more than glad to help new comers and you just need to read the info and ask questions.

I have been to a few of the star parties and I am always amazed at how friendly and helpful everyone is. There are like 60 telescopes set up and the owners will gladly explain anything you want to know about. One night at about 11 pm someone yelled out "Iridium Flare" and everyone pointed their laser pointer at one spot in the sky and sure enough, an Iridium Flare lit up. If you have never seen an Iridium Flare you are missing one of the best shows in the sky. After it was done everyone gave the IF a round of applause. You can find videos of IF on YouTube.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #44 on: January 14, 2014, 12:03:42 PM »
For the rank newbie to astronomy, (that would be me) I found this book to be pretty useful: http://www.amazon.com/Starfinder-Third-Edition-Carole-Stott/dp/1465414533/ref=as_li_tf_sw?&linkCode=wsw&tag=theunofficbord06.  The cool thing about it is it has a moveable template that you can line up the stars with to aid in identification.  I'm going to see if I can find that iPad app someone mentioned earlier and see how they compare.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #46 on: January 15, 2014, 12:25:59 AM »
Greetings again,

There are also astronomy computer software that helps aid in viewing the night time sky. Starry Night is one that many amateurs use to check night time astro events. Here is a list of free software that is rated and listed that I found. I am guessing most have a limited use and you probably have to buy the program later.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-astronomy-software.htm

inscop, Starfinder is an excellent book and helpful if your out and away from the RV and trying to figure things out in the sky. I have an old copy at home.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 09:09:25 AM by camperAL »
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #47 on: January 15, 2014, 07:31:18 AM »
    Lost my attempted post yesterday when I tried to download a pic my son in law took of the horse head nebula.  Last spring when we got home, he, I and his dad, built a base, then installed a home observatory.  We ran electrical wire, and data wire from his basement office to the observatory, so that he can sit at his computer, tell the telescope where to point, see it all on his desktop, then take the most amazing pictures.  He has had several published in periodicals, and really enjoys it as a hobby.
   When we can south this year we brought one of his older and smaller scopes, along with his portable power source, and we will go out a nisht or two when he get down for a visit.  He says that the views will be different here due to Florida being closer to the equator.

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #48 on: January 15, 2014, 08:02:25 AM »
Stellarium is one of the better Windows programs for the armchair astronomer.  Best of all, it's free.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #49 on: January 15, 2014, 04:51:09 PM »
I may have figured out how to extract the pic from Flikr, if it doesn't work, just blame it on being a Senior.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #50 on: January 16, 2014, 01:41:04 AM »
Hi Ed, and all,

Super nice shot of the horse head in Orion's belt! Your son is an accomplished astrophotographer. I'll try to post some of my shots here. Since a lot of them are on slides, I have to copy them.

Ned, Stellarium is an excellent astronomy software program. Free makes it better.

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #51 on: February 20, 2014, 06:01:15 PM »
There's a good star party held each summer in the sand hills of north-central Nebraska called The Nebraska Star Party. It is held at Merritt Lake, about 27 miles southwest of Valentine, Nebraska. Only a few hours from Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Some of the clearest and darkest skies in the continental U.S. This year's event, the 21st annual, will be held from July 27th to August 1st, 2014.

http://www.nebraskastarparty.org/

Skies are so clear and dark, once your eyes have adapted, you can see just by the light of the Milky Way.

Camping at the main star party area is primitive camping (no pads, electricity, water or sewer), although there are more developed camp areas around the lake.

A small store at the dam has basic supplies, and there are cabins that can be rented as well. The city of Valentine has several grocery and other stores.

They generally have some day-time activities planned, and occasionally a guest speaker. Last year I believe it was Astronaut Clayton Anderson from Nebraska.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #52 on: February 22, 2014, 05:28:25 AM »
Hi Slippy,

Sorry I didn't see your post right away.

Wondering if there is room for RV campers or trailers. Wondering how hard it is to get to the sites and how level they might be?

The Nebraska Star Party is one that I would like to attend. I was also wondering if there are vendors at the star party? This might be a good location for some of the RV'rs here to attend and do some star gazing.

Hope to see some more posts here from you.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #53 on: February 22, 2014, 06:46:29 AM »
If anyone is interested I can bring my scope to Moab in May. It's a bit bulky but it is great to reach out and see cool stuff. It's a 8" Dobsonian with goto function and auto tracking.

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #54 on: February 22, 2014, 07:01:41 AM »
If anyone is interested I can bring my scope to Moab in May. It's a bit bulky but it is great to reach out and see cool stuff. It's a 8" Dobsonian with goto function and auto tracking.

I'd be really interested, but I'd hate for you to have to pack a bulky item just for me. Astronomy is one of those disciplines that I've always been interested in, but have never taken the time to get involved (I have enough expensive hobbies now).
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #55 on: February 22, 2014, 07:14:53 AM »
John,

I'm just looking for an excuse!! lol. DW is not too much into it and if I have someone that is, it's worth the hassle! ;D
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #56 on: February 22, 2014, 07:43:11 AM »
Don't worry John, Steve has tons of room. Moab would be one of the best places in America to view the night sky. No cities nearby to screw things up with light pollution. It be really dark there. 8)
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #57 on: February 23, 2014, 11:25:47 PM »
Wondering if there is room for RV campers or trailers. Wondering how hard it is to get to the sites and how level they might be?

The Nebraska Star Party is one that I would like to attend. I was also wondering if there are vendors at the star party? This might be a good location for some of the RV'rs here to attend and do some star gazing.

Hope to see some more posts here from you.

Been a few years since we went to the NSP (work and having given up our old RV).

Right near the main observing area (within a few hundred feet) are some campsites along the lakeside (Snake Campground - see pic). No hookups, but level, some shade and maybe a picnic table. There are toilets and drinking water (from a hand-pump well). Everything else in the area is primitive camping (I think the term is boondocking) so there are lots of places you can park. First-come first-served. We used one site the first year we went up with an RV, but moved up to the main observing area for the convenience (and since it's real bad form to use lights for driving at night, barring a serious emergency). There are some more developed camping areas in other parts of the park, but not within walking distance (unless you like hiking) of the observing area. Cedar Bay Campground has expanded facilities, including electric hookups and coin-operated showers. There is a dump station near the boat ramp at the Merritt Trading Post.

Use of generators or any lights that can be seen from outside your rig during the hours of darkness are frowned on. Many people unplug their lights, or cover them with red film/replace with red bulbs, and use the bare minimum while keeping their shades closed at night. After about noon it is considered okay to start firing up generators to recharge batteries.

Some people rent cabins near the Trading Post, a few stay in Valentine and drive out for the night, others car/van/tent camp, some have pop-up, TT's, 5W's, and full MHs. A Nebraska Park Permit is required ($5 a day, or $25 annually).

The nice thing about the NSP is you don't need a telescope to attend. People (if they aren't trying to do some long-exposure astrophotography) for the most part enjoy sharing their scopes, and having people come up and ask questions. There is a tradition of folks setting up chairs in a circular paved area near 'Dob Row' and quietly chatting most of the night. Dob means Dobsonian, a type of telescope. Some of them are gi-normous! (see pic).

They normally have some vendors selling astronomy-related items and crafts, as well as swap-meets. For registered attendees, there are door-prize give-aways during the week. Depending on donations and sponsors, some of the door prizes are pretty good (telescopes, high-quality eye-pieces, etc).

There are beginner's astronomy field schools, canoeing or tubing down the Niobara River, visitor's attractions in and around Valentine, an indian-reservation casino about 9 miles north of Valentine

We have had attendees from overseas show up, the viewing is so good. And Nebraska is rather central to the U.S., so we get a lot of attendees from all over the U.S. and Canada.


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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #58 on: March 21, 2014, 07:30:49 AM »
Great pics.
I have an 8" Meade with a large tripod but I'm considering selling it and getting something a little smaller for general observation and for easier carrying in the RV.  This one is nice for the house but we have too much light which prevents me from getting much use from it at home and it would take up too much space in our storage compartment. 

I'm interested in what smaller/lighter telescopes and tripod others might have found excellent for viewing and transporting in your RV.  I think a 4" scope would be around the size I would want. It would most likely work better camping in a dark area than my 8" does at the house. I would want one with 1.25" eyepieces so I could still use my current set.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #59 on: March 21, 2014, 01:23:55 PM »
    My Son In Law took this the other night, he'll be down next week and will try using a portable scope that we brought down for him.  I'll let you know how it works out for him, as it is a nice compact scope that would transport easily in an RV boot.

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #60 on: April 04, 2014, 02:18:38 AM »
Greetings,

There will be a total lunar eclipse April 15th (eleven days from this post). Is visible in all of continental US.

Starts about 12:37 a.m. EDT time, lasts until  6:37 a.m. EDT. Mid eclipse is: 3:06 a.m. Sort of late but nice to see and photograph. Have fun!

See details here:
http://www.universetoday.com/110780/get-ready-for-the-april-15-2014-total-lunar-eclipse-our-complete-guide/
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #61 on: April 15, 2014, 03:18:46 AM »
Here are some shots of the eclipse which are far from spectacular. I used a 400 mm telephoto lens to get some size on the moon. Wind was blowing fairly hard and was cold. I clouded out just after mid eclipse.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #62 on: April 15, 2014, 05:49:52 AM »
    It is amazing that the red did come through.  Thanks for sharing.

Ed
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #63 on: April 15, 2014, 06:28:06 AM »
Al - nice shots. There is a thread devoted specifically to the eclipse so you might want to post them there also:

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php?topic=73363.msg667741#new
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #64 on: April 15, 2014, 06:59:17 AM »
I haven't read all of the replies, so I don't know if anybody has already mentioned it, but https://www.astronomics.com/how-to-pick-a-telescope_t.aspx has some of the best prices, and loads of very helpful information.

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #65 on: July 29, 2014, 01:44:31 PM »
I've had an 8" Meade for a few years I used at the house.  Just sold it as it is really too large to carry easily in the RV.  I replaced it with a new Meade 90mm EXT which is much smaller and gathers less light but it does pack and fit in the RV.  I should be able to view more objects when camping in the mountains with it even though it's much smaller than I could with the larger scope at home with more light pollution.  At some point I will probably pick up used a 125mm EXT (not made any more).
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #66 on: July 30, 2014, 02:36:55 AM »
Greetings,

I am hoping to take an 18 or 20 inch Obsession with me when I retire and do my RV'n. If we tow, figure it would fit in the tow car. I may have to reconsider after I get some experience under my belt on hauling things in the RV. Best!
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #67 on: December 22, 2014, 12:55:29 PM »
Hi Everyone,

This is my 1st post here! Sorry for resurrecting this thread but I found it due to a google search for astronomers who RV.  My Wife and I own an astronomy B&B 6 hours south of San Diego in the mountains of Baja California. Here is our website:  www.bajadarkskies.com 
  We have been doing this (off grid so its a good start for full time boondocking!) for about 7 years now and are putting our place on the market in order to be more free to travel and see other places.
 Once we sell the place we plan on getting a Fleetwood Expedition DP, which is the only one we have found that has sufficient exterior storage for all my telescopes (18" Starmaster truss dobsonian and 152mm Hydrogen alpha solar scope), we ruled out a toy hauler since its overkill in terms of storage and not so suited for full timing.
  What we would like to do is explore different parks which are in dark skies and share the views through my scopes with as many people as possible, maybe working with park staff to do some volunteering. There are also a number of very worthwhile star parties such as the TSP (Texas) and Nebraska and Oregon star parties!
  I have been an amateur astronomer (part of the Ottawa chapter of the Royal astronomical society of Canada) for a few decades now and think that RV'ing to different areas would be a fascinating way to share the night sky with lots of different people.
The OP asked about a good stater scope, my opinion would be to get a 10" goto dobsonian such as the Orion Skyquest, it will be very user friendly and the learning curve is not very difficult at all!
http://www.optcorp.com/orion-skyquest-xt10i-computerized-intelliscope-telescope-27184.html

 Best thing would be to find your nearest astro club to see if someone would show you the ropes once you get it. Best thing is to buy a couple eyepieces at first, one being a very wide field ep so you can find your way around the night sky with greater ease, then get yourself a medium power ep to do closeups of the moon and planets.

CamperAl: you mentioned about perhaps organizing a small group of people who own scopes and RV's, definitely count me in for that!! Hey I also found an RV resort in northern Ca that specifically caters to the amateur astronomer market since they are in some of the darkest skies left in N America! They have an open field for setting up scopes along with powered concrete pads for those that need power for their imaging!

http://likelyplace.com/

 Also wanted to make those who have an interest in astronomy aware of a very cool tool for finding the best dark sky sites. This link is to a website that overlays light pollution maps with google earth satellite imagery. You can zoom in and find the least light polluted areas of the SW (forget anything east of Missouri since its all horribly light polluted).

http://djlorenz.github.io/astronomy/lp2006/overlay/dark.html

There are some super dark skies west of Tonopah Nevada, that look interesting and is home to a starparty as well!

Anyway sorry for the long post but if anyone needs an astronomy question answered I would be happy to help. My specialty is high resolution imaging of the moon, planets and sun. You can see some of my pics on our website and sometimes in Sky & Telescope magazine.

hope to meet some of you on the road someday!!

cheers

Mike Wirths

camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #68 on: December 23, 2014, 01:05:02 AM »

CamperAl: you mentioned about perhaps organizing a small group of people who own scopes and RV's, definitely count me in for that!! Hey I also found an RV resort in northern Ca that specifically caters to the amateur astronomer market since they are in some of the darkest skies left in N America! They have an open field for setting up scopes along with powered concrete pads for those that need power for their imaging!


Hi Mike,

Good to see your post here! I was thinking of posting something astronomy related as I hadn't done that for a while.

Thanks for the links in your posts. Funny with the one link to the best dark sky sites I was thinking that before I read that part of your message. Maybe select 20 of the darkest sites (which will be out west) and visit those while on the RV'n road travels.

Here is one spot that is on the way to AZ (for me or others) that might be good to camp at for a couple of weeks or longer:

http://www.rustysrvranch.com/stargazing.htm

Here is an article on RV'n and astronomy:

http://www.gocampingamerica.com/blog/starry-night-astronomy-talks-draw-rv-and-camping-enthusiasts-into-the-heavens

Also some other sites (that I haven't checked out yet) that might find other spots in the country for doing astronomy

https://www.google.com/#q=rv+campgrounds+for+astronomy

Yes, lets work together on putting a group together! I'd like to also do some set ups for the rest of the RV Forum that might want to just look for a few minutes, hours or maybe even a night by setting up scopes to view through.
CamperAL (Indiana)
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John Beard

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #69 on: December 23, 2014, 06:15:45 AM »
I am an astronomy buff in that I love the science although I haven't even seen a telescope set up and used before. But if folks were amiable I would certainly love to attend a star-gazing party and look through your scope(s). If you folks ever set up a gathering, count me in.
John & Susan
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #70 on: December 24, 2014, 12:31:38 AM »
Hi Oscar Mike,

To me perhaps one of the best places to set up telescopes would be during Quartzite with the RV Forum members. Ideally would need to set up on a more or less moonless night. Perhaps at some of the other rallies where there is a good amount of members would also be in order.

Looking through a scope is so much different than seeing a picture of something. It makes it much more realistic. Seeing the craters on the Moon and Saturn's rings leave most people speechless. Will have to make posters to invite people out to look. Perhaps a few images taken during the sessions would bring in more people to look also.

As mikewirths also mentioned, you can find an local astronomy club, an attend meetings and observing sessions without putting a bunch of money into equipment. New members are always wanted and not necessary to go to all the meetings.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2014, 12:57:37 AM by camperAL »
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mikewirths

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #71 on: December 24, 2014, 11:21:25 AM »
Oscar & Al,

Ok excellent , well we are on then! (as soon as we sell our spot and Al as soon as you retire!) Rustysranch looks promising, finding 20 or so excellent very dark spots will be a piece of cake!
  I was watching a series of talks done by John Dobson (inventor of the dobsonian and sidewalk astronomy) last night on youtube (search for winter star party & John Dobson) he mentioned that glacier point in Yosemite had some of the best seeing (steady air) of all the places he toured in the national park system, so going there would be grand too!

http://www.americansouthwest.net/california/yosemite/glacier_point.html

Al the Obsession you are getting is it one of the ultra compact designs? That should be great for portability!
http://www.obsessiontelescopes.com/telescopes/18UC/index.php

I have a Starmaster (a really old one that I am donating to my astro club back in Canada) but am getting a new compact design Starstructure dob this summer with a thinner lighter quartz mirror made by Carl Zambuto. You should consider one of their designs too, they are considered THE inovators in the dob design nowadays.

http://starstructure.com/index.html

This could be lots of fun!!

cheers

Mike

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #72 on: December 24, 2014, 01:04:29 PM »
Al,


Quartzsite is a great idea too, given the hugeness of the event. I have never been but certainly want to! Is the place where people camp with their RV's right in the town? Or is this place basically made up of boondocked RV's? According to the light pollution map of quartzsite it is fairly light polluted but if we were showing people the 1st quarter moon or say Saturn that would not matter. There seem to be very dark skies not too far south of Quartzsite.

http://cleardarksky.com/lp/QrtzAZlp.html?Mn=apochromatic

Hfx_Cdn

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #73 on: December 24, 2014, 01:51:34 PM »
    Al, when the Rally/Gem show and RV Show are running, there can be several hundred thousand RVs boondocked all around the town.  So, I'd say that you will find it difficult to set up near the Rally without a fair bit of "light pollution".

Ed
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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #74 on: December 27, 2014, 02:47:35 AM »
Al,


Quartzsite is a great idea too, given the hugeness of the event. I have never been but certainly want to! Is the place where people camp with their RV's right in the town? Or is this place basically made up of boondocked RV's? According to the light pollution map of quartzsite it is fairly light polluted but if we were showing people the 1st quarter moon or say Saturn that would not matter. There seem to be very dark skies not too far south of Quartzsite.

http://cleardarksky.com/lp/QrtzAZlp.html?Mn=apochromatic

Hi Mike,

It will be fairly light polluted but would still like to show people from the forum who are interested through my scope. I figure that setting up on the end somewhere furthest away from campers would be the best spot. Probably would like to scope it out before and get an idea if it is a doable thing.

Here is some information on the Rally:

http://www.rvforum.net/images/QZ_rally_site.jpg  (this is the camping site)

http://www.quartzsitervshow.com/                        (some info on the show)

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php/topic,77991.0.html   (general info related to the forum members)
CamperAL (Indiana)
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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #75 on: December 27, 2014, 03:03:09 AM »
Hi Mike,

This is a reply to your other message. I met John Dobson also. Heck a lot of amateur astronomers have at various star parties and conventions. A very interesting guy. I like reading about him in Sky and Tel when he was at the monastery, grinding his mirrors underwater so as not to make noise. Buying porthole glass and making telescope mirrors out of them. A true entrepreneur.

If I get one, I'd buy a classic 18" or 20" Obsession. As I age wondering if I will be able to handle the larger scope? I've seen the Starmaster scopes and they seem interesting but the Obsession in my mind is sort of the standard. I plan on putting it in my tow car and brining it. Probably would take the mirror out and store on board the RV just in case someone rear ends the car. Easy to replace the scope structure not so with the mirror.

The scope I have now is a 16 inch on a German Equatorial. house in a permanent location. Weighs about 450 lbs. I have a couple of more transportable scopes that I use for astrophotography.

Agreed, I think it will be a lot of fun. Perhaps we can get enough forum members to start a small club. We could meet online and address where to observe, etc. .
CamperAL (Indiana)
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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #76 on: December 27, 2014, 03:24:48 AM »
    Al, when the Rally/Gem show and RV Show are running, there can be several hundred thousand RVs boondocked all around the town.  So, I'd say that you will find it difficult to set up near the Rally without a fair bit of "light pollution".

Ed

Hi Ed,

Thank you for the first hand experience at the rally. Maybe setting up a bit before or a bit after all the shows might provide an opportunity for forum members to observe if we could convince members to do that in order to avoid light pollution.
CamperAL (Indiana)
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garyb1st

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #77 on: December 27, 2014, 10:57:08 AM »
Having an astronomy get together at Quartzsite next month is a great idea.  Please count me in if anything develops.  I have a scope but it shakes so bad I can't use it at the higher magnification.   
Gary B1st

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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #78 on: December 27, 2014, 08:15:49 PM »
Hi garyb1st,

Not sure if we will have anything going on this coming Quartzite or not. I am not retired yet but looking at my options the next coming year. We will keep you in mind. Perhaps we can take a look at your scope and make it work a bit better. Wondering what the make on your scope is? Reflector or refractor? A scope needs to have a solid mounting in order to be used. Usually lower power is best on any telescope. You can go beyond the useful range of some scopes by using high power. Things we can get at with a group. Best!
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garyb1st

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #79 on: December 27, 2014, 08:40:52 PM »
Hi Al, my telescope is a Mead.  My son gave it to me several years ago.  Based on what I've been reading, I'd say it's more like a toy compared to some of the scopes used by people who are serious about the hobby.  It has a computer and supposedly can find certain stars based on zip code location.  I've never tried that aspect of it.  I don't know the difference between a reflector and refractor which pretty much let's you know where I'm at on the learning curve.  lol. 

If you're going to be in Quartzsite next month, let me know.   

Gary
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #80 on: December 28, 2014, 07:51:28 PM »
Al: Wow you are lucky to have met John Dobson! Wish I could have before he passed away, but he left quite a legacy, a larger than life personality!!
That GEM scope is for sure NOT a mobile scope  :D  You may want to re-consider the wood design of the Obsession for some of the more modern ultra light designs, they will be easier to load and unload. Starmasters are no longer made, Rick Singmaster retired this year.
 I will be getting a short set of ramps to load the scope (it has removable wheelbarrow handles) into either the exterior pass through bins of the RV or the hatchback of the tow car. I think these ramps might do the trick and save my back a bit, this way I can leave the mirror in too:

http://www.discountramps.com/folding-utility-ramp/p/SCG-U/

The Fleetwood Expedition 38K has the biggest pass through storage I have seen so far, about 5 feet bigger than we really wanted to go....but in the long run I think we will be happier.

cheers

Mike
« Last Edit: December 28, 2014, 07:53:25 PM by mikewirths »

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #81 on: December 28, 2014, 07:59:16 PM »
Hi Gary,

If its a Meade then it probably a perfectly acceptable starter scope (way more sophisticated than my 1st $20 Tasco!) Until we can eventually meet up your best bet would be to try to find your nearest astro club and drop in on a meeting with your scope. Hands on help is always best!

Heres a link to help you find a club:

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-clubs-organizations/

Also a starter book like Terence Dickinsons Nightwatch is the best out there!

http://www.amazon.com/NightWatch-Practical-Guide-Viewing-Universe/dp/155407147X/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419818291&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=skywatch+terence+dickinson

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #82 on: December 28, 2014, 08:04:57 PM »
Heres an example of the type of photography I do with my scope, since its not designed for accurate tracking I can only do lunar and planetary images. I use a high speed video camera to take a lot of frames and then the sharpest ones are stacked in freeware. Whats amazing is that someone nowadays can far exceed the best film images taken with even the Palomar scope from the 60's/70's!

The one attached pic is of the lunar crater Plato --smallest features about 359 yards in diameter and the other is of Saturn

camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #83 on: December 29, 2014, 02:55:30 AM »
Hi MikeW,

Beautiful shots of the Moon and Saturn!! Very high def. and nice to be able to select video frames as the atmosphere "clears" for a moment in order to get those shots. I plan on using a full frame Canon EOS 6d which has video ability that I will use to get planets and the Moon with.

I know that the wooden Obsession will be heavy but I want something solid to work with as I will take photos through it. The lighter weight scopes would be more of an issue if you attach a camera to it. Too much counter balancing, etc. for astrophotography. I am sure at some point I may regret that decision though.

I have friends in AZ that have invited me to some of the observatories there. I plan on attending club meetings and doing some nights out under the starry sky when retired and RV'n. I might store a scope there and drive to use it when I do astronomy on my own.
CamperAL (Indiana)
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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #84 on: December 29, 2014, 03:35:53 AM »
Hi MikeW and all,

Speaking of meeting John Dobson, I've been pretty lucky and met quite a few famous astronomers and astronauts during my time. I attended the Alcon 1982 convention and was able to spend a half hour one night, with Clyde Tombaugh (one to one across a table) as everyone was observing. They had night time adapted lighting inside a rest area cabin. I was observing Pluto at that time (from my observatory) and talked to Clyde about my observations, which he took an interest in. I asked him about the photographic plates at Lowell Observatory (that he probably took) that I had seen and wondered about a blob on one side of Pluto. I was thinking it might possible Charon. He told me that the Moon was not in a favorable plane to be photographed in the 1940's and was simply an Eastmond Object.

It took the planet until the 1970's to be in a place where they could photograph it. Clyde was a very interesting astronomer in my book.
CamperAL (Indiana)
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garyb1st

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #85 on: December 29, 2014, 05:52:07 PM »
Mike, thanks for the links.   
Gary B1st

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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #86 on: March 21, 2015, 01:10:00 AM »
Greetings,

One item for astronomy that I have wanted for astrophotography is a full frame Canon Camera. Thought about purchase around and after Christmas, but waited as I felt other things were more important on my lists. After a price drop of $500, went ahead and bought one from a well known camera company in NY.

I am now eager to get out and do some recording of objects and try to peak my ability to capture nice images, plus improve upon them with each session. It is amazing what you can do with these large chip cameras.

One nice thing, it is wireless connection to my computer so you can operate it remotely without having cords dangle. I'll be putting it to the test this summer and will share shots later on with the forum.
CamperAL (Indiana)
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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #87 on: April 06, 2016, 05:19:44 PM »
Try again.
CamperAL (Indiana)
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garyb1st

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #88 on: April 06, 2016, 05:44:48 PM »
Beautiful Al.  Where was it taken?
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dave54

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #89 on: April 06, 2016, 11:11:12 PM »
One of my professors in college was confused.  He said I was an Astronomy major.  No, I insisted, my major is Forestry.  He smiled and said I was just taking up space here.

Why did he think I was studying Astronomy? 
I never get lost.  I just have unplanned adventures.

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #90 on: April 06, 2016, 11:52:03 PM »
Beautiful Al.  Where was it taken?

Hi Gary,

Photo was taken north west of Tucson (Picture Rocks). I had a bit of sky glow but Tucson has such good lighting (lighting ordinance to protect Kitt Peak) that it is a great place to do astronomy, including astrophotography. Orion was just due south in the sky at about dusk time.

Here is a photo of my set up.
CamperAL (Indiana)
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camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #91 on: April 06, 2016, 11:57:53 PM »
One of my professors in college was confused.  He said I was an Astronomy major.  No, I insisted, my major is Forestry.  He smiled and said I was just taking up space here.

Why did he think I was studying Astronomy?

Well I know a lot of professors and a lot of them are confused. One could say that the study of Earth features are a study of astronomy as it would be planetary science. We're all entitled to take up space. Sounds like the professor in this case had a bit extra in between his ears.  ;D
CamperAL (Indiana)
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Old_Crow

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #92 on: January 02, 2017, 09:11:37 AM »
Grand Canyon Star Party dates for '17 are June 17-24. 
Last year we hosted at DeMotte Campground outside the entrance to the North Rim.  There was a group of star gazers that set up in the meadow in front of our campground for the week in addition to the programs held at the lodge in the park.  They were out every night and had talks next door at the lodge in addition to letting interested campers check out the views. 
We'll be back again at DeMotte this year and looking forward to getting more glimpses of the heavens.  Forum members stop by the host site and say howdy.
Wally Crow
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SeilerBird

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #93 on: January 02, 2017, 09:57:38 AM »
Grand Canyon Star Party dates for '17 are June 17-24. 
Last year we hosted at DeMotte Campground outside the entrance to the North Rim.  There was a group of star gazers that set up in the meadow in front of our campground for the week in addition to the programs held at the lodge in the park.  They were out every night and had talks next door at the lodge in addition to letting interested campers check out the views. 
We'll be back again at DeMotte this year and looking forward to getting more glimpses of the heavens.  Forum members stop by the host site and say howdy.
I have been to the star party on the south rim many times. Fantastic event. Usually around 60 telescopes set up of all different sizes from binoculars to refrigerator sized. Great slide programs every night.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #94 on: January 03, 2017, 05:02:06 AM »
Not to change the subject but is anyone else planning on being in the path of the total eclipse on August 21st this year? 
We are making plans for Nashville which is right in it's path.  The path is only about 70 miles wide but crosses the entire US from Oregon to South Carolina that day.

More info and maps:
https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2017Aug21Tgoogle.html
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #95 on: January 03, 2017, 05:14:25 AM »
Not to change the subject but is anyone else planning on being in the path of the total eclipse on August 21st this year? 
We are making plans for Nashville which is right in it's path.  The path is only about 70 miles wide but crosses the entire US from Oregon to South Carolina that day.

My wife mentioned something about that the other day.  Too bad, we'll be "stuck" at the North Rim again in Aug.

I guess all the star people from Tucson go to the South Rim.
The people at the North Rim come from the Phoenix area.
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PopPop51

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #96 on: January 03, 2017, 04:25:38 PM »
After spending nearly all of our 40-some years in the Northeast, my wife and I had never experienced a truly dark sky. The best we'd been able to see, on the clearest, coldest winter nights, was still almost-black with a smattering of stars. We  could sometimes discern the Milky Way, but it was mostly a case of "Oh, that must be it, maybe?" Not nearly as clear and distinct as the photos we'd seen.
On our first trip to Grand Canyon (pre-RV days) we checked into our hotel in Tusayan, had a nice dinner, then drove to the South Rim after dark. Approached the rim I could tell that this was going to be a unique experience for both of us. As we entered the parking lot of an overlook I had her close her eyes until told she could open them. I parked the car, then helped her out (eyes still closed), walked her to the rail at the rim, positioned her face looking almost straight up and out over the canyon, then told her to open her eyes.
The canyon was pure, empty blackness, the cosmos a carpet of tiny lights above us, the silence was deafening. The sudden, strange juxaposition of empty blackness BELOW and soft white light ABOVE literally took her breath and her balance away. We're both glad I was holding on to her.
I highly recommend this for first-time visitors.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #97 on: January 03, 2017, 06:20:57 PM »
It is really cool to down into the canyon at night. If you look where the trails are you can see the flashlights of people hiking at night. And if you get out to the rim just before sunset or just after sunrise you can see bats flying up out of the canyon.
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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #98 on: January 30, 2017, 10:46:12 AM »
My wife mentioned something about that the other day.  Too bad, we'll be "stuck" at the North Rim again in Aug.

I guess all the star people from Tucson go to the South Rim.
The people at the North Rim come from the Phoenix area.


You will see about 73% of the Sun covered at maximum if you are at the North Rim on 21 August 2017.

Here is a link to a good map of the eclipse. If you click anywhere on the map, it will let you see how much of the Sun will be covered by the Moon at the maximum extent of the eclipse. If you are in the area where the Moon will completely cover the Sun, it will tell you how long the period of total eclipse will last. This guy also calculated the effect lunar mountains and valleys along the rim would have on where you are viewing totality from.

http://xjubier.free.fr/en/site_pages/solar_eclipses/TSE_2017_GoogleMapFull.html

There will be another Total Eclipse crossing the U.S. on April 8 2024. If you are near Cape Girardeau, Missouri, you will be in the path of totality for both the 2017 & the 2024 eclipses.

http://xjubier.free.fr/en/site_pages/solar_eclipses/TSE_2024_GoogleMapFull.html
« Last Edit: January 30, 2017, 10:59:31 AM by Slippy »
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