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Author Topic: Taking up astronomy  (Read 35605 times)

camperAL

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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/
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

camperAL

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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.
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

Hfx_Cdn

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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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SeilerBird

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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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Great Horned Owl

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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.

Joel
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Old Radios

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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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camperAL

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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!
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

mikewirths

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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)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

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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camperAL

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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 »
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

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

mikewirths

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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)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

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)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

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)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

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!
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

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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mikewirths

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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 »

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

mikewirths

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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)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

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)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

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)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

camperAL

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Re: Taking up astronomy
« Reply #87 on: April 06, 2016, 05:19:44 PM »
Try again.
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

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?
Gary B1st

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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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