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Messages - Justin Lewis

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David, your friend violated the first rule of solar filter use, he left the instrument pointed directly at the Sun and walked away for an undetermined length of time. Sure, he'll tell you that it was only for a minute, or two, but I'll bet that it was for considerably longer. I get plenty of deliveries from both USPS and UPS and if it required my going to the door I'm usually involved for ten minutes, or more.

As I indicated in my earlier post, I've known a great many serious observers over the years, including a significant number of AAVSO Solar Division members, those involved in deriving the official daily US Sunspot Numbers. These dedicated individuals daily counted sunspots for years on end, one fellow for over 40 years! Among these and other colleagues of mine, no one ever reported a solar filter failure.

When one has the full details of an incident, misuse is the culprit in better than 90% of the reported instances of solar filter failure. I have considerable experience in interviewing members of the public concerning so-called accidents and in nearly all situations the individuals purposely color their story to strongly favor themselves, while pointing the finger of blame at product failure and not their own. It is human nature. Careful investigation, however, almost inevitably indicates just the opposite. Common sense is hardly fact it's rare these days.

Sorry, old boy.


Here is another way I use this to help newbies or are thinking about getting their first telescope or helping someone else try to decide on their first telescope.

A common question is, "What can I see?"

I set the Tonight's Sky site to their location.
I set the targets as Naked Eye and Binoculars only
I set the Horizon at 45 degree for good view angle

I set for Open Clusters, Globular Clusters, planets, double stars and star groups. Even in light polluted skies these should be visible in a telescope, most should be visible in binoculars and many by naked eye.  I can see to mag 3.7 at my site looking to the darkest area of my sky.

I did this for Houston TX for a newbie who was concerned that his center city skies might not reveal anything to him.

I got 104 targets of Mag 6.5 or brighter.

Based on my experience with my 80 mm ETX 80 refractor at my home site, a very light polluted "dark white" zone, I can see at least the Mag 5 targets on this list if they are in the darker part of my sky, and likely dimmer.  So I estimate that with a 5" scope anyone should be able to see at least these.  But that is based on my personal estimate, not on facts or experience with a scope at their site.

I would welcome your opinion of this approach. I am trying to help them level set their expectations. It is not an exact science but it does help answer the, "what can I see from my site".  Even in Times Square, NYC, I would think you could see to at least Mag 5 with a 5" scope, excluding galaxies and nebula.

I am open to advice or criticism of this approach.  Just trying to answer a question.

I am not actively using DSO Browser so I would welcome input on using that for this purpose.

Naturally your smileage will vary.

I use both Tonightssky more, but DSO Browser is a little more robust in that you can access more information about the objects you are looking at. DSO Browser also has better options in downloading different formats of the observing lists including excel

As for Tonightssky I actually like it better as its borderline better in terms of user interface

Both are amazing sites and the builders of both sites are very accessible and love feedback!


We have a failure to communicate. After hitting the knob with the hammer a few times, the bolt loosened up and is now working just fine. I'm able to take it off and put it back on.
Now I just have to get rid of the penetrating oil which seems to have penetrate everywhere.

Lets hope that the giant WindZilla turbines do not encroach upon the area with their obnoxious flashing navigational warning beacons.

Obnoxious, yes.  Detrimental to actual astronomical viewing - well - I'll guardedly state - not so much. They put up 50 of the things near me last year.  The two closest are within a 1/2 mile from my house.  Still, I'm not all that fond of them myself.

I've been following the Cherry Springs issue for a while - while it stinks, it should be a transitory thing.  Just remind the gas company that you guys are there - utilities have this habit of putting in 24/7 lighting for their facilities by me.  (Actually the worst bit about the windmills near me turned out to be the substations rather than the windmiles...)

I hope things get worked out.  What a horrible shock for folks expecting a dark sky site.


I was referring to Mr Jone's wood block. Sorry for not quoting. Mark, what you've done there is really impressive, but what for you is a 2 hour mod, for me would be, "I broke my mount." I'm much more of a stick-a-piece-of-wood-in-there kind of guy. It's pretty amazing that Mr Jones was able to use a 27lb long scope like that, so I was wondering if the woodblock was a tight fit, and if so how he got it tight.

Light Pollution Topics / Re: Washington State Legislation Attempt on LP
« on: February 03, 2018, 03:42:04 AM »
If baby steps it must be that have better chance of making it through that "bumpy passage" Mardi just described, then let it be.None of the Rep. I wrote has replied yet.  I am wondering maybe they will reply when its fate is determined.qianniu

Another vote for the 5.5mm Meade UWA. When your seeing allows it use, the extra FOV is nice to have on a manually tracking scope.
Not to mention its extremely comfortable to use unlike most budget and for that matter many premium eyepieces.

Mounts Questions & Expirience / Re: To POTH, or not to POTH?
« on: February 02, 2018, 10:48:22 PM »
Arringar, sorry to hear that.
To clarify, I use the setup described in my previous post, but no EQASCOM. More clearly, I use handcontroller software version V3.39.05 (version from August 2017) from the Skywatcher global website, and the SkyWatcher SynScan Mount Controller (6.0.6262, June 2017) from My issue was more the 64/32bit software issue described above but I think I remember from some tests that the new driver(s) also have hub functionality now.
Sorry, I have no experience with EQASCOM. I guess you are aware of the special cabling/connection you need to make when you leave away the handcontroller? If not you should find out at the eq-mod website.
Good luck,

Thank you for the clarification. I am using the same version of the hand controller firmware and motor controller firmware.
I have attempted this in multiple ways, including via the Skywatcher driver from the ASCOM website. That driver doesn’t seem to have hub capabilities (as in I cannot connect multiple apps simultaneously without getting a COM port busy error).
I have also tried this using the POTH hub with the EQASCOM EQ6 driver as I wanted the functionality of EQMOD. This effectively only allowed me to connect one app at a time. I think this may have worked if I had multiple instances of EQASCOM installed but this defeats the purpose.
I have also tried connecting POTH via the Skywatcher driver and I get a “failed to load driver” error when I attempt to connect the second app to the POTH.
Either I am doing something incorrectly or something is wrong with my application or ASCOM platform install.
App 1:
Skychart > POTH via Skywatcher driver > handset
App 2:
AstroTortilla > POTH via Skywatcher driver > handset (fails)
I have no access to my scope currently and was writing with what I have in mind. I can check later if there is an interest in this.

I do not have experience with EQASCOM and would suggest to not highjack this thread with issues regarding this different piece of software. But to help you proceed : Did you try the seaech function which gives results like this one:


Best, Laura

There is a Czech company - ATC - selling Plossl eyepieces that have a good reputation - the AFOV is opened up to 60 degrees - this would be another option, especially in Europe:


The new Masuyama 5-element eyepieces in 40mm, 45mm, and 50mm are also a very nice Clavé-like experience, although you add an extra lens element. I do like Brandons too, 48mm is excellent, but IMO they need f/8.5-f/9 or longer to operate well at the edges. As the f-ratio gets longer the edge correction becomes perfect, at f/15 the Brandons are sharp to the edge andClavés still have a bit of astigmatism/trouble at the edges.

Beginners Forum / Re: Best Travel Telescope for the least amount of $$$?
« on: February 02, 2018, 02:38:11 PM »

A telescope for the "Land of the Midnight Sun" ? In June? Pretty sure Binoculars or a very small telescope would be plenty for terrestrial viewing. You won't see anything like actually darkness.

Good point. I wasn't thinking about the "when" aspect. All you will get in Denali in June is three hours of civiltwilight.
Very true! The only objects viewable in the "night sky" in Denali in June will be the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn. And the last of those only if you enjoy staying up really late.

The other thing you will find anywhere in Alaska at that time of year is genuinely magnificent mosquitoes -- the state bird, as any Alaskan will tell you.

In my sig....

ATM, Optics and DIY Forum / Re: ATM software
« on: February 02, 2018, 02:15:30 PM »
I usesketchup to make telescopes. you didn't say optical software but atm software.

couldn't do without it btw

also AutoCAD and 3dmax.









rossnull xp


some cassegrain software that wyld e. coyote [mike jones] wrote via ACME inc.

ronchi test simulator

LINKS! Include LINKS please!

ATM, Optics and DIY Forum / Re: Penny tile tool, copper or zinc?
« on: January 31, 2018, 10:37:46 AM »
OK so stainless has a mohs of ~6.5, a little harder then the 5.5 of the steel nuts, but not quite as hard as porcelain. (7) Maybe the SS nut surface area is too small, hard and not porous enough to hold enough embedded grit?

I don't know why, don't care why, just know not to use it.

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Do you like to use a particular brand?
the cheapest on ebay...

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I wonder how 2-part epoxy or polyurethane mixed with drywall compound would work? I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, just looking at alternatives.
I bake the tool @170°F for a couple of hours then let it dry overnight on a baking rack so any moisture still left fall out the bottom on a blotter of paper towels.

I then spray it 2 coats of clear poly, 2nd coat looks wet.

then I 2 part epoxy the pennies on.

Beginners Forum / Re: First Scope Recomendations
« on: January 31, 2018, 07:08:02 AM »

Hi, everyone. I know that he is on a budget but aside from this, do you guys think that it is still worth for an adult to start with a refractor that is less than 4" aperture these days?

I started with a 60mm. If you have somewhat dark skies you can see a lot with 80-90mm. If you get aperture fever you can keep the smaller scope for grab and go even if you get a larger scope later.
Hi. Was it a 60mm ED refractor?

The Mesu sounds like a great mount but it is a tank. At 25.5 kg, the head weighs twice as much as the Avalon. So if portability is a concern... Bottom line is: each of these premium mounts (AP, SB, 10 micron, Avalon, Mesu, others) will give you superb guided images, consistently with a minimum of fuss. Then they each have their unique niches: unguided, no flip, no computer, greater load, that make them attractive to individual buyers.


edit: just missed Stelios' post. What/when price increases for Avalon?

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