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Messages - Darius Swick

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I'm brand new to amateur astronomy, having just acquired my first scope - an 8", f6 dob (XT8 Plus, specifically). I've taken it out every clear night and I'm already sure that this will be a hobby I will be investing some time (and money) in. I've spent some time reading through these forums, and have read through two highly recommended books ("Nightwatch" & "Turn Left at Orion"), but there are some things I could use some further advice on:

1. Light pollution: I live in an urban environment (Alameda, CA - basically downtown Oakland) and the light pollution is awful. I have 3 young kids, include a 1 month old, so my ability to get away from home to seek out dark skies will be limited for the foreseeable future. I understand that many deep sky objects will remain out of reach from my location, but I still want to seek out all the open clusters and multi star systems and any other bright objects that I can from my own backyard. Considering my gear, and that I have no GoTo technology, I'm reliant on star hopping to find my targets, which is quite difficult with my severe light pollution.I had considered getting an extreme wide angle eyepiece at low power with which to break through the pollution to navigate the skies for star hopping purposes.Is this a feasible solution? Perhaps coupled with a broadband filter?Any other advice on star hopping in severe light pollution without GoTo technology? Also, can you please recommend a resource for light pollution maps?

2. Filters:I'm considering purchasing two different filters, a broadband filter to dampen light pollution (noted above - although I question how helpful it will be), and a narrowband filter for nebula viewing from home and on rare occasions when I can get away from the city. Regarding the narrowband, I've read great reviews on the DGM NPB, so that's currently at the top of my list. With that in mind, I'd rather not pay the full $150, so I'm mulling the idea of getting the "cosmetic 2nd" discounted piece from Amazon (, but I'm concerned about the fact that the flaws include "cosmetic flaws, such as pinholes, sleeks, or light scratches". Are these flaws significant when it comes to filters?Or should I trust DGM when they say "flaws which have zero impact on optical performance. Spectral characteristics are the same high quality as our first quality filters and side by side performance is indistinguishable."

3. Eyepieces:There's so much information out there on eyepieces, it's difficult to settle on which eyepieces to target next. The XT8 Plus comes with an Orion 10mm plossl and 28mm "Deep View". The plossl seems well enough for now, but I don't feel that the Deep View provides enough FOV for a lower power eyepiece, so I think a low power, wide angle eyepiece will be my next purchase.With that in mind, any recommendations on the ideal "True FOV" to shoot for low power viewing? I know 2"+ will be necessary to take in all of thePleiades and Andromeda (for example), but is 2" considered overkill, or is this a good TFOV to shoot for? Any other eyepiece advice you can provide regarding building a strong initial eyepiece set would be helpful as well (considering mid to high-tier options).

Thanks a lot!

Tonk, that is a very cool photo. Thanks for the link and your advice.

And 5 minutes unguided is way more than I would expect. I do expect to guide. And to use a pole master.

Regarding the tripod, it appears that there may have been some changes as newer users seem to report fewer problems.  One suggestion I heard was to use the tripod without extending the legs, and then add one of the column risers (which are much more reasonably priced) to bring the head to a comfortable height. But I guess the height probably will not matter too much for A/P. I am a bit worried about wind as I will be imaging right on the shores of lake Erie. (It sure can blow my dob around). But in that case, lower is better anyways.

Thanks again for all the good advice.


Well, I had decided that any new singel FL eyepieces would be ES 68 or 82. Now I have the Meade 5000 line to consider.

But I don't think I will be buying any more single FL eyepieces. I like the zooms too much and the Baader Hyperion has really captured my attention. I am less and less likely to pull out a singe FL eyepiece. I like the zoom or the barlowed zoom.

Again, thanks for your input in this discussion.

Mounts Questions & Expirience / Re: ES G11 Reviews and Tips
« on: February 08, 2018, 07:24:39 PM »
Here is a close-up of the bubble levels on the RA and dec. Using these, I have been able to get my zero position so accurate that I haven't needed to do an alignment or sync-solve yet. (I'm using an FL of about 600) I just slew to the target and then tweak the framing/rotation as needed.

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Reflectors Telescopes Forum / Re: Alt axis strut for Dobsonian
« on: February 04, 2018, 10:56:05 AM »
I'm glad the XT10i has a tension adjustment that works so complex solutions are not required. I put some magnetic weights on the bottom of the tube and use the screw. Last night Paracorr2 + 31T5 to 3.5T6 was a seamless transition and required no input other than maybe a twist of the knob. I don't even remember if I turned the knob or not. I like simple.

It works well enough that we observed Centaurus A with the 31T5 from +34 lat. The tube was flat horizontal and stable using the tension adjustment. That one did require tightening it down. The big galaxy was skimming the treetops.

The Z12's bearings are adjustable in a couple of ways, but my mods and eyepieces have just pushed it past the adjustable range. It works, but tightening the bearing knobs too much makes the motion jerky. I also want to be able to lock the alt axis when changing eyepieces. It may move in azimuth a little, but at least I don't have to worry about vertically.

The new adapters and mount arrived. I only used adhesive pads to attach the mount to the tube. The bond is not as strong as I hoped, but I am not ready to drill into the OTA yet. The adhesive pads are good enough for testing and light use. I'll attach it better soon. I really do like the motion and the ability to freeze the motion altogether. It's easy to add and remove, making setup a breeze.Clear Skies everyone.


Reflectors Telescopes Forum / Re: My new Obsession 15 UC
« on: February 03, 2018, 08:20:41 AM »
Hi, Dr Who; You have some lessons for a would-be UC15" owner? I am considering this scope, and would love to hear them. My current scope is (was- sadly, primary mirror has cracked) a Hubble Optics 16" f/4.5 dob. It is sort of a UC imitatator, but is a bit unstable, and has a definite bump in the folding altitude bearing when moving in alt. It's really very annoying. I'm hoping the Obsession 15 will have smoother movements, be better built, and easy to transport by air with the optional carry case. Obsession says they can supply one in 4 weeks. What was your experience?Thanks,Lawson
My experience with the scope was nothing but positive. Mine took about 6 months to get though so it sounds like Dave K. has made it through the back log. The movements are very smooth but you must put on the cross braces or collimation will not hold as you travel from zenith to horizon. It is also much better put together than the Hubble.Visually it will blow your socks off compared to the Hubble mirror. Or almost any other mirror you run into. The views are really stunning. You must get a Paracorr for it. That is mandatory at f/4.2 or the seagull stars will drive you nuts.My only complaint is the mirror. It got too heavy for me to use it as much as I wanted to because it was a pita to carry the mirro, mirror box, and ground board at 60 lbs around. Dave could cut the weight dramatically if he went to a thinner mirror. The mirror is also very exposed in the virtual mirror box so scratching or streaking can happen easily. He uses a water heater pan to protect it which is actually quite clever but if you allow the plastic to touch the mirror it will cause streaks. You also will need a shroud for it. The shroud will stop stray light which is a problem and protect the mirror as well as prevent thermals from your body disturbing the view.Now the bad news. Air travel. This is NOT a small or light scope case combination! Traveling with it in its ATA case will be a major endeavor both in the car and on a plane. It will not fit in the trunk or even a back seat of a standard car. You will need a hatchback for that. And you will want a ramp to roll it out of the back. It is not something you are going to want to lift after a few times doing it.If you are truely interested in airline travel I would recommend the following scopes in order of their ease of travel. First is the Litescope. The 12" will literally fit in your carry on with your clothes and toiletries also in the case. Next is the 12.5" Sumerian Optics Alkaid. It is a wonder of engineering the way it collapses down into a large attaché case sized package. Last but not least is the Teeter Journey.I looked at all three and the Teeter hit the sweet spot for me in terms of ease of setup (no sight tube needed to center the mirrors at each use, no squatting down to view like with the ultra fast Lite Scope etc), aperture to weight ratio (I lost 2.5" from the UC but slimmed the weight down of the largest component from 45 lbs to just over 20), and transportability. It is also a very well designed structure with a lot of attention to detail that you will not find on the UC. That isn't saying the UC is poorly designed, it isn't it's very well designed. But the Teeter is a different design philosophy that is a very very elegant one that resonates better with me.Rob is making me a custom 12.5 inch version of it and I would guess he updates the line to include a 12.5 version since he is putting in the engineering time to make mine. The cases are also easier to work with for airline travel and the mirror can go on the aircraft as carry on in its own case if you so choose. And the case will fit in the back seat of my Camery and is light enough to work with. The cost is about what the UC cost me but comes with a Zambuto mirror. It also has encoders and a few other bells and whistles.My advice is that if you want to travel or you do not want to deal with a heavy scope when you don't need to look at the three options I mention and take a hard look at the Teeter. If you don't want to travel or weight is not a big deal and you really have to have that extra 2.5" of aperture the UC 15 is a fantastic option.

Mounts Questions & Expirience / Re: The CGX, CGX/L, Good News Thread
« on: February 03, 2018, 07:03:10 AM »

True... it is "just sad"....
But the cloud does have a silver lining.
At least Celestron is addressing the issues, and fixing the mounts (under warranty).
Shipping is generally covered by Celestron - both ways.
But unfortunately, with ground shipping - it does take awhile.
But in the end... all is well, that ends well.

And i can say that with authority, because i am one of the ones that had to ship it in.
And as i said above.... I am a happy camper.. and love my CGX-L.

But, many 2" barlows can have their lenses threaded onto the bottom of many 2-1.25" adapters (like on the GSO star diagonal in the link).

Not that's something I didn't know. Any idea what the multiplier would be with a 2x barlow's element attached there?

ATM, Optics and DIY Forum / Re: Mirror Cell Details
« on: February 02, 2018, 06:07:39 PM »
That is an ASTONISHING telescope to say the least but i think for my first telescope i'm gonna have to st with a much more simple design. for the time being i'm stealing pictures off the internet and modifying them to fit lol. on that note i have figured out the PLOP Gui thank you guys for that and have started to draft up the cell. here is where i'm at. i sure wish i knew more about AutoCAD i am painfully slow and have no idea where most of the controls are, spent more time on youtube learning it than drawing it.Attached Thumbnails

You can always hook up an electronic eyepiece to see deeper, as long as you don't mind looking at a screen at them. That would be mostly for DSO's

Beginners Forum / Re: In praise of tracking
« on: February 02, 2018, 04:33:14 PM »
Now the question is: ¿Would you be prefer an 8" scope with tracking to a 10" without?
I think people have provided a lot of objective and concrete benefits of tracking. It is a major convenience. My question for you is: what's that 2 inches of aperture gonna do for you? The views will look "better." Compared to the benefits of tracking, that's pretty vague and subjective. And the statement only makes sense if you're comparing telescopes. When I'm in the field, I don't have time for telescope drag races.

A view is either impressive, or it isn't. No matter what scope you have, they're not all gonna be winners. If it doesn't work out, I just type the next one into my handset. There's always something else to look at. Thousands of objects are within the reach of an 8". Your list is probably a lot longer than mine, due to your awesome latitude. If you think you'll be observing enough to exhaust the whole list, you should definitely get something bigger. Otherwise, don't worry about it.

General Astronomy & Observing / Re: Herschel 400 Advice?
« on: February 02, 2018, 04:00:52 PM »
>>>>>Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!

I remind you that had the alleged banditos been wearing their badges, and thereby proven their status as officers of the federal government, things would have been settled amicably, without resort to gunfire and blood.

This is why it is always best to have one's Astronomical League badges when at star parties and othergatherings of hobbyists.

I have mine!!!


Beginners Forum / Re: Thank you
« on: January 31, 2018, 10:51:02 AM »

The donated scopes mean that the donors can now go and purchase themselves another scope, or two.
Works along the lines of "I have 9 scopes, wife forbides me to get a 10th, so donate one to Den, then I can buy another and say "What new scope" I still only have 9."

See everyone is happy, you are happy, donor is happy, wife is happy.

Not everyone one is limited by their companions to a certain number of scopes. Some people buy scopes with the idea of passing them on to someone who can use them. Some people will buy a scope as a gift to someone they have never met. And some people give away a treasured telescope because they feel they want to help someone get a good start. I suspect that there was some of each in the gifted telescopes.

Den is thanking the group for their help as well as those who donated equipment to her. As a member of the Cloudy Nights beginners forum, Den: "You are most welcome."

Now 3 is enough for me. Please donate to another beginner in need.

Beginners Forum / Re: Just Got my Scope, several questions
« on: January 31, 2018, 10:36:29 AM »
I have not, it's been really cloudy here but I am excited to take it out. Right now all of the mirrors look intact and well (but this is the first time I've seen a telescope in person so I really can't tell!). Do you know of a test I could do indoors or during the day to see if everything is working properly? Also, is there a way to see if your scope needs collimating indoors?Thanks


Yes, you can, as I do, and with this...

An inexpensive laser-collimator, or any laser-collimator for that matter, requires checking and collimating, too, and before using it to collimate the telescope. Else, one risks throwing the collimation out with one...

Laser-collimators are very popular with owner-operators of larger, and longer, Newtonians, and to keep from having to go back and forth between the rear of the telescope to the front where the focusser is located, and all whilst adjusting the primary screws. You can see how exhausting that can become with a telescope of this size...

With a laser, the owner remains at the rear of the telescope making adjustments whilst watching the red dot line up with the bull's-eye there at the front, at the focusser...


However, my 6" f/5 Newtonian is not nearly that large and long...
It's rather svelte, actually, and quite the little light-grabber in its own right. Your 5" f/5 is just the next step down in size, and both of these smaller Newtonians simply do not need a laser-collimator, as one can look into the collimation-cap and reach over to adjust the primary screws, simultaneously. But that's for the user to decide, whether a cap or a laser.

The collimation-cap; quite simple and effective...
The cap is inserted in place of an eyepiece, then the telescope is aimed at a light, bright, blank surface, a wall or other, and one can then see the entire optical system of the telescope, its innards, at a glance...
...then to make adjustments if needed. The secondary scene of a 5" f/5 will look very similar to that if not exactly, and if well collimated. I am not certain if the primary mirror of the 130SLT is center-spotted, like this...
If it is, then the cap is ready to use. If not, it's quite easy to center-spot these smaller primary mirrors...


Collimation instructions...


A Dobsonian is a Newtonian on a Dobson-type alt-azimuth mount, so that second set of instructions may also be useful.

Collimating is not as difficult as it appears at first, and is soon learned and mastered. There is a learning curve in the beginning. The secondary assembly is the most mechanical aspect of the telescope, there near the front opening of the tube...
The secondary assembly, removed from my 6" f/5 and disassembled...
That's the part of the telescope that gives those first starting out the most trouble, so I would not recommend adjusting it until the user is comfortable and familiar with the assembly and how it plays a part in effecting an accurate collimation.

The primary mirror is much easier to adjust, and hopefully the secondary retained its alignment from the factory overseas during shipping. If the collimation is out somewhat, then adjusting the primary only may be all that's needed...

Light Pollution Topics / Re: Post Your Pain Here
« on: January 31, 2018, 06:43:45 AM »
I swear, these new LED lights are popping up like mushrooms. One my way home today, I discovered that a neighborhood gas station had replaced their previously overly intense lights (which were at least cutoff lights) with these monstrosities. They are aimed at 45 degrees to the horizontal. The attached photo was taken with an EV value of 7, which will give photographers an idea of how bright these are. A normal exposure for subjects under bright street lights would be an EV of 4. Bright interior shots at home are normally exposed at about an EV of 6. Each step up in EV equates to double the brightness. You'll notice that even at EV 7, the areas illuminated by the lights are grossly over exposed. Complaints to the city to follow tomorrow when zoning enforcement is open.

Status Update: An order was issued by the city to bring this lighting into compliance with Section 1421-39 of the municipal code on May 3. On May 10, the owner responded that the lights would be directed down and shielded within 30 days. I will let you know if and when this happens.

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