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Topics - Justin Lewis

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I'm trying to decide whether I want to load up my gear to go observe tonight... I just checked the Clear Sky Chart for my favorite observing location and its showing
-100% Clear
-Above Average Transparency
-Poor Seeing

My main targets will be globular clusters, nebulae, open clusters as well as maybe a galaxy or two

I knew that if observing planetary targets that seeing is highly important as well as for double stars, but with bad seeing will any of the other targets I mentioned be hindered?

Would you go out and observe?


Mounts Questions & Expirience / Ioptron and CEM60 Users...
« on: December 30, 2017, 04:08:23 PM »
So Ioptron had a sale, some of us bought one and now we have questions....right?
Life after the AVX...
First off, thank you "Ladyhawke" for the excellent advice😄. I couldn't be happier with the Cem60. It's way more than I expected, although Ioptron's software does take some getting used to and on a side note, it helps immensely when you download the latest ASCOM drivers...oopps😠.
My first observation is using the polar align feature, seems fairly simple and accurate. Luckily, I have a clear view of Polaris at home. I think it was about the 3rd time using it, I had the PA down to .05" according to PHD. Never had it that close with Celestron's ASPA.
Next is the zero feature. You always start an alignment at zero. I'm probably just not understanding this correctly, anytime I tell it to go to zero, it's always off and I have to manually adjust it or use "find". There has also been a few times after I set it, do an alignment and then have to return to's off and I have to re-zero. I know this also has to do with getting your initial align stars into the fov, which they never are when first aligning. I haven't used the finder scope on my OTA'S since my AVX almost always started in the fov of my dslr, spoiled I guess? I'm guessing this problem starts at zero?
How do other Ioptron users deal with setting the zero position? Do you have a special technique, ritual...voodoo?
This is my main question so far and I will have others. Insight about the "zero" feature would be very helpful.

ATM, Optics and DIY Forum / Scatter = PV / RMS ratio ?
« on: December 29, 2017, 05:35:16 PM »
In terms of the measurements commonly used to quantify surface errors, I'm thinking this might be a reasonable way to quantify scatter. Yes?

And the second question is; why do I wake up thinking about this?

I am one of those poor unfortunates who live in and observe from Manhattan. The light pollution here is beyond awful. I am at 9++++ here. I can only see about 40-50 stars in the sky, and that's only after 11pm, when the light pollution has "gone down", ahem. On some nights I can't even see Albireo visually, even if it's overhead. That's magnitude 3.0. That's bad. Really bad. And, like most Manhattanites, of course I have no car.

As I type this, I am visiting a friend who lives outside of Santa Rosa, CA (actually near Freestone) in a light green zone. ARE YOU <BLEEP>in' kidding me? I would use much stronger language, and use it repeatedly throughout this post, but I don't want to get censored or banned from the site.


I have never, ever seen as many stars. I could even see them as we turned into his driveway with his headlights still on, when my jaw dropped open. I could even see them when we opened the car doors and the interior dome light came on, when I bent over to pick my jaw up from the ground.

The Milky Way arced completely from one end of the sky to the other - from Cassiopeia on one end all the way to Sagittarius on the other. INSANE! There was some fuzzy patch of stars above the end star of the Big Dipper - I had no idea what that was. There was some other fuzzy patch of stars in Aquila, and I had no idea what that was. I'm glad I know my way around the sky, or else I would have gotten lost, there were so many stars.

Oh, what I wouldn't give to have a telescope out here! I am so jealous of you guys who get to experience this on a regular basis.

It's a crying shame what we've done to our skies!

Hi Everybody,

I'm posting to solicit comments from experienced users on the suitability of a stock Losmandy GM8 mount for starting astrophotography.  I'm interested in the version with dual-axis digital electronics, maybe not the GOTO model (which adds a whopping $1000 to the cost).  The GM8 is appealing since it's created in america and I like the simplicity, weight, materials, and layout.  For reference, I'll be using a 70/400 APO refractor and a Nikon D5500.  I am hoping to be guiding.  The weight of the OTA and camera with no guide scope is a little five lbs.  And I have been visually observing using setting circles or about 5 months today, therefore kind of know where to find most of the bigger, brighter, items from the skies.

The plan is to get a bracket whenever the weather clears here in northern Ohio, which should be a couple months from today.  In the meantime, I have been studying the posts here on CN and am getting over a bit perplexed.

A lot of individuals have great things to say about the GM8, but quite a number of these posts end with something along the lines of 'a good mount for visual'.  Others insist that the bracket is fine, but the tripod is feeble, even though that can easily be corrected by the purchase of a heavier tripod for a mere $800.  Others say that the bracket is wonderful but only after you replace the worm gears or gear using exotic French specimens that cost $400-$500 a pop.  So a nice basic non-goto bracket that began at $1500 quickly means $3000 or more.  Makes the AVX seem better and better.

But when I search AstroBin for "GM8" I see tons of photos, most of which I'd be pleased to have taken.  Five to ten minute subs aren't uncommon (and I recognize that it takes some time to reach that degree of skill).  Have all these people replaced the tripod and gears?  I sort of doubt it.

So what's the real deal?  I know that this is the web and we must whine about things and pick at every nit we can locate or it will find all tedious and everything.   If the basic $1500 bracket is an effective instrument for A/P, then the superior within a AVX / Sirius along with the reduction of GOTO convenience might well be well worth it to me.  But if I truly need to pay $3000 for just the bracket to receive five to ten minute guided subs in 400-600 mm, I'll look elsewhere.

And I am not very interested in purchasing secondhand.

If anybody has an experience they'd love to talk about, I 'd be really interested in hearing it.  And thanks very much for taking the time to see this.



General Astronomy & Observing / Tonights Sky in NC
« on: December 24, 2017, 09:05:58 AM »
FYI.. .if anyone resides in the surrounding states, you may want to check out your skies tonight.  I reside in the Charlotte, NC area and I just checked my sky for tonight.  I received a pair of dark blue squares mean 4/5 for seeing and transparency!  I better spray my yard today, as the skeeters where once me last night!

Clear skies all

Beginners Forum / Celestial coordinates
« on: December 24, 2017, 01:00:05 AM »
Hi guys,

Can anyone help me to know the altitude/azimuth measurements of an object in the skies?  And how the RA and DEC measurements fit in??

For instance I'm reading the coordinates right now of M31 Andromeda Nebula Galaxy Mag: 4.8 (Night Sky Tools program.  On my cellphone) and the numbers are:

Alt: 035 degrees 17' 57.11" Azim: 296 degrees 40' 39.61"

I wish I could just look at these numbers and instinctively know where that thing is.  I know that each number is a measurement relative to the celestial north pole or the horizon, however how do get that number superimposed on the skies?  These are the things I would like to know before I simply choose an object in the data base of a goto automatic bracket and let the computer do all the work.

I'm not attempting to make things difficult, I just need to know what it all means.

Does anyone care to share some wisdom?  If so, thank you.  Maybe I'm not the only one who is wondering about this stuff.

Clear and dark skies everyone!

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