Thursday, January 17, 2013

Orion Nebula

This image was taken by the Bradford Robotic Telescope requested by the children in my class at school. Stargazing Live inspired the children to find out more about space, so we decided to submit a job to BRT. The result was amazing and the children were really excited when the image came back and I showed it on the big screen in my classroom.

We also sent in a request to try to image 'Tracy's Star'. Tracy works with me and her husband gave her a gift of a named star from the International Star Registry. The star's name is called Trebad and with the supplied star chart came the exact RA and DEC location of the star. The children entered the RA an DEC co-ordinates into the BRT job and today the result came back. Amazing! Now Tracy can actually see her registered star for real!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jupiter 12th January

Last week I watched 'Stargazing Live' on television. A wonderful programme which inspired me to go out in the cold with my Skywatcher 80ED Pro and do some imaging. It has been weeks since we had a clear night, but on Saturday the seeing was excellent!

Jupiter was high in the Southern sky and very bright. Very close were the Pleaides and Hyades. I have not set up the telescope to image for a while now and had to think carefully what to do. Took around 30 minutes to get things right and set up the software. I decided to use the Philips Toucam Pro II webcam to try to image Jupiter with the 2x Barlow lens fitted. The tracking on the telescope was perfect and had Jupiter dead centre with no movement at all.

The images above were taken with 3000 frames of AVI at 10 fps. Then stacked and processed using Registax 3.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Celestron Firstscope

I treated myself to one of these for Christmas!

A few weeks ago I borrowed one of these to see for myself how this tiny Newtonian would perform. The one I borrowed was the SkyWatcher Firstscope, but it is identical apart from the external markings. I was so pleased with it that I decided to have one myself.

There are times when I like to be able to look at objects without having to set up my Skywatcher 80ED Pro or Skywatcher 130m. They are so big and bulky when you just want to have a quick look. The Celestron Firstscope ticks all the boxes, it is a small compact Dobsonian and folds
 neatly. It takes up little space and is a tabletop telescope that sits nicely on my windowsill to view the Moon from my bedroom without even going outside!

It is not really suitable for Astro-Imaging as the focal length is very short and I can't even get the Philips Toucam to reach focus with the focus unit. I can with a barlow lens fitted, but then the focus is not sharp enough.

I use my own set of Plossl eyepieces which are much better than the ones supplied by Celestron, although, the Skywatcher version supplies much better eyepieces and also a viewfinder. I decided to go for the Celestron because it was only £39 and I already had my own viewfinder and eyepieces. I find that the 25mm eyepiece works the best. The Skywatcher version costs around £55.

Celestron FirstScope Telescope - General Features
  • High quality Dobsonian style stand with a 76 mm reflector optical tube make FirstScope an ideal entry level astronomical telescope.
  • Portable and lighweight table-top design makes it easy to store, transport and setup your FirstScope Telescope
  • FirstScope is very easy to observe with, the user simply navigates the night sky by moving the tube in the direction of their desired object.
  • Stylish and decorative design makes FirstScope a wonderful keepsake for anyone interested in astronomy.


Optical Design : Dobsonian Reflector
Aperture : 76 mm (2.99 in)
Focal Length : 300 mm (11.81 in)
Focal Ratio : 3.95
Eyepiece 20 mm
Magnification 1 : 15 x
Eyepiece 4 mm
Magnification 2 : 75 x
Weight : 1956.12