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June 17 2019

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Thread Author: merlin
Thread ID: 4536
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I was just wondering if anyone else here is particularly interested in Astronomy and enjoys looking at the night sky with binoculars and/or a telescope? Which type of telescope do you have and what do you most enjoy observing?

I bought my first telescope in January and ever since I've been really addicted and have been out many times including sometimes all night. I have a Skywatcher Evostar 90 refractor which although an entry level scope has good optics and does get good reviews. This is what it looks like except I opted for an alt-az mount instead of an equatorial mount:


Although you can of course find plenty of incredible photos online taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, spacecraft etc. there's something really special about seeing things for yourself though a telescope. I tend to mainly observe planets and the moon but do also enjoy viewing deep sky objects like galaxies and star clusters. I'm aiming to eventually work my way through the Messier list.


Double stars are lovely to observe too. Albireo in the constellation of Cygnus and Almaak in Andromeda are very pretty doubles. Like jewels in the night sky.

One thing that makes it so easy to find your way around the sky is the Stellarium program which is freeware. A fantastic program and worth a look even if you don't plan to get a telescope. These days many people buy computerized go-to mounts which once aligned automatically slew the telescope to whatever you want to look at. Personally I find it more rewarding to do it the traditional way learning the sky and finding objects by star hopping.


I was excited last week getting my first ever glimpse of Neptune. The aperture of my scope isn't big enough to resolve Neptune as a disc so it just looked like a star. Still it was amazing to be looking at the furthest planet in the solar system at over 4 billion km from Earth. By using Stellarium I knew for certain I was definitely looking at Neptune. I just need to view Mercury and Venus and I'll have observed all the planets through a telescope.

I would highly recommend anyone who hasn't already got one to consider buying a telescope. You definitely won't regret it. I'm already planning to upgrade to a larger scope in a few months time.

This might seem like a bit of a random topic to post at NGFL but I thought I would give it a try. Probably I'll get 0 replies! LOL
Basashi King
hi merlin,

nice to read about the hobby! i have never used a telescope but id love to get one at some stage. reading how far neptune is from earth is pretty mind-blowing.

despite not having a scope im very interested in the planets etc - i always watch the sky at night from japan (gutted when the gamesmaster passed away recently), and any bbc documentaries which are space related. theres a decent one on the iplayer at the moment about comets (the comets tale).

one of the most memorable holidays ive ever had was one of my trips to okinawa, where i spent a night on taketomi island.


taketomi island, apart from being absolutely gorgeous, is sat pretty much on top of one of the the tropics, which they say are the best places for star gazing. the night sky there is absolutely stunning: i have never seen so many stars; and it was the first (and only) time that i have ever seen the milky way. absolutely gorgeous; and the gloworms flitting about everywhere just add to the mood. in fact, it was so amazing i almost proposed to my girlfriend on the spot! i fancy that place would be spectacular for a bit of telescope action.

at some point in the future i may well end up with a telescope myself, but not for a few years yet i fancy. if i land a great job, i will probably treat myself to a monster and get involved.

let us know how you get on with your star gazing here anyway!

oh - incidentally, there was an eclipse in japan last year. very cool. i tried to take some pictures without a filter but they were pretty poor - some of my friends got some awesome shots! next time ill invest in some better kit for sure.
Hi Basashi. Thanks for your reply. Nice to hear from someone else at NGFL who's also
interested. Definitely a good move getting yourself a telescope. I'm sure when you do
eventually get one you'll become hooked too. In the meantime you can still get a lot of enjoyment from stargazing with binoculars. If you're ever out in the Japanese countryside under dark skies you can always take them with you. I still use my binoculars regularly.

Wow that must have been a wonderful experience for you seeing the Milky Way over Taketomi Island. Wish I could go there too! Light pollution is a problem where I live but hopefully I can make some trips to darker skies elsewhere in Lincolnshire.

I'm the same, always watching astronomy related documentaries. I recently bought the
excellent Wonders of the Solar System/Universe series presented by Brian Cox on dvd.

One of the things that interests me the most is the planet Venus. A fascinating place with it's extreme temperatures, high pressure, dense clouds of sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid, lightning and thousands of volcanoes. On Venus a day is longer than a year! Interesting to think about what our 'sister planet' might have been like in the past quite possibly having oceans before the runaway greenhouse effect. Venus is a lovely sight to see with the naked eye with it shining so brightly in the sky. I really want to observe the phases of Venus just like Galileo did.

Very interesting to look at the images taken by the Venera landers. An incredible achievement by the Russians that they were able to build something that could survive for even a short time in those extreme conditions. It's exciting that the Russians are planning a new mission, Venera-D, which also includes a lander.



Out of curiosity, what did your current telescope cost you, and how much will the "upgrade" cost you? Nice hobby, glad to see you're alive and well, my friend.

shot in the eye
shot in the brain
shot in the ass...
Hi 2D! Hope you are doing ok. Smile

I got the Skywatcher Evostar 90 when it was on sale for only 119 ($186). For my next upgrade I'm thinking of spending roughly 450-700.

Many people recommend beginners to start with a 6 or 8 inch dobsonian mounted reflector because the mount is very stable and it's the cheapest way of getting a good sized aperture.

I thought these were pretty cool:

YouTube Video
Basashi King
immense link!

i think ill get a telescope when my son grows up a little but, maybe when hes 5 or 6 (hes only 6 months now), and really blow his mind!

summer in japan is humid and unpleasant; but winter is amazing - wonderful cloudless sunny days and clear nights. be great for some star gazing.
So... does anyone else here at NGFL have a telescope and enjoy looking at the night sky or have anything else to say about Astronomy? I can't recommend enough that people consider buying a telescope. It's like your personal link to the rest of the universe.

I felt like I ought to at least post one update in this thread. If no-one wants to talk about this subject I'll never mention it again I promise! Grin I'm still really loving this hobby. In fact I get more excited about stargazing these days than I do about video games!

Since my last post I bought two more telescopes. My main scope is an Omni XLT 102mm refractor on a CG4 mount but I also have a Star Travel 80mm short tube refractor which I use with a camera tripod for a very lightweight compact grab 'n go set up. Also I bought some better eyepieces with ED glass. I was a bit nervous about using a German equatorial mount but it's a lot easier to use than I expected. If you just roughly point the 'N' on the tripod head north most of the time you can keep celestial objects in view with just one slow motion control.

It's an exciting time right now for amateur astronomers since Mars is approaching opposition. The red planet, as viewed from Earth, will be just over 15 arc seconds in diameter in April. I had some lovely views of Mars last night. It's fascinating to actually see surface detail on another rocky planet with your own eyes. Looking at Hubble photos, while very impressive, isn't quite the same experience. It's interesting to compare what you see through the eyepiece with a map and figure out which features you are looking at. Last night I saw Syrtis Major with the bright Hellas region below it. Above I saw a dark patch which seems to be the Utopia area. I think I saw the polar ice cap above but not 100% sure. It was hard to make out.

So if anyone here has an old telescope in the attic I'd definitely recommend getting out there and having a look at the red planet.

This site has a very useful Mars javascript utitilty:


Some amazing photographs:


Photo of Comet Ison by Damian Peach

Photopic Sky Survey

My 'encampment' last night:
green beret
I have a Celestron CPC 925 and my favorites sightseeings are Galaxies and double or triple stars. I can see all planets easily. Uranus and Neptune are my best. But Jupiter and Saturn are always nice to visit. Nebulas and close clusters are fine too. My telescope is very good but too heavy.
I used to have Ethos 13 and 21 eyepieces but sold them.
I love far away galaxies and once I saw a supernova in m51 whirlpool galaxy. The furthest galaxy I have seen was 120.000.000 light years away.

In this site brings me Neo Geo of course...
Welcome to the forum green beret and thanks for posting in this thread! Sounds like you are an experienced observer. You have a very nice scope! The views through a scope of that size aperture must be impressive. I wouldn't mind having some TeleVue eyepieces myself but the cost is so high. I have BST Starguider eyepieces (aka AstroTech Paradigms) which are good and not that expensive.

Around the time of the Mars opposition I spent many enjoyable hours observing the red planet. It was amazing to be able to see surface details on another terrestrial planet including a polar ice cap and dark markings. Mars is definitely one of my favourite objects to view in the night sky.

I am currently living abroad and will be here for two years. I was really missing my telescopes so recently bought a Vixen Space Eye 70mm refractor. The focuser, star diagonal and finder are made of plastic but the scope is said to have good optics and gets good reviews. It's nice that the mount has slow motion controls. I haven't been able to try it out yet because it's been cloudy. I plan to work through the lunar 100 list with the Vixen scope and also observe the planets.


green beret
I have more than one year to get it out and observe anything. But the last time I saw about 50 targets while most of them were galaxies. Observing galaxies is so exciting! Also double stars is fun because they may have different colors, like the one being green and the other orange! Vixen are made in Japan and are good telescopes.
Although my main interest is the solar system I can definitely see what you mean about galaxies being exciting to observe. Even though I have only observed them with a smaller aperture scope in an urban area with really bad light pollution it was still exciting to see them. I have never observed from a dark sky site before unfortunately.

Yes I agree double stars are fascinating. Albireo and Almaach are particularly lovely double stars.

Really want to try out the new scope but it's always cloudy! That's the frustrating aspect to this hobby.

I've learned a lot from people at the Stargazers Lounge forum. Well worth checking out.

green beret
You are lucky because observing just our solar system is very easy as you don't have to move in and out too much equipment or a heave bulky telescope as mine. My telescope is very heavy.
Yes you are right but I don't have a car so I have to carry my 4'' frac and EQ mount in one trip to a local park. It's not far away but 39lbs is still quite heavy. At my home the garden is unsuitable for observing because of a very restricted view and having a street light right next to it.

Not suggesting this is the case with you because it sounds like you have used your scope a lot but from what I've read it does seem to happen quite often that people want to get as large an aperture scope as possible but end up not using it very much because of the weight and size.

One of the most amazing pieces of Astronomy news in recent times I think is the news that Voyager 1 has left the solar system and is currently in interstellar space. It's incredible that this spacecraft launched in the late 70s is still operational, has traveled such a huge distance and is still sending data back.
green beret
merlin wrote:

Yes you are right but I don't have a car so I have to carry my 4'' frac and EQ mount in one trip to a local park. It's not far away but 39lbs is still quite heavy. At my home the garden is unsuitable for observing because of a very restricted view and having a street light right next to it.

Not suggesting this is the case with you because it sounds like you have used your scope a lot but from what I've read it does seem to happen quite often that people want to get as large an aperture scope as possible but end up not using it very much because of the weight and size.

One of the most amazing pieces of Astronomy news in recent times I think is the news that Voyager 1 has left the solar system and is currently in interstellar space. It's incredible that this spacecraft launched in the late 70s is still operational, has traveled such a huge distance and is still sending data back.
in my backyard I can observe galaxies, close clusters and neboulas with 10 magnitude. M51 Wirlpool galaxy and Hamback Wale galaxy are very easy to observe. I was able to see a supernova event happening in M51a couple of years ago. A nice feature my scope has is Night skytour function. Just pressing a button and the scope goes from object to object.
I like to keep an eye beyond our world
You are lucky to have such good skies and be able to view from your backyard. That must have been very interesting seeing a supernova. Did you see the recent lunar eclipse? I watched it from my roof with and without a telescope. The 'blood moon' was an impressive sight. I also enjoyed looking at Uranus since it was very close to the moon (as viewed from Earth) Here is a very bad photo I took of the eclipse holding a compact camera up to a low power eyepiece.

Very exciting to hear about the upcoming landing on a comet as part of the Rosetta mission. Really hope the landing will be successful. Will be incredible to see images from the surface of a comet!

Sadly the Russian mission to Venus I mentioned earlier has been postponed till around 2024.
green beret
Hi Merlin,
I am back!
Restarted my observing tours where I had left it from. Yesterday I received my new TV Nagler 22 T4 & 17 T4 eyepieces and I am expecting my scope to come back from a clean up process to test them. Along with my scope will come a skywatcher dielectric 99% star diagonal 2".
But before that let me explain to you what happened:
2 years ago there was a leak underneath the bathroom of my house that couldn't be seen. A lot of humidity effected my scope in the closet but nothing serious to worry about as the specialist has already told me. It's just you are not allowed to touch or clean up lenses and mirrors by yourself. It is much safer a specialist to check it out.

Summertime here so after much thought I decided to go out for a walk in the night sky. My night sky tour was disappointing though with just using the default 40mm celestron 1 1/4 eyepiece and the default diagonal. There was unexpected light pollution in the atmosphere and some clouds that were suddenly created from nowhere. I ended up just looking to M13 and some double stars. With default eyepiece objects are only multiplied with 58x so nothing amazing to see there. It was at the end of this observation that I firstly discovered my first mirror was not clear enough and had humidity from the inside and some tiny fungus too. I decided to buy new 2" diagonal, new eyepieces and send it for repairs. At end of next week I will go out and test all new stuff with all mirrors and lenses cleaned up.
Hi Green Beret. Thanks for reviving this thread. Congrats on the new Nagler eyepieces. Good to hear the problem with your scope was sorted out and you can start observing again. Hope there will plenty of clear nights so you can get plenty of observing done.

Very interesting to see the photos of Pluto and Charon.

I'm still very keen on this hobby but haven't taken my scope out recently partly because I've been quite busy and also it's often cloudy.
green beret
When I have my first observation I will update this thread again with impressions and photos Smile I hope you can find good weather and some time to go out soon!
Clear skies to you Merlin!
Thanks Green Beret. Clear Skies! I'll be interested to hear how you get on.

Maybe I'll take a photo of my set up next time I go out.

I did buy a few new eyepieces too. I wanted good quality eyepieces without spending much money so opted for Vixen NPL plossls. I bought a 6mm and a 10mm. They get very good reviews. The downside is of course the poor eye relief.
green beret
I had an observation a week ago with my cleaned and ready scope. Moon had not fully set plus there was a very strong street light near my back yard. There was quite a lot light pollution. I tried my new eyepieces of 22mm and 17mm on Saturn and M13 Hercules close cluster.
They gave me great pictures of Saturn especially the 17mm one. Cassini division could be seen clearly and looked great. M13 had a better shape and was fully resolved through the 17mm eyepiece too. But light pollution left something to be desired in that one.
The unsuccessful part was my failure to see M51 Whirlpool galaxy which was an easy to see Galaxy from my back yard. This was due light pollution I suppose and not a permanent issue. With my scope I was able to see its spirals on the past.

Yesterday I received a new 2" eyepiece of 31mm. It has 75x with my scope and 1* field of view. It will help me see M101 Galaxy which is too big and with very low brightness. I will have first light with it tomorrow from my wife's cottage and next week I have scheduled an observation from a very dark site with a friend and his son.
Here is a pic of the new eyepieceSmile
green beret attached the following image:
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