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And the Stars Go with You!

By: CybrTeddy , 3:40 AM GMT on February 01, 2014

A fun little blog I decided to write up, describing my experiences with my first ever real telescope I've owned, as well as hearing from any other amateur astronomers out there on this site! The telescope I managed to procure is Orion's XT8, arguably one of the best starting out telescope for someone who's getting serious into astronomy. The telescope features a mirror that is 8 inches in diameter (hence the XT8 labeling), a focal length of 1200mm, and a f/5.9 mirror. Coming in at $350, it's what I would consider a cheap(ish) telescope that really delivers.

With the telescope, I've also gotten a Zhumell Z Planetary eyepiece, the 25mm eyepiece that came with it, a 32mm 1.25" eyepiece from Celestron, an O-III filter, and a 13% moon filter that's yet to come. The first night I got it, the seeing conditions were rather poor but I was still able to get stunning images -- what step up from my 70mm telescope! The views of Jupiter and the Orion Nebula were just incredible. 5-6 cloud bands were visible on the disk, with the four moons of Jupiter, instead of being just stars that change their positions every time I look at it, were disks too (too small to resolve detail, however, I've heard of people seeing mottling on the surface in a similar aperture in absolutely excellent seeing conditions).

Since then, I've observed Mars, Uranus, stunning Saturn, the Moon, the Pleiades (M45), M103, the Double Cluster, M81 & M82 (now featuring a supernova!), and the Ring Nebula as well the various stars such as Sirius, Betelgeuse, Polaris, Procyon, etc. I'm patiently waiting for summer to come around, so I can undertake a search for the Messier objects. Oh, and with note to Saturn, bring a tissue if you look at it in a telescope of this aperture. I was nearly brought to tears, it's just amazing. Mars is going to have its closest approach to Earth since 2008 this coming April, so I'm definitely waiting for that too.

I've also tried some astrophotography out with a Nikon D5100 camera, but unfortunately astrophotography simply isn't possible with this telescope or any telescope under $400. You need a GoTo mount to do that and a good one with a good telescope ranges from at least $600 to as high as $10,000 (but that's for seasoned astrophotographers who know what they're doing). In any case, I just used a nice tripod and a camera with a roughly 30 second exposure, and an ISO of 3400, and a f-ratio of roughly f/3.5 or so. The images I got were of stars with a brown sky so I had to edit out the light pollution via GIMP, but when it clears up here in Florida, I will be attempting to do star trails and will post them here.

I'm already looking towards the future, although probably not for another 3 years or so as I finish up college, towards my next telescope. By then my budget will probably be much higher, so I'll be hoping to get my first serious astrophotography telescope.

Anyways, any other astronomers out there?

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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8. CybrTeddy
12:04 AM GMT on February 15, 2014
And here's some star trails!
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Camera: Nikon D5100, 10" exposures, ISO of 1600, F/3.5, two and a half hours worth of pictures. Was fighting the full moon, so I had to compensate with the ISO.
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7. CybrTeddy
4:40 PM GMT on February 01, 2014
Hail Columbia!

As with Challenger, painful imagery of Columbia’s disintegration high over Texas was recorded by amateur video. This sorrow later to be amplified by footage taken by a single camera in the Flight Control Room in Houston, as Entry Flight Director LeRoy Cain and his team of controllers showed heroic professionalism amid visible signs of grief as the realization set in Columbia and her crew were lost.

Commander Rick Husband, Pilot Willie McCool, along with crewmembers David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Mike Anderson, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon became the latest astronauts to become immortalized as fallen pioneers, with the grief also extending to Columbia herself – a sign of the love and care the engineering teams invested in the Shuttle fleet.
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6. CybrTeddy
4:51 AM GMT on February 01, 2014
One thing that gets on my nerves though is the ever increasing light pollution that's seen across the US and the world. Not even 50 years ago, views similar to what one would get in New Mexico could have been seen across I4 in Florida (specifically, at my house). Now the skies across most of the eastern CONUS are completely wiped out by LP. It's an easy fix too, but one that'll be completely avoided. A significant amount of light pollution is caused by unnecessary illumination, especially from street lights. This also leads to a significant overuse of energy which is harmful to the environment as well as astronomy, but it's something that can be corrected. A flat-lens cobra luminaire helps reduce LP by ensuring light from external light fixtures is directed horizontally, instead of spread out over a ridiculous and unnecessary area without hampering one's views on the road or walking down a street at night, while wrestling back the stars. That's why I urge everyone to partake in Earth Hour, which takes place on Sunday, March 29th of this year.

Our skies are slipping away from us, and it's sad that few really care. Our ancestors used to live by the sky and used it for navigation, early religions, crop cultivation, the list goes on. Now, very few people even bother with the sky. Most of the people out there can't even name a single constellation, they're too busy looking down at their smartphones and the wealth of information provided to them at the single press of a button. And because of that ignorance, the primordial night shall become something only seen on the oceans, and then even to an extent.
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5. CybrTeddy
4:26 AM GMT on February 01, 2014
Thanks for the pics (all)!

@Astrometeor, those are awesome pictures!

@Pat, when I'm done with college I'd love to have a community star party! Full time year-round college atm prevents any travel. The best skies are in N-central Nebraska and in extreme SW-New Mexico, where you'd also find the VLA.

Oh, and I love that image of the Orion nebula. I'm looking to one day get a 'scope that can get an image that's similar to that. Dobsonians aren't known for astrophotography, even the ones that do track, so I'm wondering what I will get. More than likely, I'll also save up to build a personal observatory too. If not, then I'll probably get one these bad boys.
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4. Patrap
4:22 AM GMT on February 01, 2014
You may like this ct,

A good investment is this local company located where NASA Built the Shuttle external Fuel tank and the Saturn 5 first stage.

Crescent ʼ s Bravo 300

Crescent ʼ s Bravo 300 small unmanned aerial system is a heavy lift system designed for stability, endurance and operation in extreme conditions . Capable of being equipped with various payloads, including HD photo and video cameras, infra-red cameras, thermal imaging devices, or CBR detectors , the Bravo 300ʼs modularity makes it the sure choice when searching for a multi-use multi application aerial asset .
Advanced capabilities such as Auto Take off and landing, way point acquisition, altitude and position hold,
ensure ease of operation.
It is ideally suited for operations such as accident reconstruction, search-and-rescue, crowd control, land and sea traffic monitoring, critical infrastructure protection, and crisis management.

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3. Astrometeor
4:01 AM GMT on February 01, 2014
Hi Kyle!

Here is my mother's website

She posts some of her favorite pictures here, and they include a wide variety of topics, not just astrophotography.

Astrodork was coined by my older brother, combining the words "Astronomy" and "dork" into one.
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2. Patrap
3:45 AM GMT on February 01, 2014
We need to organize a wu weekend Star Party somewhere out west.

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1. Patrap
3:44 AM GMT on February 01, 2014
I remember clearly my first time I focused in on the Orion Nebula,..the nebulous Wisp Glowing, the Stars ..twas awesome in my 4.5 Newtonion Reflector, December 96.

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