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How much kit do we REALLY need?


Sunny Phil
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Like just about everyone here, I want more kit! I want to see the cloud bands of Jupiter and Saturn. I want to see the intricate loops of prominences, instead of a triangle. I want to be able to take 2 hour exposures of the Pleiades and get the nebulousity.


 


Get the idea? Yet, for me, the problem is this: I need to work. I cannot let the rest of my family do all the chores while I'm hunting down some obscure NGC object for hours. My family need time with me and I with them. Besides, on many nights there is nothing to see at all and the number of really clear nights where I live is 12 to 15 per year.


 


So most of the time, I'm recording sunspots and the larger features in hydrogen alpha light on the Sun. At night, I snap the Moon. Sometimes I get a half decent shot of a planet but most of the time, it is just a blob. I do some constellation and deep sky shots but these co-incide with a clear night when I don't have to get up early the next day.


 


So if I did get this extra kit, what could I do? Now if I am honest with myself, I would probably not do much more at night but (hypothetically) if a bit more bob came my way, I could use a better narrowband solar telescope than my PST.


 


So do you really get the most out of your kit and if you could buy ONE new item what would it be?


 


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So do you really get the most out of your kit and if you could buy ONE new item what would it be?

No, I don't get the most out of my kit.

 

The item I could do with right now, is a car with a bigger boot so I could get my kit to a dark sky site more easily and then get more out of it. But that expenditure is just a bit over the top at the moment.

 

Not much of an answer I know, but just at the moment I am extremely happy with the tackle I currently have :) .

 

What I would really like now costs nothing, thankfully, and that is to learn how to draw well at the eyepiece. That would give me a lot of satisfaction, especially since I don't do AP.

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What I really want is a 16" + dob with all the gizmos my 8" currently has on it. Personally I like manually hunting down the faint DSO's, just last Friday night me and Andy spent a pleasant but rather cold 4 hours up at our Belper dark site comet hunting. For me it's not all about the kit, or the clear sky etc, it's about sharing a hobby with my mates, spending some time outside of family and work life and having a laugh while doing the hobby I love with kit I have modded mostly (but not all) by myself.

Sure, when I get in at 2 / 3 in the morning and my 4 year old wakes up at 6 wanting to play, I get up and play, no lay in's, family comes first, who cares if I'm tired the next day, I found my comet or DSO I was after, had a laugh, spent quality time with the kids and go to bed early the next night.

So what I guess I'm saying is, I'm happy with what I have except I want a much bigger scope :P

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We struggled to set up what kit we do have last Saturday Daz. We both on top form! What with forgotten batteries, scopes pointing the wrong way, polar aligning on random stars, wrong settings on apps. ;-) Thinking about it we were lucky to find any thing.

Edited by tuckstar
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A good thread Phil.


 


There are so many ways of answering this, there are both realistic and hypothetical answers to this, and the wish list I am sure we all have.


I would like a 16"+ dob as well, but i can't afford it and would have difficulty moving it as well, my 12" is what I now realise is a comfortable compromise.


 


I think that over the years I have somehow gained patience. It sounds a bit bizarre, but Iam much more content now with the kit I have, and take time to research the objects I want to look at, rather than just expecting to get it.


When I started in the hobby, I not only wanted to see it now, but got very impatient if I didn't find something, the answer to this was to throw money at it, and I got very disillusioned when this didn't work either.


 


Over the years, I have took a much more relaxed approach to things, and have been surprised by the benefit to me this has had. If I can't find something, then it's just something to add to the list to keep looking for. 


 


Having folks to go out observing with helps as well, as sometimes you can't see the wood for the tree's and overlook what turns out to be obvious. The social side of this is also something I get a buzz from. I realise that personal circumstances affect our hobby, and as always family comes first, but a good night keeps me going for days.


 


To be fair, this is the only hobby I have stuck with as well, I have done the fishing etc, (never got the inclination for golf though), and I have now been doing this since 2008. I don't think it will be something I will give up either, as there is just too much to see, I have clocked up three supernova's in other galaxies, and that just has me in awe.


 


So the short answer is I am happy at the moment.


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Guest Tweedledum

Love the kit I have its diverse and have acquired some interesting eyepieces along the way. So I can do some rationalising. Some bits can go. Yet  if I had the dosh it would ba a replacement of the !0" Lx200 that I had to sell with a  12".


 


So there's the oxymoron, hapy with what I have but a a nice big SCT would do nicely..


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Interesting replies, Folks. As I don't do much dark site observing, a big Dob isn't the answer for me. We all have our own specialist interests, as well as a broad interest. As you know, mine is the Sun.


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Yeah, that's a whole new obsession and singularity situated in the wallet. I have had some nice white light views, and found a UHC and a Yellow filter help no end, the UHC brings out a bit of granulation, and the yellow just adds a bit of contrast.


 


But it's certainly an itch that needs an expensive scratch if you let it. When you see some of the gear the dedicated solar observers have I reckon they must have turned over Fort Knox. That said, I would love a decent PST, watching the activity on the Sun is mesmerising.


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A good thread Phil.

 

There are so many ways of answering this, there are both realistic and hypothetical answers to this, and the wish list I am sure we all have.

I would like a 16"+ dob as well, but i can't afford it and would have difficulty moving it as well, my 12" is what I now realise is a comfortable compromise.

 

I think that over the years I have somehow gained patience. It sounds a bit bizarre, but Iam much more content now with the kit I have, and take time to research the objects I want to look at, rather than just expecting to get it.

When I started in the hobby, I not only wanted to see it now, but got very impatient if I didn't find something, the answer to this was to throw money at it, and I got very disillusioned when this didn't work either.

 

Over the years, I have took a much more relaxed approach to things, and have been surprised by the benefit to me this has had. If I can't find something, then it's just something to add to the list to keep looking for. 

 

Having folks to go out observing with helps as well, as sometimes you can't see the wood for the tree's and overlook what turns out to be obvious. The social side of this is also something I get a buzz from. I realise that personal circumstances affect our hobby, and as always family comes first, but a good night keeps me going for days.

 

To be fair, this is the only hobby I have stuck with as well, I have done the fishing etc, (never got the inclination for golf though), and I have now been doing this since 2008. I don't think it will be something I will give up either, as there is just too much to see, I have clocked up three supernova's in other galaxies, and that just has me in awe.

 

So the short answer is I am happy at the moment.

My only hobbies are now astronomy and writing, although writing is on the back burner for me at the moment.

 

I used to go fishing but had to give it up in 2003 due to a bad back. It has recovered enough for me to go back to it but financial and time pressure are keeping me away. From what I've read and seen on TV, It has changed a great deal since I last fished regularly on public waters over 20 years ago. With astronomy, it's one of these things you can do pretty much any time. It also fits in well with my work and domestic life. I can pop out and see the Sun and sometimes Moon during daylight and, if it is cloudy, there's always image processing and messageboards. For most hobbies (like fishing) you need to be able to put a morning or afternoon aside.

 

For my last fishing, I worked on a site with the Bristol Avon running through it. It was lightly fished and I regularly caught chub between 3.25 and 3.75 lbs. Some were larger or smaller but a good 80% of them were in this range. I popped out lunchtime either to fish or feed them and sometimes went for a couple of hours after work. It's spoiled me for fishing anywhere else. Being able to watch the water frequently was a huge advantage and makes it much easier than just turning up somewhere and fishing "blind".

 

I have wondered if I might start again if/when I retire but it is more likely to be fly fishing where I don't have to lug heavy gear and my personal best trout is easier to beat than many coarse fish.

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Guest zidder

As a newcomer this is somewhat of a 64,000 dollar question, when I told my son I was looking at buying a 10" scope he replied
"this sounds like envy, mine is bigger than yours" but is bigger always better? or is an aspect of it status? do I need
to spend hundreds of pounds on eye pieces? do I need to buy loads of gadgets to add on?

I suppose I am like a lot of folks I want the best my finances will allow, but I get the impression it can be very easy to get carried away and bash the credit card to keep up with the jones's.

Having initially been through the cheap and cheerful route and been thoroughly brassed off with the experience my mind set
became "right if I am going to do this it is going to be right" but that then brings out the question "what is right"

We will see !!!

Edited by zidder
Be careful with your wording please.
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Phil,


 


You are so right on the fishing front - I still have some of my fishing kit that i bought 40+ years ago. I no longer go fishing with a club because the money spent by some was mad (7K on a Pole ! - no not the Eastern European kind). Time was kids could just pop down their local pond/river and with 3d worth of maggots or better "free worms" and have a great day out. Like all things today the costs have driven the sport and driven the fun out as well (IMO) - Don't get me speaking about football that is worse than fishing in regards to costs.


 


Like some of the above I would like a nice 16/18 or 20 inch Dob (dream on!) and my own nice dark site at the bottom of the garden  but know that I need to keep money to one side in case of unforeseen costs. 


 


Having said that even using a pair of bins pointing at the Milky Way I get a kick that I suppose is like a junkie or Catman jumping out of a plane.


 


Plus  things you can't buy  like imagination and sheer amasement at what is up there.

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With regards to reflectors, bigger is always better but that does not mean you cannot do some really good observing with a smaller scope. Martyn + Mick have 12" dobs but I can see what they can see in my 8" dob, there's is just a little bit clearer, but not massively.

Again, the better the ep, the clearer the object may be but this will not always be the case. Eps are a very personal thing, what works for one does not work for all, same goes for mods etc, just because mine is modded to hell does not mean it is better than the next persons, it has been tailored by me to suit me!

I think you will find there is no "mine is better than yours" attitude with our lot on EMS, we all love the hobby and have the kit we can afford.

:)

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Agreed Daz. My little 130 kept me going for a couple of years. At times it felt like arriving at a bike meet on a Honda chicken but no body ever looked down on my kit, only gave me advice on how to get the most from it. For now I'm happy with what I have having recently upgraded to a 250 dob. I suppose we all want bigger and more but that's just "The Fever" kicking in. And real life has to come first even if astro is a close second.

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My advice is start small and go up in aperture, you will be pleased with the views every time. Don't do what I did and start with a 16" dob and then go down, it's simply not the same.


 


I have been into astronomy for many years now and still find it such a buzz, there is so much to observe you should never get bored and run out of objects to view.


 


What I do is when the moon is out you do Lunar and when the moons away you do deep space objects.


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Guest zidder

With regards to reflectors, bigger is always better but that does not mean you cannot do some really good observing with a smaller scope. Martyn + Mick have 12" dobs but I can see what they can see in my 8" dob, there's is just a little bit clearer, but not massively.

Again, the better the ep, the clearer the object may be but this will not always be the case. Eps are a very personal thing, what works for one does not work for all, same goes for mods etc, just because mine is modded to hell does not mean it is better than the next persons, it has been tailored by me to suit me!

I think you will find there is no "mine is better than yours" attitude with our lot on EMS, we all love the hobby and have the kit we can afford.

:)

The "Mine bigger than yours" reference was aimed at me not a general observation. sorry

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Guest zidder

As a newcomer this is somewhat of a 64,000 dollar question, when I told my son I was looking at buying a 10" scope he replied

"this sounds like envy, mine is bigger than yours" but is bigger always better? or is an aspect of it status? do I need

to spend hundreds of pounds on eye pieces? do I need to buy loads of gadgets to add on?

I suppose I am like a lot of folks I want the best my finances will allow, but I get the impression it can be very easy to get carried away and bash the credit card to keep up with the jones's.

Having initially been through the cheap and cheerful route and been thoroughly brassed off with the experience my mind set

became "right if I am going to do this it is going to be right" but that then brings out the question "what is right"

We will see !!!

Sorry Baz

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As a child, I spent many fascinating hours seeking out DSO's with a Charles Frank 4" reflector and Nortons Star Atlas, and by the age of about 12, I knew my way around the sky pretty thoroughly. Back in those days (early 70's) the streetlights shut off at midnight leaving little or no light pollution, and I had better eyes and wider pupils, allowing me to see so many inspirational sights. I suppose I'm trying to re-live those days again.

Astronomy seems so much more complicated and difficult now. To see now what I could see then from my backyard means getting much larger apertures and lugging it to dark sky sites.

A 4" scope, with RAS threaded 1" brass Ramsden, 1/2" Orthoscopic and a barlow was all I needed to see everything :)

Edited by Tweedledee
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No worries mate, I got the drift.


 


The "mine is bigger than yours" mentality tends to be more from people who have no interest in Astronomy. It's not until you get into the hobby you begin to see what Aperture Fever is. It's just the need to see deeper and further. Like Daz says, it's not you cannot see some objects with a smaller scope, it's down to the light grasp, and the quality and resolution of the view of the object.


 


I had a look through a 24" Dob and it was just jaw dropping, in the first view were 6 galaxies, moved it a nudge and there were 4 more. I have no idea what or even where they were. Nice to see, but if it was in a purpose built obsy, then maybe, but carting it about would need a van and a few good mates.


Given the right circumstances we would all have amazing scopes, but in reality scopes like Sky Watcher have done a good job of providing decent optics at an affordable price. Back in the day you had to be a millionaire or grind your own mirrors, so things have gone in the right direction for most of us.


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