Goodbye to Celestron 102 mm refractor…

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Year 2016 is going to bring some big changes in my life..1. I made the hard decision to continue my father’s steel trading business, and to do that, I’m starting up my own company, which will be continuing the business operations of my father’s company. 2. Because the company is located in Ulvila, which is my original hometown, I had to move back to Ulvila because of practical reasons. This means, that I have to give up my Turku apartment, and I actually had to buy an apartment here in Ulvila. 3. Becoming the president of Porin Karhunvartijat, which is an honour to me, but brings all kinds of responsibilities to my life.

Astronomy-wise the location of the new apartment is not optimal – the new apartment is a row-house apartment that is located in one of the neighbourhoods in Ulvila town, and it is really light polluted place! There are now chances to do any serious deep sky observing in the place (although there is a small own yard with the apartment), and even for variable star observing there is too much stray light. But I can walk a short trip to a nearby field with my 10×50 binoculars to do variable star observing – it takes about 15 minutes to walk to that relatively light-pollution free place. I also still have a car, and it makes it possible for me to drive to darker locations to do some deep sky observing.

Because I’m moving to a new apartment, and a new page is turning in my life, it’s a natural time to evaluate my life and everything I have in my life, including material possessions, habits and responsibilities etc. I have had an evaluating look at all material possessions, and I’m now doing a big purge of all unnecessary and useless items and stuff. While doing the purge, I had to also evaluate my astronomical needs – what kind of observing instrumens I need and what I can give up?

My current observing program is focusing on visual variable star observing with 10×50 binoculars, and whenever having a chance, also doing some visual deep ky observing. And besides this, observing all solar- and lunar eclipses and transits that I can! For doing this, my current set of intstruments is as follows:

  1. 10×50 binoculars, mainily for visual variable star observing
  2. 250/1200 mm Dobson, mainly for visual deep sky observing
  3. 80/400 mm refractor, mainly for a) observing solar- and lunar eclipses, b) observing deep sky objects with large surface area, and c) being my travel telescope

Besides this, I also had a 102/1000 mm Celestron 102 Omni XLT refractor, that was serving my as my main instrument between years 2011-2015. But because I’m now evaluating my observing programs and my material possessions, I had to think if I really need that many telescopes! And my decision was, that I don’t need so many! I decided to give up the Celestron 102 mm, because in many ways it was overlapping with the 80/400 mm refractor, the only difference is that because of it’s larger f -value, it gives higher magnifications and because of slightly larger aperture, it collects a little bit more light. But the Celestron 102 mm is also larger, heavier and bulkier, and recently I have had a tendency to go for more minimalistic and smaller way, embracing ‘less is more’ philosophy! That’s why I decided, that Celestron 102 mm can go, and the smaller and lighter 80/400 mm can do the job for me! With the Celestron 102 mm, I’m also giving my previous set of oculars with the storage case, some colour filters, LPR -filter and a solar filter. From now on, I’m going to be using only my new Hyperion oculars and the Skywatcher Panaview 2” ocular.

So now I’m saying goodbye to Celestron 102 mm, who was a loyal friend, and which whom I have spent many unforgettable moments with the universe and observed many wonderful celestial events with! I’m saying goodbyes with light heart though, because I know that my faithful Celestron will get a good home with one of my new astronomy friends here in Pori region!

 

 

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Binoculars!

Here they are, my new binoculars! From now on, I’ll be focusing on variable star observing with binoculars! The pair of binoculars that I bought are Helios 10×50 and the field of view of the binos is 6,5°. The binos are quite light, and observing with them is pleasent. I still have to make a real test under dark sky to get conclusive results.

The stars that I’ll be monitoring from now on are: rho Cas, Mu Cep, W Cyg, TV Psc, Y CVn, g Her, Psi 1 Aur and UU Aur. All of these stars are somekind of semiregular variables, and they all have quite small amplitude, and it’s possible for me to observe these stars throughout the entire cycle of light variations! All of these stars are included in the binocular program of AAVSO, and most of them are included in LPV Legacy- and LPV -programs as well.

Now I’m anxiously waiting for the dark nights to come…

My new Helios 10x50 binos.
My new Helios 10×50 binos.

Do it yourself -solar filter

When I purchased my new telescope, I also bought a sheet of Baader Astrosolar film for solar observations. I made a cheap and easy solar filter out of Astrosolar film and cardboard. In this post, I will show how to do a similar solar filter by yourself!

For making a solar filter like this you will need:
– 1 sheet of astrosolar film (for example size A4)
– 2 A4 size sheets of cardboard
– glue
– tape
– ruler
– drafting compass
– pencil
– scissors

Phase 1.
First, measure the inner diameter of your telescope. Cut large enough piece of Astrosolar film, it should be at least as big as your scope’s diameter is, but it is convenient to make it somewhat bigger.

Phase 2.
Cut one cardboard sheet in half, then determine the center point of both sheets. Then draw a symmetrical circle (as in picture 1.) around the central point and cut holes in the cardboards along the circle (as in picture 2.).

Phase 3.
Take the other cardboard form and cut it in half. Then put them side by side along their short side. Roll the cardboards into a tube (as in picture 3.) and try it on your scope. The cardboard tube should be tight enough to prevent the filter slipping of in windy weather. After you have tried the tube on your scope, glue the pieces of this tube together. You can use tape to make the seam stronger. Then cut ~1” long and 1,5” wide “winglets” with even spacing in the other end of the tube (as in picture 4.).

Phase 4. Open the winglets and put small drop of glue in the bottom sides of each winglet. Then attach one of the cardboards with hole in this tube with winglets (as in picture 5.). You can make the attachment stronger with tape. Then put this tube on board so that the cardboard with hole is on the top. Then put small amount of glue in it. Take the Astrosolar film, and put it carefully on the glued face of the cardboard (as in picture 6.). Then take the other cardboard with hole and put glue on it and place it on the Astrosolar film. Be very careful in this step to avoid any stains and wrinkles in the Astrosolar film (as in picture 7.)! Then you can tape the edges of the cardboard to make it stronger. And then you are finished!

Now you are ready to start your safe solar observing with your new DIY solar filter (which should look like the one in picture 8.)!

A new telescope

I had long been thinking to buy a telescope suitable for observing the objects of our Solar system. I had several different possibilities in my mind, but after all I decided to invest 500 € in Celestron Omni XLT 102, which is a achromat refractor with 102mm lens and focal ratio 9,8 and with CG 4 german equatorial mount. I bought that scope from Ylva Astronomy, which is a small finnish company that is importing and selling amateur astronomy equipment in Finland. Last time I bought a SQM -L device from Ylva, and I had very good service and short delivery time, and that was also the case now!

Okay, so I received a delivery notification by SMS -message. Then I went to the Matkahuolto customer service place at bus station in Sodankylä (the parcels were delivered by Matkahuolto, a bus and a logistics company) and picked up the parcels (in total three parcels). In first parcel was the telescope itself, and in second was the mount of the scope and in third was the Baader Astrosolar arc for solar observations. All parts of this delivery were well packed and all parts that should be in the packets were there.

The setting up of the scope was relatively easy and intuitive, though I had to see the manual for help few times. The mount of the scope seems to be very rigid and functional. The only slight problem is with the polar alignment. It should be possible to adjust the declination axis along the geographical latitude of observer in any place of the globe. But with this scope it is limited to ~20° – 60° so you cannot do the polar alignement properly near the Equator or the Poles. And because my current latitude is 67, I’m out of the adjustment range. This is luckily only slight problem, because I’m not planning to use the scope for astro photography (a field of amateur astronomy, where proper polar alignment is important).

And of course, when you buy a new telescope, it’s cloudy, because a new telescope in the house is very effective cloud magnet! And that is the case also this time. So I haven’t yet experienced the first light with this scope, and thus I cannot say anything about the quality of optics, yet!

Here are some photos of the setting up process of this scope:

Setting up of the scope took time about 45 minutes.