In this episode, I will be unboxing my brand new Explore Scientific ED 102 as part of my series in my quest to put together my beginner astrophotography gear. In my previous video, I unboxed a Celestron Advanced VX mount: https://youtu.be/brOGKSziPFs
My first impression is that this telescope looks very impressive in build quality. The fit and finish looks well made.
Finally, my latest video after 2 years! It’s great to be back. This unboxing was my first time seeing the Celestron Advanced VX mount in person and it did not disappoint. My first impression after seeing this mount was that it appeared to be well constructed overall. The tripod legs were thick and heavy. The equatorial mount looked like a fine piece of engineering.
I still don’t know much about this mount yet and I haven’t decided yet which telescope to get. But if you have a suggestion, please let me know in the comments section. What I’m looking for is something lightweight and easy to setup.
In this report, I tried my had in astrophotography with my Canon EOS Rebel T3i also known as the Canon EOS 600D. I used the Canon EF-S 18-55 mm STI lens kit, the one with the very quick and quiet focus motor.
Seeing conditions were excellent. It was moonless, cloudless, dry with a very light breeze. The temperature was on the chilly side that I needed to wear a head sock and a jacket. However, I shot the photos from my backyard which was subject to a lot of light pollution.
I should have done more research in astrophotography before attempting it for the first time because I had no idea how to use any of the “manual” modes. I ended up using the “No Flash” setting on the dial. Out of the two dozen meteors that I saw that night, I only captured 3 to 4 on film and all of them were grainy. Enjoy the video.
Obviously, they have their shortcomings in terms of aperture and magnification, but binoculars are often overlooked by new astronomers because when they think about astronomy, they automatically think about telescopes.
In this video, I will show you 5 advantages that binoculars have over telescopes:
They are small and lightweight.
They are easy to transport.
You might already have one.
They are less expensive.
They make it easier to find objects.
While they also have their obvious disadvantages, like smaller aperture, binoculars have a special place in astronomy. Enjoy the video.
Similar to regular sketching, astrosketching is a relaxing and rewarding activity where the subject is the beauty of the night sky.
In this video, i’ll cover the basics of amateur astronomy sketching including:
– Why Astronomy Sketching is Fun
– What tools you need
– Sketching techniques
– Logging your observation
– Digitizing your sketches
– and some common Challenges
I used M45 as my subject which is perfect for beginners like me. You are drawing a portrait of the universe. Take your time and enjoy it.
In this video, I will introduce new astronomers to the basics of using telescopes on an equatorial mount. How to use an Equatorial Mount for Beginners will explain the difference between an equatorial mount and an altazimuth mount and the advantages of each. How to determine the right ascension and declination motions using slow motion control knobs. Without getting too technical, I will describe the equatorial grid, right ascension, declination and how your equatorial mount follows these imaginary lines. I also walk through a simulation of how it would operate out in the field using Stellarium planetarium software.
Canadian’s thawing out from a bitter ice storm may get rewarded with shimmering northern lights in the next couple of days.
The University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute predicts much of Canada and the northern fringes of the U.S. should be able to see the northern lights. Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Seattle and Des Moines might see the shimmering colours low on the horizon.
U.S. federal space weather forecaster Joe Kunches said the sun shot out a strong solar flare late Tuesday, which should arrive at Earth early Thursday. It should shake up Earth’s magnetic field and expand the Aurora Borealis south, possibly as far south as Colorado and central Illinois. He said the best viewing would probably be Thursday evening, weather permitting.
The solar storm is already causing airline flights to be diverted around the North Pole and South Pole and may disrupt GPS devices Thursday.
The northern lights are a result of charged particles from the sun interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field. As particles from the solar wind enter the Earth’s upper atmosphere, they collide with the individual atoms of our atmosphere to produce the spectacular light show.
The aurora borealis is also called the northern lights since it is only visible in the North sky from the Northern Hemisphere. What you see is a bright glow observed in the night sky, usually in the polar zone. The aurora borealis most often occurs from September to October and from March to April.
In this video, I demonstrate how I collimate my newtonian telescope without a cheshire (if you don’t have one). There are 3 basic steps to collimating: 1) Center the secondary under the focuser; 2) Align the secondary to the primary; 3) Align the primary back to the secondary. In step one, I will use a camera phone instead of a cheshire to center the secondary under the focuser tube. Click on the video below to play.
Many telescopes come with a straight-through finder scope or a right-angle finder scope. My Discovery 8 EQ came with the later which was very difficult to use because it was unintuitive. My 12″ Sky-Watcher has a Right Angle Corrected Image (RACI for short) finder scope. The advantage of using a RACI over a straight through finder scope or a regular right angle finder scope are:
The 90 degree eyepiece allows you to use the finder scope more comfortably;
The Amici prism corrects the image caused by the 90 degree redirection so that the image is right side up.
This eliminates 2 problems: 1) straight through finders can become uncomfortable to use especially when objects are near zenith, and; 2) objects in the finder scope move in unintuitive directions.
However, for newcomers to Astronomy like myself, locating objects through the RACI finder scope still proved to be challenging because of one thing: the view is awash with stars I have never seen before, especially in light polluted skies. I found myself in this situation not too long ago, and in many cases, I still do. The solution was simple, but difficult to master. At least in the beginning.
To rough align the finder, I stand behind the telescope until my head is aligned with it so that the optical tube appears vertical. Then I point it to one of the major stars of the constellation in question. This took some practice, but after a few sessions, I can now rough align without standing behind the telescope.
My finder scope has a 9x zoom magnification. I also happened to have a pair of binoculars which has an 8x zoom magnification. If I were to locate M13 in the constellation of Hercules, with the naked eye, I can only see 4 major stars. Through the binoculars, I can see more major stars and dozens of minor stars.
The view through my binoculars will be very similar to my finder scope. At first, it’s hard to tell which portion of the constellation I am looking at. So I spend a few minutes studying the constellation comparing views in the binoculars, finder scope, and a sky atlas.
I look for patterns and shapes that I can use to star hop. For examples, I try to imagine shapes, like triangles, squares, or curved lines on the atlas, and then I try to look for those in the field of view.
I keep doing this for every new constellation I am studying. I try to learn the names of the major stars if I want. After a while, my brain and my eyes develop a stronger connection with my orientation in the constellation in question.
In the case of M13, it took me a week to find it the first time. But after about 3 successful attempts, I can easily resolve it through the finder scope as a faint star within a few seconds. This is because my brain and eyes know where to look and what to expect to see.
Using a Keyring
After a few times practicing, you will have an idea of the size of your finder scope as it is superimposed in the sky. But in the beginning, you probably won’t. A good technique is to use a keyring, a rubber band, or something round that you can change its shape.
Look through your finder scope and identify the major stars you see. Then place a keyring on your sky atlas to estimate your field of view. Move the finder scope one degree, or until you see the next major star. Then on your atlas, move the keyring in the same direction.
Keep using these techniques until you become familiar with the constellations. Eventually, you will become so used to it, you won’t need the keyring, or maybe even a star atlas on your favourite constellations.
Do you have any tips for using a RACI? Let us know in the comments section below.