Category Archives: Equipment

Observing, 24th September 2011


The clouds magically cleared earlier in the evening and the sky was predicted to remain clear until around 2200, so I wheeled the Big One out and set it up for its second look at the sky.

The sky wasn’t the best last night, both the seeing and the transparency were poor as fog arrived in the middle of the session and the humidity was 80%. I know that McDonald Observatory close their domes when the humidity gets to something like 7% there, as does my friend Jimi Lowrey with his 48inch, but their West Texas skies are mostly clear, unlike over here in the UK where we have to take what we can get. As the summer was cool and damp, the ground hasn’t had a chance to dry out, so we’re getting lots of fog and mist which hampers observations, especially of faint objects.

As I was setting up I looked at the primary mirror and…’What the f***? Scratches??!’…I knew it couldn’t be scratches, as the mirror was fine the other day, so I got a large rocket blower I use for cleaning my cameras and lenses, used it to blow on the mirror and the ‘scratches’ vanished. They were fibres from the tissue paper and, inexplicably, a dog hair had also found its way in there. ‘Inexplicably’ because the dogs (long-haired dachshunds) have been nowhere near the scope apart from Joe deciding to cock his leg on it the evening I brought it home (fortunately, being a dachshund, albeit a standard one [largeish], his legs are too short to allow any damage to be done!), although a dog hair could have fallen from my jacket or the shroud, as I take that in the house to dry off when it gets wet with dew.

Date: 24th September 2011
Conditions: Cloudless but murky, fog later. 80% humidity – normally inconspicuous light domes were visible
Seeing: IV
Transparency: III (for seeing and transparency scales used, click here)
NELM: Not checked but probably no better than 6.0, if that
Equipment: 18 inch f/4.3 dob with 35mm Televue Panoptic (56x), 22mm Televue Panoptic (90x) and 8mm Televue Radian (247x).

I began with a general look round and decided on a couple of bits of eye candy to look at first. I aimed at the Ring Nebula, M57, and I am sure I detected some colour in it, green with hints of pink. Subtle but I don’t think I was imagining it. The last time I saw colour in M57 was in Texas in 2008 and that was with Jimi’s 48 inch. I decided to try some high magnifications, 395x (5mm Radian) and 658x (3mm Radian) but, thanks to the poor seeing, it was as mushy as hell (especially at 658x) so I put those eyepieces away. Also, the big mirror needs more cooling down time than I’ve given it. It is still fairly warm during the day and, although the mirror is not especially thick at 40mm (1.5 inches), it still needs over an hour, probably more, to cool.

Then I headed over to M27, the Dumbell Nebula, which was very bright and also with a hint of colour, this time green. Although the conditions weren’t good, M27 was incredibly bright and detailed. Knock-your-socks-off bright and detailed, too. 18 inches is the largest aperture I have looked at M27 with, so it’ll be nice to have a look on a much better night.

I was thinking of selling my 35mm Panoptic and, indeed, I’ve advertised it in our astronomy society’s monthly newsletter, mainly because the exit pupil would be too large for use with the 18 inch, thanks to the focal ratio of the scope, and £250 would come in handy at the moment. However, I decided to give it a try in the big scope and, judging by what I saw, I won’t be parting with it after all and I will withdraw it from sale. NGC 7000 and the Milky Way through Cygnus was spectacular. The exit pupil is a tad too big but not by much, so but it actually doesn’t matter. I will definitely need a Paracorr with this one, though.

Using a stepladder takes a bit of getting used to. At one point, I’d forgotten that I was standing on the second step and stepped off, landing on my bad ankle harder than I’d expected.

So much for the messing around with eye candy. I’d brought some galaxy group information out with me (one of the free downloadable guides from my friend Alvin Huey’s website – follow the links to Downloadable Observing Guides) and went for some galaxy groups in Pegasus. The NGC 7436 group was well placed so I went for that. The notes are sparse.

NGC 7436 – Bright and round with very slight brightening towards the centre. NGC 7433 is right next to 7436 and together at lower power the two galaxies look like an elongated glow east-west. 90x, 247x

NGC 7433 – Reasonably bright elongated glow right next to NGC 7436. 247x

NGC 7435 – Fairly bright, oval, brighter middle. 247x

NGC 7431 – Barely seen elongated glow. 247x

By this time, the transparency had got so bad I decided to pack up, go in and watch Match of the Day. Car lights coming down the hill were huge beams and the kitchen light coming on was a dim glow through fog. A look at NGC 7331 confirmed the transparency had deteriorated, although it wasn’t great to begin with and an hour later the clouds were back.

The weather forecasters are predicting an ‘Indian Summer’ for the next week into October, so I am hoping we get a few more clear nights – preferably with no fog. The actual summer was dismal, so an Indian one will be very nice indeed.


The 18 inch gets to see the sky

The 18 inch finally got its first look at the sky, as it cleared just before sunset after a day of thundery showers, some of which were torrential. The forecast called for a clear night so I hoped to get at least an hour in. I put the scope together, which at least is getting easier and waited – impatiently it has to be said! – for darkness. Collimation was a breeze as, despite the scope being loaded into a van, driven along 200 miles of motorway network, carried on a ship across a bumpy Solent, driven across the appalling goat tracks that pass for roads on the Isle of Wight, unloaded from the van and bumped across the cratered and uneven back lawn, it was not that far out and even if it had been, the large bolts make it a joy to do and not a boring chore. It took 30 seconds to line up the secondary and then the primary – it was FAR easier than either my 12 inch or my 8″ scopes.

I did discover a slight Telrad fail – I’ve put the base in the wrong position. It’s not a big problem but I could have done with putting it next to the finder. I’ll move it at some point, and I’d like to screw the base to the UTA, rather than have it fixed by means of the adhesive base, but it’s going to be ‘fun’ getting it off to move it. It’s not a big deal, it just means that I have to walk round the scope to the eyepiece once I have located something.

When it got dark, the Milky Way was as good as I have ever seen it, with the Cygnus rift very striking and the rest iridescent. It was very prominent right down into Sagittarius. I forgot the SQM, but the naked eye limiting magnitude was at least 6.2.
The neighbours’ lights were annoying as usual, and I wish they’d adjust their insecurity light as it blitzes everything. Luckily that only seems to be put on when their dogs are out having their late night piddle. I wish they’d move away and a nice elderly couple who go to bed at 8.30 and who don’t have all the house lights on would move in instead!

Date: 18th September 2011
Conditions: Clear at first, clouds moving in later. Very dewy (88% humidity) and wet underfoot.
Seeing: II
Transparency: II-III; IV later when clouds arrived.
NELM: ~6.2
Equipment: 18″ f/4.3 Dob, with 22mm Televue Panoptic (90x), 8mm Televue Radian (247x)

First up, as it wasn’t dark and I was just itching to look at something, was the Alcor-Mizar system.Very nice at 90x, with the jewels blazing brightly. As this is an f/4.3 mirror it was evident that I need a coma corrector, such as a Paracorr but I can live with it for now.
I didn’t take any notes, beyond writing names down, either; this wasn’t a ‘serious session’, it was more a case of getting used to the scope and to the ladder I needed to use with it, rather than a proper serious observing session.

NGC 7006, globular cluster in Delphinus – I’ve seen this on quite a few occasions but never as good as this, and this was with the sky still dark blue. At 247x, it was resolved and the core was very dense. 90x, 247x

NGC 7331, galaxy in Pegasus – This was the best ever view, the galaxy appeared very large and bright, with a bright tiny core. Elongated north-south. 90x, 247x.

I also viewed NGC 7337, NGC 7335, NGC 7336, NGC 7340 and MCG+6-49-44, the ‘Fleas’ in the Deerlick group. The fainter Fleas were quite hard with my 12″ but are easy in the 18″. NGC 7336 was pretty faint and the faintest of the group. 247x

The scope is a bit stiff to move, although not hugely so and I expect the stiffness will wear off in time. Besides, it’s better for it to be slightly too stiff than too easily moved.

I packed up at 2130 just before the moon rose as the clouds had returned (contrary to the weather forecast!). I took the scope to bits and returned it to the shed, after carefully drying it off. The shroud was wet through and that’s now hanging over the landing rail to dry.

In unrelated news, I have decided to get another car. My Citroen is getting a bit old and I’ve never really liked the thing as it’s too small, feels ‘cheap’ and is easily ‘bullied’ off the road, so I have traded it in for a Renault estate. Hopefully I can pick the new one up on the 24th. It has an added bonus in that the big telescope will fit into it, as I decided on the spur of the moment to change my car, I thought I may as well get a bigger one while I was at it. The only downside is that the tax will cost more and it will also cost more to run.

More scope photos

I can’t resist showing some more photos of the new acquisition. 😀

And, I will be able to go to TSP in the Spring, after all. Looks like I was owed some more back taxes – I hope it isn’t a mistake!

And here it is…

I assembled the scope this afternoon. It was a doddle to assemble and I had it put together in around five minutes. David has numbered the truss poles and the fixings, so each truss pole has a certain fixing it has to attach to, as it has to go together a certain way, and this works beautifully. The fact that the focuser and finderscope are attached to one section which is detachable makes the upper tube assembly very light and easy to lift and attach to the truss poles. Because of this, I don’t need any help in lifting the UTA onto the truss poles. Assembly times will get quicker as I get used to putting the scope together because, despite having looked through plenty over the years, I have never used a collapsible truss dob before (the wooden 12 inch truss-style scope I have is not collapsible) it is a bit of a new experience.
While I was at it, I added the Telrad base. A Telrad is a must-have, as far as I am concerned.

Something else which is a feature of this scope is the good, solid collimation bolts and heavy-duty springs. The secondary also has substantial fittings and collimation bolts, so getting the mirrors aligned and keeping them that way should be easy.

The scope is very well built and solid which, of course, makes it heavy but it does mean that it isn’t flimsy, as there’s nothing worse than a flimsy scope. It’s a beautiful piece of workmanship. After moving it around the top garden in its collapsed state, I am getting used to the weight of it – this is why I ordered wheelbarrow handles to go with it. These are pretty much essential for a scope of more than 16 inches aperture and without them, moving it would not be easy at all. However, just like a wheelbarrow, it will only easily move forward or back; if you try to turn a corner, the scope has the turning circle of a large cargo ship! Paradoxically, the new scope is easier to move around than the 12 inch is, simply because the wheelbarrow handles make it so. The 12 inch has some castors I fixed to the bottom and it is unwieldy as it can be, and threatens to tip over if you aren’t careful, especially when moving it over the rough lawn (the legacy of generations of moles and rabbits).

Once in one piece, the scope is easy to move around in altitude and azimuth. The proof of the heart of the scope, the optics, will be in observing. Unfortunately, the Scope Curse is underway. It’s a beautiful day but, according to the weather forecasts, this state of affairs is not expected to last into the evening.

Here are some pictures I took. Note the plywood mirror cover in some pics, I won’t remove it if I am not observing as I’d like to keep the mirror reasonably clean for as long as possible. The wheelbarrow handles will be removed for observing, because they would otherwise be in the way.

18 inch in its collapsed state


Assembled, without the shroud


Upper assembly


With shroud on


The front of the scope


The scope snug in its new home


The detachable section with the finder and focuser.

Now, all I need is a clear, moonless night.

Big glass…

The 18 inch scope is now safely in its new home. We – that is my friend Brian and I – went to Nottingham to collect it today. Brian has a Transit-type van and I thought it would be easier to collect it in that, rather than me drive my (threatening to break down at any moment) small car and possibly find the scope won’t fit. Brian agreed and off we set. Brian works for the same company as I do, as well as being an astronomy friend, so it was no problem arranging to get the scope provided work didn’t raise its ugly head.

David had it assembled in his conservatory – when I saw it I couldn’t believe such a huge scope was mine and I had an initial thought of ‘What have I done here?!’, a thought that came back to me this evening when I was trying to get it through the gate to the upper garden where my shed is. The gap is very narrow and the holly hedge on one side scratched my hand to bits – and put a few unwanted decorations in the scope’s paint work! I nearly had a disaster when I forgot which way round the wheelbarrow handles fitted, put them on the wrong way and very nearly spilled the mirror box off of the rocker box!! If the neighbours had been out in their garden they would have been treated to some colourful language, mostly at the bluer end of the spectrum!
I was going to move the scope around the garden for observing sessions but I will be doing my observing from the one spot in the upper garden until I get used to handling the thing.

When I ordered it, I ordered the bog-standard 18 inch f/4.5 mirror with 1/4 wave accuracy. Most people would go for better accuracy than that, such as 1/8 wave or 1/10 wave but I went for 1/4 purely because I couldn’t afford the extra cost of a ‘better’ mirror. When I collected the scope, David handed me the certificate for the mirror – which states the accuracy is actually 1/8 wave! I’m pleased! The mirror is also an f/4.3, rather than f/4.5, which is a three-inch difference in the focal length. I only need a step stool or kitchen steps to observe at the zenith.

The scope should also fit in my car. David made the mirror and rocker boxes low profile, so they will clear the 79 cm opening of the tailgate.

The UK motorway network was, as ever, a hair-raising experience and always reminds me of a lethal game of dodgems, with people weaving from one lane to another, cutting in on other vehicles – most of the time without bothering to use their indicators – sitting in the middle lane at 50 mph, thus preventing anyone from over taking properly as the outside lane is full of those people who believe the national speed limit of 70 mph does not apply to them, and you can’t get across while only doing a mere 50…On the way back, a large lorry on the two-lane A34 decided he’d try and kill the other road users by overtaking an Eddie Stobart truck straight into traffic in the outside lane – how there wasn’t a multiple pile-up I’ll never know. The Stobart truck, the incongruously-named ‘Poppy Honey’, was nearly as bad, switching lanes every 30 seconds or so. There had been a smash-up on the M3 (there’s always a crash on the M3, it seems almost obligatory for there to be a crash on the M3) fortunately it was in the northbound lane as we were heading south and didn’t interfere with us too badly, apart from causing a rolling roadblock as people slowed down to goggle at the aftermath.

Anyway, the scope’s now in its new home and I’ll get it out tomorrow, assemble it and see how it all goes together. David did show me, as we disassembled it in his conservatory, but only some of what he said sank in. I am hoping to have my first observing session with it soon, but first I am going to put it together and take it down a few times in daylight, so I get the hang of it and can assemble it easily and quickly in the dark without dropping bits or breaking anything!

Many thanks must go to Brian for providing the van and doing the driving over a 400 mile round trip through 13 counties. I know he reads this so – thank you Brian!

Photos will follow, probably tomorrow.

Deep Sky Binocular and other stories

I’ve added a new page to the ‘Articles’ section. It’s a follow-up to the AL binocular Messier project I did and is about my little project to observe the objects listed in the Astronomical League’s Deep Sky Binocular Club list. This wee projectette lasted from October 24th 2008 until June 19th 2010 and I observed all the objects on the list. Some were easier than others and some took more than one attempt to find, thanks to conditions on the night, but I got them all eventually. Click here to see the article.
I could, I suppose, send my observations in to the AL and claim the certificate and pin, as I did with the Messier list, but I let my membership lapse – at £40 it is a little expensive for what you actually get – and haven’t the spare funds to renew it at present. I will renew it eventually and do some more of the observing projects. Judging by what I see and hear, both at home and over in the US, observing programs (particularly organised ones like the AL’s) are more popular State-side than they are here. I’ve no idea why that is the case, I suppose it’s because we English don’t like sticking rigidly to anything!

My 18 inch scope is now complete, David has received the payment ok (I am always a little worried that bank transfers will vanish into the ether!) and I am hoping to go and collect it tomorrow, barring any hitches with work/vans/travel/whatever. It’s up in Nottingham, which is a fair trek from the Island, a 400-mile round trip via the A3M, M25 London Orbital and M1 motorways. This will be my only chance to collect it before the end of the month, so I hope that there are no hitches, last minute or otherwise, tomorrow!

I don’t think the new scope will go in my little Citroen C3; it would fit in it ok, but actually getting it into the car in the first place would be a problem, due to lack of clearance on the tailgate. I’m planning to get a new car anyway, I’m fed up with driving such a small car and getting run into the hedge by idiots in 4x4s, it isn’t that cheap to run either and it is starting to cost me money in repairs, so if I am going to change it I may as well get a bigger vehicle while I’m at it. The next car will be something like a Ford Focus estate (estate=station wagon in the US) – something large enough to fit a scope in. Unfortunately, that might mean scrapping any plans for a trip to Australia in 2013, but needs must – there’s no public transport here, we’re in an isolated community and a reliable car is essential. Whatever car I end up getting, and whenever it will be, I will be measuring it to see if my telescope will fit…

It’s nearly done!

My 18 inch dob is nearly completed. I had an email from David today to say that he hopes to get the construction finished tomorrow, then it will be painted, assembled to make sure it goes together ok and then checked. I am hoping that it can be collected next Wednesday, otherwise it won’t be before the 30th at least until I can do so, which would be frustrating given that there have been unavoidable delays with the completion. However, being able to collect it on Wednesday depends on some work stuff not getting in the way (as it could well do!), vehicle breakdowns and David not running into any unforeseen problems with the final completion – Sod’s Law being what it is, I won’t be at all surprised if something happens!
I’m also hoping that my ankle is well on the mend by then (it’s not doing too badly, the cast is off, I am back at work – although not driving – and I am down to using one crutch rather than both) and this crap weather clears up (it’s been the coldest and grottiest summer for 17 years and September has brought mostly force 8 gales and rain so far).

Galaxy clusters, faint PNe, difficult Palomars and faint nebulae await! By the way, if you have large glass (>16 inches) and are looking for observing ideas beyond the bright NGCs, then you can do no better than to visit my friend Alvin Huey’s Faint Fuzzies site, Steve Gottlieb, Mark Wagner and Jim Shields’ Adventures in Deep Space or another friend’s site, Ray Cash’s Deep Sky Page.

A mixed bag

This summer has been a bit of a weird one. One day it is sunny and 32C/90F, while the next day it’s cloudy, raining and cold. It’s not just been a typically varied English summer, it’s been strange with the temperature variations – I wish the Jet Stream would sort itself out and get north of Scotland, where it is supposed to be and not lurking over the south of England! Observing opportunities have been quite rare. This time last year, I’d had 4 observing sessions in August but, this year, it’s been one. Not all the nights have been cloudy, there have been 5 clear nights so far (still, a pretty crappy return nonetheless) but most have been around the gibbous Moon. August is never a good month, traditionally it is a mixed bag so I’m hoping that as autumn sets in, the percentage of clear nights will rise – this is usually the case.

Our local astronomy society, Vectis AS, has a Unihedron Sky Quality Meter for members to use. I have currently got it, having picked it up at last week’s Perseid Party, and have only played with it so far as the Moon is in the sky. Under a 95% gibbous Moon last week, the reading was 19.45 which equates to 5.1 limiting visual magnitude. Last night, with a rising 75% gibbous Moon in the sky, the reading was 20.60, which is a naked eye visual magnitude of 5.9. I’m looking forward to using it under a really dark, Moonless autumn or winter night. I might get myself one of these, they’re expensive at around £145 each but it will give a more objective reading of the sky quality than just looking up, hunting for the faintest star visible and saying ‘Oh, that’s 6.0’ or whatever – it’s easier, too. My friend Stephen, who owns the site where we had our Perseid gathering last week, has one permanently fixed to his roof and gets readings in the high 21s. My home site is not as dark as that one (I am located just outside the ‘Bay Area’ of Sandown and Shanklin, although it’s not as bad as it could be) as he’s in a blue zone while I am in a green zone, but I should get readings in the high 20s at least, and the 21s on very good nights.

I did get a short session in last night, 19th August, and it was a short one, too. I got 50 minutes before the Moon and clouds interfered, which I’ll put in a separate post.

18″ progress

I had an update on the progress of my new 18″ today. It should have been finished, or nearly so, around now but the completion date has been put back a few weeks due to complications with a prior order. It’s a bit frustrating, of course, when you’re itching to get your hands on a nice shiny new bit of kit, but it can’t be helped and these things happen. The good news is that the upper tube assembly is done and the mirrors have also arrived. Anyway, 5 to 5.5 months is actually a pretty good lead time for a completed premium scope, I know people in the States who have to wait anything between eight months to 2 years for their scopes, unless they’re getting Obsessions which are ‘off the shelf’ scopes – and even then the mirrors have long lead times.

Hopefully it won’t be too many weeks until it’s ready, then the skies will be nice and dark and the weather – I hope!! – will have cleared up a bit!


Nothing to do with astronomy, I see that the BBC are going to pull the plug on their Wildlife Fund. This is a shame as, despite half-assed support from the BBC, it has raised £3 million since its inception in 2007 for good wildlife causes. It’s even more of a shame when you consider the effort the Beeb put into Children In Need, Comic Relief and Sports Relief – if they’d been half as enthusiastic about their Wildlife Fund it could have helped so many more wild animals and their habitats: habitats and animals that our species is destroying at a prodigious and terrifying rate. People might argue that the human fundraisers are more high profile and people care more about them but I disagree – it’s because the BBC have done nothing, or next to nothing, to promote the Wildlife Fund yet everything to promote the other fundraisers. To me – at the risk of getting outraged emails – wildlife and the environment is every bit as important as the other good causes, maybe even more so. However it seems that a lot of people, including the BBC, care about children but not about the environment that those children, like all of us, live in.
There’s a petition here if you’d like to sign it.

‘Glorious Globulars’ – observing, 30th July 2011

We’ve had quite a spell of cloudy weather just lately here, all a bit depressing really – a friend of mine confessed that it’s the first time he’s ever had SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in July – with only the occasional clear spell at night and only the odd sunbeam poking through during the day. Humans can’t, of course, control the weather or climate (putting aside anthropogenic climate change) – if we did, I’d make sure the UK had an Arizona climate! – but it’s hard not to blame the messengers, in this case the weather presenters and forecasters who smugly, it seems, inform us we’re in for yet another crappy dull summer day or cloudy night.
Last night (30th July) it cleared, sort of, and I decided to track down some globulars in Ophiuchus and Sagittarius.
I had recently dug out an 8″ Celestron scope on a Vixen GP mount, which I was given several years ago but haven’t used for various reasons (mostly because I prefer using my 12″ Dob, as aperture counts in deep sky observing). I didn’t know the focal ratio or focal length of this scope, just that it was ‘pretty short’, so I posted a photo and description on Cloudy Nights and it turns out that my scope is a 7.9″ (20cm) f/4 (800mm focal length) GP-C200 made by Celestron back in the late 90s/early 2000s. 7.9″ is a strange size but it seems that a lot of 8″ mirrors are actually 7.9″ in diameter. I’ll call it 8″ for convenience! Anyway, I decided to give this scope a fair go so I fitted it with my Telrad and collimated it after setting it up in the garden.

20cm f/4 Celestron



The evening was decidedly unpromising – after a clear late afternoon and early evening, it clouded over again and I thought the session would end before it began. Fortunately, it improved enough to do some observing, at least.




I got off to a slow start for various reasons but, once I’d settled my differences with the equatorial mount (reminding me why I prefer Dobs!), all was ok, apart from the endless procession of cars coming down into the village and sweeping the trees with their beams.

Date: 30th July 2011
Conditions: No Moon (New Moon), partly cloudy, 82% humidity (very dewy), 12° C (53.6° F)
Transparency: III, deteriorating to IV later.
Seeing: Antoniadi II
Equipment: 8″ (20cm) f/4 Newtonian, 22mm Televue Panoptic (36x) and 8mm Televue Radian (100x)

NGC 6426, Ophiuchus – This globular is very faint, not helped by the poor transparency. It is faint at 36x. Putting in the 8mm (100x) is not much of an improvement, so it is not surprising I did not see this with the small scopes or binoculars last week. Very faint and unresolved.

NGC 6333 (M9), Ophiuchus – Round, bright and dense with a very bright and dense core. Granular-looking at 100x but unresolved. One for a better night.

NGC 6342, Ophiuchus – Fairly bright, despite its low altitude (the transparency had improved by this time). Smaller and fainter than M9 and fits into the same field of view at 36x. At 100x, a round halo with a brighter, dense core. Slightly granular but unresolved.

NGC 6356, Ophiuchus – This is close to M9 and NGC 6342 but I didn’t see it, probably because it was too low and had gone behind the shed.

NGC 6626 (M28), Sagittarius – Very bright, quite small and round. Unresolved, although that might be due to the poor transparency. 100x

NGC 6656 (M22), Sagittarius – Large and very bright. Not round, more irregular. Mostly resolved at 100x but with a nebulous background hinting at many more unresolved stars. The overall appearance is almost that of a crab or a spider. There are dark patches within the cluster. Very nice indeed.

NGC 6638, Sagittarius – Small, moderately bright. A round halo surrounds a dense, compact core. The edges are diffuse. Unresolved.

By this time the transparency had got a lot worse, so I called it a night at 0035 BST. As I was packing up, I got to listen to a couple of women prowling up and down the footpath next to the garden. I am not sure what they were doing but I think they were looking for something, especially when I heard ‘Darling! Come to mummy!’ from one of them. Probably a cat or dog, or something. To be honest, no matter who they are or how nice they are, I don’t like people hanging around or being loud outside at night, it makes me nervous – probably a hangover from when I lived in towns and cities where it was noisy and anti-social behaviour was common – and it’s a feeling I can never shake off.
Anyway, the scope performed beautifully and is a real little gem, perfect for those nights when getting the big scope out is too much hassle or the conditions aren’t good enough and I want something more than binoculars and the tiny scopes. The coma isn’t too bad, considering it’s an f/4 mirror, and as a coma corrector won’t fit (it only accepts accessories with 1.25″ barrel size) that’s a bonus. It’s also good for putting into the car and taking somewhere with a better southern horizon. I’ll be using it more from now on.