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Messages - Ed McDonough

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Wow, a very nice event last night once the skies cleared around 10:30. It was great to see and be able to share our love of the nighttime skies with so many guests, particularly the young folks. And we all got a nice sneak peek at Mars coming up...nice, bright and orange in the southeast, a little prelude to July 20th at Robinson Preserve.

Jim, your view of Saturn at 260x in the 4" APO was jaw dropping. Further evidence that nothing beats a high quality APO refractor for planetary views.

Getting back to our topic, a word about portability and it's arch enemy, aperture fever. This is a very dangerous disease. It also can lead directly to dust collecting.

For many years I had been using an 11" SCT which strained the upper limits of portability for me. Finally as I hit my mid '60's that was that, and I moved back down to an 8" SCT which is ideal for me now. But OH how I miss those views from the 11". So please beware. If you do go overboard with aperture fever it is very hard to ever go back.

Hi Jonathan:
It was around that time they were parting ways with Galileo and Michael Whittmeyer. He was the guy with the long white hair and was fabulous on TV, but his products leaved much to be desired. He sold millions of $$$ worth of telescopes. The numbers were mind boggling.

You would have been excellent on air but it's hard to sell that crap when you understand how these things work. Whittmeyer was a marketing guy. I doubt he ever looked through one of his telescopes.

George mentions dust collectors. Probably the biggest dust collectors are the crappy $99 60mm refractors and the $199 4.5" reflectors, usually on almost impossible to understand (at least for beginners) EQ mounts. I agree that for $400 your best bet is a 6" or 8" manual Dob. $800 can get you a nice 6" SCT and $1200 can get you an 8" SCT.

I agree that no matter what route you take, a planetarium app for your phone or i Pad is a must have companion when you are out under the stars.

Now for some off season controversy...what telescope should one recommend to a new buyer? For club members, all of us have been asked this many times. So here's my take, the cliff notes version:

Aperture - Bigger is better.
Portability - Bigger is worse.
Electronic or Manual - More and more folks are leaning towards electronic. The computer assist makes it MUCH easier to locate objects.
Budget - Always the final determination.

It's been my experience that for many folks, a 6" or 8" SCT does the best job of accommodating these 4 factors.

A final comment. The mount can be either a simple alt-az version (side to side, up and down) or an EQ version (moves only on one axis to mimic celestial motion). If there's serious astrophotography interest go the EQ mount route but beware. These are bulkier, heavier and somewhat more difficult to master.

So, let the debate begin!!!

Here's a couple more short videos that you might find interesting and helpful:

The first describes the benefits of various types of visual filters:

The second talks about the purpose of a Barlow Lens:

Clear Skies!!!

In my many years of working with those new to telescopes, 2 things come up time and time again.

1. How powerful is it (aka magnification)? Often, in fact most times, "less is more".

2. The finderscope. It can be your best friend if aligned or your worst enemy if not aligned.

I found a couple of short but very helpful videos for those of you out there who have struggled with this:

Magnification -

Finderscope -

Hope this helps!!!

A wonderful event last night with near perfect skies. Seemed attendance was little down from the crowds at Celery Fields, but still very nice.

I've been in and out of this hobby for 50 years but I've never enjoyed it as much as I do now. The club members are wonderful. Very supportive and eager to help with enthusiasm that is contagious. For those who attend our events and are considering joining the club, there no reason to delay. No matter what your level of expertise (none, some or much), you will find it a very enjoyable experience.

I find it ironic (but certainly not surprising) that the only weekend with no LGDSO events planned turns out to be perhaps the 2 best nights of observing conditions in many months. Let's hope this weather holds for the upcoming Crowley weekend, the Crowley fund raiser, and the public event at GT Bray on March 24th, but it probably won't.

We shall see. Gosh this can be one frustrating hobby!!!

Here's a photo I took to capture the spirit of the evening. Quite an array of telescopes!!! Don't let that clear sky fool didn't last very long.

It seems event after event has been clouded out this year. We've had very little luck with Crowley or the Manatee County sponsored events either, be they solar or nighttime.

I thought this was the SUNSHINE STATE!!!

Equipment Wanted / Re: Diagonal
« on: December 28, 2017, 11:37:17 AM »
Here's the one that I use with my Nexstar Evolution 8. It should work with your LX 90. High Point sells it for $129.95:

I attended Crowley for the first time Saturday night and can confirm...IT IS WORTH THE TRIP!!!

Whether you have a scope and want some pointers, don't' have a scope but just want to gaze skyward, (or anything in between)...the skies are majestic and awe inspiring.

I've been employed in the industry for over 20 years. I remember the Hale Bopp excitement in 1997 topped considerably by the Mars Opposition of 2003. Nothing, and I mean nothing, has come close to what the industry is experiencing for this eclipse. Well, maybe Halley's Comet in 1986 but I'm not sure. I wasn't in the industry then.

Retailers can't keep up with shipments of solar shades. The company I work for went from what we thought was "way too much" to "not nearly enough" inventory in just 2 weeks. One school district alone purchased over 150,000 solar shades. It's been absolutely insane.

I have to wonder if some of the smaller towns in the path of totality will have sufficient infrastructure to handle the pending onslaught of humanity about to come their way. We shall see, it has certainly been exciting!!!

Here's an image taken by Aedan Stockdale yesterday at Robinson Preserve through the solar telescope. This was through high thin cloud cover and doesn't quite match the clarity through the eyepiece, but you get the idea.

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