OAUSA Net - October 8, 2020 - Astronomy

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NotAMog
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OAUSA Net - October 8, 2020 - Astronomy

#1

Post by NotAMog » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:02 am

Re: OAUSA Net - 10/8/20 - Astronomy

Many of the locations we visit are away from the glare of city lights and often at a high altitude which make for great spots to enjoy the night sky. Now that the days are getting shorter astronomy gives you an interesting activity to do once it gets dark. The night sky was the evening television of the ancient world. Now with simple cardboard tools to phone apps it can be enjoyed again.

As usual, we would appreciate input for those of you on the net who have experience enjoying the night sky at any level or have questions and want to learn more.

Introduction

Astronomy makes a great secondary hobby for off roaders and overlanders. Most of the places where we choose to camp are in remote areas away from city lights making them great locations of any level of amateur astronomy. This can range from a casual appreciation for a star filled night sky with the Milky Way being clearly visible to bringing along a sophiscated telescope and mount for doing serious astro photography.

Childern who can hardly put down their smart phones and tablets are often fascinated with the night sky the first time they are out in a dark area and can see a star filled sky and the milky way or look through a telescope to see Juipiter or the rings of Saturn.

Jim Mettler - Pinzgauer Owner and Amateur Astronomer

Link to a short documentary by Vince Sweeney on Jim Mettler and his astronomy outreach activities -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V_TtM0 ... e=youtu.be

The film is about 12 1/2 minutes long. You might recognize the Pinzgauer shown at 0:56. The first half was taken at the Calico Mogfest in 2016. The portion covering Jim Mettler’s astronomy outreach activities starts at 7:18.

Unfortunately, Jim passed away in 2018 but is fondly remembered in the Pinzgauer and amateur astronomy communities. I have to thank Jim for introducing me to Pinzgauers which led to my interest in offroading and overlanding.
Last edited by NotAMog on Thu Oct 08, 2020 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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NotAMog
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 8, 2020 - Astronomy

#2

Post by NotAMog » Thu Oct 08, 2020 2:33 pm

Why Astronomy Goes Well with Off Roading and Overlanding


Amateur astronomers are always seeking areas with truly dark skys. Light pollution in has become a big concern as we slowly lose our night sky. Fortunately for us as off roaders and overlanders many of the remote locations we travel to are also dark locations away from city lights and unpolluted air and clear view of the night sky.

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Light Pollution Map of the U.S.


Below is a website with more information on locating areas with dark skys. These happen to map well to many of the areas we like to explore.


https://darksitefinder.com/maps/world.h ... .69/-82.42


No or Low Cost Astronomy


With the days growing shorter astronomy provides an interesting nighttime activity. Appreciating the night sky doesn't always require expensive, bulky, and heavy equipment. You can use binoculars that you probably carry already or spend time finding the constellations that many different cultures have made from patterns of stars.


Viewing Aids


Viewing aids are the first item to open up an appreciation of the night sky. They are like maps that will identify stars, constellations, and other heavenly objects.


Planisphere, star chart, or star wheel


A planisphere is a simple circular star map with a cover with an oval opening. The edges of the oval opening represent the horizon. The circular star map is marked with dates on the outer edge. The cover is marked with the time of day. You align the date and time of day to get a representation of the sky at that moment.
Planispheres are often peoples first introduction to identifying stars and constellations.


Simple commercial cardboard planisphere


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https://www.davidchandler.com/products/ ... ar-charts/

Plastic planisphere

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https://myasp.astrosociety.org/product/ ... -us-mexico

Print Your Own Planishpere

These are great for astronomy outreach and activities for children. Each person can make and have their own planisphere to locate constellations in the sky. They work better if printed on heavy paper or card stock.

https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-r ... tar-wheel/

http://www.aosny.org/Starwheel.pdf

This site has a more elaborate version of Uncle Al’s sky wheel with multiple wheels for
Native American Constellations
Binocular Sky Treasure Hunt (deep sky objects)
Test Your Eyes – Test the Skys
Where Are the Planets? (ecliptic zone marked)
Invent Your Own Constellations (stars, no constellations)
A $5 license is required which allows you to print out 5 copies.

http://www.planetarium-activities.org/s ... starwheels

Electronic Viewing Aids

Smart phones and tablets have made available very sophisticated, low cost, viewing aids for night time star gazing with or without binoculars or a telescope. With their built-in GPS receivers, tilt sensors, and accelerometers, they can provide a great augmented reality view of the night sky. Just hold your phone or tablet up to the sky, give it a shake, and it will show your current view as you move around highlighting the objects you choose including start and planet names, constellations with or without pictures, satellites, and much more.


Celestron SkyScout

The first device available with similar capabilities was the Celestron SkyScout which retailed for around $675 when it came out in 2006. It was an incredible breakthrough in technology. It was a dedicated device that would guide you to or identify objects in the sky. It didn’t have nearly the capability of a 99 cent smart phone app today.
They are still around today but are basically useful only as door stops. The built-in celestial database was only good until 2016 and with the GPS week rollover in 2019 they can no long decode the correct GPS time and date.

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Sky Safari

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Sky Safari is an app available for iOS, Mac OS, and Android. It comes in 3 different versions ranging from $2.99 to $39.99.

https://skysafariastronomy.com/

I like Sky Safari on the iPad since it can interface with the goto mount on my telescope and point the scope at an object with a couple of screen taps.

Star Walk

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This is a $.99 app for iOS and Android with a number of low cost in app add-ons.
https://starwalk.space/en
It among its many functions it can play cool spacey music for your observing pleasure. 8)

Star Lore - Constellation Mythology

One way to appreciate the night sky is to be able to point a few constellations and be able to tell the stories behind them. Most of our constellation mythology comes from Greek mythology but many others exist. This doesn't require any bulky or expensive equipment. The only thing you need is to carry the constellation star patterns and stories in your head, although a good green laser pointer can be useful in pointing out stars and constellations to those unfamiliar with the night sky.

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Using a Green Laser Pointer for Astronomy Talks]

All cultures around the world had some kind of mythology associated with the night sky. The stars and constellations are celestial place holders that tell stories important ot each culture. Ancient people must have had very vivid imaginations to see patterns of stars in the sky as mythological gods, heros, heroines, monsters, and locations. Then again they had clear unpolluted skies, no light pollution other than perhaps their a fire, and lots of time to tell stories.

The Story of Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Cepheus, and Cetus

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Andromeda

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Cassiopeia

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Perseus

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[Cepheus]

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Cetus

In Greek mythology Andromeda is the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, king and queen of ancient Ethiopia. Her mother Cassiopeia foolishly boasts that she is more beautiful than the Nereids,[3][4] a display of hubris by a human that is unacceptable to the gods. To punish the queen for her arrogance, Poseidon floods the Ethiopian coast and sends a sea monster named Cetus to ravage the kingdom's inhabitants. In desperation, King Cepheus consults the oracle of Ammon, who announces that no respite can be found until the king sacrifices his daughter, Andromeda, to the monster. She is thus chained to a rock by the sea to await her death.
Perseus is just then flying near the coast of Ethiopia on his winged sandals, having slain the Gorgon Medusa and carrying her severed head, which instantly turns to stone any who look at it. Upon seeing Andromeda bound to the rock, Perseus falls in love with her, and he secures Cepheus' promise of her hand in marriage if he can save her. Perseus kills the monster with the magical sword he had used against Medusa, saving Andromeda. Preparations are then made for their marriage, in spite of her having been previously promised to her uncle, Phineus. Andromeda was never asked for her opinion. At the wedding a quarrel takes place between the rivals, and Perseus is forced to show Medusa's head to Phineus and his allies, turning them to stone.
The goddess Athena (or her Roman version Minerva) places Andromeda in the northern sky at her death as the constellation Andromeda, along with Perseus and her parents Cepheus and Cassiopeia, in commemoration of Perseus' bravery in fighting the sea monster Cetus.
The story of Perseus goes on.
The gods were so pleased, that all of these characters were elevated to the heavens as stars. Only Cassiopeia suffered an indignity – Because of her vanity Poseidon caused her to be bound to a chair and placed in the heavens so that, as she revolves around the north celestial pole, she is sometimes in an upside-down position. From the latitude of Greece it appears that Cassiopeia’s head gets dunked into the sea during part of the year.

Ursa Major

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Ursa Major is a well-known, significant constellation in many cultures. It is one of the oldest constellations in the sky, with a history dating back to ancient times. The constellation is referenced in Homer and the Bible. A great number of tales and legends across the globe associate Ursa Major with a bear.
Ancient Greeks associated the constellation with the myth of Callisto, the beautiful nymph who had sworn a vow of chastity to the goddess Artemis. Zeus saw the nymph one day and fell in love. The two had a son, and named him Arcas. Artemis had already banished Callisto when she had learned about the nymph’s pregnancy and broken vow.
However, it was Zeus’ jealous wife Hera, who was not amused by her husband’s philandering, who would do even more damage. Angered by Zeus’ betrayal, she turned Callisto into a bear.
Callisto lived as a bear for the next 15 years, roaming the forest and always running and hiding from hunters. One day, her son Arcas was walking in the forest and the two came face to face. At the sight of the bear, Arcas quickly drew his spear, scared.
Seeing the scene from Olympus, Zeus intervened to prevent disaster. He sent a whirlwind that carried both Callisto and Arcas into the heavens, where he turned Arcas into the constellation Boötes, the Herdsman, and Callisto into Ursa Major. (In another version, Arcas becomes the constellation Ursa Minor.) This only further infuriated Hera and she persuaded her foster parents Oceanus and Tethys never to let the bear bathe in the northern waters. This, according to the legend, is why Ursa Major never sets below the horizon in mid-northern latitudes.
ursa major constellationIn a different version of the tale, it is not Hera but Artemis who transforms Callisto into a bear. Artemis does this to punish the nymph for breaking her vow of chastity to the goddess. Many years later, both Callisto and Arcas get captured in the forest and taken to King Lycaon as a gift. The mother and son take refuge in the temple of Zeus, where trespassing is punishable by death, but the god intervenes and saves them, placing them both in the sky.
There is an entirely different Greek myth associated with Ursa Major, the one about Adrasteia. Adrasteia was one of the nymphs who took care of Zeus when he was very young. Zeus’ father Cronus was told by an oracle that one of his children would eventually overthrow him and, fearful of the prophecy, Cronus swallowed all his children until Zeus was born. Rhea, Zeus’ mother, smuggled their youngest child to the island of Crete, where the nymphs Adrasteia and Ida nursed young Zeus for a year. In this version of the myth, Ida is associated with the constellation Ursa Minor. Amaltheia, the goat that nursed Zeus, was placed in the sky as the bright star Capella in the constellation Auriga. The prophecy eventually came true; Zeus overthrew Cronus and freed his brothers Hades and Poseidon and sisters Demeter, Hera and Hestia.
The Romans called the constellation Septentrio, or “seven plough oxen,” even though only two of the seven stars represented oxen, while the others formed a wagon.
Ursa Major is associated with many different forms in the sky in different cultures, from the camel, shark and skunk to the sickle, bushel and canoe. The Chinese know the seven brightest stars, or Tseih Sing, as the Government, or Pih Tow, the Northern Measure.
In Hindu legend, the brightest stars of Ursa Major represent the Seven Sages and the constellation is known as Saptarshi. The sages in question are Bhrigu, Atri, Angirasa, Vasishta, Pulastya, Pulalaha and Kratu.
In some Native American tales, the bowl of the Big Dipper represents a large bear and the stars that mark the handle are the warriors chasing it. Since the constellation is pretty low in the sky in autumn, the legend says that it is the blood of the wounded bear that causes the leaves to turn red.
In more recent American history, the Big Dipper played a role in the Underground Railroad, as its position in the sky helped slaves find their way north. There were numerous songs that spread among slaves in the south that said to follow the ‘Drinking Gourd’ to get to a better life.

Pleiades

Not so much a constellation as an object in the sky the Pleiades are very easy to spot. Technically, the Pleiades is classified as an open star cluster.

Image

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After Atlas was forced to carry the heavens on his shoulders, Orion began to pursue all of the Pleiades, and Zeus transformed them first into doves, and then into stars to comfort their father. The constellation of Orion is said to still pursue them across the night sky.
One of the most memorable myths involving the Pleiades is the story of how these sisters literally became stars, their catasterism. According to some versions of the tale, all seven sisters committed suicide because they were so saddened by either the fate of their father, Atlas, or the loss of their siblings, the Hyades. In turn Zeus, the ruler of the Greek gods, immortalized the sisters by placing them in the sky. There these seven stars formed the star cluster known thereafter as the Pleiades.

Modern Star Lore of the Pleiades

The Japanese name for this star cluster is Subaru meaning “to govern” or “gather together.” Subaru was the first automobile brand to use a Japanese word as its name.

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In a modern star story the large star in the Subaru logo represents Fuji Heavy Industries, while the five smaller stars represent the five companies that merged to form Fuji Heavy Industries, the original name for the Subaru Corporation.

A Word on Green Laser Pointers

From Sky and Telescope
A recent addition to the backyard astronomer's toolkit has been flagged as a potential weapon in the terrorist's arsenal. Humble laser pointers, used by thousands of skygazers to show beginners the way to stars and constellations, is coming under fire from U.S. federal and state authorities following thousands of incidents in which laser beams have "painted" aircraft in flight.
In the most notorious case, on January 4, 2005, New Jersey stargazer David Banach was charged with interfering with the operation of a passenger aircraft and lying to federal investigators. He'd been arrested the preceding week after allegedly shining a green laser at a private jet on approach to a nearby airport and then at a police helicopter dispatched to search for the culprit.
According to the criminal complaint, after first blaming his 7-year-old daughter, the suspect admitted that he had been giving her a guided tour of the night sky. He faced a possible 20-year jail term but ultimately was sentenced to two years of probation.

Green Laser Pointer Safety[/]

  • Laser pointers are designed to illuminate inanimate objects. Never shine a laser pointer toward any person, aircraft, or other vehicle.

  • Never look directly into the beam of a laser pointer of any type.

  • Do not allow children to use a pointer unsupervised. Laser pointers are not toys.

  • If your telescope is equipped with a laser pointer that has a "constant-on" setting, do not leave the instrument unattended with the laser switched on.

  • Do not aim a laser pointer toward mirrors or other shiny surfaces. The reflected beam may inadvertently strike someone in the eye.

  • Do not aim a laser pointer in the direction of anyone using a telescope or binoculars for either astronomical or terrestrial viewing.

  • Do not aim a laser pointer skyward if you hear or see an aircraft of any kind flying overhead.

  • Do not use a laser pointer within 3 kilometers (2 miles) of an airport.

  • The use of laser pointers is prohibited at some star parties and other astronomy gatherings. Always comply with such restrictions.

  • Be aware of irresponsible uses of pointers so that the psychological effect will be minimized if you happen to be illuminated by one.

  • Do not purchase a laser pointer if it does not have a "caution" or "danger" sticker on it identifying its class. Report suspicious devices to the authorities.


Binocular Astronomy

Most of us carry binoculars when we go off roading. These can also be used to view and appreciate the night sky. With binoculars you can start to see some “deep sky” objects or get a better view of the moon and planets.
Low power binoculars are generally better for observing the night sky. For a number of complex technical reasons 7X50 is considered to be in the sweet spot for handheld viewing the sky.

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The first number,7, is the power of the binocular. That is the relative magnification of the binocular. Many celestial objects best seen with binoculars are relatively large in the sky so lower power is better. Lower power is also less susceptible to hand shake.
The second number is the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters. That is the the large front lens on each side of the binocular. The larger the objective lens, the more light it can gather making everything in the field of view brighter. As the objective lens gets bigger the binoculars become heaver and more difficult to hold for long periods of time.

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Parallelogram Binocular Mount

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10x80 is a size popular with dedicated binocular observers but these require a tripod or special parallelogram mount.
If your really really serious you can take it to the next level and build an observing chair.

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And of course you can get carried away and make a really nice observing chair but this isn’t something most of us are going to carry with overlanding.
Here is a link for more information on binocular observing -

https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/advi ... s-a-guide/

Telescopes

Most people think of telescopes when talking about astronomy but as you can see from above they are not totally necessary. For us going off road or overlanding, space is generally at a premium but a telescope can be a great thing to have to fully enjoy the remote environments we like to explore.

Types of Telescopes

Here is a general diagram showing different telescope designs

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Here is the link to the web page where I found the above diagram that contains additional information on each type of telescope -

https://telescopenerd.com/telescope-ast ... scopes.htm

Here is a picture of the 3 main types of telescopes on different mounts

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Left most is a refractor telescope on a German equatorial mount, in the middle is a Newtonian reflector on a Dobsonian mount, and on the right is a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope on a goto Azimuth, Elevation or Az El mount.

Refractors

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Three different refractor telescopes

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One reason refractors make good telescopes for off roading and overland is that they can usually be purchased with rugged foam lined carrying cases

A refractor telescope is basically a long tube with a large objective lens at one end with one or more lenses leading up to the eye piece that you look through. These can be a good type for off roading and overlanding because they can be a reasonable size to carry, the tube is sealed or can be sealed with an eyepiece plug, and the optics are far less likely to be knocked out of alignment by vibration.
Refractors are also good for terrestrial viewing during the day. Because of the design of the optics in a telescope the image appears upside down with right and left reversed. This is generally not a problem for astronomical viewing. For terrestrial viewing special eye pieces or an image erecting prisim are used so the image looks normal.

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Information on using a telescope for terrestial viewing can be found here -

https://stargazingpro.com/telescope-for ... l-viewing/

Newtonian Reflector

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The Newtonian reflector is the most popular type of amateur telescope. This design was invented by Iassic Newton in 1668. It avoids the color distortion or more technically, the chromatic aberration of refracting telescopes where the light travels through a series of lenses. Newton theorized that if a telescope were constructed that used mirrors rather that lenses it would exhibit chromatic aberration When light passes through a glass lens the spectrum of colors separates just as they do in a glass prism. Modern lens coating techniques have pretty much eliminated this problem but Newtonian telescopes have become the most popular for a number of reasons.
Newtonians are simple and relatively inexpensive in relation to the size of their primary mirror. Relative being a key term. Generally though they will give you more light gathering power per dollar than other types of telescopes. The larger the mirror, the more light they gather making it easier to dim objects such as distant galaxies and nebula.
Overall size can be a factor since for a given magnification or focal length the telescope tube gets larger in diameter and longer as the size of the mirror increases. Weight is also an issue as the size of the telescope gets larger.
To help make large Newtonians more transportable a number of different “truss tube” designs have been developed which and can be disassembled to shorten the overall tube length for travel.

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Skywatcher folding 12” Telescope

Some Newtonians can collapse into a very small package but like anything, there are compromises with such a design.

Hubble Optics 24” Ultra Lightweight Telescopes

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Hubble Optics 24” Ulta Lightweight Telescope Disassembled

Another factor to remember is that since the eyepiece is at the far end of the telescope they viewing can become precarious as the size of the telescope grows. Climbing up a spindly ladder in the dark presents it’s own set of challenges beside the fact that you now have to carry the ladder with you too. The picture below is of a home made 40” telescope.

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This is an extreme case

Two other considerations regarding Newtonian telescopes when off roading is that they are an open design so the inside of the tube and the mirrors are subject to gathering dust and dirt. For smaller telescopes plastic or rubber caps are available to seal the ends. Larger scopes, particularly the collapsible kind seal the primary mirror in a box for transportation.
The other factor is that the mirrors can easily come out of alignment. This is not a disaster but it will take some time to collimate or align the mirrors. This is usually a fairly easy process when done using a special tool called a laser collimator that projects a laser beam through the eye piece hole and down to the primary mirror. The laser beam is aligned to a small dot in the exact center of the primary mirror using the adjusting mechanism on the back side of the mirror.
All things considered, using a Newtonian for off roading or overland is not as bad as it may sound if you have the room to carry it. They give you the most bang for the buck with performance in viewing dim objects that are most appreciated when traveling in remote areas free of light pollution.

Catadioptric Telescopes

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Clestron NexStar 6SE

Of the last 3 telescopes on the diagram above, Cassegrain, Schmidt Cassegrain, and Maksutov the last 2 are fall into the category of catadioptric telescopes which means they use a combination of mirrors and lenses. Pure Cassegrain telescopes aren’t used too much. They are basically a Newtonian where the optical path has been folded. The shape of the primary and secondary mirrors are difficult to make so the design was modified to make the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.
In a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope the mirrors are spherical rather than paraboloid. To correct the focus a corrector plate that functions sort of like a contact lens is added to the front of the telescope. This has the added benefit of sealing the tube making it less likely to collect dirt and dust. The Schmidt-Cassegrain design was made very popular for amateur use by companies like Mead and Celestron.

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Classic Orange and Black Celestron C8 on a “Horse Shoe” and Wedge Mount

The Maksutov is a similar design where the secondary mirror is a mirrored spot on the back side of the corrector plate. The shape of the corrector plate is more difficult to make than the Schmidt-Cassegrain so you rarely see very large Maksutov telescopes from commercial manufacturers.

Telescope Mounts

A big part of using a telescope is the mount. There are many different variations of telescope mounts but you can say they generally fall into 2 basic types, Az El mounts and Equatorial Mounts.
Az El mounts, also known as altazimuth or alt-azimuth mounts, move in 2 axes, azimuth which is around in a circle relative to the ground and elevation which is the tilt up and down. These are the simplest type of mount but they have one drawback for astronomical use. Since the sky appears to rotate around the polar axis the star field in the eyepiece will also appear to rotate. This is OK for casual visual astronomy but not if your using your telescope to take astro photos. Astro photos are typically long exposures and the star images will smear due to this apparent motion.
To compensate for the relative motion equatorial mounts were invented. They are basically Az Ez mounts with the Azimuth axis tilted to point to the celestial north. The amount of tilt is determined by your latitude. When the mount is properly aligned the telescope will accurately track the stars field in the eyepiece.

Dobsonian Mounts

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Book Cover Showing Simple Homemade Dobsonian Mount

Dobsonian mounts were popularized in the amateur astronomy community by John Dobson of the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers. He first described his simple Az El mount in 1965. The general design has become very popular for large Newtonian telescopes. In fact, Newtonian telescopes on Dobsonian mounts are usually referred to as Dobsonian telescopes.
This mount became popular for large Newtonian telescopes because it’s simple low cost design allowed amateur astronomers to put there funds toward having a larger telescope rather than putting a large part of their telescope budget into the telescope mount.
A Dobsonian telescope can be a good choice for off roading and overlanding due to their simplicity and relatively light weight espcially if you want to view objects requiring a large light gathering capability.
In the past, one of the skills that an amateur astronomer had to develop was the ability to point their telescope and an object in the sky that couldn’t be seen with the unaided eye. Various aids were developed for this. One of the most popular was the Telrad which when looked through projected a bulls eye into the sky.

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Telrad

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Telrad Bull’s Eye Display
Telrads are still very popular for use with Dobsonian telescopes since they are seldom computer driven. Guide books showing the star field near interesting objects with the Telrad Bull’s eye aid in finding these objects. You just match up the image you see through the Telrad finder with the image in the book and you will be right on or at least close enough to put the object of interest in the center of the eyepiece.

Goto Mounts

Goto mounts have made casual observing much easier than in years past. These are computer driven mounts that once aligned allow the telescope to be automatically pointed at objects in the night sky.

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Equitorial Goto Mount

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Az El Goto Mount with a Refractor and Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescopes

Most of these mounts have built-in GPS receivers so they know your location on the earth and the time. Once you set them up you align the mount by pointing the telescope and 1 to 3 well known stars using the motor drive and hand controller. Now you can select objects to view using the catalog built into the controller of with astronomy software on a tablet, phone, or computer.
Goto mounts take out much of the frustration (and challenge) of viewing night time objects especially if you’re showing things to non-astronomers. Previously, it easily take 10 or 15 minutes to go from one object to another manually pointing the telescope. With a goto mount it only takes seconds.


What to Look At

What is there to look at once you have binoculars or a telescope? There are generally 3 things people view the moon, planets, and deep sky objects. Generally most people start viewing things in that order with the first telescope. The moon is easy to find and can be fascinating to look at with just a pair of binoculars. Planets are next as they too are generally easy to find. Deep sky objects are what most amateur astronomers like to view and are best appreciated from the dark remote locations to which we find ourselves when off roading or overlanding.

Moon
Lunar astronomy is a specialty of some amateur astronomers. Exploring the surface of the moon from your back yard can be fun. The challenge is being able to find obscure features. Some of these features are only visible when the lunar lighting conditions are just right.

Planets

Planets can be enjoyed with binoculars or a moderate size telescope. Many people’s first exposure to amateur astronomy is looking at Jupiter and it’s moons or the rings of Saturn with a through a telescope at a public astronomy event.
My introduction to astronomy was by chance on a camping trip to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the Inyo Mountains of California. It is a popular location for amateur astronomers due to it’s remote location and altitude.
It happened to be on a moonless weekend when viewing is best. There was a large group of amateur astronomers there and they were generously allowing anyone around to view through their telescopes. I was amazed at the images of Jupiter and Saturn through a 12” telescope. That started a life long interest in astronomy.

Deep Sky Objects

Beyond the moon and planets are the so called deep sky objects. These are objects well beyond our solar system. Thousands of deep sky objects have been cataloged and are generally considered more interesting to observe by serious amateur astronomers.
Once you graduate to astronomy with binoculars or a telescope there are a great many more things to see in the night sky. Favorite amount amateur astronomers are the so called Messier deep sky objects. These were the first deep sky objects cataloged and the easiest to see since they were discovered using 18th century telescopes.
Charles Messier was a French astronomer who lived from 1730 to 1817. Messier was primarily interested in finding comets. He kept running across other fuzzy diffuse things in the sky that didn’t change position like a comet. He made a catalog of these objects so he wouldn’t waste time on them searching for comets. This became known as the Messier catalog. Today these are among the most interesting targets in the sky for amateur astronomers.

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Pictorial Messier Catalog

Today the catalog of celestial objects has been greatly expanded in the New General Catalog (NGC) list of objects. The latest version of the NGC lists almost 8000 celestial objects.

Solar Astronomy

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View of the sun taken through a Coronado PST solar telescope


Normally you should never look at the sun directly, through binoculars, or through a telescope but today sophisticated solar telescopes exist that make viewing the sun a safe and interesting pastime.
One area of astronomy that is easily appreciated when off roading or overlanding is solar astronomy. The best part of solar astronomy is that it is done during the day and isn’t affected by light pollution although the viewing experience is better in unpolluted high altitude locations.
Personally, I like solar astronomy since I’m not a night person and always have a hard time staying awake into the early hours of the morning for night time viewing.
The sun can be far more interesting to view than you might think by using the right equipment. The granularity of the surface, sun spots, and solar prominences are constantly changing.
The Coronado PST was a huge breakthrough in amateur solar astronomy when it came out in around 2004. For about the cost of a good H-Alpha filter you could get a whole dedicated solar telescope with sophisticated features allowing for safe solar viewing. The picture above was taken through a Coronado PST.

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Coronado PST

The key to safe solar viewing with modern solar telescopes is the H-Alpha filtering system they use. Typically there is a deep red filter that removes most of the unwanted wavelengths of light and reduces the overall intensity. Next is a special tunable bandpass filter called an etalon which works like a radio frequency tunable bandpass cavity filter except for light frequencies. Finally there is the H-Alpha filter itself which is sophisticated optical filter made with 50 or more different coatings.
These filters are so narrow that the speed of the rotation of the sun needs to be taken into consideration if you want a clear view of the entire solar disk at once. More expensive solar telescopes include 2 separately tunable etalons. These are called “double stacked” telescopes.

Information on Solar Telescopes and Observing

https://luntsolarsystems.com/an-explana ... telescope/

Astronomy Resources

Here are some websites for more information on astronomy -

https://www.heavens-above.com/
https://www.cloudynights.com/
https://www.constellation-guide.com/
Last edited by NotAMog on Thu Oct 08, 2020 5:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Bruce Berger
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'91 Honda ST1100 197,000miles and counting :shock: (I hope to make it to at least half the places this bike has been)
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'07 Moto Guzzi Norge - Corsa Red - The faster color :mrgreen:

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Jeff-OAUSA
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 8, 2020 - Astronomy

#3

Post by Jeff-OAUSA » Thu Oct 08, 2020 4:25 pm

It looks like a great net.

Please check me in.

WD6USA
Jeff
WD6USA

"If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it."

- Lyndon B. Johnson
President of the United States

H380
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 8, 2020 - Astronomy

#4

Post by H380 » Thu Oct 08, 2020 5:08 pm

Please sign me in, AA6AZ Bob in Apple Valley. Old call sign K6BWT.

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KN6FPS
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 8, 2020 - Astronomy

#5

Post by KN6FPS » Thu Oct 08, 2020 5:40 pm

I've been an amateur astronomer since high school, and love to journey to darker places to observe and photograph the skies. One consideration, is an easily portable mount. For that, I prefer the iOptron MiniTower, or one of its variants. The Az Mount Pro is pictured above, in Bruce's post, as an Az El Goto Mount. It can be used with 1 or 2 telescopes at a time, allowing you to do both narrow and wide field viewing simultaneously, or perhaps, mounting a camera on the other side for sky photography. The iOptron Az Mount Pro, has WiFi and a built-in battery, making it completely self contained. The WiFi will allow you to interface the mount with a computer or tablet running telescope control software. The mount has a port for charging the battery, so you do not need to remove it for charging. It packs into the provided case, which is 13"x13"x8". The tripod fits into a bag that is 34"x8" dia., the bag is not included. Most portable mounts run on 12V, so you can use your existing ham radio power supply or batteries to power them. I own several types of telescopes, each has their use. My 6" Maksutov is great for planets, but ungainly when it comes to traveling with it. The mount weighs 90lbs and does not come apart easily. My Newtonian, Catadioptric, and solar refractor telescopes, can all be used on the, much more portable, iOptron mount. The Newtonian also has a Dobsonian mount, for extreme ease of use and portability. The whole telescope is less than 2ft long. Unfortunately, it's no longer made, a rare 8" F/2.9. It's good for extremely wide field observing. I use a Telrad to aim it, when on the Dobsonian mount.
iOptron MT.jpg
iOptron MiniTower mount in case
iOptron MT.jpg (2.99 MiB) Viewed 235 times
Sky Research 8%22 f-2.9.jpg
Sky Research 8" F2.9 Dobsonian telescope
Sky Research 8%22 f-2.9.jpg (2.45 MiB) Viewed 235 times
DavidH
KN6FPS

Geoff
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 8, 2020 - Astronomy

#6

Post by Geoff » Thu Oct 08, 2020 5:54 pm

Please check me in.
Thank you.
Geoff
KD6SJP
COLTON, CA

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KA9WDX
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 8, 2020 - Astronomy

#7

Post by KA9WDX » Thu Oct 08, 2020 6:38 pm

Check in please - Thanks - Bernie

Diesel4x
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 8, 2020 - Astronomy

#8

Post by Diesel4x » Thu Oct 08, 2020 6:42 pm

Good evening! Please check in KF6KOC Randy and KF6RGR Becky.

Thank you!

k9atk
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Location: Aurora colorado

Re: OAUSA Net - October 8, 2020 - Astronomy

#9

Post by k9atk » Thu Oct 08, 2020 6:48 pm

Please check inn
K9atk brian
K9fog trish
Kd0exi cheyenne
Kd0gpe austin kd0rha tyler

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cesandvik
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 8, 2020 - Astronomy

#10

Post by cesandvik » Thu Oct 08, 2020 7:06 pm

Please check me in. K5LFE
Carl Sandvik
K5LFE
#K54FUN

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