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Look Up! June 2008

HantsAstro.org

Reviews: William Optics Megrez 72FD Revelation 15x70mm Binoculars Baader Laser Collimator

binoculars vs ‘scope? (evolution of the species...)

news | reviews | views | what’s on | out there


Cover: William Optic Megrez 72FD & Revelation Binoculars. Image taken Friday 12 May 2008 at Clanfield by Graham Green/David Woods using a Canon EOS 350 DLSR, and a small jiggery-pokery session in Adobe Photoshop, for the HantsAstro stylee.

Hampshire is our Playground

contents Look Up! June 2008 edition 02 News

Page 3

Update on HantsAstro - It’s moving on. Fast.

Review

Page 4

Baader Laser Collimator

View Point

Page 5

Evolution in amateur astronomy & First Look - Revelation 15x70mm Binoculars

Star Review

Page 6

William Optics Megrez 72FD

What’s On

Page 7

A Round up of Astronomy in Hampshire

Out There in June

Page 8

What’s in the Sky tonight for June

Contacts and Details David Woods - Editor & Publisher Look Up! eZine Editorial David Woods - david.woods@hantsastro.org Web Site: - www.hantsastro.org Tel: 023 9261 7092 Fax: 023 9257 0283 Skype: iodesign Post: HantsAstro.org 11 Drift Road, Clanfield, Hants PO8 0JJ This eZine is published on behalf of the HantsAstro.org. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Editor, Publisher, Sponsors or Advertisers of HantsAstro,org. HantsAstro is a society member of the Federation of Astronomical Societies (www.fedastro.org.uk). Where Links take you to other sites, the Editor, Publisher and Webmaster cannot be held responsible for the content of those sites. HantsAstro.org and Look Up! eZine and related devices are protected by registered copyright ©2008 All Rights Reserved. HantsAstro.org a trading name of I.O Design Limited. No reproduction of any material is permitted without express permission of the owners.

First Type Welcome to our now not so new eZine ‘Look Up! In this edition we get to do what everyone does, get down to finding out more about what kit to buy. One thing is for sure, any engineered piece of equipment is going to get more costly in the future. Telescopes and mounts are often seen as long term investments, especially now, with rising energy prices and transportation costs. Getting the best telescope for your needs is why we aim to carry out long term tests, to show how much value there is in your purchase long after the warm and fuzzy feeling of new ownership has faded. I was playing with a pair of old binoculars the other day, thirty five years young to be exact. It got me thinking: What will we be using in 2043? Will the white heat of technology have taken over with some ultra light-weight, image stabilised monocular that beams images to your laptop and stacks them in real time? Or, will it be simpler? Hans Lippershey, a Dutch lens maker, invented the first refracting telescope in 1608. The basics are still the same though, it’s about gathering light and magnification, no change really. It’s also what I like most about astronomy: No batteries. David Woods: Founder HantsAstro.org

02


NEWS

I went to the show last year and it truly was a great experience plus a visit to the castle is a must.

Hampshire is our playground. I am pleased to announce that we are currently working with a number of observing sites putting together a full programme which starts in September 2008. Geographically they are spread across Hampshire, so hopefully a site will not be too far from you. Some sites are great for general observing and others are approaching very dark sky sites in terms of being shielded from light pollution. As previously mentioned, we will be testing these sites during the course of the summer and sorting out the logistics regarding safety and security. I thank everyone who has been Launching a new astronomy group involved in this and look forward is a bigger task than first imagined. to making formal announcements Creating an identity, applying it to a soon. We will be taking registration web site and then reinforcing it with for these sites in July and August. I an electronic magazine has taken think it’s going to get very busy! All quite a bit of work. The support and sites will have limited numbers for attendance. If anyone is interested in the response has been stunning. assisting with marshalling, or has any We now have a range of telescopes first aid experience I would be very for our use and review, which should interested in talking to you. last us sometime. A small team of people are working in the background Pay as you go astronomy to enhance the existing structure that we have and I salute you all. As a group Some of the observing sessions are we are growing so fast that evolution going to be free, some will be on on a of HantsAstro is happening almost on pay as you go basis. a daily basis. Since the launch of this magazine, unique visitor numbers to This unique approach allows the the web site have grown by over 50%, best flexibility for our members and an amazing response. The number of gives us access to some highly unique members has grown to over 20, with observing areas. As I have said before, even more people subscribing to the the search for these is constant and often very surprising, so if anyone magazine. reading this has any ideas of where HantsAstro will be attending the 2008 else we could be looking then please Astronomy Festival at Herstmonceux join in. Also, I would be interested to in September 2008, and staying know if anyone would be interested overnight for the three day event and in weekend observing Star Parties will be observing using our telescopes. as we have the means of getting this If you wish further details on this together. contact me directly, as it would be great if we could all be sited together Next year is International Year of at the camp area that I am currently Astronomy 2009 and it would be organising. We will also have a table in great if we could put together a series the Astro Societies tent. of small, observing weekends.

Bigger, better, faster more!

Website update We have now entered the second stage of the website and are continuing to add content on a regular basis. The site search engine is currently in progress, so this will make things easier to find. If anyone wishes to get involved with reviews or adding any content to the web site then please get in touch with me, david.woods@hantsastro.org

Reviews Update As you’ll see from this edition we have started rolling out the reviews. Unlike anything else currently available, we will be offering not just the initial review but a six monthly then a one year update, to illustrate how useful that piece of equipment really is and what it is like to live with. Telescope reviews are based on the 70 mm to 300 mm range and the long term test group reflects a good baseline from which to compare. The binocular reviews at present are mostly comparison’s with a few reviews thrown in. We are currently seeking more suppliers so we can improve our spread in this area of important equipment.

Clear Skies Update We have teamed up with Jeff Bullard at astroforecast.org who has offered to assist us in creating a special HantsAstro page on his web site, which will show updated weather reports on all the sites across Hampshire. In turn, we will be providing feedback to improve the accuracy. Information on our observing sites will also be provided on some of our web pages in the near future, along with this weather forecast information. This gives us the opportunity of accurately forecasting sky transparency for up to seven days in advance. I have been using this site over the past six months and have found it to be about 95% accurate. cont’d

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NEWS REVIEW cont’d...

Words: David Woods Picture: Graham Green

We will be the first group in the UK to offer a county-wide, multi-site weather information service tailored to astronomy. This promises to be a very useful service! Your feedback on how useful this will be is important in developing a tool to make sure you get the best out of your astronomy. Thank you Jeff and we look forward to working with you.

Online store With everything going on, the online store is behind schedule so please accept my apologies. Affiliate accounts have been set up with amazon.co.uk and others together with our own reviews for these items, and we have also started putting together other useful items for sale under the HantsAstro brand. We will endeavour to get the store up and running during June and will advise you when it is launched, now that other elements of the group have been successfully put in place. Bigger, better, faster more. With what we have set out to do as group we have covered a lot of ground very quickly and with some quite surprising results. HantsAstro really is shaping up to be quite a different kind of group. Wishing you Dark skies, David Woods HantsAstro.org

Collimator kindly supplied by Steve Graham at First Light Optics Tel: 01392 420 792 www.firstlightoptics.com

The Baader Laser Collimator £55.00 Our second review of Laser Collimators takes a look at the acclaimed Baader Laser Collimator. But aren’t they all the same? Read On. As with most Baader Planetarium stuff you expect the best and this does not disappoint in terms of build quality and ease of use, as it comes with a comprehensive set of instructions, that’s almost worth the money alone! The example supplied was unfortunately out of alignment when checked against the SkyWatcher version tested in last month’s review, it also failed our ‘roll test’ and did not work on the collimation test. Baader claim that they are lathe aligned individually so are accurate. I was reassured that this example is very rare. There are 6 hex grub screws you can adjust yourself, but even Baader advise you not to, as it voids your warranty. If you really must, use a 2” adapter as it is easier to do. These grub screws are factory set but not sealed, unlike the SkyWatcher, but somehow there is a faint irony in having to adjust a device that is supposed to make your telescope more precise! The fact it is an odd shape, means the roll test had to be carried out several times before it was sorted. Once done (after much grief), it’s a doddle to use and feels like a quality bit of kit. It lacks a 2” adaptor, but some astronomers use a Barlow to improve further on the adjustment, so it may seem over-priced but overall with instructions that are very comprehensive, setting or checking is pretty much achievable on any type of reflector telescope. For a SchmidtCassegrain collimation is different and the instructions state it’s for Newtonian type reflectors only. For those with LX200s’, look away now. But could someone tell me why you would really need a key-ring on this collimator? At £55 I’d hate to see it get tatty. It seems to me that this laser collimator is aimed for (if you pardon the pun) the real pro’s and comes with a great set of instructions but one main caveat. Thumbs up for the Baader Laser Collimator then, but don’t ever fiddle with it unless you really, really know what you are doing.

04


evolution of the Species: David Woods Playing with the Megrez which is reviewed on the next page started me thinking about how this telescope thing started. Little Refractors. At the time, they were the equivalent of what the Hubble Telescope was back in the early 1990’s. A revolutionary way of exploring the universe. For 400 years we have been able to see far beyond our own world, seeking out new celestial objects, with every generation of astronomer adding more to our knowledge of the skies. Is it the telescopes that are evolving? Well, the latest telescopes and binoculars are so well engineered compared to those only a decade or so ago that one wonders is there anything else left. Refractors and Reflectors have not changed significantly but the scale and quality of the manufacturing has. More telescopes and binoculars

VIEWPOINT

are being sold every year, so there must be more people getting into astronomy right? During 1765-69 Charles Messier was using telescopes that could be outperformed now by a four inch refractor. That’s why the annual ‘Messier Hunt’, that take place at most Astro Societies, are such a favourite challenge. Charles-Joseph Messier took 29 years just finding those 110 objects, using telescopes that were over 30 feet long! Just think how far forward we would be if we had been able to send a modern ‘scope to him! Back to the Future. Millions of years of evolution and the only thing that is slow to change is our own evolution. That’s the point, the common denominator is ourselves. There is so much to learn about the night sky it’s infinite. If you buy a telescope now with GOTO, a built in celestial object catalogue, one can select from 30,000 objects running

MINI-REVIEW These Binoculars are a great step up from your first pair of 50mm binoculars. With the extra light gathering of those 70mm lenses, every thing is bright as well as pin sharp with no flaring or false colour. The Moon is too bright! That’s what I found with these, but with darker crescents it was capable of giving pleasing views of the Seven Sisters, as well as globular clusters. They come complete with a bag, cloth and tripod mount bracket, but it is possible to hold these binos as they are quite light for their size. Having BAK4 prisms does make a difference from a cheap pair of BAK7 binoculars, and the eye relief is welcome if you wear glasses. The M42 Orion Nebula shows off the optics of these binos quite nicely. There are better pairs on the market, but for £49.00 from Telescopehouse, these are almost a steal. After 6 months they are still

up to 200,000 on some of the top end mounts. Where do you start? Why would you want to go that far? There are so many star catalogues it’s possible to get completely lost after 5 minutes. There is little that tells you what you’re looking at. Computers help but don’t like the cold and/or can spoil your night vision with a bright monitor, unless adapted. Evolution should now be in the form of star guidance. Keep it simple and start with a good star chart, a compass and a pair of 10x50 binoculars. Or if you wish, a Celestron SkyScout, a GPS based planetarium in a monocular, that shows you what you are looking at, displays it’s history and can even give you a tour. Evolution is about learning and passing this information on. Now we have so much of it, are we in danger of not seeing the wood for the trees?

Words: David Woods Picture: Graham Green

Revelation 15x70mm Binoculars £49.00 used when taking a small refractor on a trip is not possible, or when there is a risk of damaging a telescope. During the day these binoculars were as good as a small spotting scope and the 15x magnification was good for wildlife too. A good all rounder. Purchased from www. telescopehouse.com

Specifications Magnification: 15x Objective lens 70mm Prism system: Porro BAK 4 Lens coating: Fully multi coated Field of view: 4.4º Exit pupil: 4.7mm Eye relief: 18mm Weight: 48.0 oz

05


STAR REVIEW Words: David Woods Picture: Graham Green

Specifications Aperture: 72mm Focal Ratio: F/6.25 Objective Lens: FD extra low dispersion glass doublet, air spaced, fully multicoated. SMC Coating Focuser: 2” 360 rotating Crayford with 1:10 speed micro-focuser; 1.25” adapter Drawtube Travel: 81 millimetres Tube: Machined Aluminium OTA Dimensions: 75mm Dia 300mm retracted 360mm extended

William Optics Megrez 72FD £299.00 Baby Megrez packs a Big Punch!

This little baby refractor has been all the rave for the past few months, so you should already know it’s good, but how so? I was looking for something that would be a jack-of-all-trades ‘scope and a faster focal ratio than the SkyWatcher SkyMax 102mm Maksutov. At f/12.74 it’s not great for anything but stars and Buying Advice: planets etc, and with that thick primary mirror, it can take ages to cool down. At £299 it’s a great way of entering That was also another thing, well, it just wasn’t, well, ‘Cool’. the William Optics World without Small Refractors like this Megrez are catching on as the ultimate in take breaking the bank. I went for the anywhere, do near anything-you-like refractors that can guide your ‘scope, get Diagonal and the RDF for an extra £50 you hooked on imaging or even double up as a telephoto lens for your DSLR. and it was well worth it as it completes This one though is a step up from the Zenithstar 66 and it looks almost like an the package. The diagonal looks great astronomical fashion statement. with a carbon fibre finish and the RDF But is it a case of style over substance? Hell, no. Being almost over-engineered well, see for yourself on the web site. it feels very solidly built. Like a Harley-Davidson, unbreakable. It’s ‘Engineered’. If you wish to get At less than 5Ib, it’s portable and compact, and that Crayford focuser is so into astrophotography then a field- buttery smooth in action, it makes all other focusers feel inferior and clumsy. flattener is a must as there is some In fact, I find myself seeking out the chances of upgrading my other ‘scopes distortion around the edges of the just because I used this one. Be warned, this addictive little ‘scope redefines the frame. The only minus point. I’d go for term ‘useful’. Compared to my 6” LXD75 Newtonian, this little Megrez seems the WO Flattener III but it’s pricey at just as able to grab all those photons of light and turn them into a pin-sharp £149 although it can be used on large and contrasty (?) image effortlessly. I was using a Lanthanum eyepiece and it scopes from 80-110mm lenses. From didn’t faze it. It’s like looking through a much bigger scope. Everything on the other reports on the web it’s better spec sheet says it will stumble on planetary observing. Nope. Saturn had rings, than the cheaper Flattener II for the and detail! With a 72mm aperture telescope the Megrez is one ‘scope you 66-80mm, at £119. Either way it’s a could say is the optical equivalent of a swiss army knife. It pretty much does it great portable platform for imaging. all. The Long Term Reviews will prove its worth... So will the new 88FD... DW Jack-of-all-trades and master of none? Well being only 72mm it has it’s theoretical limits and made the best of those I saw four of moons of Saturn, Megrez 72FD kindly supplied by including Titan at Mag8.34 and Dione at Mag10.22 on the edge of the rings. Steve Graham at First Light Optics Bizarrely, I saw them first in the Megrez and then in a 8.5” Reflector. I am still Tel: 01392 420 792 stunned by that. I spent thirty minutes looking at these and wondering how www.firstlightoptics.com I could see them with such a small ‘scope. I bought it because it does what it says on the tin. What it doesn’t say is that this little telescope resets your expectations after you experience it. Buy one, it won’t disappoint you. David Woods Options: 1.25” Dielectric Diagonal, WO Red Dot Finder, Back Pack.

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WHAT’S ON Talks & Seminars June 2008 Hampshire Interesting local Astronomy talks take place in the County nearly every month, so please check the relevant website for any updates and contact details. Southampton Astronomical Society 12 June - Jets, stuff coming out of black holes Speaker - Dr Christian Kaiser (Southampton University) Edmund Kell Unitarian Church Hall, Southampton - @19:45pm www.southampton-astronomical-society.org.uk Cost £2 Non-members

Hampshire Astronomical Group 13 June - Is there anyone up there? - Bob Mizon FRAS Clanfield Memorial Hall, Clanfield - @ 19:45pm Cost £2 Non-members www.hantsastro.org.uk

Border+ June 2008 Talks & Events across the county line. Please check relevant website for updates and contact details. INTECH Science Centre + Planetarium Winchester, Hants Cost £2 per show in addition to exhibition entry Cost - £6.95 Adults £4.65 under 14’s Check site for schedule www.intech-uk.com Southdowns Planetarium Chichester, West Sussex 30 May - 27 June Various Monthly Shows Check site for details + times Cost - £6 Adults £4 under 16’s www.southdowns.org.uk

Solent Amatuer Astronomers Society 17 June - Supernovae - Ron Arbour Oaklands Community Centre, Lordshill, Southampton - @ 20:00pm Cost £2 Non-members www.delscope.demon.co.uk/society/home.htm

Vectis Astronomical Society 27 June - Colours in the Sky - Speaker Members Newport Parish Church Centre, Newport IOW - @ 19:30pm Cost £2 Non-members www.vectis-astro.org.uk

Basingstoke AS Cliddesden, Hants www.basingstokeas.org.uk Farnham AS Farnham, Surrey www.farnham-as.co.uk Guildford AS Guildford, Surrey www.guildfordas.org Newbury AS Newbury, Berkshire www.newburyas.org.uk

Hampshire is our Playground.

Worthing AS Worthing, Sussex www.was.org.uk

07


OUT THERE...

Planet+

Our Hampshire Sky - June 2008

June 2008

Astronomy is getting later in the evenings, but after the 21st June we all will be happier as the nights start drawing in again.

Where the Planets are in our Solar System in June.

Globular Clusters

Table Key RA - Right Ascension Dec - Declination Constell. - Constellation Elongation - Angle between Sun & Planet as seen from Earth Distance - From Earth in Astronomical Units (AU) = 149.598M Km Magnitude - Brightness Diameter - in ArcSeconds Phase - % Visibility of object disc

The summer night sky allows us to view towards the heart of our own galaxy. Globular clusters are large group’s of old stars packed tightly together in spheres. These Globular clusters orbit the core of the Galaxy in a halo. These are some of the brightest deep-sky objects to observe and can be viewed with the naked eye, binoculars and the small telescope. With the naked eye M13 in the constellation of Hercules can be seen as a faint patch of light. Seen through a small ‘scope you are presented with an object of beauty that resembles a ‘spiders nest of stars’.

All Data is based on 15th

M92 lies in the constellation of Hercules just north of the ‘keystone’.

of each month.

M5 in the constellation of Serpens Caput is also visible to the naked eye.Viewed under magnification you will see that this has a concentrated core.

Next Month.

M10 can be found in Ophiuchus, with a bright concentrated centre.

Reviews of the Celestron C80 ED-R Refractor & CG-5 GT Mount Redshift 6 Vs Starry Night News, Views and more info on our web site. www.hantsastro.org

M12 too lies in Ophiuchus just 3 degrees from M10. M12 was once believed to be of an intermediate stage between true globulars and dense open clusters.

Solar System Data for June 2008 Objects

Sun

Mercury

Venus

Mars

Jupiter

Saturn

The Moon

RA

05h35m03s

04h51m35s

05h41m56s

09h32m10s

19h28m15s

10h23m12s

14h36m02s

Dec

+23°18’49”

+18°15’56”

+23°39’04”

+15°59’46”

-22°01’38”

+11°54’53”

-21°29’56”

Bull

Bull

Bull

Lion

Archer

Lion

Scales

Constell. Elongation

-------

11.3°

-1.6°

-55.9°

153.9°

-69.0°

-138.7°

1.016 AU

0.582 AU

1.735 AU

2.0 AU

4.255 AU

9.627 AU

0.404 MKm

Magnitude

-25.97

3.48

-3.80

1.57

-2.51

0.71

-11.44

Diameter

31’29”

11”

09”

04”

46”

17”

29’33”

-------

04%

99%

93%

99%

99%

87%

Distance

Phase

Hampshire is our Playground. Now it’s yours...

If you have any suggestions for improving this star information then please e-mail: david.woods@hantsastro.org

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AstroSouth Edition 03