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Space related Christmas Presents
Being a curious person, or is that just being nosy?  (My parents would say the latter!).  I wondered what other amateur astronomers in the community got by way of Space related presents this Christmas?  

I was delighted to get this lovely paperweight which shows all the planets in our solar systems along with their moons, Neptune and Uranus are just out of camera angle.  It came with a lovely wooden display stand as well.

I'm hoping the colder weather may lead to clearer skies so I can get out with my telescope, although being in lockdown I'll be restricted to my back garden and being in the suburbs of Greater Manchester there's quite a bit of light pollution.  Did anyone else get any good astro photography images over Christmas that they can share here?

5 Replies
Lisa Miles
1268 Posts
I was considering buying myself a telescope Deborah but I still can't decide which one I want. 🤔

It's been great watching Saturn and Jupiter dance their tango across the skies over the last few months and what with Mars also visible in the night sky it's been a great time for stargazers and planet watchers! I think at one point in October we had Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune all visible at the same time (but unfortunately yours truly doesn't yet have a telescope so could only see those visible to the naked eye...) 😔

On a purely selfish level, I've enjoyed sharing my knowledge of the planets and the workings of our solar system with some less informed members of various facebook groups I'm a member of. If I had a pound for every time I've answered the 'What's that big bright light in the sky this evening' question I'd be able to afford a more powerful telescope... 😉
I have two, an old Tasco telescope that I use occasionally and a Meade ETX90 telescope.  Like every astronomer I always want a larger telescope but have not been able to justify upgrading to something bigger in the Meade range.  The ETX90 is good enough though  for what I use it for at the present time, but I'd like to be able to piggy back a camera to it, but it will need a more stable mount than the one I've currently got.
I also have a good pair of 10 x 50 binoculars with a tripod which I use a lot as well for looking at the moon.

I'm just getting into astrophotography, currently getting lessons from my other half who has more skill/knowledge in that area and the 600mm telephone lens we're using is giving some great images.  I was disappointed not to be able to go on holiday this year down to Dorset, as in 2019 we got some excellent shots of Portland Bill Lighthouse and the Milky Way.  Just trying to find somewhere nearer home that gives simlilar quality images and think I've found somewhere near Saddleworth Moor where I can get Holme Moss transmitter in the background with the Milky Way but have not yet been able to find a suitable occasion/clear sky when we were out of lockdown.

I've been interested in space from a young age and wish I'd kept the scrapbook of the Moon Landings that I maintained at the time, sadly it went missing during one of our house moves. I was also fortunate enough when on holiday in Florida in October 2002 to see the Atlantis Space Shuttle launch, definitely a highlight of that holiday.  I only wish that my camera had been a better quality.
I have inherited a Meade telescope, though the drive is kaput and I want to remount it on an equatorial mount. I have old 7x50 Swiss binoculars and not so old (only 30 years) 12x40 Russian binoculars which are superb. I have thoughts of getting a more portable scope to take in the car to where the light (or lack of it) is better.
Looking at your paperweight it seems there are not enough moons for Jupiter or Saturn, though I suppose the excuse is that they are there but so small you can't see them.
My advice to Lisa would be buy the largest telescope you can afford, remembering to factor in the tripod mount cost, and get an equatorial tripod mount either with a motor drive or with the option to add one later. However you do want to be sure that your enthusiasm is not just a passing phase, as many people buy a telescope and then lose interest. Joining a local Astronomical Society and joining them on nights when they are viewing will test both different types of telescope (limited to what the members have, though) and your enthusiasm for being out in the cold.
Thanks Alasdair for your post, looking at the paperweight it seems as if there's Io, Calisto, Ganymede and Europa shown for Jupiter, which I suppose is a fair reflection seeing as those will be the main four moons that most people will recall to mind.

I've always found the Star Parties that I've joined in the past to be useful as it does give you an opportunity to try out lots of different types of telescopes, although sometimes I've come away with Telescope Envy!  Hopefully once the restrictions are over, Lisa might spot one being organised near to her location and be able to get a better idea of which telescope might suit her viewing needs.

Lisa Miles
1268 Posts
Alasdair Anderson:
 However you do want to be sure that your enthusiasm is not just a passing phase, as many people buy a telescope and then lose interest.

😊 I've been interested in stargazing since I was around 7 or 8 when I was given a really old 'I-Spy The Sky' book by one of my relatives. So I think my enthusiasm will last the distance. 🙂 I have to admit to having an app on my phone that alerts me when the ISS is about to pass over and if it's a clear night I'll run outside to take a look. Even though I've done this hundreds of times now, it's still a joy to watch and think of the Astronauts working away inside. I also have to admit that I always wave at them too...not that they can see me or will ever know... 😊🤭

I have a second home down in a rural area of the south of France where the Milky Way can be seen very clearly on a cloudless night as there is 'zero' light pollution there (apart from the one single lamp outside the local Mairie ) So when I eventually buy a telescope it will probably reside out there as the light pollution in my local area at home is too high to be able to see anything that clearly. When we go out to France my partner is always amazed at the blanket of stars we can see out there and yet at home in the UK we can really only see the ones that shine brightly.


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