Milky Way Treasures

I haven’t been out under the stars much at all lately due to weather and busy schedules, but I found myself staring up last night at a clear sky. It was too windy, and too late to bring out the whole rig. I dragged out the mount and my daughter’s 70mm f10 toy scope to show her Jupiter. It was windy and seeing was terrible as a cold front had just come through in the afternoon. We had our ten minutes of fun looking at a fuzzy Jupiter and I brought in the scope, Leaving the mount out as there was no chance of rain.

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Back to the Sky!

I got out under the stars last night for the first time in two weeks! I screwed up the location of my mount by about a foot and M101 was on the edge of tree branches most of the night, wasting a couple hours. I wasn’t even upset about it. I was just happy to be out. Rather than move the mount and realign everything, I slewed over to M5 (The Rose Cluster) to grab some data before I went off to bed about 3 hours before I had to wake up.

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64-bit Deep Sky Stacker (DSS) is Here!!

Version 4.2.1 is out now and has many speed enhancements over the initial 64bit release (link at the bottom).

I stumbled upon this last night after not imaging for a couple weeks due to weather. There are no release notes on the version, but I’ve been waiting for this since I started, so I went ahead and downloaded it. So far, so good. The look and feel are basically the same with only slight visual tweaks.

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We Have a Scope, Now Where Do We Look?

You got your child their first telescope. It may be one of the ones I mentioned in my recommendations, or maybe you already had that department store telescope. What now? Where do you point? With a motorized GoTo telescope, you’ll start at Polaris (the North Star), select an object from the keypad, and off you go. The motorized mount will keep the object in the eyepiece for you. With a manual mount, you can just point and go, but you’ll have to continually track objects in the sky with manual adjustment knobs. With either scope you’ll want to have a planetariun app for your phone, tablet or computer to help you locate objects.

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So Your Child Wants a Telescope

At some point, if they haven’t already, your child may have an instant interest in space and you’ll want to help them along with a telescope. As with all kid’s interests, it may be fleeting, or it may be more persistent. Buying the cheapest telescope you can find is sure to make it a very temporary experience. Telescopes and mounts range from $30 to more than most houses. The $30 scope will be a useless toy, and the higher end scope would most likely sit in a permanent observatory. You don’t have to spend thousands for an enjoyable experience, but you’re best off spending a few hundred dollars (US) to avoid a lot of pitfalls common with beginners.

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