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Spaceships and astronomy

Spaceships and astronomy

Old Jan 14th 2016, 2:58 am
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Default Spaceships and astronomy

We have a couple of threads for discussing aeroplanes and cars, but nowhere to post stuff about rockets, satellites, probes, and space stuff, so here goes .....

Remarkably, Elon Musk has done something interesting! He's made a pop video? No, no, no! His latest SpaceX launch actually seems to have worked properly, .... and so he made a pop video about it, ..... more or less.

NASA just used to rely on rockets and space exploration being cool, but it looks like SpaceX has a sizeable media production and marketing division!

Seriously though, a remarkable achievement and hopefully something that SpaceX can continue to build on, and definitely a cool video.


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Old Jan 14th 2016, 1:07 pm
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

Great idea for a thread, by the way

The Falcon 9 has been a great success. From what I know, it appears that it is in reasonably good condition, so steps towards another viable reusable spacecraft are being taken, which is a very good thing. It's been nice of the Russians to give us a lift to the ISS, but we really need our own way up and back from there.

Private companies like SpaceX are only going to be a good thing for space exploration going forward. I hope they can end up contracting with the likes of NASA and ESA, especially once we start working on going to Mars in the near future.
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Old Jan 14th 2016, 8:23 pm
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

When I moved over I had to sell my beautiful Meade SN-10 Telescope, but managed to bring over my sons Celestron NexStar 5. I'm waiting for the house sale to go through in the UK so I can purchase a new big beast of a Meade.

What have you? (Its an Astronomy thread so I thought I get all kit geeky!)
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Old Jan 14th 2016, 8:31 pm
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

Originally Posted by markcst View Post
When I moved over I had to sell my beautiful Meade SN-10 Telescope, but managed to bring over my sons Celestron NexStar 5. I'm waiting for the house sale to go through in the UK so I can purchase a new big beast of a Meade.

What have you? (Its an Astronomy thread so I thought I get all kit geeky!)
Right now I have a set of Celestron 15x70 binoculars that my lovely wife got me for Christmas a few years ago. Great views of the moon handheld, and if you get them on a tripod you can resolve Jupiter's disc and see the four Galilean moons, among other things. Doesn't really get dark enough by me to see a lot of Messier objects but I would imagine they'd be good for star clusters and that, too.

I've never had the money for a telescope. I saw a setup in our library car park by the local astronomical society a while back and one guy let me look at the moon through his Meade LX200 (I think that's what it was), 10" one and it was fantastic. Big money for one of those though.
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Old Jan 14th 2016, 9:01 pm
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

No scope here either. That said, Flagstaff is a mere 2 hours drive away and the Lowell observatory does many pretty good events. They often set up two or three scopes pointing at something interesting. I recall getting to see a globular cluster last time.
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Old Jan 14th 2016, 9:14 pm
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

Originally Posted by sir_eccles View Post
No scope here either. That said, Flagstaff is a mere 2 hours drive away and the Lowell observatory does many pretty good events. They often set up two or three scopes pointing at something interesting. I recall getting to see a globular cluster last time.
I am envious of you being in Arizona, as you maybe have at most, what, a 4 hour drive to get to a decent dark sky site? The closest one to me is in Nebraska or South Dakota.

Get to a proper dark sky location like the desert and naked eye observation alone would probably blow your mind.
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Old Jan 14th 2016, 9:21 pm
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

Originally Posted by SultanOfSwing View Post
I've never had the money for a telescope. I saw a setup in our library car park by the local astronomical society a while back and one guy let me look at the moon through his Meade LX200 (I think that's what it was), 10" one and it was fantastic. Big money for one of those though.
I had an LX200 before son arrived on this mortal coil. Had to sell it to put a deposit on a house...

The newer version is what I intend to buy! TBH for $3.5k, which sounds a lot, you get hours and hours of enjoyment (OK unsocialable hours) and they keep their value really well.

I think a Dallas Cowboys season ticket is a lot more!
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Old Jan 14th 2016, 9:28 pm
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

Originally Posted by markcst View Post
I had an LX200 before son arrived on this mortal coil. Had to sell it to put a deposit on a house...

The newer version is what I intend to buy! TBH for $3.5k, which sounds a lot, you get hours and hours of enjoyment (OK unsocialable hours) and they keep their value really well.

I think a Dallas Cowboys season ticket is a lot more!
My car and my house are the only two things I own that are worth more than that (and I'm still paying both of them off)

But yeah, if I could put away for it, or bung it on a credit card when they're a bit cleaner, then I'd go for one, provided I can find areas nearby with dark enough skies and enough of an unobstructed view to make it worthwhile. I think up in Wisconsin there are some that fit the bill.
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Old Jan 14th 2016, 9:58 pm
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

Originally Posted by SultanOfSwing View Post
I am envious of you being in Arizona, as you maybe have at most, what, a 4 hour drive to get to a decent dark sky site? The closest one to me is in Nebraska or South Dakota.

Get to a proper dark sky location like the desert and naked eye observation alone would probably blow your mind.
Flagstaff has a dark skies policy so there is minimal light from street light etc.

We honeymooned in Hawaii, did the tour up to the top of Mauna Kea...
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Old Jan 14th 2016, 10:55 pm
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

Originally Posted by SultanOfSwing View Post
I am envious of you being in Arizona, as you maybe have at most, what, a 4 hour drive to get to a decent dark sky site? The closest one to me is in Nebraska or South Dakota.

Get to a proper dark sky location like the desert and naked eye observation alone would probably blow your mind.
That happened to me once in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Wasn't expecting it, and yes, mind totally blown.
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Old Jan 14th 2016, 11:59 pm
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

I've been into astronomy for a very, very long time.
I had dibs on a 30" F5 Dob (see pic), but had to relinquish the 42" mirror blank that was stored in my old factory.

Right now I have a 10" Newise imaging scope, and parts for making a 24" F2.5 reflector. I'm working with a couple of friends on making cellular pyrex mirrors with our own kiln.

The amateur astronomy scene in the USA is better developed than the UK, and people still actively make their own kit. We're only 70 miles from Cherry Springs State Park, which has the darkest skies in the Eastern states, and there are two big star parties there. There's a fantastic star party in the Florida Keys every February, but at close to $1000 for the family, it ain't happening again until the offspring have buggered off to university.

A few years ago, Mrs Q and I bought 4 acres of New Mexico, in a dark sky village, for somewhere to retire to.
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Old Jan 15th 2016, 2:24 am
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

Originally Posted by Shard View Post
That happened to me once in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Wasn't expecting it, and yes, mind totally blown.
The darkest place I have ever been that wasn't inside a building, tunnel, or cave, was just outside Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, where it was so dark that I couldn't see the house I had just left, nor any topological information that could get me to my car. I might as well have been wearing a blindfold. It was also cloudy, so there were no stars to see.
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Old Jan 15th 2016, 4:07 am
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

Originally Posted by sir_eccles View Post
Flagstaff has a dark skies policy so there is minimal light from street light etc.

We honeymooned in Hawaii, did the tour up to the top of Mauna Kea...
Nice one. All cities should adopt some kind of dark sky policy. I know it's not always practical, doubly so where I live because it's basically all streetlights from Chicago up to Milwaukee with few breaks even in parkland in between, but it would be nice.

Originally Posted by Shard View Post
That happened to me once in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Wasn't expecting it, and yes, mind totally blown.
One day. We had planned to go visit my wife's grandmother in Phoenix this year, not sure if we are changing plans or not, but I'll be able to get out into the desert while I'm here all being well/

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
The darkest place I have ever been that wasn't inside a building, tunnel, or cave, was just outside Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, where it was so dark that I couldn't see the house I had just left, nor any topological information that could get me to my car. I might as well have been wearing a blindfold. It was also cloudy, so there were no stars to see.
I used to be able to get far enough away from the lights back home, maybe a 5-6 mile drive out of town, to get down to maybe 4th magnitude skies, but the difference in visible objects between 4th magnitude and 6th magnitude is immense. Still, I used to be able to see way more stars than I can at home here
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Old Jan 15th 2016, 8:03 am
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

I've at times considered purchasing a telescope (used to have them as a kid) but I always end up thinking that once I've had a good view of the main planets I would lose interest. I love gazing at the night sky but am not convinced that a telescope would be that much of a gain.
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Old Jan 15th 2016, 1:13 pm
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Default Re: Spaceships and astronomy

Originally Posted by Shard View Post
I've at times considered purchasing a telescope (used to have them as a kid) but I always end up thinking that once I've had a good view of the main planets I would lose interest. I love gazing at the night sky but am not convinced that a telescope would be that much of a gain.
Another thing that a lot of people don't realise too is that while you can see a great many deep sky objects through 8+" telescopes, your eye will only see them in monochrome. It takes a camera and a long exposure to resolve the colours that we see in astronomical photographs. Planets do appear in full colour though.

I see your point but honestly I could have sat and stared at even that view of the moon I got through the 10" reflector at the library for nights on end, I imagine that Jupiter or Saturn could keep me entertained for years. Mars is supposed to look pretty good as well.

That being said, a decent telescope with a computer controlled mount and a decent way to attach a CCD or a camera to it does sound appealing if I ever was to have the funds.
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