"Star-hopping" with binoculars

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rwilkinson
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"Star-hopping" with binoculars

Post by rwilkinson » Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:16 pm

With the intermittent and wispy cloud making recent nights unsuitable for imaging, I've been taking my 15x70 binoculars out, to do some two-eyed visual observing for a change.
The bright image and wide field-of view make these binos pretty good for "star-hopping" to find the "faint fuzzies", and I had the Cartes du Ciel program running on my netbook as a guide.

The M13 & M92 clusters and the Double Cluster were quite easy, and I could just about make out M71, and I even found the M27 planetary nebula too.
Moving down to the bottom of the garden (where I could see better to the SW), I found M11, and could just about get M26, but no luck with M16 or M17.
Finally I had a look at the M31 galaxy, and even tried for M51 - but no sign of the latter.

And looking at these objects with such a low magnification makes it easier to understand why observers in Messier's time could have mistaken them for comets.

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rwilkinson
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Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

Post by rwilkinson » Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:30 pm

Whilst out with my binoculars last night, I had a wacky (no, not whackery!) idea to save time when star-hopping.

So this lunchtime I got my woodworking tools out to realise the dream:
binomount1.jpg
"Can you guess what it is yet?"
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Yes - "Go-To binoculars":
binomount2.jpg
Helios "Stellar" 15x70 binoculars mounted on Celestron NexStarSLT
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binomount3.jpg
Close-up of the mounting: all made from scraps of wooden battens!
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With the tripod legs fully extended, the eyepieces are around the right height for a seated observer. Just needs a coat of matt black paint...

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rwilkinson
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Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

Post by rwilkinson » Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:08 am

The Go-To binoculars worked OK, but it was really awkward to manoeuvre my seat into a suitable place for each target, without banging into the tripod legs.
And the eyepiece height was wrong for higher objects.

So the mk2 version is designed for a standing observer:
binomount4.jpg
15x70s on a NexStar SLT mount atop my multi-function tripod stand
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It will be a lot more "whackery", but hopefully much more comfortable to use...

bholmes

Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

Post by bholmes » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:19 pm

That's brilliant Ross. More whackey than whackery, a cross between "Necessity is the mother of invention" and Heath Robinson

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rwilkinson
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Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

Post by rwilkinson » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:41 am

Yes, using my old speaker-stand to get the mount up to eye-level made the binos much more comfortable to use,
Testing last night trough the gaps in the cloud I was able to align on Altair and Dubhe, and then the GoTo found M13, M57 and M31 for me.

cmcdougall

Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

Post by cmcdougall » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:50 am

What a clever idea!

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rwilkinson
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Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

Post by rwilkinson » Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:46 am

This tall tripod is actually a loudspeaker stand, and came with a flat mounting-plate to go on the bottom of the speaker. So all I had to make was a wooden "interface plate" to fix the bottom of the Tasco mount onto it:
binomount5.jpg
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There's a 1/4" Whitworth bolt going up into the base of the Tasco mount, and then a pair of M8 bolts going down onto the speaker-plate.
"Simples!"

jpinna

Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

Post by jpinna » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:26 am

Yes it is a cracking idea, no more shakes and arm aches,

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