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Posts Made By: Thomas Dey

September 11, 2014 06:15 PM Forum: Meteorites & Meteors


Posted By Thomas Dey

I built a nice display stand for my 39-lb Campo del Cielo; Marty Rhode kindly provided certification and encourages me to share the presentation. See attached photo (I intend to add a few more pics if there is interest). The base is from an earth globe which I relegated to another stand. The meteorite sits on a WWII "new old stock" porthole glass 12.5 inch diam by 3/4 thick tempered plate and inexpensive from a surplus dealer. This interfaces to the base with some rings that I made using 3/4 plywood and the router. There is a (sturdy!) lazy-susan between so the whole thing spins effortlessly for examination. A perfect-fit custom Acrylic dome tops it off. I found that from a specialty shop on the web and again, the price was quite reasonable. The raw plywood looked stupid and I experimented with all sorts of finishes to no avail...all I wanted was flat black but no paints or stains looked good on the scraps. Solution: A giant Sharpie from Dollar General! It took just two of those ($2) and some patience while I sat at the dining room table watching TV. Then Marty's certification in a frame ($4 from the same store), an old tungsten halogen desk lamp and yippee - I love the results. Gota admit...just a bit "iron-ic" to shelter a bowling-ball sized 4.6 billion year old projectile under a display dome! But presentation attracts attention and I think adds value. Tom Dey

September 14, 2014 03:49 PM Forum: ASTRONOMY

Re: back to your roots

Posted By Thomas Dey

Hi Billy (and other nostalgics!) I've been interested in the stars from childhood and am now retired, still decent health at age 66. Was an obsessive amateur a couple decades ago and went the full spectrum from increasingly ambitious (and $$$) scopes to film imaging to pics and articles published by Dickenson, Berry, Eicher, etc. Now finishing a 36-inch in a dome with time to use it! BUT - I just recovered a pathetic but nostalgic old used 3-inch Gilbert reflector...which was my 1st scope ever. I fondly recall sketching the moon and seeing Saturn's rings with that deficient little thing. But it was my window to the universe back then! Now my equipment is too big/expensive/maintenance/tiresome/heavy... It sometimes seems more like work rather than FUN maintaining and using it! I won't bore you with my impressive list of scopes and projects, but the take-away is "This guy's got a mental problem." One thing I AM enjoying...pretty much gave up imaging, even though it's gotten WAY easier with the newer high-end equipment. Imaging has gotten SO sophisticated that I just don't want to kill myself trying to keep up or out-do the magnificent amateur images appearing every month in S&T and Astro. So back to my roots of just LOOKING and enjoying the view. And a word to you folks on the up-ramp of ambition: Of all the scopes I have enjoyed, my "mid-sized" 17.5 Dob was BY FAR the most enjoyable bang for the buck. Not crazy expensive, good for all targets and really easy and comfortable to use. My old Gilbert is indeed deficient and my 36 is awesome but obsessive. No great wisdom here other than consul to enjoy what you've got and not Obsess too much. I feel like a father telling his kid how addictive smoking he buys another carton and turns up the O2! Tom Dey

October 22, 2014 03:17 PM Forum: How to make AstroMart BETTER!! My idea is.....


Posted By Thomas Dey


December 29, 2014 10:03 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Re: Intes MK-66 Deluxe focuser set screw

Posted By Thomas Dey

I hate it when that happens...and so many astro things seem to have peculiar threads. One long-term solution for the next time is to go to the onesies at the hardware store and buy just one screw and nut of each English and metric. Then you have a gauge set (and spare parts!) for the next loss. There are also female gauge plates on line. A full tap and die set of course can serve the same purpose AND if frustrated, you can drill and tap one size up and be back in business. I carry a POWERFUL magnet with my astro stuff to retrieve (ferromagnetic) things from the grass...

March 5, 2015 06:42 AM Forum: AstroMart FAQ

Fewer Classifieds?

Posted By Thomas Dey

I could be wrong, but it sure seems that the ads have dwindled over the past couple of years. Guessing it is the economy...people on average have less discretionary "hobby" $$$ or are holding onto it because of uncertainty in the economy. And maybe would-be sellers are just hanging on to what they have for lack of funds to upgrade. Cloudy Nights seems to be paralleling the trend, despite their major revamping of the site. Thoughts or observations welcome. Maybe I'm missing something or mistaken.

May 24, 2015 04:32 PM Forum: ASTRONOMY


Posted By Thomas Dey

“BLUE MY SOCKS OFF” – is the only term that does it justice. I will briefly describe the affect here but should resubmit as an article later. This regards the mystique of increased Blue Sensitivity as a side-effect Benefit of Cataract Surgery. First, brief quote from the LUNT site: “The Calcium K line is centered at 393.4 nm. This wavelength is considered to be slightly outside the visible spectrum on the UV side. While most people can visually see the violet color of the wavelength, many cannot resolve the contrast due to yellowing of the cornea. People who have had cataract surgery are often able to see considerable detail. But, it is for these reasons that the Ca-K line is typically studied via the use of cameras, which are able to provide stunning details.” I discussed this with LUNT’s Rikki Hocking and she noted the same from experience with users. The CaK requires a dark hood to maybe just barely see anything at all (let alone detail) in CaK. But those who have had Cataract Surgery seem to have no problem at all. I had the surgery and CaK-BLAM! Not only can I See the CaK – it is SO bright that I have to crank up the mag to keep from being completely dazzled! I checked what I see vs images captured thru the same scope and Yes Indeed – I see the same CaK detail that the camera does! But my favorite objects are galaxies. I was hoping the Nouveau Bleu would similarly improve my ability to see the spirals better. 1st look at M51 since the surgeries: Bright, obvious spiral right in my face – absolutely Wonderful! I can even stare straight at it and it’s super obvious…even “Looks Blue.” Further observations: Central hole on Ring M57 looks more “filled in” with that blue haze And the central star pops just fine, even under far from ideal conditions! Cat’s Eye looks like an extremely bright little spiralish thing with plenty of structure, galaxies in general are way more visible, Coma Cluster is now a magnificent treat with galaxies all over the place – 30 at a time in the field without even trying hard. I never have or expected to see the Pleiades nebl but am hopeful to maybe have a shot at it once it scoots around. Technical notes: My eye lenses were replaced with plastic ones that transmit UV. The surgeon also perforated the anterior and posterior capsule, eliminating that absorption and scatter. He also resculpted my corneas to bring my uncorrected vision to a good solid 20/15 (on the cusp of 20/10). The healthy human retina is capable of 20/7.5 if the cornea and lens are near perfect. Optometrist who originally diagnosed the cataracts telling comment: [If cost were no object, people would simply get the surgery around age 30 as a matter of course – the affect IS that dramatic and we have the technologies now to easily do it. It would just be like going to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned!] BTW the implants also are corrected for (natural!) spherical aberration of the eye! These Bionic Eyes are GREAT! Tom Dey

June 21, 2015 02:29 AM Forum: Equipment Talk


Posted By Thomas Dey

Our EYES are the most important piece of observational equipment we have; yet often neglect the most! How many of us will spend $$$ on the good – better – best scopes, cameras, filters, eyepieces (?!) yet get spontaneously stingy when seated across from the optometrist? I think it must be the body/machine duality that is more psychological than logical. A year ago I had amassed all and more astro hardware than I could possibly use and enjoy for the rest of my life. Fortunately, my optometrist is a wonderfully talented and manic techno-geek. He has all the best and latest diagnostic equipment and knows how to use it! We discussed how the machines work and the theory behind vision and what can be done to tune up one’s eyes (and what can’t!) – even geriatric eyes! He recommended the best surgeon and I got cataract surgery, anterior and posterior capsule perforations and PRK reshaping of my corneas. It took nearly a year for my vision to fully-stabilize. Results are astounding! I can now see vivid blues and even the near UV (solar CaK and the blues in spiral galaxies) WAY better than before. My day “photopic” vision is 20/15 left and 20/20 right. Final tune-up with very mild prescription glasses get me to 20/13 L, 20/13 R and 20/10 binocular day AND night = astronomy! Even dark-adapted, the stars now look like DOTS and my ability to see the dim ones has jumped…maybe a full mag? I couldn’t get beyond 6 before and now 6 is super easy and lots of dimmer ones are for sure there. More visceral is that the starry sky looks way more REAL…hard to explain but good. Anyway, the glasses: I got these “digital” ones that have the prescription shared between the front and back surfaces. This has a lot of advantages, better field and less chromatic among them. Cheaper lenses put it on just one side. The lenses are also “progressive” so I can tilt my head to adjust from reading (thru the bottom) to true infinity (thru the top) and everything between. I had to specifically ask for true infinity – otherwise you could get somewhat myopic glasses that don’t allow you to reach the stars. Cataract surgery replaces the eye’s (yellowed, scattering and stiffened) bio-lenses with absolutely clear plastic ones that are even corrected for the eyes’ natural spherical aberration – bionic better than nature! The focusing muscles are severed so I can no longer focus at all. It is therefore crucial to have the really good eyeglasses – AND WORTH IT! For the cost of one good Ethos, I now have eyes that can actually avail the capability of the Ethos! The operations are not crazy expensive if you have health insurance and an ophthalmologist deems that the surgery is needed. Sobering statement from the doctor: [If cost were no object – most people would get their lenses replaced around the age of 30.] As a “blind test” – a VERY experienced DS observer and I went out and looked at the crescent moon, Venus, Jupiter conjunction last evening very very hazy. I’m 68, he’s around 60. Me: “There they are…there, there and there.” Him: “Umm I see the moon and Venus and maybe Jupiter.” Me: “Well – see the big dipper up there? I can see all the stars and Mizar and Alcor just fine.” Him: “Umm I see maybe a few stars but it’s not dark enough yet.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him how GOOD my vision has gotten and how… Well, you get the drift. I think the moral in all this is to balance the cost/benefit between yet another high-end eyepiece and --- a visit to the optometrist! Tom Dey

September 18, 2015 04:58 PM Forum: After Dark


Posted By Thomas Dey

Well, it's not exactly "After Dark" but is current observational astronomy going on NOW!: I have gotten back into casual solar and gauge whether I MUST haul out the scopes just by looking at the sun thru a welder's glass or solar filter. If I can see any spot(s) essentially unaided like this – then I MUST drag out the scopes. And for this cycle, (now in decline) there are quite often such nice big spots! Attached image is from late yesterday afternoon EDT 9/17/2015. That nice round spot is about 0.4 arc-min across the umbra and about a full arc-min including the penumbra. An arc-min is the place-holder photopic resolution of the 20/20 healthy human eye. My vision is 20/13 so this spot is pretty easy. Anyway, I just looked now (1pm on the 18th) and it is even easier than yesterday! So I gota go haul out the scopes. Image from yesterday attached. Tom Dey

September 28, 2015 12:59 PM Forum: Solar System Observing

Re: No eclipse for me

Posted By Thomas Dey

Here in Springwater, NY it was actually comfortable and clear! That is statistically unusual and I was able to relax and watch from our back deck. Trusty old Genesis on Vixen Porta with JMI Train-N-Trak and a little Lunt camera ... laptop on a card table. It got quite dark at max eclipse and could easily enjoy the Milky Way, M31 etc. with the red moon hanging like a lantern. Based on my exposure times, I think Luna was more than 1000x darker eclipsed than not. Attached pic partial 9:20 pm EDT. Tom

October 23, 2015 11:02 PM Forum: Beginning Astronomy?

Re: Newbie here...

Posted By Thomas Dey

Hi Matthew, A "1-armed fork" likes to have the load hugging the arm closely. The 80mm would be out quite far if to the right of the 8-inch SCT. A link says rated for up to 40 lb. I found one picture where the user had two scopes somehow mounted one on the right and the other on the left of the post. That would be ideal. I don't have this mount in-hand so not familiar with what parts allow that. Tom Dey