observing from bed

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michael feist
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observing from bed

Post by michael feist »

23/9/2020. 2330 BST ; Having risen a bit earlier, and done a bit of skywatching, I returned to bed. Turning my head on the pillow towards the window, lo and behold, Menkar and gamma and delta Ceti were visible in one window pane and MIRA in the next...all well-shown using 8x42 Hawke monocular! After that....zzzzzzzz. regards mike [the watcher from bed]
jeff.stevens
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Re: observing from bed

Post by jeff.stevens »

I’ve always thought the more comfortable you can make the observing experience, the better the observations are likely to be.

I’m probably dreaming this, as my mind does run away with itself, but I have recollection of an observer (may have been a Sky & Telescope article) who lived in a city apartment, top floor, with a large Perspex bubble cover in the ceiling. Although the Perspex lacked clarity, it allowed the observer to make variable star estimates of a select range of variables that passed over the dome during the course of the night and the year.

Best wishes, Jeff.
brian livesey
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Re: observing from bed

Post by brian livesey »

Years ago, I recall a "Sky & Telescope" article showing the inside of a very nice amateur domed observatory that had quality cling film covering the slit. A heater was on in the observatory to give a shirt sleeve environment.
The amateur astronomer claimed that he was still getting diffraction limited images. The cling film was frequently changed. Baader Clear Film would do the same job, but it's expensive. The late Peter Grego used it on his Newtonians.
brian
michael feist
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Re: observing from bed

Post by michael feist »

Yes, I read the plastic-bubble-in the roof story...I just cannot remember who the observer was, but it was a well-known American astro-writer. The use of the clingfilm on the slit of a telescope dome was also used by an observer here in Sussex. I also read about an observing site in the US, where a large, good-quality-glass viewing window was used for observers with binoculars etc. Of course, the glass in the double glazing used now in itself is pretty good but low magnification of bright and large objects does end up with false images or-ghosts...especially the Moon if viewed at an angle. One can end up with a row of fainter and fainter images. If one looks at a bright planet / star often you see what seems to be a close -by object. As one moved ones head the ghost moves with relation to the source! regards mike [the watcher]
Cliff
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Re: observing from bed

Post by Cliff »

Mike
Nice one !
Unfortunately my eyesight isn't what it once was & I'd have problems finding our bedroom window.
best of luck from Cliff
David Frydman
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Re: observing from bed

Post by David Frydman »

The view of Mars through Horace Dall's closed attic window using his world class 8 inch Maksutov at 400x was unbelievable.

It was the equal of my 12.5inch Dall Kirkham in my garden.

His camera obscura from indoors provided daytime views that were just spectacular.
His photos of a church gutter at 17 miles were interesting.

I view regularly at 100x through my kitchen double glazing and get first class views in comfort.
90mm Maksutov or 90mm refractor. Photo tripod.

From my bathroom with open window at 3 a.m. I used 250x with a 120mm refractor regularly to view a clock face at 4.7mile distance.
I could see the minute ticks at the side of the clock face at 1 arcsecond resolution.
I waited one hour to stabilise the air inside and outside. I wore an anorak so my body heat did not disturb the view.

I viewed the Sun through my PST for about 2,000 days at 32x through double glazing. The view was often first class.

I was projecting the Sun on my wall in 1957 using my 3 inch Starboy refractor and viewing Uranus disc at night.

My hundreds of Aurorae and noctilucent cloud observations were usually from indoors, as were the photos, through double glazing.

Regards,
David
michael feist
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Re: observing from bed

Post by michael feist »

Quite often observing from an upper window, often closed as these do not open very wide, is necessary to gain height to see objects otherwise hidden from the garden. Occasionally a tree may block the view from the bedroom window so displacement to the right and through the bathroom is necessary. However, of course, this does not have clear glass, and opens with hinge at the top. I can view through the gap with the window open BUT have to stand in the bath! Preferably without any water in it! regards mike [the watcher].
jeff.stevens
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Re: observing from bed

Post by jeff.stevens »

It’s very interesting reading these posts about indoor observing.

David, I’ve never looked through a camera obscura - I hope I get to see the view through one at some stage in the future.

Reading these posts reminded me that my most memorable set of observations so far this year were of NEOWISE, viewed through a north facing bedroom window (double-glazed). Aside from a spectacular comet, the comfort of viewing really helped. The comfort (and a spare bed) meant that I was able to observe throughout the night, with the occasional nap. I could observe the comet and then lie on the bed, still with a view of the window, to see if noctilucent cloud would form. Most of the photos I took were also taken with the camera pressed up against the glass.

Strangely, the elevated position, and great view of the sky, actually enhanced the whole experience. Sitting back slightly, with the most stunning twilight sky and colours on display all framed in the window, it was like looking at a great work of art - my own personal “Starry Night”.

When I first started out observing I recall reading many books and articles that strongly advised against indoor observing. However, I’d say it actually has quite a lot going for it.

Best wishes, Jeff.
brian livesey
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Re: observing from bed

Post by brian livesey »

Wasn't it George Alcock who made several novae discoveries observing from behind windows at his home? He had a superb pair of Austrian ( Tordalk? ) big binoculars.
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jeff.stevens
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Re: observing from bed

Post by jeff.stevens »

Brian, I believe it was.

I have a copy of the book “Under An English Heaven”, which is a fascinating read. It has been a while since I last read it. However, Martin Mobberley makes reference to those indoor observations in the following article...

http://martinmobberley.co.uk/Alcock.html

Best wishes, Jeff.
nigeljoslin
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Re: observing from bed

Post by nigeljoslin »

My wife and I have observed with the Camera Obscura at Dumfries museum a couple of times.

I was fascinated to see the method of focusing. The image is projected downwards onto a waist high, horizontal round screen. In order to focus, the table is rotated and rises up or down accordingly.

Great fun!
Skywatcher 350P f4.65, Skywatcher StarTravel 102 f5, Adler Optik 9x63 binoculars
michael feist
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Re: observing from bed

Post by michael feist »

As a general rule one does not look through a camera obscura as one is actually 'in the camera' and the image is projected on the large screen in a darkened room. An additional 'high power viewer' can be used to examine the image. This is the device used to produce much greater magnification as used by some astronomers. A photographic camera may replace the eyepiece and detailed photographs made too. This 'HPV' simply stands on the screen and a small part of the image selected. One was made for the Foredown Tower camera obscura but little used due to the complication of setting it up when the public were there. Alternatively by placing the 'HPV' on the screen, it was possible to select a small part of the image and produce a vertical image , on a white board, of the Sun. We did this when watching one of inferior planets transit the SUN. The size of the Solar Image depended, as in any projection, on how far back the screen was placed. However the one problem was that the apparent movement of the Sun was so fast, meant that one had to keep moving the 'HPV' or the camera obscura itself and the manual controls of pulling the rope for altitude and motor motor hand control for panning was too crude for such delicate movement required. The camera obscura + HPV would convert the 12" camera obscura into a 12" angled refractor but sighting it was almost impossible when used in this mode unless aiming at perhaps the horizon.
Unfortunately the Viewing Galley is now out-of-bounds to the public due to the Covid-19. regards mike [one-time camera obscura demonstrator].
michael feist
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Re: observing from bed

Post by michael feist »

For more information about 'Astronomy and the Camera Obscura' by Mike Feist, yes me, refer to J.B.A.A 110, 1, 2000. This was also available on the Internet. I do have a copy if you are interested. maf.
jeff.stevens
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Re: observing from bed

Post by jeff.stevens »

Mike, ahhh, of course, I’d forgotten the camera obscura projects onto a flat screen. I recall now the scene from the 1946 film “A Matter Of Life And Death”, which shows Roger Livesey’s character demonstrating a camera obscura to Kim Hunter’s character.

I’m not sure where the closest one to me is, that I would eventually available to visit. As you say, the likelihood is it will be a while before current restrictions allow for such an opportunity.

Best wishes, Jeff.
brian livesey
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Re: observing from bed

Post by brian livesey »

Thanks Jeff for the concise Mobbereley biography of George, and showing those magnificent binoculars. He must have had a photographic memory, combined with the patience of Job.
brian
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