North Lincs astro meeting 2nd September 2019

The North Lincolnshire astronomy society was treated to an excellent talk by Chris Roche on Galaxy classification for the September 2019 meeting at the Far Ings visitor centre at Barton. The talk on Galaxy classification came over very clear, with some practical demonstrations and stunning images . We all left, having a much better knowledge on the composition and classification of these beautiful objects.

It was good to see more new faces at the society, and seem to have settled in very well. Thank you as always to Glenys and Malcolm for the Teas, and the Lincolnshire wildlife trust for the use of the venue.

After the talk, we had a chance to discus ideas for future meetings.

For more information on the society , visit the North Lincs astro society website

Image ESA/Hubble


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Hawke Endurance ED 20-60×85 spotting scope. Blog post August 2019

A customer with a Hawke binoculars brochure in hand came to the Northern Optics Optics weekend at the Waters` edge visitor centre, Barton Upon Humber looking for a good quality spotting scope.

He had two in mind. The hawke Endurance 85mm or Nature Trek 80mm. Without even checking the 20-60×80 Nature-Trek, the customer was so impressed with the Endurance ED 20-60x85mm spotting scope, it was a quick decision. The quality of the image was the main reason for the purchase, but was also happy with the build quality, handling and strong stay-on-case.

With the spotting scope sorted, my customers first requirement was a monpod for use on travels. But when he tried the Fotomate VT-6006 tripod , that gave stability with a lightweight frame, it made the perfect choice to team up with the spotting scope. The Fotomate VT-6006 has a payload capacity of 6kg, yet only weighs 2.45kg. This tripod comes with a very good carry case. All in all this is a perfect low cost, great quality tripod for visual and photographic use

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Beta Delphinus double star challenge

Had a most enjoyable evening looking at double stars in Delphinus. After the delightful and easy double star gamma Del, there are some lesser known double stars in this small constellation that are very rewarding. On this occasion Beta Delphinus , which threw up a couple of nice surprises.

A little history first. According to the Bedford catalogue 1834 this is a most delicate (triple) star of mags 4, 12 and 15. But neither Sir William or Struve saw this as a triple. So as with many early observations, with lesser instruments to that of today, there were many conflicting observation reports,  positioning , separations and magnitudes. But nevertheless a very interesting book.

So on to modern times. We now know this to be a double star of mags 4 and 11, with a separation of 42 arc seconds. So using the 12″ Dobsonian with the Vixen NLW 22mm eyepiece (68x) I centred the object. Despite the wide range of brightness, the wide gap made this an easy double star to split, due to the dimmer star being out the range of the primary. Maybe not a WOW factor double, but very rewarding to see.

But the main and most unexpected reward was the wider view. I could also see the slightly fainter Zeta Delphinus in the same FOV. But my eyes were drawn to a lovely triangle of 8th mag stars in the centre of view, which seemed to have a blue / green tint to them. Looking further into this, I found the top two in the triangle (upside down view through the scope) were in fact another double. The stars are HIP 10700a and HIP 10698b with near equal mags of 8.30 and 8.25. This is a nice wide gap and easy for any telescope. The 3rd star in the small group was HIP 101694, mag 8.65.  So after trying for one double star, I got another one free of charge in the same view. There were also a number of other stars around 10-11th mag to the North of the field, which nearly looked like a mini Delphinus 

Go out and try this lovely grouping of stars for yourself on a clear night. A good scope of 3″ or larger will be needed to see the fainter companion of Beta Delphinus

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17 Lyrae Double star challenge

After dusting off my Bedford catalogue book by Admiral William H.Smith, I felt compelled to start seeking out some of the early observations. 1st on the list was a lesser known double star in Lyra called 17 Lyrae. Many observers go straight to the double double close to Vega for a test of optics. Yet , like with many constellations, there are some lesser known doubles which are hidden gems. So lets have a look at the star 17 Lyrae.

This is an easy object to find, just a star hop from Gamma Lyrae as shown on the image (courtesy star-splitters, word press . com).  According to the older Beford catalogue the magnitudes are 6 and 11 with a gap of 2.9 arc seconds, where one of the latest updates quotes as 5.1 and 9.1 with a gap of 3.5 arc seconds. The combination of a narrow gap, and the large range of magnitudes makes this a challenge for many amateur scopes and the UK seeing conditions.  According to the Bedford catalogue this beautiful and delicate object was discovered with the Dorpat refractor.

So on to my own observation of this double star. To repeat, its an easy star hope from Gamma Lyrae with the finderscope. My telescope used was my trusty Skywatcher 12″ Dobsonian. Once centred, I used my 5mm TMB supermonocentric eyepiece. This gem of an eyepiece is my number one choice for high magnifications. Owned it now for about 30 years and never used a better planetary eyepiece. On the Dob, this gives 300x magnification. The bright glare from the primary, dwarfed the dimmer companion, making this a test of optics. But the gap was clear (if tiny), and I was able to clearly make out the secondary star. I spent some time looking at this double star, which had a few other stars in the same field of around 8th – 10th magnitude, making for a beautiful cluster of stars.

It is looking at objects like this, that remind us about the appeal of visual observations, at a time where many budding astronomers who purchase a new telescope are only interested in astro imaging. Go out yourself and try and capture this double star. I am guessing a well collimated 4″ of greater aperture and 250x magnification will be needed

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North Lincs Astro meeting 5th August 2019

It was great to see 4 new faces at the North Lincolnshire astronomy society meeting at Barton Upon Humber for the August 2019 meeting. This was one of our workshop type sessions, with Steve outside setting up a telescope and mount from scratch for the benefit of those who need help. Inside the building, a few of us gathered around the table , where Charles ran through some software available to help find you way around the night sky, and gave tips on camera settings and techniques.

We found it a very enjoyable evening, with the informal approach going down well.

For more info on the society and future meetings, visit the North Lincs astro society website

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Hawke Endurance 8×32 ED binoculars. Blog post July 2019

A customer visited the Northern Optics Optics weekend looking for a lightweight set of binoculars for use when out cycling. After trying a number of 25mm and 26mm options, they ended up getting a slightly larger set in the form of the Hawke Endurance 8×32 ED binoculars . Despite being around twice the weight of the 25mm binoculars, they still only come in at 539g, making them ideal for use while cycling.

A padded comfort strap also was a benefit , as they made them comfortable to wear if used on a long session. Another factor was the bright image the larger 32mm objectives gave over the small sets. Lastly despite being a little heavier than other binoculars tested on the day, the larger body meant they “felt right” according to the customer.

As with all our customers who visit our North Lincolnshire Optics Weekends you get the added benefit of trying before you buy. You do not get this by purchasing on-line

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Hawke Frontier HD X 8×42 binoculars vs Hawke Frontier ED X 8×42 binoculars

At first glance when you look at these Hawke Frontier binoculars, the ED-X and HD-X 8×42 look pretty much identical. Both have the same case, straps, lens caps etc. The body is exactly the same , other than the badge and minor cosmetic changes . They both have the same field of view , eye relief, and prisms etc.

But the major change you can not see unless looking through them is that the ED X has the all important ED glass.

So first lets look at the levels of Chromatic aberration , or colour fringing. Testing on a very challenging target with dark tree branches against a bright back lit background, the HD X 8×42 showed a very small of CA in the centre. But unless you have a keen eye , from years of reviewing binoculars like myself, this is hardly noticeable , and in lower contrast situations is pretty much zero. Going off centre there is a little red CA on the right side of high contrast objects, but again very low levels. Turning to the ED X 8×42 on the same field of view, the colour fringing in the centre was completely gone. Looking away from centre , a little CA appeared, but vastly less than the Frontier HD X.

Secondly I looked at low light performance, by picking some a heavily darkened lower tree trunk a very shaded area. To the point where any detail was invisible to the unaided eyes. With the Frontier HD X 8×42 I was able to pick out lots of detail on the bark. Very impressive. But when I put the ED X 8×42 to my eyes, the difference was instantly clear to see. The level of contrast and brightness was vastly improved with the ED glass. Checked this several times, switching from one set to the other, with the difference in brightness obvious with every viewing.

So summing up, is it worth paying £100 extra for the ED glass offered by the Hawke Frontier ED X 8×42 compared to the non ED glass HD X ?. If you are very critical about reduced chromatic aberration and wish to observe in dark situations such as dusk and dawn, then the extra outlay is £100 well spent. But on the other hand the Hawke Frontier HD X is a very capable performer for the price, and will be money well spend if your budget is sub £300 (price as of 2019)

Available to purchase from Northern Optics

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North Lincs astro meeting 1st July 2019

Due to summer holidays and day trips to SW19, those that turned up for the July 1st , 2019 meeting at the North Lincs astronomy society were treated to a stunning visual / audio presentation by Peter Rea about the Apollo Moon missions, and in particular Apollo 11.

As per all Peter,s talks, it came over very clear to understand, with amazing images , videos. Some of which many of had never seen before.  In particular, we got an in depth description of the Hassleblad camera used. No digital imaging here or even a view finder to look through. So given all this, it made the images of the Moon walk even more amazing.

Thanks to Steve for stepping in to do the teas and biscuits, which went down well, and to the Lincs wildlife trust for the use of the venue

More more info on future meetings and more about the society, visit the North Lincs astro society web site


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Hawke Frontier ED X 8×42 binoculars. Blog post June 2019

It was the Hawke Frontier ED-X 8×42 that were the binoculars of choice when a customer visited Northern Optics . The Optics weekend display in North Lincolnshire gave him the chance to test high end binoculars with views over a nature reserve lake.

The first thing the buyer mentioned was the edge of field quality of image . Compared to a set of Sapphire 10×42 they preferred the wider field the 8x option offered. After maybe thinking of the green model, they agreed compared to some on display, the grey colour scheme was much more pleasing on the eye , or less loud as I put it.

They was impressed with the case and strap + the lifetime warranty, which he had already looked at. But as always with our customers, we fully go through the warranty T&Cs with all of our customers at the point of sale.

The Hawke Frontier ED X replaced the older open hinge Frontiers, to make a much more compact set, with better prism coatings. Yet at a very attractive price point

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Hawke Endurance ED 10×25 binoculars . Blog post May 2019

A compact set of binoculars ideal for bird-watching. That was the requirements for a couple visiting the Optics weekend at the Waters` edge visitor centre, Northern Optics display. They tried out a number of sets, before realising that 25mm compacts were best for putting inside the coat pocket.

If they had not seen any other sets, they commented on how the Hawke Vantage would have been adequate. But the Hawke Nature-Trek and Endurance ED seemed much more of a draw, with the Endurance ED giving a noticeably brighter image in their opinion. After 1st going for the 8×25, they ended up going for the Hawke Endurance 10×25 binoculars. The extra magnification was a factor. But also the fact they still gave a wide field of view was a major plus point.

From our point of view, these feel very solid despite the lightweight body. Eye relief is good, chromatic aberration is low , plus contrast is very good. Perhaps the focus wheel is a little small for use with gloves on, but due to the design, this is something you get with all double hinge 25mm compacts.

Available to purchase from Northern Optics

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