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Old 12-03-2008, 11:49 PM
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goober (Doug)
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Two Hours with an Argo Navis

Last November I ordered an Argo Navis for my refractor. I was getting frustrated at the lack of reference stars for starhopping from my light polluted back yard. I was going to order another "push to" product, but the Argo is home grown, and would grow with me if I went up in aperture again.

Anyways, this morning it arrived. The delay was due to the unusual encoders my mount required. I went over all the pieces this morning before work and was alarmed to find I had nuts, screws and other assorted pieces I didn't now what to do with. An email to Gary at Wildcard during the day put me at ease - I didn't need a lot of it for my rig, it's just part of the package.

I installed the encoders when I got home, quite straightforward, although the altitude encoder was very snug in it's "housing". I plugged the huge hand unit into the encoders, and went through the setup process. The two buttons and wheel system works very well - intuitive and easy.

I went the whole hog in setup, plugging in precise location, my guess at the FIX ALT REF value (-12.670 degrees, thanks to Tom Trussock, who's been through this before). I pretended to align on Sirius during the day to test the polarity of the encoders and found them reversed, so switched them around. RA and Dec track in the correct directions now.

Gary from Wildcard had put a post up recommending a daytime encoder check against a fixed point (e.g. distant power pole insulator). I tried this, and did the 360 degree azimuth swing and found it fell exactly back on 0, same with altitude.... encoders working, no slipping, good.

Night falls and I head outside. Put the scope at -12.670 degrees, FIX ALT REF check, and align on my two stars. I choose Archerner and Regulus, which gives me a Warp of zero ... huh? Oh, I have AUTO ADJUST ON, which will give me zero Warp.

Time to play...

MODE CATALOGUE - take me to Betelguese, Procyon, Spica... all hit the target more or less. Some are just at the edge of the field of view. I then go for Saturn, which should be a good test of location coordinates. It's not in the eyepiece. I realise then that I still have my 30'/154x eyepiece in from the two star alignment. I pop in the 1.7 degree/49x and Saturn's there.

I then proceed to sweep the skies, covering all points of the compass. The Argo Navis handled it really well. After a criss cross or two of the sky the pointing was beginning to drift. Not by much, perhaps half a field of view. Each time I noticed it drifting, I'd plug the current object back into MODE ALIGN, and that seemed to resynchronize it.

I entered TOUR mode and tried a few out...

ANY OBJECT IN CRUX ... basically took me to the Jewel Box and the various stars.

OPEN CLUSTERS IN CARINA > MAG. 7 ... lots of things to look at here, NGC, Cr, Tr, Hogg, etc. The ones I could recognize were in the eyepiece, so I assume the ones I couldn't were there as well. A great feature is you can press ENTER again, and get a scrolling ticker tape message about the object - size, mag., notes, atlas map reference. Great feature.

MESSIERS IN 360 degrees - this basically took me to every one. Once I was in Draco I thought this is getting a bit silly, so rejigged the tour to...

MESSIERS IN 180 degrees - okay, this would give me visible Messiers, or so I thought. After touring the Virgo/Coma Bernices galaxies (didn't see one!), I was suddenly in Scorpius, below the horizon again. I could see Orion over there, so where was M78, M42, M43 in my tour? Obviously the 180 degrees is within 180 degrees of your launch point, and I launched from near Corvus. Is there a "above the horizon" option?

GLOBULARS IN CENTAURUS - Omega, 5286, both in the centre of the eyepiece.

GALAXIES IN CENTAURUS - I put a magnitude limit on this tour and went through five galaxies. Saw 1.5 of them

I finished off by playing with MODE IDENTIFY - target an object, and ask the Argo what am I looking at. I put an unknown star low in the west in the FOV and queried.... it told me it was Zaurak in Eridanus. Okay, I'll have to accept it's telling me the truth. Bright pink thing to the north west - it's Mars - bingo. Flip it over to the bright star rising in the east - Spica. Back to the mystery star in the west - Zaurak again. Feeling playful, I find a faint mag. 5 star somewhere east of Centaurus A - and it identified it (can't remember the name)!!!

Great fun to play with it, and it will be a fantastic tool for serious observing.
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  #2  
Old 13-03-2008, 12:14 AM
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Screwdriverone (Chris)
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Hi Doug,

Man, that sounds like fun! KNEW I shoulda got a goto.
I am gunna have to refinance the mortgage AGAIN! Either that or stop looking at this website.... naaaaaah!

I stand there (yeah havent figured out how to sit down at the newt yet) all night and play "where the F%%#$ing hell is this thing!.."

Sounds like this gadget is cool, I like the "what am I looking at?" function......answer from Argo Navis = its your neighbour's bedroom Doug!
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Old 13-03-2008, 12:16 AM
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GeoffW1 (Geoff)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goober View Post
Last November I ordered an Argo Navis for my refractor. I was getting frustrated at the lack of reference stars for starhopping from my light polluted back yard. I was going to order another "push to" product, but the Argo is home grown, and would grow with me if I went up in aperture again.

.
Hi,

Similar to my own experience with my AN, and I continue to use it heavily. It is great to hear of your success with it as well.

A few nights ago I found M83 for my first time, and I think I might have missed it but for the AN. It was a big charge.

I like the thought that it is portable to another telescope if I buy one, and the ease with which it translates charts from books and the net to the sky outside.

Cheers
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Old 13-03-2008, 08:10 AM
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erick (Eric)
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Thanks for the report, Doug. AN has got to be my next major purchase!
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Old 13-03-2008, 09:03 AM
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ngcles
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Hi Doug,

Very glad to hear it went so well -- you saw an awful lot in 3 hrs. That is of course the great advantage these things offer, you can spend nearly all your time actually looking through the eyepiece at your quarry rather than looking at maps with a red torch, or squinting through the finder.

If you feel like a night of star-hopping, turn it off for the night.

I've had an Argo on my 18" for 4 years now and it has performed _flawlessly_ from day 1 -- it's the best.

Best,

Les D
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Old 13-03-2008, 09:09 AM
Rob_K
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Hmmm, not sure about this Doug. Next thing might be to whack a camera in instead of an eyepiece so you don't even have to do your own observing anymore, LOL!

No, sounds good - star-hopping can be difficult when you don't have a lot of stars to begin with, and this way you can spend less time finding and more time observing. Well done!

Cheers -
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Old 13-03-2008, 09:57 AM
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erick (Eric)
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Originally Posted by Rob_K View Post
.....No, sounds good - star-hopping can be difficult when you don't have a lot of stars to begin with, and this way you can spend less time finding and more time observing. Well done! ........

Yeah, that's what I'm starting to think. I enjoy the hunt, but I'm so time-challenged I have to maximise observing and minimise hunting. I see an AN in my future.
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Old 13-03-2008, 10:53 AM
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goober (Doug)
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You've got the encoders already, haven't you Eric? Or am I thinking of someone else's scope?

I can see my both using it, and not using it. The hunt is fun, but from home if I want to find something in a washed out part of the sky, the Argo Navis will be very useful.

Another cool thing was just leaving the scope stationary, putting it into MODE RA/DEC, and watching the RA tick over.

After a couple of months of waiting, I was doubting if I really wanted it. After last night, I'm convinced. Excellent piece of equipment.
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Old 13-03-2008, 11:07 AM
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erick (Eric)
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Yes, I have the encoders, the cabling, battery pack, a stalk - everything but the blue box
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Old 13-03-2008, 12:01 PM
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Tannehill
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sell that 8" to fund an Argo, man! Or you keepin that as a more portable scope?

Not like I can USE my Argo now. Sheesh.

I miss Oz. Nothing like weeks (nay, months!) of clouds and temps -5 to -15 and 50 cm of snow coated with ice to sap every erg of astro-enthusiasm out of one's body.

Fortunately, I am moving to Arizona soon, where, like much of Oz, most frost can only be found on a cold mug of beer...

Gary K at Wildcard even has a feature on the Argo dedicated to Wisconsites like me. It was a safety feature, really. Gary is always thinking safety. You'll be out in winter, observing. Just before disaster strikes, the Argo LED display will flash urgently and display: "You are freezing to death. Go inside, you dork."

It only comes on units shipped to Wisconsin....

Regards from Frozen Hell

Scott

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Originally Posted by erick View Post
Yes, I have the encoders, the cabling, battery pack, a stalk - everything but the blue box
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Old 13-03-2008, 12:32 PM
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erick (Eric)
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Hi Scott, you've been reading about the beautiful Snake Valley weather

Arizona cannot come fast enough for you, I expect.

The 12" performed fantastically! At the moment I plan to keep my 8" - it's my "grab & go"!
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Old 13-03-2008, 12:35 PM
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goober (Doug)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erick View Post
Yes, I have the encoders, the cabling, battery pack, a stalk - everything but the blue box
I'd say go for it. I think the laser pointer/finder will quickly become obsolete

Just spent my lunch break downloading the Caldwell, Hidden Treasure, Herschell 400 and Carbon Star user catalogues into the Argo. Worked like a charm.
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Old 13-03-2008, 03:19 PM
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yeah, good idea. the 12" is more like a "grab and herniate" scope.

s


Quote:
Originally Posted by erick View Post
Hi Scott, you've been reading about the beautiful Snake Valley weather

Arizona cannot come fast enough for you, I expect.

The 12" performed fantastically! At the moment I plan to keep my 8" - it's my "grab & go"!
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Old 13-03-2008, 07:19 PM
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Rodstar (Rod)
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Glad you have had such a great first experience with Argo.

With the pointing accuracy issues, you can make things even better by using the TPAS function. Perhaps just get used to using Argo for a month or so before trying this, though, because it can be a bit confusing.

Having used Argo for about one year now, one function I really appreciate is the description for each object. It is nice being able to have info at your fingertips about the size, visual mag and morphology of a galaxy you are looking at/for. It has helped me on more than a few occasions to positively identify an object I am looking for.

Good luck as you keep playing!
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Old 13-03-2008, 10:05 PM
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Starkler (Geoff)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodstar View Post
Having used Argo for about one year now, one function I really appreciate is the description for each object. It is nice being able to have info at your fingertips about the size, visual mag and morphology of a galaxy you are looking at/for. It has helped me on more than a few occasions to positively identify an object I am looking for.
Works pretty well for planetary nebs too! You know those no-see-ums?
The description really helps one identify that you do have the target in question be it tiny and stellar in appearance, or large and diffuse.
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Old 14-03-2008, 06:43 AM
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goober (Doug)
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Originally Posted by Rodstar View Post
With the pointing accuracy issues, you can make things even better by using the TPAS function. Perhaps just get used to using Argo for a month or so before trying this, though, because it can be a bit confusing.
Funny, I was just reading that section in the manual last night. Went through it a couple of times and it seemed to make sense. I whipped up a cheat sheet to guide me through the process.
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Old 14-03-2008, 06:47 AM
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Rodstar (Rod)
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Funny, I was just reading that section in the manual last night. Went through it a couple of times and it seemed to make sense. I whipped up a cheat sheet to guide me through the process.
I did the same thing....much easier for the field than lugging the full Argo Manual around, and it is easier to just have the main pts. You will find after a few goes you don't even need the cheat sheet either.
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Old 14-03-2008, 06:55 AM
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goober (Doug)
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I did the same thing....much easier for the field than lugging the full Argo Manual around, and it is easier to just have the main pts. You will find after a few goes you don't even need the cheat sheet either.
Just to tap into your experience with TPAS...

I wasn't entirely sure, but I gather the IE and CA terms are transient, and you don't save these to NVRAM? The other terms EEC's/NPAE are more systemic of an alt-az system and are recommended to be saved in NVRAM?

Assuming they give good COMPUTE results, of course.
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Old 14-03-2008, 07:19 AM
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Rodstar (Rod)
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Doug, it is good to do a few TPAS runs first before saving anything to NVRAM because there can be variations from session to session which relate to how you have set up on that particular occasions. If you have the same figures coming up consistently between set-ups, you would then save a term to NVRAM.
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Old 14-03-2008, 10:12 AM
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goober (Doug)
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If you have the same figures coming up consistently between set-ups, you would then save a term to NVRAM.
That makes sense, thanks.
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