Tim Vasquez's Astronomy

A bit about me...
I am located in south Austin, Texas. I own a 10" Discovery DHQ Dobsonian telescope, and am a member of the Austin Astronomical Society. I enjoy starhopping and searching out interesting deep sky objects, as well as sketching. I have not been involved in observing activities in late 2003 and early 2004, though, due to the arrival of our baby son... that has a way of soaking up all available time. However I will be getting involved in observing again this summer.

My main hobby of course is meteorology and storm chasing, but I also enjoy beer brewing, strategy computer games such as Tropico and SimCity, and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

NEW! I am experimenting with eta cloud forecasts, which are manually updated as time permits. If you like the concept, send an E-mail to .

Astronomy links

  • Televue Overviews -- a very nice review site on Televue eyepieces and accessories.

  • Astronomics -- our very own astronomy mail order shop in Norman, Oklahoma. Barbara there is very nice, and checked their shop to see if they had an old Sky & Telescope issue they could sell me.
  • Discovery Telescope -- one of the best makers of large quality telescopes that don't break the bank.
  • Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT) -- large distributor for Discovery Telescopes. It may be worth weighing whether to buy from the factory or from OPT, since OPT orders lots of scopes in advance (no wait on some models). But of course they also have lots of other good scopes and accessories. The manager, Mike Fowler, was very quick and helpful to an E-mail question I sent them.
  • Tectron Collimation Tools -- suggested to supplement the laser collimator. They're pretty clear that it might take awhile for them to get their E-mails.
  • Cookbook CCD Homepage -- allows CCD imaging on a budget. Build your own from a kit!
  • Astronomy Stock Photography

  • Space Weather -- excellent news on "what's going on out there" tonight.
  • Sky & Telescope Magazine -- by far the best observational amateur astronomy publication available.
  • Aurora Activity Maps -- real-time!
  • NOAA Sunrise Sunset calculator
  • Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers (ALPO) -- one of the best places to see what's happening in the solar system right now (see the newsletters).
  • CloudyNights.com -- nice all-around astronomy resource.
  • GOES IR Image for Oklahoma (loop) -- what's happening with cloud cover.
  • International Supernovae Network -- latest news, events, and statistics. Excellent links. Also worth checking out is the Supernova Early Warning System (not sure if it's operational.
  • Cal Tech public domain Messier images

  • sci.astro.amateur -- Usenet group
  • YahooGroups: Discovery Dob Users -- (373 members) - perhaps the best forum for Discovery telescope users. Excellent, generous users and lots of good conversation.
  • YahooGroups: Discovery Telescopes -- (165 members) - a smaller group that's less active. Not sure how redundant it is with the group above.
  • YahooGroups: Nexstar -- for Nexstar scopes.
  • International Dark Sky Association -- seeking environment-friendly and energy-conscious use of lighting.
  • AstroMart -- sort of an eBay and BBS for amateur astronomers.

  • Bill Ferris' Cosmic Voyage -- absolutely astounding notes, sketches, and comments about various deep sky objects. A must see!
  • David Haworth's Amateur Observing Page -- lots of good links worth checking out.
  • 40 Inch Scope -- geez, this thing is a monster! A 15 foot fruit-picker's ladder and 12" finder scope! Also check out the monster binoculars.

  • Collimation FAQ -- excellent for Newtonian scopes.
  • Keeping Warm, Alan MacRobert, Sky & Telescope. Good hints for the cold winter months.
  • Schaefer techniques -- an interesting paper I stumbled across showing some equations related to limiting magnitude.
  • Flocking a Newtonian with black velvet -- looks pretty labor intensive but worth checking out.

    Other great information

    Tim's Deep Sky Object List
    I made a list of some of the best Messier and NGC objects in the sky, a catalog of sorts I am using to pick good objects to view. Lots of good info, including factoids and the object location within or relative to the Milky Way Galaxy.
        Tim's Deep Sky Object List
        (Not quite finished!)

    One can get a budget quality collimator from Howie Glatter or for even less an EZ Collimator from EZ Telescopes. Links to both are at:
  • http://www.ovas.org
  • http://www.ovas.org/alinks.html
  • http://www.scopetronix.com -- Scopetronix probably sells the EZ Collimator:

  • Flocking a Newtonian
    snipped from a post on Discovery Dobs group
  • flocking - self sticking protostar paper -- someone had nightmare with detachment
  • "I'll second Bob's recommendations. I did the top end of my 8-inch with Edmunds paper, using Elmers glue to hold it. I cut the paper into 4 strips, wide enough to go between the vanes of the secondary spider. Be sure to remember to cut holes (or X cuts) where the finder & focusser mounting screws project into the tube. I also cut a ring of flocking paper to make a flange for the focusser that projects into the tube (but not into the light path). Terriffic difference, increased contrast all around."

  • Ideas for improving a Newtonian telescope
  • Use flock/flocking paper from Edmund Optics or ProtoStar to line the inside of the telescope. It reduces reflection of light in the tube. The area around the secondary mirror is most important.
  • Spray paint the DHQ base black. This reduces faint glare that might be seen while viewing.
  • Add handles to the base of a DHQ. Makes it easier to carry.
  • Baffle the tube (at least behind the mirror). Reduces light entering the tube from the bottom. Ideas are in "Thermal Management In Newtonian Reflectors" on page 132 of Sky & Telescope.
  • Use an eyepiece or dark cloth to view in (velvet or felt?). A good way to screen out any remaining light.
  • When you store you scope always leave it at an angle, never pointing at zenith. Keeps debris from rolling down into the primary mirror.

  • Some telescope facts and figures
  • A 10" scope has 1792 times the light gathering power of a 6 mm pupil (i.e. an 8.1 mag difference)
  • The typical magnitude limit on a 10" scope is 14.5-15.5

  • Typical Limiting magnitudes
    This is a rough compilation of estimates by various individuals on sci.astro.amateur, showing the faintest apparent magnitude that can usually be seen in various environments.
    Near Manchester UK Airport (RB) 2.0
    Los Angeles city (CP) 2.3
    Suburban area of large city (CP) 3.4
    Mid City District of LA (BT) 3.5
    Good night in Cheshire UK (RB) 3.5
    Small village in England (CM) 3.5
    Best nights in Tampa along bay (CP) 4.3
    Suburban area near city (BT) 4.5
    Rural area adjacent to city (CP) 4.5
    15 miles from Tampa in rural (CP) 4.8
    Santa Monica CA (BT) 4.8
    Glendale CA near LA (EP) 5.0
    Edge of OKC in Midwest City (MD) 5.0
    Red Rock Farm 5.8
    Rural area near city (BT) 6.0
    Isolated rural area (CP) 6.2
    Sand Hills of Nebraska (DK) 6.8
    Suspected naked eye limit (RM) 7.0
    Isolated mountain top (CP) 7.5
    Extreme naked eye limit (DK) 8.0

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    Copyright ©2002 Tim Vasquez
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