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From: TerryMoselaol.com
Date: Sun, 7 Dec 2003 10:35:27 EST
Subject: Lidl 'scope Monday, Comet photos, Mercury

Hi all,

I'm now reliably informed that the Lidl 70mm telescope goes on sale on 
Monday. And it now comes complete with "Astronomy software and Star Navigator on 
CD". But the ad in Sunday Life does not mention the 'terrestrial' barlow, 
although it still may be included.

BTW, the ad is a bit off-putting in that there's some weird translation, 
presumably from the German: it refers to the possibility of adding a "Specular 
refraction camera" to the telescope. Now that's a new one even to me...... And it 
also refers to the mount, not only as being an equatorial, which it is, but 
as "Sagittal". Again, that's new to me, unless it's a trade name. However, 
don't let that put you off, and anyway, the instructions that came with mine were 
clear & comprehensive.
   Three other points: it has a built in lens hood / dew shield; the tube is 
well baffled internally; and the focuser is nice & steady & smooth, and has 
plenty of travel. 
   The optical tube assembly (w/o eyepiece) weighs only 1.1kg, so it's very 
light, even though it has a metal tube. The minum tube length is 700mm, but you 
could reduce that to 620mm by temporarily removing the focussing mount, so it 
would be quite easy to transport for anyone thinking of travelling abroad for 
the Transit of Venus in June. You could also easily make an adaptor to mount 
it on a camera tripod (I have already done so) if you didn't want to bring an 
equatorial mount. Over to you, folks. (No, I don't have shares in Lidl. And 
I'm risking the wrath of North Down Telescopes. Among others... But it's all for 
the benefit of you, the consumer!)  BTW, they don't take credit cards! Just 
Debit cards, or cash, or a cheque & cheque card.

Peter Paice, IAA member from South Belfast, known to many of you for his 
excellent solar photos, tells me that one of his comet photos may be on the Sky at 
Night tonight, as already notified (00.15, BBC1).

Finally: fancy a challenge? See if you can spot Mercury in binoculars this 
afternoon. At 16.30 it will lie 7 degrees 20 mts below & right (about 4.0  on a 
clock face) of Venus, at an altitude of 2 deg 40m (just over 5 moon diameters) 
low in the Southwest. It will be mag -0.4, which is quite bright, though 
nowhere near as bright as Venus. That separation is just a bit more than the field 
of view of average binoculars, so you'll have to sweep just a bit below & 
right from Venus. DON'T look while the Sun is still above the horizon!
   That altitude refers to Glengormley, at that time. The further South & 
West you are from here, the higher Mercury will be at that time, and, of course 
the further West you are, the later sunset occurs, so wait a bit longer to look 
for it - say about 16.40 for Galway or Limerick. But you'll need a very clear 
sky right down to the SSW - SW horizon.

If you are still out at about 17.30, look out for the ISS coming over for a 
reasonable pass (about 17.35 for Belfast).  There's an even better one tomorrow 
evening at about 16.30, though that's in brighter twilight; if you don't see 
Mercury this evening, try for it again tomorrow, AND get the ISS at the same 
time! Mercury will be fractionally higher & closer to Venus, at the same time 
tomorrow evening.

Good luck.

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley

Last Revised: 2003 December 15th
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