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What's the best telescope for an adult beginner?

Continuing my theme from the last issue, in which I considered the question ‘What telescope should I give a child?’, I’d like this time to try to select a telescope for an adult who is relatively new to the hobby, but who knows they are seriously interested. They may have attended stargazing events and already seen what celestial objects look like through good telescopes, and they may have joined the BAA or another society.

BAA Articles

Checking up on a cataclysmic variable in Cepheus

Would you like to help monitor an intriguing variable star? Here's how...

HS 0229+8016 was identified as a cataclysmic variable star during follow-up observations of optically selected CV candidates from the Hamburg Quasar Survey by Aungwerojwit et al. [1]. Its orbital period is 232.550 ± 0.049 min (0.16149 d).

The light curve over the last 12 years appears to show almost continuous low amplitude outbursts of ~0.7 mag for much of the time. Each outburst lasts ~12 - 14 days and the star varies between mag ~13.6 and 14.3. There are two intervals of 100 - 200 days when these appear to reduce or even stop. This is reminiscent of Z Cam behaviour, although this classification is by no means certain (Z Cam is the prototype of a class of dwarf novae which exhibit outbursts, interspersed by times when the star's brightness is constant). Prof. Boris Gänsicke (University of Warwick, UK) suggests that the low amplitude could mean that only part of the accretion disc takes part in the outbursts, so it may be very close to the borderline of disc stability.

Boris has suggested that intensive observations over a few outburst cycles may shed further light on the behaviour of the system. I would therefore like to request observations of HS 0229+8016 from now and continuing for the next three months (until end Feb 2019). We would like one (or a few) observations per night to define the overall outburst light curve and whether there is a quiescence period between outbursts. CCD observations with a V-filter are preferred, but unfiltered is fine if you don’t have a V-filter. Visual observations are also gratefully received. Continuous photometry is not required at this point.

A chart and sequence for HS 0229+8016 is available from the AAVSO website. Please submit your observations to the BAA VSS or the AAVSO database. HS 0229+8016 is a far northerly object in Cepheus at RA 02 35 58.23, Dec +80 29 44.2 (J2000.0).

Impression of a cataclysmic variable by Dr Andrew Beardmore

Jeremy Shears

[1]. Aungwerojwit A., Gänsicke B.T., Rodríguez-Gil P. et al., A&A, 443, 995-1005 (2005)

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BAA Gallery Picture of the Week
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Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner in M50


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About this observation
Alan Tough
Time of observation
07/10/2018 - 23:00
Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner
Observing location
Siding Spring, Australia
iTelescope T31: Planewave 20" CDK and iTelescope T32: Planewave 17" CDK
FLI-PL09000 CCD camera on the 20" and FLI Proline 16803 CCD camera on the 17"
18 minutes LRGB
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In order to capture this image of Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner gliding past open cluster Messier 50 on 7th October, Alan logged on to two remote telescopes at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. Total exposure time, through LRGB filters: 18 minutes.

Copyright of all images and other observations submitted to the BAA remains with the owner of the work. Reproduction of the work by third-parties is expressly forbidden without the consent of the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the webmaster.
John Chuter's picture

Stargazers’ Almanac, 2019

The Stargazers’ Almanac for 2019 is a wall calendar giving a monthly guide to the stars and planets. It has charts showing what can be seen in the northern and southern skies each month plus the changing phases of the Moon. It includes constellations and zodiac positions on an overhead-sky star map useful for all sky watchers and observers. Advice is given how to use the guide. No telescope is needed to enjoy these charts and it is suitable for beginners and children.

John Chuter's picture

A portable cosmos: Revealing the Antikythera Mechanism

In April 1900, an ancient shipwreck was discovered off the Greek island of Antikythera (also known as Aigila). A series of archaeological dives took place over the next year, recovering antiquities such as statues. One particular piece of salvage attracted interest, displaying signs of gear mechanisms, dials and pointers. Ever since, the ‘Antikythera Mechanism’, as it has become known, has been the subject of increasingly sophisticated research, in an attempt to tease out its internal workings and to identify exactly what it was used for.

John Chuter's picture

Exoplanets − hidden worlds and the quest for extraterrestrial life

Donald Goldsmith is a member of the International Astronomical Union and President and owner of Interstellar Media. He has written several books on astronomical topics and has received awards for science communication and astronomical popularisation. The book describes the various methods of searching for exoplanets, e.g. radial velocity, transits, direct observation, orbital brightness modulation and gravitational microlen-sing.

John Chuter's picture

Kew Observatory and the evolution of Victorian science, 1840−1910

In recent years, the King’s Observatory in the Old Deer Park at Richmond has been a neglected part of our scientific heritage. Since being abandoned by the Met Office in 1981, it has been used as private commercial premises, and in 2014 permission was granted for a change of use from commercial to residential. Now in Kew Observatory & The Evolution of Victorian Science, 1840−1910, Lee Macdonald has brought it back to life – if only in our imagination – and given us a glimpse of its glory years.

John Chuter's picture

Sky Notes: 2018 December & 2019 January

(Written for 22:00 UT in the UK on January 1.)


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