Sunday, March 29, 2015

Observing March 20th, 2015; School Star Party March 27th 2015

On the afternoon of March 20th, 2015, I had the opportunity to get out on a decent night to observe in Utah's West Desert.  I got out early, choosing the 17.5" as my scope of choice.  I still haven't had the 17.5 out enough to have it be natural when working with it, so that was the scope for the evening.  I set up easily enough, and took pictures of the setup before having to tear it all down. As I was assembling the scope, I noticed that one of the knobs to hold a truss tube in the Moonlite holder was missing. I searched the car, every where. I searched the ground, every where. Alas, I had no luck so I knew that the scope was not going to hold collimation so I had to tear it down in order to go and purchase a 20 1/4' by 1/2" knob to replace the one that was missing. Thus began my evening of adventure. I was suppose to meet my friend Jeff there at the site, but I decided to take off to get the knob. Cell phone reception I did have but I lost Jeff as I began to travel back to the nearest city. The last I heard was that when Jeff got back to the location, it was now occupied by some party goers who had the beginnings of a roaring campfire and Jeff was moving down the road. In truth, after surveying the site myself when I was there, the amount of garbage left by shooters and others had told me that it may be time to move on from the Pit n Pole location, to a new location I have found out that way for a short incursion out.  I haven't listed it on my Google Maps yet, not sure I will. I do know that the area around 5 Mile Pass and to the west of that location is seeing more and more use and traffic out that way on weekends. So it will mean a further drive to the west to get to locations that are both darker and having less people.

Anyway, I got back to Lehi and got to a Home Depot that had some wing nuts that would work, but there was a Lowe's nearby so I went there was well. At Lowe's they had a knob, the right size but the knob itself is slightly bigger so I picked up in total, 4 wing nuts and 4 knobs to have in case this ever happens again. I should have honestly thought of this myself, and had, I just failed to listen to that inner voice that kept telling me to purchase an extra set of knobs incase this happen. So now I drove back out to the West Desert and with no hope of finding Jeff, I went to my new spot, setting up in the dark, collimating easily with the Howie Glatter laser collimator and Tu-Plug.  The only issue I have had is aligning the Stellarvue F50 finderscope using the R50D rings. I honestly did not work that out, aligning the finderscope to the main scope until after the outreach event coming up. I FINALLY have that down and will be doing a video on that as I have found very little information on that process both in the little flyer that came with the F50, and online. On site only helped me.

So that night I worked in Hyrda and I haven't taken pictures of my sketches for that evening of the galaxies I observed, but I had a rather good night with average seeing and very good transparency. I will post those sketches later. The scope worked fine minus the F50 alignment issue (I removed it and used the Telrad with a wide field eyepiece to act as my finder, a 35mm Panoptic or 24mm ES 82 degree eyepiece, and that system worked wonderful! I may keep that as I have found I don't use the finderscope that much anymore in my observing, though I do like having it sometimes for when I am going after faint items and want a wider view without changing the eyepiece. Here are the images from my initial set up (the missing knob is on the upper ring on the right side if looking at the scope from behind).  The third image is my favorite.

On Friday, March 27th, I had the wonderful opportunity to go back to my school where I work, and host a star party. My son Nathan who has been living in Italy for the last two years and is now returned back home came with me and he ran my 4 inch refractor and my XT10 dob. I took the 17.5 and learned an important lesson. The 17.5 is a great outreach tool for adults, and the kids and adults loved the views from it, but it is hard even with a good step ladder for the kids to get up to the eyepiece and view. The 14" I have is better suited for that. So from now on, I will take the 14" when I do outreach.  In addition to this, Mr. Curtis, a father of several children at the school (his son is in my class and he also helped with the 4" ES AR102 refractor) had his 16" scope there and is familiar as it use to belong to Mat.  We had over 80 people come by to look at the moon, Venus, Jupiter, M42 Orion's Nebula, M45 the Pleiades, Messier 41 and the Winter Alberio.  I actually had father's and their sixth grade daughters staying to look at these objects in different eyepieces and filters in the case of M42 to compare the views, and to actually run the scope as I showed them how to use the Telrad and the eyepiece to accomplish the goal of seeing different objects.  It was a wonderful night of not only showing and telling about objects, but showing and letting people use the scope to discover things on their own. It's that doing and showing that gets people actively involved in the hobby, excited about the hobby and wanting to learn and do more. Showing is fine, and is one level of doing a star party, especially for large groups. However as the group wans showing how to use and letting a small group use a scope turns them on to getting more involved in the hobby. More astronomical groups that do outreach need to consider that as a way to grow in interest at all levels in the hobby in my opinion. Bottom line, after helping a former student and his Dad begin to learn how to use their scope, Nathan and I pulled away at 10:30pm tired, but rather excited about an excellent evening showing and doing with a group of wonderful people.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Observing on February 18th, 2015 with Sketches

I had the opportunity to observe on February 18th, 2015. The night for northern Utah was warm, in the 50's during the day, and 30's in the evening. I still needed layers, and wore my Minus 33 Merino Wool base layer, with two more layers of a long sleeve shirt from Cabelas, with a wool sweater on it followed by a fleece by Columbia on top of that. Then on my legs were a Minus 33 Merino Wool leggings, in heavy weight for both upper and lower body, with a pair of wool pant bottoms, then a pair of sweat pants on top of that. Finally, my hunting bibs went on and a parka on top and I was TOASTY!  The site was dry, no signs of any moisture on the ground and this aided in the air temperature being so mild for February.  The site is off of Forest Road 006 on the Forest Land sound of Vernon and it is now my premium and first choice spot. I love how the Juniper trees block out the couple of stray lights from Vernon to the north. No light is visible except what we bring to this site. Sorry, not going public on this one.

I was by myself as I have been for my last several trips. I am finding that I enjoy being alone when I observe. I also enjoy having a friend or two but I am just fine observing on my own. I pulled the 17.5 out of the Outback, and set up the base and the mirror box, then the trusses and the upper ring. Everything came together and using my Howie Glatter Laser Collimation tools, collimation came together right away.  I ensured that I was on level ground and had my ground cover pad that the 17.5 was on.  I then set up my two tables, a camping table that folds up and is aluminum and then my regular canvas fold up table. I then pulled out the charts I had printed off to use that night in Orion and Eridanus out of SkyTools 3.  I love SkyTools 3 and how I can easily print off charts to use in the field. I can also take my laptop with its deep red rubylith and use it in the field if I want. I am usually content to use printed off charts. If dew could be an issue I put them in sheet protectors.

This night after getting everything set up, I let the mirror cool for about 45 minutes and simply sat on my observing chair enjoying the change from day to night. Twilight is one of my favorite times as it signifies to me, after I have set up my equipment, the transition from my day to day cycle of the pressures of life, to the sole focus on going after certain targets, observing them, reflecting on them, sketching them and the pure enjoyment that comes from that. I also enjoy see the show boat items I usually take the time to view.  Coyotes howled, welcoming me to their realm for the evening, to the east of my location, with another group answering to the south of the first group. They would go off and on for the next hour or so before they faded away into the night, much like the constellations of fall, then later of winter.

The time came to observe and I started with M42. I love viewing the Orion Nebula as it reminds me of viewing it with my then 10 year old son and letting him view it for the first time. My mind has often been to my son Nathan, who has been living for the last two years in central and southern Italy.  He is returning home this Tuesday and I am more anxious to see him again, then to even observe later this month in March.

M42 was gorgeous and the Trapezium was easily seen as were the stars E and F in the Trapezium.  The nebula without a filter was incredible, one of the best views I have seen of it in a long time. Other wonderful views were NGC 1981 and Iota Orionis.  Next are the sketches I made that night and then some quick shots of the Mars, Venus and Crescent Moon conjunction.

 1.  NGC 1350 a Spiral Galaxy in Eridanus.  February 15th, 2015; 07:50pm MST; Antoniadi II; FROO6 My Site;; SQM-L 21.82; 17.5 dob with Pentax XW 10mm, Type II Paracorr and 27mm Panoptic as finder;
Notes:  Large bright galaxy about 3" x 2" The outer edge seems to bleed into the background, with a brightening near the core, with a higher concentration of light there. Core is thus bright with a stellar nucleus.  Some structure is hinted at in the eyepiece. This is a member of the Fornax I group.

2. NGC 1365 A spiral galaxy in Eridanus.  February 18th, 2015.  07:05pm MST; Antoniadi II; SQM-L 21.82; Antoniadi II; 17.5 dob with 10mm Pentax XW, 8mm TeleVue Delos; Type II Paracorr, FR 006 My Site; Clear, cool 35 degrees F.
Notes: Large spiral galaxy, very bright core region with a bar present and observable. Attached to each bar is a long winding spiral warm that wrap around the inner core region.  Wonderful view in the 17.5!

3. NGC 1385 spiral galaxy in Eridanus.  February 18th 2015, FR006 My Site; 8:05pm MST; Antoniadi II; SQM-L 21.85; Clear, cool 28 degrees F. 17.5 dob, 10mm Pentax XW, 7mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr.
Notes: Rather bright and large galaxy, elongated somewhat North to South.  Bright bar is visible surrounded by an irregular fainter outer region, with some spiral structure evident North to NorthEast and South to Southwest.

4. NGC 1367 Spiral Galaxy in Eridanus; February 18th, 2015; FR006 My Site; 8:35pm MST; Antoniadi II; SQM-L 21.86; Clear, Cool, 28 degrees F. 17.5" Dob.  10mm & 7mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr;
Notes: A large bright galaxy with a very bright inner core region. Bright stellar nucleus with an outer halo that fades into the background with hints of structure.

5. NGC 1398 Spiral Galaxy in Eridanus; February 18th, 2015; FR006 My Site; 08:45pm MST; SQM-L 21.86; Antoniadi II; 17.5 Dob; 10mm & 7mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr;
Notes: This is a large bright galaxy that's shape is between a round and an oval.  Large bright inner core region with a bright stellar nucleus.

6. These are two images I took of the Mars, Venus, Crescent Moon conjunction that occurred on Friday, February 20th, 2015.  Not great, since I didn't use a tripod. A tripod would have given better results.

I did observe the Pup and Sirius that night, using a mask I made for the 17.5.  The curved spider I believe with the aperture made this the easiest split I have had so far. The distance between the PN and Sirius continues to widen so that is helpful also. 

I also got time in in Puppis and I got Thor's Helment. I need to clean up my Sketch of Thor's Helment then I will post it.  It was wonderful to be out and I ended the night around 10:15pm, broke down my equipment, loaded and got home at 11:30pm. I unloaded and was in bed by 12:30pm to get up and have a great day at work the next day.  Hopefully in March I can get out at least twice. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review of Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas Desk Edition

Okay, it seems in the hobby of Amateur Astronomy there are trends and waves that come and go. As new things come out that seem to fill a void or a need in the hobby, they become the latest trend or item to get.  Well, when I saw information about the Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas I felt that this might be such a thing.  There are two editions, a desk edition and a field edition.  I recommend to go and review their website located at this link for useful information, some that I will go through here.

First the atlas is produced by Ronald Stoyan and Stephan Schurig and is published with Cambridge University Press.  The atlas seems to have a focus on the 4 inch, 8 inch and 12 inch telescopes. The emphasis on these sizes is plain when you open up the desk version and on the inside page to the front cover is a star magnitude size chart and explanation, followed by a Deep-Sky Object charts that shows how to know when looking at the Atlas if the DSO is viewable in a 4, 8 or 12 inch scope, what filter is recommended for the object and what objects are not viewable in a 12 inch scope.  This feature seems to be one of the ones that is used to really promote the atlas.  Indeed Rondal Stoyan in this YouTube Vide LINK, promotes that notion of the three sizes of telescopes right off the bat and ranking of deep sky objects for being observable.

Now I think this type of addition is fine for those new to the hobby or for the many casual observers out there.  For me though, as an experienced observer, I know the magnitude range and the impact of sky conditions and of surface brightness and other factors that go into whether I can see an object, or push my equipment to a point that I can be challenged beyond the norm. Also, Mr. Stoyan uses himself and his eyes as the basis for determining what can and cannot be seen. That is rather a bold claim since some eyes are younger and they pick up objects easier, especially with experience, and older eyes can detect because of the years of experience that make up for some loss of vision in the eye due to aging. My recommendation is to forgo this feature of the atlas and push objects and your equipment. Then again, as I said, if your new or a casual observer, use that feature and it probably is pretty close. One of my deepest thrills in DSO observing is to see how far I can push my eyes and equipment in bringing out detail. For me, this feature seems to limit that.

In the image above you can see that most of these objects are observable in a 4 and 8 inch scope (the brightest shades of yellow and red) with Sh 2-230 good to go in a 12 inch and IC 405 good in a 8 inch and 12 inche.  Items that have their description number next to them, but have no color are not observable in a 12 inch scope. Some I agree with, some I don't but as I do not want to have anyone saying they can see or not see an object based on my opinion and experience, I won't say. I would encourage as per above that others observe and find out for themselves.  In the YouTube video above they show this feature in depth letting you know that the atlas shows 15000 DSO's in this manner.

Another feature I do not like is that the Atlas automatically eliminates objects that the authors and editors feel are too hard or are not observable. Let me decide please and it is why I use SkyTools 3 and print off of maps from that tool to determine what I can observe by giving me the star hop and letting me and my equipment determine that. For me, that is a large part of the fun of visual observing. So this feature for me is not a huge positive or reason to buy this atlas. They point out in the video that this is extremely helpful for beginners and will eliminate futile attempts on objects they can't see. That may be true, and it may handicap them to relying too much on this atlas to determine what they can and cannot see.

The atlas runs in 10" x 11" in size per sheet, and the ring binding in the middle allows you to fold the desk edition over, and basically the same for the field edition. It is a good thing also that in the desk edition (I kept my desk edition and sold my field edition to a fellow observer; more on that soon) has the ring binding and allows you to fold it over. It is heavy for me for an atlas to be used at the scope. Combined with being somewhat bulky I find it difficult for me to use right at the eyepiece. I fold it over on a table near the scope and use it to go back and forth to and that is the best method for me in using this scope. I think in the YouTube video you can see as Mr. Stoyan holds and flips the atlas that if you use this at the eyepiece, you won't be holding unto anything else. The size is great for my table and using it there, especially folded over.  The paper on the Desk Edition is just a tad less stiff then the paper in the Pocket Sky Atlas but for me, even in a dewy situation, it has held up fine. For that reason, that in two sessions with heavy use of the atlas on a table with dew numbers high in the desert, I was totally content with the Desk Edition over the Field Edition. The pages on the Field Edition are made of a material that resists dew and dampness so if your living in a heavy dew area, and want to get that, for around $250.00 plus shipping. The desk edition is only around $100.00 so your choice on your poison. For me, I don't face hard dew year round in Utah or the West, so being cheap on somethings, I opted for the $100.00 Desk Edition.

One area that I think this atlas does really shine is with the constellation maps that help in locating a specific map to go to for finding the objects you need. It is quite easy if you have your constellations memorized or a planisphere nearby. I also like that the atlas contains Abell, Arp, and other catalog items in it. This is also an added benefit for the newer observer. I do not like the arrow system for the double stars as that to me is confusing,especially for someone new in the hobby and use to the line through the star. On the other hand the intensity of the star I do find nice. Stars go up to mag. 9.5 and it does have a lot of DSO's for a 12 inch scope.

Below you can see the atlas folded over and thus making it a decent size for a table near a scope in the field. I still prefer the Pocket Sky Atlas for its size, then moving to a printed star chart of the laptop if it is covered with red whatever to dim the light coming from it.  I haven't found a comfortable way to use this atlas except with a modified ready book light that clips on the atlas and is red.  Awkward to hold at the scope/eyepiece is how I best describe it if you need a red light to use to see it.

The Virgo galaxies are printed here with many being beyond a 12 inch, which I disagree with. I have seen them in a 10 inch and a 14 inch so location, conditions, experience and age have to play a roll here.

Note on this segment that some of the galaxies are shown, but are not visible in a 12 inch so no label. This if you haven't figure out is my biggest gripe of the atlas, the greatest selling point. A 10 inch in a 21.5 SQM sky should see most of these. I have seen some in a SQM 20.9 sky in a 10 inch so I just don't like a book based on one observer's experience telling a newbie or less experience observer what they can and cannot see. Let them figure out and present what is out there so they can try. Disclaim in the front of the atlas.  This is why I use printed off charts if not a laptop in the field. 

Now I sound sour on the atlas, I am not. I like it for what it is, but I don't think if I wasn't going to review for my blog that I would purchase one if I was an experience observer. The atlas is focused for those using a 4, 8 or 12 inch telescope to observe; don't have a lot of time to figure out if they can see something for themselves by star hopping or using a GoTo to get there and taking a look.  If your a newbie to the hobby, or a casual observer or a good experience observer who doesn't like faint stuff, then this is an excellent reference and tool to use. Whether you use it in the field or at home is up to you. Field or Desk? I opt and recommend the Desk edition as I feel dew won't tear it up too bad but then again, I am a west coast guy and a Utah/Desert observer. I feel the atlas is a decent buy at $100, but at $250 for the field edition, I just can't justify that for an atlas. I still like my Uranometria 2000.0 Deep Sky edition and use that in the field, like this, on a table if I find I didn't print off a chart or bring the laptop. For the cost and what you get, I feel that Uranometria 2000.0 is the much better deal as it goes deeper.

I purchased one copy from the Book Depository.  The atlas arrived in 11 days and cost was $88.00 for that copy. My other version arrived from an online supplier at Barnes & Noble. That took 8 days to arrive and the cost was $89.00.  Costs have gone up since I purchased my 3 and I sold the Field Edition for $175 which was my cost. 

Ease of Use:  4/5 Somewhat bulky and awkward. Ring binding for flipping the atlas is a huge plus. 

Organization: 5/5 Love the Constellation Charts for getting to the right Map. Love the size for 

Usefullness: 3/5   More a 4/5 or 5/5 for a novice/beginner, casual observer. 2/5 for experience  
Cost: Field 2/5; Desk  4/5  
                                          Sorry I just feel $250 for this level of atlas is too much. 

Set Up: 3/5             The look and feel are good, the double stars could be confusing for the targeted 
                                audience of the atlas. Don't like the 4,8,12 inch telescope deal. 3/5 is for 
                                experienced observers, more like 4/5 for novice/casual observers. 

Overall Rating: 4/5   

A very good atlas for beginners, novice and casual observers.  Not a great reference for experienced visual observers. If you have a 14" or larger scope, this leaves out far too many objects. Having said that, it isn't made for that market but that market needs to know that the atlas isn't for them.  Field Edition costs too much in my opinion, stick to the Desk Edition unless you want the page protection for dew. My Desk Edition is holding up great to 2 sessions where at the end the dew got up to 90% in the West Desert.  Pages never turned or were impacted at all and the atlas stayed on the table the entire time for a 4 hour session. 

Edit:  Over at in their book section LINK  there is a confirmed report that with the field edition that is suppose to be waterproof, that if you close the atlas wet, the pages will stick together and when pulled apart the surface pages will peel off.  As noted for $220 to $250 I would expect a much better performance from this atlas than that.  It is post #235 on that entry so you have a reference. Another reason I'll stay with printed charts that go into a page protector sheet if I fear dew, or at least into a binder. No biggie if that page gets ruined.  I have not had that issue with the desk edition in the field . . . . hope I don't. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Cot for Camping Over

Not a long post here but I have purchased and am using the Cablea's XL Cot for when I camp over and wish to be in a tent and not sleeping in the back of the Outback.  The cot is very tough, large enough to carry and hold me even after a 74lb weight loss so far, and I love that it is wide.  No sense of falling off when I am laying on it.  It comes with a pivot arm to get the last cross beam into place and it really does work like a charm. Having said that, I did need to use a 14" by 1/2" wooden dowel of oak to get the second to last cross beam to sit into place. As I have used it the material has stretched slightly and I no longer need to use that wooden dowel.  The cot is 85" x 40" x 20-1/2" when full assembled and is so very comfortable. With my memory foam pad, an air pad under that and my bag on top of all of that, I sleep as well as I do at home. Something very important if one is out at a dark site for several days and needs to keep their sleep up so they can observe at night without being fatigue. I had thought of owning one of these several years ago, but put it off and now I wish I never had. Your up off the ground so any cold from the ground does not get into your sleeping bag/pad,  When done, it folds up to 42" x 13.5" x 7" and fits into its accompanying bag EASY. Those who know me know how I hate bags and putting things in them, but this one is so easy even I can manage it with ease.  So here are some pictures of the cot in my garage and if your looking for something to increase comfort as your middle age like me and have grown tired of the ground, I HIGHLY recommend this cot.

Also here is the video from Cabela's on how to put this together. It really is as easy as they show.

Cabela's Video on Setup of XL Cot

Saturday, January 17, 2015

New Board

Well, I am still here and I am just heading out for a evening of winter observing. Cold here but man oh man am I ready!  Before I headed out I wanted to let you know that I made a free forum for those interested in posting at this link:

or here is a LINK.

Please head over and take a look. If there is a forum you would like to have added, drop me an email or PM at the site and I can add it.  I have some more ideas for it but will wait to see what the response it.  It is called Astronomy for All.  Main tenant is no political or religious discussions, I will ban for that at a drop of a hat as those discussions lead no where positive. Treat others as you would want to be treated and that means with respect and caring.  Keep the discussions non-threatening or what I call non-bullying and all should be good. Well, I have to run, more later.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Starry Night Pro version 6.3.3 vs Starry Night Pro 7.1.1

I believe I have touched on this before, but I wanted to do a review on the Starry Night Pro software. I have two versions, version 6 which I received about 8 years ago or so, and version 7 which was purchased just after it came out. I guess that is my first mistake, buying new software right after it comes out.  It ended up that in many ways, getting version 7.0 right after launch met you became a beta tester for the developers and for Stimulation Corporation, the company that owns Starry Night Pro. So before I begin I want to explain what I use this software for.  My main purpose in using this software is print out finder charts for objects that I am going after. I find that I usually am able to print off a larger finder chart showing the objects for the evening (in 6.3.3) and then closer finder charts that allow for even a more refined star hopping experience. Now there are other software out there that will do this, Astro Planner, Deep Sky Planner and Sky Tools 3 to name a few. I have used Astro Planner but found that it does me little good since it only allows me to look at limited objects that I can find and document in my sleep.  Perhaps one day I will expend the funds to  try a few of these out, but for now, Starry Night Pro has always delivered for me.

Here is an example, kinda of of how I use Starry Night Pro. The charts I print I tend to have a white background with black ink for the stars and objects to save on ink.  I have recently started uploading images like this to DropBox and then accessing them via a portable laptop/tablet combo in Windows 8 and that is heavily shielded in rhyolith to keep the light down. I transfer my observing file from DropBox since I usually do not have internet access or limited access in the field and then it allows me to view them like this image:

Clicking on the image will allow you to see it larger I believe. Anyway, I can then zoom in even closer to finish my star hops and be at the object. It is convenient and I have been doing this for 8 years now very successfully. I usually use Starry Night as a back up for logging my observations, keeping my main copy in an Excel spreadsheet for several reasons. I like the log feature and it works nice as a backup, and some would and do like it as a primary logging method.

So everything has been going great when I got an email about version 7 coming out. With a deep discounted price, I bit the bullet and got into the market by buying version 7.  Well, I learned quickly that I was a beta tester for version 7. I could not get to objects, I could not print star charts as the printing command crashed the program. I filed some reports and decided that version 7 just wasn't for me and went back to 6.3.3.  I stay away from the 6.4.3 upgrade as it freezes or crashes frequently on me and so to avoid that, I stay at version 6.3.3., my happy place.

So flash forward to this weekend. I have a new computer and I decided to try out 7.1.1 as I know the crash issue had been addressed.  Well, I loaded 7.1.1 up and I now got to my object, can print a FOV but the object, even when clicked on, doesn't appear on the finderchart.  Worthless still to me. I have shared that feedback with the developers and hope they have a fix for it soon. While see as I believe they respond, but usually not quick enough. I HOPE, more than anything that this is a user error on my part and I am simply doing something wrong. However, I cannot write click, to bring the object up and print that way. I have to go to File, Print and then set up my 3 pane panel for 3 FOV of view I use and print.  No print preview anymore either which disappoints me.

So though I highly recommend version 6.3.3 of Starry Night, I still cannot and strongly won't recommend version 7.1.1 until a visual observer like myself can use that program for what we want. The observing log feature is gone in 7.1.1 and I find it next to impossible to click on an object and have the information for that object come up unless it is a star. I MUST do a search for the objects I want, even if I know where they are in the sky.  So version 7.1.1 is in my book, still a work in progress and I highly recommend that a visual observer does NOT, I repeat DOES NOT purchase version 7.0 to 7.1.1 because there is still far too much missing and that needs to be added back in to make this a program worthy of the visual observer. I will continue to run and love version 6.3.3 and use it faithful until the day comes when the developers feel that we who are lonely visual observers, still have a need for the features in 6.3.3 and they are put into 7.1.1 and versions there after. It is a shame because as a science teacher I have used version 6.3.3 to teach some wonderful concepts to my students and love the capture of the moon phases and having my students identify the correct phase to the time of the month and then figure out when the cycle is going to repeat for the next six months. Lots of stuff to do, and I will use version 6.3.3 for that. It is my sincere hope that one day I can recommend version 7.1.1 and above for use in the field for visual amateurs and for the classroom. Right now, honestly, I just don't see the use of it and feel I wasted my money in upgrading. The team is responsive so I do have hope that in time things will be corrected.