Hi billw, Sounds like you did have a terrific night on 20th. Perhaps you can post lambda/phi or grid coords for the "alternate location off the 713", for the 10th? Can't promise anything, it's a long drive from Edi.
I've had an 8 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain for 30 years. These are a bit of a standard choice because any bigger and they are a bit too heave to handle, set up, transport in the car, etc. In the olden days Celestron was the market leader for these, now Meade will have overtaken them in sales, but perhaps not in value for money. Two years ago I replaced the original equatorial fork mount with a computerised German mount. (German mount is a technical term for the mount design, they are not made in Germany, usually.) This is more sturdy and the modern drive gives better tracking for astrophotography. Mine is an HEQ5 mount, which is just capable to take the Celestron; I bought it primarily to take camera plus tele lens but not the telescope. One should probably get an EQ6 for an 8 or 10 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain. I don't think this is beginners' equipment, though. The Celestron is my third telescope. The first I still have, because it is too small and cheap to sell. The second I got second-hand from a friend and sold third-hand to another. So I would consider buying a complete scope and mount for £100 to £300 and to throw that away in a few years because you either lose interest or need that fancy scope for £2000 plus a good mount for £3000 after all.
The BAA Variable Star Section is organising a Variable Star Observing Workshop in Edinburgh on Saturday 18th October 2008. The workshop will be held at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.The workshop will last from 10.30 am to 4pm. There will be a £ 10 charge which will include lunch. Included in the day will be a short presentation by the ROE of its Crawford collection. All BAA members and variable star observers are welcome. Also welcome are members of astronomical societies and interested members of the public. The organiser - Des Loughney - would be grateful if you could let him know if you intend to come to the workshop. Nearer the date he will forward a full programme. The workshop is aimed at those who are thinking of observing variable stars or are new to it, and will provide information on current observing campaigns which will be of interest to more experienced observers. For Des' contact details see the copy of this notice in the ASE Journal at www.astronomyedinburgh.org/publications/journals/57/variables.shtml
The site is so much in the middle of nowhere that everyone calls it after a different place they pass through as they approach. I call it "Pearie Law" after the nearest named feature on the OS 1:50000 map. Directions are included in www.astronomyedinburgh.org/publications/journals/54/meyerd5.shtml Don't be put off by the picture in the article, the exposure had to bring out the sky background for artistic reasons, plus it is taken northwards across the Central Belt.
Finally another data point. Magnitude (compared to 3.01 delta Persei) and coma diameter: 2007-11-22.8: 2.9mag, 30'. From image with 50 mm focal length, stack of 16 x 5 seconds. The total brightness still seems to be unchanged. But (i) this is now spread over a wider area and (ii) it is less concentrated in the centre, where the surface brightness is down almost threefold from 11 days earlier. Hence I can't see it with the naked eye (from the city) and it is difficult even in binoculars.
Some more magnitudes (compared to 3.01 delta Persei) and coma diameters: 2007-11-06.9: 3.0mag, 18'; 2007-11-08.8: 2.8mag, 22'; 2007-11-10.8: 2.9mag, 22'; 2007-11-11.8: 3.0mag, 26'. These data are from images with 50 mm focal length, stacks of 4 x 5 seconds. I've put a picture taken at 400 mm focal length at www.chiandh.me.uk/astro/comets/holmes.shtml
Around 2007-10-27.0 UT (Friday night) cloud gave way to a Moon halo. Next to it were Perseus an the comet. Since then I've mostly taken once per night untracked exposures at f=50mm, f/2.8, 20s and 5s resp. The weather in Edinburgh was mostly not stable and clear enough to warrant setting up tracking with a longer lens. Magnitudes (compared to 3.01 delta Persei) and coma diameters are 2007-10-27.0: 2.6mag, 2.5' (3 pixel); 2007-10-27.8: 2.5mag, 3' (4 pix); 2007-10-28.8: 2.6mag, 4' (5 pix); 2007-10-30.0: 2.6mag, 6'; 2007-11-03.9: 2.3mag, 12'; 2007-11-05.9: 2.8mag, 16'.
An e-petition has been started at petitions.pm.gov.uk/Physics-Funding/ to "reverse the decision to cut vital UK contributions to Particle Physics and Astronomy." After this autumn's comprehensive spending review the Science and Technology Facilities Council, which since April runs the UK's astronomy, particle and nuclear physics, finds itself short of money. AuroraWatch (www.dcs.lancs.ac.uk/iono/aurorawatch/) are again in danger of being closed down, along with all ground-based solar terrestrial physics, and the Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh may be reduced by half over the next three years. Universities can also expect a 25 % cut in their grant funding from STFC.
2007-09-29 is Doors Open day in Edinburgh. Amongst the open doors are those of the City Observatory on Calton Hill, where the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh (ASE) resides, and those of the Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill. The City Observatory is open 2007-09-29 (not 2007-09-30 as wrongly reported in the ASE Journal) from 10:00 to 16:00 BST, and again - weather permitting - from 20:00 BST. Check the web site www.astronomyedinburgh.org, in particular whether it's open in the evening. The Royal Observatory (www.roe.ac.uk) is open 2007-09-29 and -30 (Sat and Sun) from 10:00 to 17:00 BST.