- Review: Explore Scientific 16”, Europe edition, late 2016
- VITE 2X Barlow Lens Review
- Sky Commander Review
- Wireless Control of Canon EOS DSLRs with DSLR Controller and TP-Link MR3040 W...
- Review of the 18” f/5 Otte binodobson
- Wireless Telescope Control for Celestron (and Compatible) Scopes
- A Review of Teeter STS18
- MesuMount 200 Review
- First Light with the Prototype 8x42 Space WalkerTM 3D Binoculars
- INTERSTELLARUM DEEP-SKY ATLAS (FIELD EDITION) REVIEW
- THE BAADER BBHS-SITALL SILVER DIAGONAL
- Explore Scientific AR 102
- Review: davejlec's Paralellogram Mount
- Annals of the Deep Sky, Volumes One and Two
- Discovery 17.5” Split Tube Dobsonian Telescope
CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.
I have been considering buying or making a 16 incher for a while now. Mirrors only (if you wanted to make your own scope) cost at least 1200€ to 1400€ (Hubble optics or GSO, not counting import duties and shipping cost). So, when I learned that Explore Scientific had a European sales on their Ultra Light series, placing the 16” at 1698€, I jumped on it!
This review describes the VITE 2x Barlow lens including my initial impressions of build and optical quality. I observe from a suburb in the southeast U.S. I have one telescope, an 8-inch Dobsonian, and have had it for approximately five years. The photos included in this review represent my first crack at astro-imaging. I wanted to try prime focus photography with my DSLR but my focuser does not have enough in-travel to do so. I used the Barlow to achieve focus with my telescope/focuser/camera combination.
With such a long dry spell in 2016, I started pondering how to get the most bang for my buck when I finally did get out with the scope. Just think. For the past fifty years, I’ve been manually searching for and finding objects, up to around two-thousand at this point. However, as time has worn on, I thought about it. On the past few observing sessions, going back a couple of years, my yield slowly dwindled. Why?
When doing astrophotography, most of us use a laptop for camera control, autoguiding and image display. At public outreach stargazes we often just want to take a single time exposure in order to show visitors what 'that fuzzy blob' they see in the eyepiece really looks like, it's often not at all convenient to set up a laptop. A tablet is an excellent tool for image display, but there's still the problem of a USB cable from the tablet to the camera. Many tablets don't even have a full size USB connection or require a special adapter or cable, but they all have WiFi. That's great if you're using a camera that has WiFi capability but what about those DSLRs that don't? Enter the TP-Link MR3040 Wireless Router.
Sometimes, aperture fever can lead to a severe case of brain damage. The kind that compels you to make a purchase that by all acceptable standards would be considered insane. Such is the case for those who decide to buy a gigantic binoscope. Already much has been said about the huge disadvantages of the binodobson. After all, there must be a reason why almost no telescope manufacturing company offers them. But are these prejudices true or are they merely based on assumptions without any real experience to back them up? In order to find out, me and my friends of the astronomical society of Trentino in northern Italy have put my new 18” binodobson to the test.
Wireless control of telescopes is quite handy as it frees the observer from being tethered to the scope mount by a wire. In fact it is clear that this is the wave of the future. Astronomy equipment tends to lag behind the technology curve—Celestron’s hand controllers are about 20 years out of date in terms of display, wireless capability, and other areas. (Vixen’s StarBook controllers are an example of a more modern design but they are not wireless). Fortunately it is possible to not only add wireless capability, but do so with equipment that most astronomers already have (smartphones, tablets) and that can handle observing lists, display planetarium views, give detailed information on objects observed, and even in some cases speak object descriptions. In this review I want to compare briefly the two major ways to implement wireless control of Celestron telescopes: (1) WiFi, using the Celestron SkyPortal (#93973) and (2) Bluetooth, using a serial Bluetooth adapter.
For the better part of four years, I have called STS18 my own. To reiterate, it is the most gratifying astronomy-based purchase I have made yet. In this hobby, each purchase calls for careful deliberation and is circumscribed by a diﬀerent set of ﬁnancial thresholds. Every night, after wrapping up an observing session at Landis Arboretum, as I wend my star-sated self home while the world sleeps, my toes invariably thawing, I reﬂect on the night and the views. Most poignantly, I reﬂect on the friends with whom I share the stars and the gear which has bound us together and furnished our friendships. While our hobby is not cheap, its most important parts could never be priced.
All these years the MesuMount200 served me very well. I’m yet to see any problem requiring a service. As a matter of fact I am yet to see a single frame that was lost due to the Mount. I think it nicely fits the niche of a midsize observatory or even a large field mount. It is priced very competitively. If you get one I’m sure you won’t regret making that decision.
The Space Walker 3D Binoculars were a complete joy to use and as effortless as any binocular. There was no adjusting needed for the 3D effects as it is built into the product with no adjustment capability for the user. As a result, these 3D binoculars were intuitive and effortless, providing bright, sharp, and nicely contrasted astronomical views with very pronounced levels of depth.
Stoyan and Schurig have produced an atlas that, while not perfect, may be the most user-friendly field atlas available to amateur astronomers with moderate-sized telescopes—an atlas that might stand as the apotheosis of the printed atlas in a day and age dominated by astronomy apps and planetarium programs.