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Observer's Handbook 2016

By Tom Trusock

Tom Trusock takes a look at the 2016 edition of the RASC Observer's Handbook.

Recent Additions

  • Astro-Devices (of Ukraine) Parallelogram Standard II Pro

    Yesterday, 04:09 PM by Dhellis59

    This will not be a comprehensive, or even scientific review. I will just share what I would have wanted to know if considering purchasing one of these parallelograms.

  • A System of Binoviewing

    Yesterday, 02:09 PM by 18UCinVa

    What is a System of Binoviewing? An assembly of common observing equipment that’s powerful, portable, easy to use, effective, and fun to use. In my experience Binoviewers enhance the observation of Targets of Excess Light (moon, safe solar, and planets) I believe that given a half-decent telescope, most amateurs will see a much greater benefit from Binoviewing than upgrading any single optical component.

  • Telescope Making for the Relatively Unskilled

    Dec 07 2016 11:33 AM by xrayvizhen

    I’ve received several private messages from a few people on CN who have seen some pictures I’ve posted of the telescope I made, which is also my icon picture, and asked if I had a build thread. I didn’t. But all along I had an idea of writing this article because while I have seen many pictures and build threads of outstanding scopes built by people who are obviously either machinists, carpenters or engineers or just very experienced builders with a full suite of shop tools, I am none of those and I only have a couple of hand tools and minimal skills & experience. But I built this thing and it’s outstanding, so I figure that maybe there are folks out in the world who would like give telescope making a try but might be a little intimidated by some of the beautiful work displayed, especially on the DIY forum. This is NOT another “How to Build a Telescope” article. Rather, it’s more of an idea on why I built what I did, some of the planning and thought processes involved and how to get around the lack of tools or skills. (Hint – subcontract the hard stuff.)

This Month

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User Reviews

  • Astro-Devices (of Ukraine) Parallelogram Standard II Pro

    Yesterday, 04:09 PM by Dhellis59

    This will not be a comprehensive, or even scientific review. I will just share what I would have wanted to know if considering purchasing one of these parallelograms.

  • Review: Explore Scientific 16”, Europe edition, late 2016

    Nov 12 2016 12:36 PM by brebisson

    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!

  • VITE 2X Barlow Lens Review

    Nov 12 2016 12:25 AM by jfriz

    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.

  • Sky Commander Review

    Oct 30 2016 09:06 AM by Feidb

    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?

  • Wireless Control of Canon EOS DSLRs with DSLR Controller and TP-Link MR3040 Wireless Router

    Sep 26 2016 12:57 PM by emag

    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.

  • Review of the 18” f/5 Otte binodobson

    Sep 28 2016 10:38 AM by peter-nexstar

    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 Telescope Control for Celestron (and Compatible) Scopes

    May 28 2016 11:50 AM by zubiriman

    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.

  • A Review of Teeter STS18

    May 04 2016 06:45 PM by marbles

    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.

  • MesuMount 200 Review

    Mar 20 2016 07:57 PM by Laperuz

    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.

  • First Light with the Prototype 8x42 Space WalkerTM 3D Binoculars

    Mar 06 2016 07:38 PM by wapaolini

    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.


    Feb 16 2016 09:06 AM by KidOrion

    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.


    Feb 15 2016 04:23 PM by wapaolini

    The Baader BBHS dielectric protected silver diagonal distinguished itself by pulling in fainter stars, showing minimal scatter, and presenting colorful stars and planetary features more richly colored, with its silver technology besting the defacto standard for high performance dielectric diagonals. Its Clicklock mechanism provided a level of ergonomic ease far surpassing other locking technologies I have used. It clearly demonstrated low levels of perceived scatter, the ability to bring into view the dimmer of stars in clusters than the other diagonals, the ability to make more authoritative double star splits, and the ability to show the faintest extents of nebula. All these attributes were highly welcomed and they clearly enhanced my observations. Most surprising however, was how brightly and vividly the BBHS technology portrayed the colors of stars and of planetary features, showing colors more richly saturated and more beautifully bright than even the best dielectric technology diagonal could muster. The views through the BBHS of brightly colored stars accentuated in familiar clusters, and of a richly colored GRS coursing its way across Jupiter were nothing less than truly memorable.

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