Jump to content


Observer's Handbook 2016

By Tom Trusock

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

Recent Additions

  • The Dark Sky Experience

    Aug 29 2016 04:13 PM by wapaolini

    More than four decades ago I happened upon dark skies quite by accident while on a cross country trip with my good friend Mike. The memory of that experience that has remained all these years is how the common Messier Objects and other DSO were all apparent with the naked eye, looking like bright fuzzy patches against the dark sky. Since then, my observing has primarily been only from suburban sites where the Milky Way is only rarely detectable. Today, I like many others, wonder what it would be like to observe at a truly dark site. We also wonder about what equipment we should take, whether it would be a waste to take such a trip and not acquire and bring the largest aperture telescope possible, and of course we wonder just how different the celestial objects we observe will appear at these darker skies.

  • Hello Dolly!

    Jul 07 2016 10:39 PM by jjackson

    This spring’s favorable placement of three major planets got me to thinking about how to put my scope on wheels. I was getting tired of lifting that awkward monster a few inches off the pavement and going umph-unk-umph-unk all the way up the driveway, hoping I wouldn’t snag a tripod foot between a pair of paving bricks (there is no such thing as flat ground in my suburb, par for the course around Denver).

  • A 160 mm (6.3“) f/6.5 binocular telescope

    Jul 07 2016 10:23 PM by ThomasM

    Here I describe a 160mm apochromatic binocular telescope complemented by a mount and tripod aiming at a well-balanced compromise between optical performance, size and weight. I started the project already several years ago, the first version is described here at Cloudy Nights. Meanwhile a new, lighter and stiffer mount and tripod are finished and I think it is the right moment for describing the whole instrument.

This Month

Imaging/Sketching Contest

Cloudy Nights Announcements

Congratulations jlandy - Winner of Aug 2016 Imaging/Sketc...

17 Sep 2016
Please join me in congratulating jlandy (John Landreneau) for winning the site-wide Imaging/Sketching contest for August 2016. He represented the Beginning and Intermediate Imaging forum with his fantastic image of the Eastern Veil in Cygnus.... Full topic ›

Name change for Variable Star Observing & Radio Astro...

12 Sep 2016
After vigorous discussion, we have renamed our Variable Star Observing & Radio Astronomy forum to Observational Astrophysics to better describe the discussions that are taking place there. We've also changed the forum description to:   A... Full topic ›

A change to Electronically Assisted Astronomy Forum

11 Sep 2016
The Electronically Assisted Astronomy Forum (EAA) has evolved as rapidly as the capability and diversity of the equipment used by its members. The forum developed into both a place to discuss EAA equipment and a place to discuss the application of... Full topic ›

User Reviews

  • Wireless Telescope Control for Celestron (and Compatible) Scopes

    May 29 2016 02:20 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 05 2016 09:15 AM 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 21 2016 10:27 AM 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 07 2016 10:08 AM 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 11:36 PM 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 16 2016 06:53 AM 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.

  • Explore Scientific AR 102

    Feb 10 2016 12:40 AM by phxbird

    My overall impression is outstanding! It is a great deal for the money, even at the non-sale price of $399. At the current sale price of $299 it is almost a steal! The optics are very good, the fit and finish are outstanding and it is light and portable. Overall, it is a real bargain.

  • Review: davejlec's Paralellogram Mount

    Feb 09 2016 01:56 AM by tlriedel

    CN member davejlec designed and built an excellent product. His price was extremely reasonable (especially compared to the commercially available options for 10lb. capacity parallelograms), and he went above and beyond to support me – the buyer.

  • Annals of the Deep Sky, Volumes One and Two

    Feb 09 2016 12:33 AM by twatson

    This past summer (2015) saw the release of the first two volumes of an ambitious new astronomy series written by Jeff Kanipe and Dennis Webb, the authors of the well-received book, The Arp Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies: A Chronicle and Observer's Guide. The series carries the lofty title of Annals of the Deep Sky, and has already been compared favorably to the much-loved Burnham’s Celestial Handbook.

  • Discovery 17.5” Split Tube Dobsonian Telescope

    Feb 07 2016 11:50 PM by clay1022

    I love this scope, I knew it was what I wanted the moment I saw it. Not a bunch of poles to put together, collimation holds, no stray light in the optical path, dew is not an issue, and it is just a base and two pieces, 3 minutes and I'm together, another 2 minutes tops and Im collimated.


    Nov 26 2015 08:08 PM by alexvh

    If you want a high quality scope that is also transportable then this is about as good as it gets. Honestly I have owned several high quality scopes and this is one of the most refined ones available. I am overall very happy with this scope, and it is now my most used instrument.

  • Astrotrac TP3065 Pier Review

    Nov 20 2015 10:33 PM by James Waters

    I purchased the Astrotrac TP3065 pier because of its carrying capacity and design. The pier performs well, is stable, well made and has a padded shoulder carrying bag. It can also carry a heavy load.

Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics