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2015 RASC Observer's Guide

By Tom Trusock

Join us as Tom Trusock takes a look at the 107th version of the venerable RASC Observer's Handbook.

Recent Additions

  • Blue Skies, Red Sunsets & Company Part 2: S...

    May 25 2015 03:29 PM by Snickersnee

    When the sun is on the horizon, then the line between darkness and light created by the glowing sun and the shadow-casting earth is sweeping through your position. It's called the terminator as it terminates or ends the daylight. The terminator passes overhead twice a day with sunrise and sunset. At sunrise, the effects of the daily pageant play with darkness giving way to light, while for sunset the sequence is simply reversed. Descriptions here with the sunset will mean things that can happen at both times of day.

  • Review of the William Optics 102 GT

    May 25 2015 12:22 PM by Perseus_m45

    Would I purchase this scope again?  Yes, I would.  Would I recommend it to a friend?  Yes, I would.  As I wrote earlier, the main reason I bought this scope was to step up my grab and go kit.  Often there just isn't time between the clouds to open up the observatory.  This scope will be parked on an alt-az mount, at the ready for the quick viewing slot that happens so much of the time here in western Pennsylvania.

  • The Definitive Newtonian Reflector

    May 15 2015 09:24 AM by ed_turco

    Amateur astronomers and telescope makers have debated from time immemorial the advantages and disadvantages of different telescope designs.  In particular, mountains of hard copy and electronic articles are available on the merits of refracting and reflecting telescopes, more recently, apochromatic refractors vs. Newtonian reflectors. This debate has become rather rancorous (Newtonian telescopes as APO "killers" comes to mind.) and unscientific, to say the least. And when all is said and done, in a discourse without loaded words and acrimony, a discussion devolves to one concerning perfect optics.  And isn't this what we all want or wish we had?

  • Blue Skies, Red Sunsets & Company: Part 1:...

    Apr 20 2015 09:31 AM by Snickersnee

    Sunsets, sunrises and twilight, as well as clear blue skies and the less familiar crepuscular rays, mirages and green flashes are all examples of atmospheric optical effects that can be readily seen at many times of the year from many places on the earth. No special equipment beyond your eyes, a bit of patience and an openness to learn is needed to see and feel the beauty of the interaction of natural light and the air.

This Month's Skies

Imaging/Sketching Contest

User Reviews

  • Review of the William Optics 102 GT

    May 25 2015 11:22 AM by Perseus_m45

    Would I purchase this scope again?  Yes, I would.  Would I recommend it to a friend?  Yes, I would.  As I wrote earlier, the main reason I bought this scope was to step up my grab and go kit.  Often there just isn't time between the clouds to open up the observatory.  This scope will be parked on an alt-az mount, at the ready for the quick viewing slot that happens so much of the time here in western Pennsylvania.

  • Review- Printing Astro photos on Metal with Bay...

    Apr 16 2015 02:36 PM by ScenicCityPhoto

    I've printed on metallic paper, and with other metal printing companies, but have yet to find anything that is as stunning as the metal print presentation at Bay Photo. Most people that walk into my office immediately say, "WOW!". My AP photos are my own, not perfect, not veteran level perfect, just my own with my personal touch to the editing and presentation. I love the color that is out there, and I strive to show it in my photos.

  • 16” F/4.5 Teeter Stark Review

    Apr 15 2015 02:46 PM by donsell

    I could blame my observing partner Jim Kvasnicka for this.  We often observe together and look forward to the Nebraska Star Party each year.  At NSP 2014, Jim announced that he was going to buy a new premium 16 inch telescope.  That got me to start looking at the different options.

    So, after Jim’s announcement, I asked the Cloudy Nights forum participants if I’d be happy with upgrading my 12” Lightbridge by getting the mirror refigured and coated, getting a new plywood base and a Moonlite focuser, or should I go with Jim and get a new scope from a premium telescope maker.  Consensus was that I’d be happiest with a premium scope if I could afford it.

  • Vixen Ascot Super Wide 10x50 Binocular Review

    Apr 15 2015 11:02 AM by jvandyke

    Are the Vixen Ascot 10x50 the final answer to wide field astronomy?

    Although the wide field is thrilling, I am disappointed by Vixen's lack of quality control on the Chinese optics.  One pair had a blurry upper half, and the second pair could not focus sharply.  I would be reluctant to buy a pair without looking through them first.

  • My Odyssey

    Mar 21 2015 11:54 AM by Gil V

    I think what Coulter did was remarkable. They made the best they could with what they had, and brought large apertures to the public at an unheard-of price.

    All things considered, I am thrilled with my Odyssey.

  • The Celestron C80 ‘ Regal’ Spotting scope. And...

    Mar 21 2015 07:54 AM by waxinggibbous

    In summation, if you’re like me and get the shakes taking your expensive glass into the bush, then you can do much worse than the C80 Regal.

  • Innovations Foresight On-Axis Guide and Starlig...

    Mar 17 2015 08:25 AM by GazingSkyward

    Would I recommend the ONAG?  Absolutely.  The benefits of near-infrared guiding on-axis are not simply theoretical, you can see them right there in your guide camera images and in the results that you take home at dawn.

  • The Celestron C90 Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope

    Mar 02 2015 05:00 PM by skyaddict

    For those of you starting out in astronomy, or simply looking for a small portable telescope for quick looks and travel, the C90 deserves further investigation. Indeed, at the price, it is difficult to justify not buying one!

  • William Optics Zenithstar 71ED and Twilight I M...

    Feb 28 2015 10:53 AM by Ahab

    Wow, it’s a match made in heaven! I can observe at the zenith without compromising the controls or OT or going into contortions. As a unit it’s light enough to carry in and out of the house or for reasonable distances. It’s solid, stable and can fit in my car when broken down.

  • Takahashi FS - 102 Fluorite Doublet Apochromat

    Feb 20 2015 08:49 AM by admin

    While my nine year old son and I were out in our rural backyard one clear evening this past Fall, my son gazed up into the sky and remarked on the endless number of stars visible to him. He was especially drawn to a couple of extraordinarily bright objects. " Hey dad, there's the North Star ", he exclaimed. As I looked up at the bright object that he was referencing, I advised him that he had found the planet Jupiter. "Wow", Jupiter, he said! I then proceeded to point out Saturn, Polaris, the alignment of the pointer stars in the Big Dipper to find Polaris, etc. I then ran into the house and dug out my old Minolta 10x50's and gave him a glimpse of M-42, of course, after outlining the asterism of Orion the Warrior.

  • If you want to Master your craft, read Lessons...

    Jan 07 2015 11:29 AM by AstroDad

    Lessons from the Masters: Current Concepts in Astronomical Image Processing (Springer, 2013.) edited by Robert Gendler is an essential addition to library of every serious astrophotographer. Gendler, who edited this 387 page work is himself a Master of the art and science of astrophotography with a rich portfolio of astrophoto accolades and achievements, including 107 NASA APOD selections. Gendler is a physician by profession and therefore technically an "amateur" astronomer. However he routinely teams with the world's leading professional observatories to create masterful images from their exquisite data sets.

  • Phone/Tablet Apps and the Practical Astronomer

    Jan 07 2015 10:32 AM by zubiriman

    How can an astronomer harness the great power of these new devices, without wasting enormous amounts of time figuring out what is really useful?

  • Celestron Ultima 80

    Dec 16 2014 05:54 PM by Gianluca67

    I had the opportunity to observe the sky with this spotting scope during my holidays last Summer. My Father in law happened to own the Celestron Ultima 80 for nature watching and shooting sport and had left the scope at his holiday house near the seaside where I spent my holidays with my family. The sky there is pretty good so you can see 5.0-5.5 magnitude stars with the unaided eye at the zenith.

  • 10 Micron GM1000HPS --- My Experience

    Dec 15 2014 12:54 PM by sayitfast

    My first setup was working OK for me. I had a Celestron 11 inch HD scope a Hyperstar, Atik camera and a Celestron CGEM mount. I was getting images that I thought were wonderful and was overall very happy. The one major pain point I had was set up time and accuracy of the mount using was not always a fast fun experience. I found the CGEM mount overall worked well but there were some things that frustrated me which I will not go into here. I also wanted to do more advanced imagery… namely Satellites and Comets and I wanted it to be as easy as possible of course.

  • Altair Astro Starbase Tripod Review

    Dec 07 2014 06:27 AM by Timothy Giles

    From the moment I saw it, to putting it together and using it over 3 months - I have been extremely happy with the Starbase. It costs a bit more than a T-Pod 130 but its specifications are also far greater. The build quality is as good as it gets, the design is engineered well and executed perfectly.

  • A Beginner's Look at GoTo Dobsonians and th...

    Dec 06 2014 05:50 PM by jayhall0315

    Overall, I really like the Orion XT10g. I give it 4.5 out of five stars. It takes the large apertures, lower cost and simple base of the classic Dobsonian design and upgrades it to allow modern motorized GoTo targeting for a complete newbie. The tracking is very good, and becomes excellent once PAE is performed for a specific section of the sky under observation.

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