Enthusiasm for binocular astronomy is generally plagued by two things â€“ how do you holdâ€™em still, and paying the chiropractic bills to fix your neck after an observing session! I have grown weary of leaning against trees, adjusting tripods and lawn chairs and lying on the hood of motor vehicles while trying to find a workable way to view the object of interest. As I considered constructing a viewing â€˜aidâ€™ to ease the problems associated with binocular astronomy I wanted to meet the following criterion.
- Provide a â€˜stableâ€™ view.
- 90 / 360 degree proportional slewing without leaving your seat.
- No neck or muscle strain.
- No counter weights.
- Inexpensive. (May cost less than inexpensive binoculars!)
- Easily adjustable for different size users.
- Built from â€˜off the shelfâ€™ materials.
- Construction friendly â€“ common tools.
- No batteries or external power required.
- Be able to switch binoculars easily in the dark with no tools.
- Perform effortlessly enough that all attention may be directed to the fun and excitement of viewing, not the equipment.
- Must be transportable in a car without disassembly.
The StarRocker (as my wife named it) has worked very well for me and has increased my enjoyment of binocular astronomy a great deal! From a design standpoint I realize that perfection is a beautiful unattainable goal. Although the StarRocker is by no means perfect, this device works extremely well and I feel that essentially all objectives have been met! Oh yes, you can see your heart beat! However, as you calm down it diminishes considerably and is just not an issue! My viewing time is about evenly divided between my ten fifties and my fifteen seventies. Being able to easily switch between them with no tools, in the dark, is very desirable. The ability to track essentially any object in the sky with the StarRocker produces a very special freedom. When viewing an object of interest a â€˜side tripâ€™ to view an unexpected visitor, whether an airplane or the ISS, is easily within your grasp. I am aware of the robotic type of binocular â€˜chairsâ€™ that have been built and marketed. These are truly awesome but perhaps a bit cost prohibitive for many amateurs. As ATMers know, it is fun, exiting, and rewarding to build your own equipment. The StarRocker is an easy build project which lends itself to many variations and improvements - I am sure, thatâ€™s what ATMing is all about! The StarRocker has dramatically increased my enjoyment of binocular astronomy. Perhaps the main drawback is that the answer to that old question, â€œ How long are you going to be out there? â€ Has to be modified from, â€œJust a few minutesâ€¦,â€ to, â€œLess than an hour â€“ I think!.â€ The StarRocker has added a degree of excitement, comfort, freedom, and fun to binocular astronomy I only imagined in the past. While discussing amateur astronomy, ATMers, binoculars, CCD imaging, and telescopes, with a friend, he said of the hobby, â€œWhat a beautiful addiction!â€ (Sleep deprivation is detrimental to your general well being you know!) In times of high fuel costs - traveling with the StarRocker will take you light years for pennies! If you have interest in additional photos this link will take you to my GALLERY If you would like to view a short video clip of the StarRocker in operation this link will take you to YouTube You Tube. 10-4!