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Interesting outputs from ASAE/SWAP

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#1 Starhawk


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Posted 20 November 2013 - 09:31 AM

The ASAE/SWAP event had some technical outputs I noticed which appear to give a pulse on where things are, today:

- The migration away from Windows for astronomy is in full swing. Every single software related booth I stopped at, the reps were fielding "When can I get this on Mac?" questions. I heard Linux requested twice. As part of this, users visibly lose interest in products when told they could be accessed via ASCOM. It was the only single question I heard more than once, and I heard it everywhere.

-This was a year for big stuff. Plane Wave was there in force with big OTAs on AP's display, and on the 10Micron mounts at Deep Space Products on day 2. Both of these shops had their biggest mounts on display.

-Vixen displayed a 5-element f/3.8 astrograph prototype (missing much of its glass). The forecast price of $6200 from Vixen left me boggling, as this leaves the Takahashi FSQ-106ED as the economy option.

-SkyWatcher had the very pretty Esprit series refractors, and Bresser/ Explore Scientific even had a mobile showroom. My only complaint- no time under the stars with the pretty telescopes.

-Native support for mobile devices is starting to show up on mounts. Avalon had three controllers at the DSP booth with onboard Bluetooth, though apparently it only supports the Android version of SkySafari (maybe someone knows more?)

-Solid sales support- my thanks to OPT, Gary Hand, and Woodland Hills for coming with gear to sell. In particular, kudos for coordinating sales with the primes- I'd never seen an Astro Physics sale before, and took advantage of it to get a RAPAS finder scope.

-Continuing support by Canon was in clear evidence with hardware and reps. It begs the question of what's the deal with Nikon, Sony, and Pentax when they aren't anywhere to be found at what may be the highest concentration of people working in the pinnacle application of photography.

-Hyperstar appears to have become entirely mainstream. All camera vendors present had models specifically listed for various Hyperstar variants. Starlight instruments even had a NexStar SE version of a C6 with a hyperstar lens and camera on display (I have to say it- it's cute).

-Ultra small mounts are a coming thing. Vixen's Polarie and the nifty iOptron Skytracker were joined by something a bit different from SkyWatcher- a sort of micro GEM designed to go just a little bit heavier than the other two. I find myself wondering about the possibilities, here.

I got to see the iOptron Z mounts in person. I have to say as much a fan as I am for their practical hardware, these leave me scratching my head as they put the scope really low to the ground.

Definitely an interesting show, and clearly things are moving.


#2 David Pavlich

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 10:32 AM

While visual astronomy is still in the majority, it is very clear that many manufacturers are moving more and more toward the imaging side of the hobby. The first example is Vixen producing a very expensive 100mm refractor that is clearly aimed at the imaging side. Its tour de force is that it corrects color enough to eliminate the typical blue halos that so many refractors show in images. As Rich said, this diminutive refractor makes the FSQ106ED a bargain!

Vic at Stellarvue has moved his line into the triplet realm. If there is one thing that Vic has done that maybe he could correct is bring back one premium 130mm scope. His line jumps from a 115mm to the big 160mm triplet.

Clearly, the big mounts on display are geared toward imaging, but, again, repeating Rich's observation, there were some nice, small mounts that were purpose built for imaging.

And speaking of Canon :grin: I'm glad I kept my credit cards in my wallet. The Canon boys had some terrific lenses on display. I have a couple of nice lenses, but would like to grab a good 24-70 and Canon has a very nice one, but it isn't cheap.

It was a good show. I'll be back next year and I suspect it will grow even larger.


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