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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

  • Reading optical measurement data

    Oct 21 2017 01:08 PM by Benach

    These days, interferometers become cheaper and therefore more common every day. This is an asset for amateur astronomy because this allows far better optics than in the days of only Foucault testing. In this short article, based on actual measurements of a secondary mirror, I will very briefly explain how to interpret this data.

  • Six Months Observing Upside Down

    Sep 02 2017 12:16 PM by bunyon

    Traveling to the southern hemisphere is a topic that pops up frequently on Cloudynights and other amateur astronomy discussion groups where northern observers and imagers congregate. I’ve written this piece to try to share some of what I learned about doing amateur astronomy in Chile and Argentina. Obviously, even in six months it is impossible to do everything or go everywhere so this isn’t a comprehensive guide. Still, I hope it’s helpful and that it inspires a few people who have been wavering in their decision to head south.

  • Adapting Eyepieces for Binoviewing

    Aug 29 2017 01:06 PM by 18UCinVa

    Successful binoviewing entails one major requirement: both eyes must receive light from the objective. Now this sounds kinda obvious, right? Well it's not that easy. Most astronomical binoculars and binoviewers are hinged. This allows the two eyepieces to be spaced so that light enters both eyes. Some of us have a narrow IPD and facial structure that prevents optimal eye placement. In my case, the nose. It won't fit between some binocular eyepieces. It won't fit when binoviewing with complex, wide body eyepieces.

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User Reviews

  • The Ages of Astrophotography 1839-2015

    May 06 2017 07:51 AM by RefractorPhill

    The author, Stefan Hughes, is a historian/ astronomer with a passion for astrophotography and genealogy (family tree research). His interest for ancestral research and the lineage of families gave rise to his first book "Catchers of the Light - The Forgotten Lives of the Men and Women who First Photographed the Heavens" in which he focuses on the background of the first astro photographers and astronomers 19th and 20th centuries. The second book, "The Ages of Astrophotography" is a must-read sequel which fits well on every astronomer's book shelf!

  • Stardust Gallery LED Lightbox and Metallic Print Review

    Feb 25 2017 11:47 AM by ctron

    The owner of Stardust Gallery, Craig, was looking for volunteers to review an LED backlit lightbox containing either a Hubble image or an image of user choice. Since I had what I felt were fairly decent Milky Way images acquired from a session at a dark sky site late last Fall, I thought one of the somewhat processed images might be a good candidate to display inside one of the Stardust Gallery backlit lightboxes, and eagerly forwarded the image to the website.

  • Rayox Saddle Review

    Feb 25 2017 10:49 AM by dawong

    The Rayox dovetail saddle (regular price $449 with adapter through Woodland Hills Telescope, with an initial discount for Cloud Nights members) is a breakthrough product that has significant advantages compared to existing systems, especially when working with heavy equipment. If this system had been available earlier, I could have avoided some potentially dangerous situations…

  • MoonLite NiteCrawler Focuser

    Feb 25 2017 05:31 PM by Kattzx3

    I have been using telescopes for film and limited CCD use for well over 20 years, and because of extensive business travel coupled with a spouse who cannot access the observatory due to disability, I needed a product that would be solid, reliable, allow for remote precise FOV rotation, temperature compensation, no requirement to find a zero-point and reinitialize the position of the drive motors, and easily adaptable to various optical tubes. As an engineer and former aircraft mechanic, I demand a great deal out of the build quality of anything that I own as well.

  • Celestron Cometron 7x50s Review

    Feb 25 2017 09:07 AM by Augustus

    This review describes the Celestron Cometron 7x50s including my initial impressions along with examination during actual use for around 1 month. I live in a suburb in New England under Bortle 6-7 skies. I have 3 telescopes, the oldest of which I have had for one year.

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

    Feb 23 2017 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.

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