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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

  • So, you want to make an Observing Chair?

    Mar 19 2017 09:54 AM by rboe

    At some point we all wish we had a chair to plant our bum on while at the scope. I’ve written this little ditty to share what I’ve learned so that perhaps you can make mistakes totally different from the ones I made (and I seem to continue making them). Like any woodworker I have my biases, preferred ways to do things (e.g. mortice and tenon joints) but for the observing chairsI present here there are lots of options open to you; consider your budget, skills and available tools to make your choices.

  • Interferometrically Testing Two Celestron C14 Edge Telescopes

    Feb 26 2017 09:12 AM by jhayes_tucson

    I’ve wanted to interferometrically test the two C14s that I have in my shop to get some good data on their optical quality for some time but gathering all of the equipment needed for such a test isn’t easy and I was hesitant to take my scope out of action when the skies were clear. Since it would probably be cloudy for months on end in winter, December seemed like a good time to try to get it done.

  • 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.



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Imaging/Sketching Contest


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Cloudy Nights Announcements

NASA Amateur Astronomer Survey

16 Mar 2017
Dr. Jennifer Inman, a physicist for NASA Langley Research Centre, has asked if you would be interested in helping to enlighten NASA researchers about your telescope usage and astronomical viewing habits by taking a short survey.   Dr. Inman i... Full topic ›

Congratulations srosenfraz - Winner of Feb 2017 Imaging/S...

16 Mar 2017
Please join me in congratulating srosenfraz for winning the site-wide Astrophotography/Sketching contest for February 2017.   He represented the CCD Imaging & Processing forum with his fantastic image of NGC 1333.   Click on this li... Full topic ›

User Reviews

  • Stardust Gallery LED Lightbox and Metallic Print Review

    Feb 25 2017 12:47 PM 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 11:49 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 06:31 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 10:07 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 05:09 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 01:36 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 01:25 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 10:06 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 01:57 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 11:38 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 12:50 PM 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 04 2016 07:45 PM 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.




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