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I’ve been involved in amateur astronomy for around 25 years and have found that I’ve become lazier and lazier about it as time goes by. Sad as it may seem, I wouldn’t have put up with some of the foibles of my old telescopes today—for instance, I had a 6” f/10 Newtonian with a square wooden tube that literally had no mount. I usually used it propped up against a redwood bench and either sat or crouched to reach the eyepiece as necessary and move the scope along as best I could to follow the objects I managed to find. For objects nearly overhead, I’d just hold the scope in my arms and tilt it towards the object I wanted to look at—I distinctly remember viewing the M57, the Ring nebula and M13, the Hercules cluster, in this manner. Today, though, I prefer to sit to view and don’t really want to contort myself any more than is necessary and would prefer that the scope move itself. After years of finding objects the old fashioned way, I even enjoy having the mount slew right to the objects I want it to do at no more than the press of a few buttons. The scopes I use most often are relatively short tubed, so the eyepiece height doesn’t vary too much, but there are times that something of adjustable height to sit on, rather than the single height wooden chair I’ve used for years, would come in handy. Laziness has gripped me.
In my search for good, adjustable seating, I came across many options, from diy projects to folding metal chairs, to drummer’s thrones. I’ve done a few diy projects in the past, but I know from experience that I don’t always finish them promptly, so I ruled out that option given that I wanted to use the chair before half a decade had passed. The drummer’s thrones seemed as if they’d work, but I thought that in soft ground, their feet might sink into the dirt—not the sort of adjustable height I was interested in. Some of the folding metal chairs seemed to have that some potential problem, but I finally did come across a chair, the Astro Chair, at buyastrostuff.com, that didn’t contact that ground on just the cylindrical ends of the metal tubing that comprised the chair, but, rather, bent the tubing at a 90 degree angle where it contacted the ground, giving it a much larger contact surface, making it less likely to sink into soft ground. The price was substantially lower than some other similar designs, too, at only $105 plus $20 shipping in the U.S.. So did I find my perfect chair? Let’s find out….
Upon arrival, the chair seemed to work just as advertised. It felt substantial and, though I’m always careful upon sitting on it, it would take my weight (300lbs) without complaint and has for the past year or so. The seat height is easily adjustable between 18” and 32” and seems to lock securely at any height. At the higher elevations, there’s a foot rest you can use, as well. The padded seat has turned out to be more comfortable than it looks—I tend to just forget about it while I’m observing, so it’s obviously not causing me any discomfort even for long sessions. The chair folds up quickly and easily in a very thin , lightweight (around 10lbs), package for storage or transport. All in all, I couldn’t be happier with it. Observing while comfortably seated is sooooo much better than hovering over the eyepiece while standing and you see more when your eye is steady and body is comfortable, to boot. It makes it easy to watch the planets for hours, if necessary, catching those fleeting glimpses when everything appears crystal clear, or relaxing and breathing, trying to find that fainter than faint galaxy or nebula that you know is there, but haven’t quite teased out yet. Having a good seat encourages you to linger over objects rather than just do a quick look before moving onto something else.
I’ve no affiliation with the company, but can’t recommend this product highly enough for the lazy astronomer.