Posts Tagged With: reviews

Astronomy gear that tempt me ohhh so bad.

After a year and a half of OptCorp and Cloudynight/Astronomyforum reviews, here’s what I’ve come up with.

My “Must Have” or rather ‘Futilely Desire” list:

1. A Barlow (would love a Televue 2″ 2x Powermate)
2. A Wide Field Eyepiece ( aVixen 1.25″ 40mm NLV seem like the best bet! – would love the 2″ 50mm, if not for the extra 100 dollars!)
3. A Devoted Planetary Eyepiece (William Optics anyone?)
4.A Stellarvue (yes you heard it!) 10x60mm Finderscope – that’d also serve as a mini portable refractor for the planets, with its 2″ focuser, and 1.25″ adapter.
5. A pair of binoculars (less than 70mm aperture, so I wouldnt need a tripod) ….or should I get a monocular? Waterproofing is great as well! Any recommendations?
6. A Baader Planetarium Moon & SkyGlow filter.

And yes, you must know my scope and viewing conditions.
I have a 10″ Dobsonian Skywatcher.
And the basic set of accessories that come with it, a 24mm and a 10mm Plossl.
Heavy light pollution and haze from my side. Viewing is mostly limited to planets.
But occasionally the skies are clear – and I get to catch the brighter nebular. Still a dream of mine to catch the Horsehead Nebula someday.
Thinking of getting a wild-field eyepiece to starhop. Do you think it’ll work? There really isn’t much point in starhopping with a finderscope, as the stars are too dim from where I’m at.

So let me know what’s your favourite pick? And if you’ve got any other suggestions, that’ll be great!

Till then, cheers!

ps. This is THE best article I’ve read on planetary eyepieces. Learnt so much from it – and it wasn’t a tad bit boring at all!
6mm Lunar/Planetary Eyepiece Comparison – by Bill Paolini

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Observation Gear, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SkEye Planetarium App

My favourite planetarium App for Android mobiles: SkEye!

Why I absolutely love this app you ask?

1.  It’s calibrates to the section of the sky you’re pointing almost instantly. I have the GoSkyWatch app too but it’s does not calibrate as fast as SkEye when you’re moving your mobile and pointing it to different parts of the sky.

2. It has a search function that guides you (with a bullseye reticle) to point your mobile and zoom in onto the interstellar object you’re looking for.

3. Plus, it has a huge database of deep sky objects, Messiers and NGCs. Way more than I could ever hope to observe from the suburbs with moderate light pollution levels, in which I live in, through my 10″ scope.

4. It can be used as a PUSHTO Guide on your telescope optical tube assembly. All you’ve got to do is attach your mobile to your scope, align the app’s map to what you’re observing and voila, you now have your very own tracking system!

5. All these features come free!

For detailed instructions, visit: SkEye, Planetarium and PUSHTO Guide for Android.
Visit the SkEye’s official site at:  http://lavadip.com/skeye/index.html

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Observation Gear, Observation Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Review: 10″ SkyWatcher Collapsible Dobsonian

Here’s my first ever telescope! Early last year, my parents promised me a gift for doing well in my national exams. So, since then, I’ve been on a hunt for my first ever telescope.  I did loads of research before buying it (as it wasn’t going to be cheap!). In the end, I ended up learning so much:  the differences between a reflector, a cassegrain, a refractor; the importance of aperture, focal length and focal ratio; which eyepieces and filters work best; collimation; portability; mirror quality (pyrex or perspex) and coatings. In the end, I chose a dobsonian (a Newtonian reflector minus a tripod but with a Lazy Susan base instead) as it provided the most aperture for the least cost (as a tripod stand isn’t needed).  “Aperture fever” I must say!

And thank god for that as I’ve got too see things like the Trapezium Nebula and NGC 1999 (a small reflection nebula) through it! Observing from my light-polluted balcony, I don’t think I would have got to see as much using a smaller aperture (albeit more portable) scope.

This site proved invaluable in the study of observational gear: http://www.cloudynights.com/

Here’s a link to a dilemma I faced when having to choose between an Orion XT 10 and A Skywatcher Collapsible Dob. http://www.astronomyforum.net/dobsonian-telescopes-forum/113499-optical-quality-orion-xt10-vs-skywatcher-10-collapsible-dob.html

A picture of my sister and I collimating the scope. Yes we used sunglasses to protect our eyes from laser light from a Saxon Laser Collimator! Though I don’t think it helped much as I later read that we would need special glasses for laser protection. Word of advice, point your dob at a wall when using a laser collimator, so the reflected laser beam (from the primary mirror) dosn’t aim straight at your eyes and burn cells in them.

Image Credits: Vasanthi Vijaya

I was initially worried that nudging the tube (as it’s not equipped with a tracking device) to keep track of an interstellar object in the field of view would be troublesome, but worry not, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  In fact, you barely even realize you’re moving the tube as you’ll probably be too engrossed with whatever you’re looking at (like myself).

Images are really clear too; the first object we saw through it was the moon on a clear night and it look like a giant crystal of ice. It was just breathtaking! The craters were really well defined and sharp. You’ll have to see it for yourself to believe how beautiful it looked!

And guess what, the collimation holds really well too. I’ve only collimated it once when I first bought it. Each time I observe, I’ve got to carry it out to the balcony (about 15 feet away) with the help of my dad. Despite all the bumping around when transporting the scope back and forth between my dining room and the balcony (which has been going on for almost 9 months now), I’ve never had to collimate again!

A scope highly recommended!

Let me know if you have any questions about this scope, I’ll be glad to help.

Categories: Observation Gear | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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