There is a delicious irony that ’finding’ the brightest astronomical object in the sky is associated with the greatest danger. Using a conventional finder will result in immediate blindness and irrevocably ruin the finder’s eyepiece too. Certainly, dazzling attempts to align the eye along the telescope tube towards the Sun also puts the vision in harm’s way and should never be considered.
Never-the-less, the Sun’s own ferocity can be turned to good use. Indeed, there always seems something traitorous to me in the nature of how solar finders work. The Sun is forced, by its own light, to cast a beam or shadow that enables an observer to direct an instrument towards it.
Using the ground shadow of the telescope itself is always problematic. The often unresolvable surface upon which that angled shadow is cast (especially if it is grassy) does not lend itself to precision. Yet this sol finder is neat, light and precise.
Consisting of two discs placed at either end of a base plate, the Sun-facing pinhole first casts its shadowed beam onto the back plate for rough alignment. As the beam strikes the centre, the Sun pierces a reddened glass target to signify the ‘scope is aligned. Simple, safe and swift.
The unit itself is designed to fit Lunt and Televue telescopes, but can also be supplied with a dovetail base for deploying on other ‘scopes.
Price: £29.99 (unit only), £39.99 (with dovetail/stalk)
Supplier: Altair Astro
Details at: www.altairastro.com