It’s holiday time again and the keen observer is faced with the usual dilemma: how does one carry a telescope small enough to be useful to far-flung dark and exotic skies? Fortunately for globe-trotters concerned about optical size and weight, Telescope Service in Germany has the TSAPO60 — a compact and very versatile photo-visual 60mm f/5.5 ED refractor.
Steve Ringwood appraises the Orion Funscope Astro Dazzle, an eye-catching 4½-inch (114-mm) f/4.4 Newtonian reflector on a tabletop Dobsonian mount designed for beginners. The pre-assembled instrument possesses an inherent simplicity that will not challenge, with an aperture that brings a wealth of astronomy’s best to the viewer, he says.
These days, more is expected of a finder than to merely direct the main telescope to a celestial object of interest. This versatile 60mm f/4 instrument possesses a fine movement non-rotating helical focuser that has been designed to double as a traditional finder or guidescope with Orion’s StarShoot AutoGuiders, says reviewer Steve Ringwood.
Steve Ringwood appraises the VMC110L, a novel “grab ‘n’ go” modified Cassegrain telescope of 110mm aperture and 1035mm focal length (f/9.4) from renowned Japanese manufacturer Vixen. The instrument features twin 1¼” eyepiece ports — one of which can be used for imaging or photography — and an internal flip mirror system to quickly switch between the two.
Celestron’s 280mm (11-inch) aperture f/2.2 Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph (RASA) is capable of blisteringly fast photographic speeds, capturing images of nebulae and galaxies in seconds. An imaging system optimised for virtually any one-shot colour CCD or DSLR in existence, Ade Ashford appraises this photon-grabbing wonder in the context of evolving optical systems.
There is a delicious irony that ‘finding’ the brightest astronomical object in the sky is associated with the greatest danger — if one were to attempt using a conventional finder to point a suitably filtered telescope at the Sun, that is. Altair Astro’s Solar Finder permits simple, safe and swift alignment of your solar telescope, says reviewer Steve Ringwood.
Steve Ringwood reviews a dedicated 3″ field flattener designed for use with Orion’s EON 115/130 EDT refractors. One side of the field flattener threads on to the 3″ focuser, whilst the other offers a wide M48 thread that enables fixture of DSLRs, etc. without the vignetting possible with smaller M42 designs — particularly when deployed with full frame sensors.
Vixen has introduced a remarkable looking 7-element ocular that yields an expansive 83° apparent field. Yet the optical somersaults entailed in doing so are achieved without harm to the final image, yielding a stellar field with sharp edge-to-edge field definition with no vignetting – even on instruments of low focal ratio, says reviewer Steve Ringwood.
Steve Ringwood reviews a new range of precision focusers aimed at refractors, SCTs and Newtonians that employ real diamonds to create a micro-geared high-precision drive system. Capable of handling a load of 6kg (13 lbs), these focusers offer complete freedom from backlash and flexure. Motor drive option with focus control via PC also available.
As its name suggests, this novel Dobsonian’s eight inch (203mm) aperture provides a light grasp suitable for exploring the galaxies and nebulae that constitute the Messier catalogue — yet its 1218mm focal length (f/6) gives it access to the higher magnifications required for planetary observations too, says reviewer Steve Ringwood.