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.