Equipment

Bresser Messier 8-inch Dobsonian

24 March 2016 Steve Ringwood

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.

Equipment

Explore Scientific 2″ Push-fit dielectric diagonal

12 March 2016 Steve Ringwood

Steve Ringwood casts his expert eye over and into a 2-inch push-fit dielectric mirror diagonal for refractors and catadioptrics from Explore Scientific. This star diagonal delivers optical fidelity since it has a mirror that has been honed to 1/12th wave and reflects 99 percent of incoming light to the eyepiece.

Equipment

Celestron Star Pointer Pro

28 February 2016 Steve Ringwood

Red dot finders have been around for some time now, adopting various guises in their ongoing improvements. Yet with this new version from Celestron, there is definitely a new slant on their design. Nested binary rings quite literally target an object as its own bullseye, effectively keeping an object in view to enable perfect alignment, says reviewer Steve Ringwood.

Equipment

Helios Stellar II series 70mm binoculars

21 February 2016 Steve Ringwood

Steve Ringwood reviews a pair of waterproof, nitrogen-filled 70mm aperture binoculars designed for medium-to-long-range terrestrial and astronomical observations. The Helios Stellar-II range is available in 10.5x and 15x magnifications and boasts 85 percent light transmission — all in a shockproof magnesium alloy body weighing just 1.75kg.

Equipment

Gerd Neumann Ronchi eyepiece

1 February 2016 Steve Ringwood

We can become very attached (even fondly) to the instruments that give us such a thrill observing the Universe. It can come very hard, then, for us to question their quality. Reviewer Steve Ringwood takes a look through a Ronchi eyepiece that permits the user to obtain a definitive and exacting exposure of a telescope’s optical quality.

Book Reviews

The Knowledge. Stargazing

26 January 2016 Steve Ringwood

Maggie Aderin-Pocock’s book runs the gamut of astronomy’s origins, classes of celestial objects, their appearance and how amateur and professional astronomers study them in ten easily digestible chapters. “Not so much a beginners’ guide; more a taster … I feel that unappeased appetites will soon be searching for richer meat,” says reviewer Steve Ringwood.

Book Reviews

Go, Flight! The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control, 1965-1992

26 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Scores of brave Major Toms have been fired into space atop the most powerful rockets known to man, yet the responsibility for getting them there — and back — rested with the mission controllers in Houston. “Unsung heroes? Heroes, certainly. But after this firecracker of a book, no longer unsung,” says reviewer Andy Sawers.

Book Reviews

Meteorite: Nature and Culture

26 January 2016 Astronomy Now

The focus of Maria Golia’s book is not in the scientific details, but squarely on the place of meteorites in various aspects of human culture. Interspersed among the various sections are full-page images of meteorites as viewed under the microscope. “This is an extremely well-researched book … renewed my interest in meteorites in general,” says reviewer John Rowlands.

Equipment

Bresser Messier AR-152L/1200 refractor OTA

14 January 2016 Steve Ringwood

Reviewer Steve Ringwood takes a look through the Bresser Messier AR-152L/1200 — a classic achromatic doublet refractor of 152mm (six-inch) aperture and f/8 focal ratio. Available as an optical tube only with mounting rings, dovetail, carry handle, 8×50 finder, 26mm eyepiece, diagonal and T-adapter, the instrument employs Bresser’s bespoke Hex Focus system.

Equipment

Orion StarSeeker III 90mm GoTo Mak–Cass telescope

23 December 2015 Steve Ringwood

Thirsting for the stars, novices in astronomy are often seeking a one-stop telescope solution to quench these initial desires. It is generally advised that this preliminary instrumental step be made with an able and economical all-rounder. Reviewer Steve Ringwood believes that this ‘scope, aimed at the beginner, hits all the right notes.