Equipment

Orion 3″ field flattener for EON 115/130 EDT refractors

30 April 2016 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.

Equipment

Vixen SSW Ultra Wide eyepieces

16 April 2016 Steve Ringwood

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.

Equipment

Baader 2″ Diamond SteelTrack focusers

3 April 2016 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.

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.