Stephen Petranek’s book does not deal with the reasons for exploring the Red Planet, but does outline many of the problems that will be encountered getting to Mars and overcome in order to live on its surface. Reviewer Greg Smye-Rumsby states that the book touches on many aspects of space travel and independent living on Mars, but does so at the cost of detail. “However … it certainly has crammed a great deal in. A worthwhile read,” he says.
The history of astronomy and how ancient peoples interpreted the Sun, Moon and planets through mythology, legends, art and popular culture is a fascinating one. However, reviewer I. Fontaine finds some serious errors in Rachel Alexander’s book. “It’s a rare example of reading something that overwhelms and disappoints in equal measure,” says Fontaine.
In order for a telescope to perform to theoretical limits its optical components must be perfectly aligned. With an optically fast Newtonian reflector this can be a challenge, but a laser collimator makes the task much easier. Steve Ringwood investigates Howie Glatter’s Blug™ — a charming contraction of ‘Barlowed collimation plug’.
Reviewer Steve Ringwood takes a look through a versatile 25mm eyepiece from Baader Planetarium that has a field cross-hatched by an illuminated reticule that permits measurement through sub-divided etched lines. It can also usefully employed as a guiding eyepiece as it is fitted with a T-2 thread, plus 1.25″ and 2″ nosepiece adapters are available.
ED glasses are fast becoming ubiquitous in astronomical equipment, particularly in banishing the remnants of chromatic aberration of the classic refractor. Steve Ringwood takes a look at a 115mm (4.5″) f/7 air-spaced triplet from Orion in the USA. Designed for both visual use and astrophotography, it sports a beefy three-inch dual-speed Crayford focuser and comes supplied its own hard carry case.
Are you looking for something to bring the wow factor back to your public viewing sessions, or a means to observe in comfort out of the cold? The sub-£100 Astro-Video Systems DSO-1 camera promises near realtime colour imaging of deep-sky objects and high-resolution planetary imaging with modest telescopes. Does it deliver? Ade Ashford finds out.
CCDs are incredible devices, gobbling photons that have travelled the vastness of space with great efficiency. Their Achilles heel is to also accept spurious signals from the immediate vicinity — within their own traitorous circuitry. Steve Ringwood investigates a CCD cooling chamber that will reduce a camera’s noise and increase its efficiency for both daytime and nocturnal imaging.
Reviewer Steve Ringwood waxes lyrical about this benevolent telescopic accessory — a new high-power 5x Barlow lens designed for 1.25-inch (31.7mm) eyepieces. It delivers a fairly ambitious amplification factor of five times to any ocular used with it, but its four-element design ensures that it does this whilst retaining image fidelity.
With accessible prose and relentless curiosity, Chris Impey’s book reports on China’s plan to launch its own space station by 2020, proves that humans could survive on Mars, and unveils cutting-edge innovations poised to replace rockets at a fraction of the cost. “Beyond is a compelling book with great attention to detail and science that is awe inspiring — it is a stellar read indeed,” says reviewer Alex Green.