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Infographic: Highlights in the Spring Night Sky from March to May

March 2 2017, Marcus Schenk

As the temperatures outside become milder, many stargazers make their way outside.  In the Spring, the night sky shows us a very different side of itself.  What is there to observe?  What is worth the time and effort?

Our astronomy highlights infographic for Spring 2017 can show you at a glance, what to keep an eye out for during the next three months, from March to May.

EN - u2g-infographic-astrohighlights-spring

March

1 March – The Moon’s Meeting with Mars, Uranus and Venus 

During dusk, the crescent Moon will rise, illuminated at 12% and waxing.  Three days prior was the new Moon and the crescent offers a vivid glimpse of the Mare Crisium.  Still there is more to be seen here in a trio of planets – Mars, Uranus and Venus.

4 March – Moon Occults the Hyaden Cluster

Occultations of celestial objects by the Moon are always interesting and are all the more fascinating when the Moon is not fully illuminated, thereby occulting the object with its non-illuminated side.  On the 4th of March the Moon will travel across the open star cluster of the Hyades and thereby obscuring the 3.6 mag bright star 54 Tau. For European observers, the star will disappear behind the non-illuminated side of the Moon just before 9 PM GMT and reappear at the other side just before 11 PM GMT.

10 March – A Lunar Meeting with Regulus

In the evening of the 10th of March, the almost full Moon will rise in the East, as the sky darkens.  Just above it, the constellation Leo and its brightest star Regulus.  At the beginning of the evening, the two will be about 1.6° apart.  However, shortly before midnight our satellite will move within 1° of Regulus.  From here, you will be able to observe how the Moon slowly travels across the night sky.

14 March – A Lunar Meeting with Jupiter and Spica

Quite a sight indeed: on the 14th of March, we will see the Moon in close proximity to Jupiter and Spica, the brightest star of Virgo.

19 March – Venus and Mercury

The only good chance to view Mercury during the evening this year, the smallest planet will be visible from now until the 10th of April!  As of the 19th of March, we will be able to discover the Sun’s closest planet extremely close to the western horizon.  Need help finding it? Just search out Venus and approximately a hand’s width away, you will find Mercury.

26 March – Extremely Thin Venus Crescent (for the Professionals)

Venus reveals itself in her perfect form, subtle and crescent-shaped, the planet will appear just above the horizon, and only 1% illuminated.  The most fascinating part is that this event will take place during the day.  Warning: the Sun will appear very close to Venus, so avoid looking directly into the Sun.  This type of observation is best left to the experienced astronomer.

29 March – Mercury at Dusk

Mercury will be approaching its easterly elongation, occurring on the 1st of April, meaning the planet will descent in the dusk following the Sun and will appear as a half-illuminated disk.  Mercury will now set later, than on the 19th of February, and be an easy object to identify in the night sky.  The sight along with a crescent Moon at 3.6% illumination will provide a great opportunity to capture the essence and atmosphere of the evening!

April

1 April – Minor Planet Vesta

In January, the minor planet Vest stood at opposition and was visible throughout the night.  The class 7.6 planet will be easily visible in the constellation Gemini, almost half way between 69 Gem and 77 Gem.

7 April – Jupiter in Opposition

On the 6th of April, the gas giant Jupiter will be in opposition to the Sun.  Rising just at dusk, the planet will be visible throughout the night.  Photo tip: Photograph Jupiter this year, as the gas giant will be roughly 30° above the horizon, just below the celestial equator, and will not reach a higher position for the next few years.

10 – 11 April – A Lunar Meeting with Jupiter

The almost full Moon will approach Jupiter, at 1.1°, during the night of the 10th and 11th of April.

14 April – Comet 41P/Tuttle

The comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak will approach the Earth, and be easy to view through a telescope.  During this year’s pass, a respectable increase in brightness is predicted.  According to the Minor Planet Center, the comet will increase to a 6.7 mag bright object from the beginning to the middle of April.  Moreover, it will appear high in the sky as a circumpolar object and travel from mid-April through the constellation Draco, until it reaches Hercules by month’s end.  The Moon provides a helping hand by being in its darker phase.

21 April – Lyrid Meteor Shower

The Lyrid meteor shower will peak on the 21st with 10 to 20 meteors per hour.  While the optimal observation time is between 10 PM and 4 AM, the Moon will cause little disturbance.  The radiant, so the origination of the shower, lies within the constellation Lyra.

28 April – The Moon Occults Aldebaran

For European observers, a thin Moon cicle will occult the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus at 8 PM.  On the 28th, the occultation will occur during sundown.  Approximately 50 minutes later, around 9 PM, Aldebaran will appear on the other side of the Moon.

30 April – Venus in Full Splendor

The morning star Venus will shine bright in the sky once again.  With a brilliance of -4.8 mag, our second planet will appear just before sunrise.  The Venusian cicle will then be illuminated at 26%.

Mai

6 May – Golden Handle on the Moon

A golden handle on the Moon?  You can find it as a matter of fact.  A ring of light will appear on the dark area of the Moon’s surface.  It always appears, when the waxing Moon is illuminated at 83% (around 4 PM Central European Time, 10 EST in the USA).  Within the Mare Imbrium, the plain Sinus Iridum will connect.  This plain is encircled by Montes Jura range.  While the valley between remains in darkness, the rising Sun will illuminate the peaks of the mountain range, the spectacle of the “golden handle”.  Another way to put it: Alpenglow on the Moon!

7 May – A(nother) Lunar Meeting with Jupiter

During the night of the 7th into the 8th of May, the Moon will once again approach Jupiter, reaching a separation of only 1°.

11 – 12 May – Shadow Games on Jupiter

Tonight, we will be sitting in the premium seats.  Before us on stage: Jupiter and its moons.  In a short on the night of the 1tth to the 12th, we will witness the moons Europa and Io leave their shadows on the gas giant.

First, Europa will travel across the planet’s disk around midnight (central European time).  At around 1:40 AM, the moon’s shadow will transit across the planet.  Then at 3:13 AM, Io will dance in front of Jupiter.  Its shadow will then follow shortly before 4 AM (CET).  We will then see two shadows on the planet, one on each side of the gas giant.

Ensure that you have a good view of the horizon during this event, since Jupiter will be sitting just above the horizon around 4 AM.

12 May – The Great Red Spot on Jupiter

This evening, the great red spot of Jupiter will be easily observable.  Around 9:40 PM, the spot will appear from behind the planet and wander over a four-hour period over the planet’s disk.

14 May – A Lunar Meeting with Saturn

Four days after the full Moon, a lunar meeting with Saturn will take place, with a separation of 1.6°.

20 May – Western Lunar Libration

For astrophotographers, this can be a very interesting project – capturing the libration of the Moon.  The Moon will find itself in its western libration.  A strong eastern libration will take place on the 31st of May, during which you see more of the Moon.  Capturing it in a photograph will surely be a fine experience.

22 May – A Lunar Meeting with Venus

Shortly before sunrise, we will witness a beautiful constellation of Venus and the Moon at a separation of 6°.  The Moon will show itself as a cicle, illuminated at 19%, with a new Moon three days later.

25 May – Moon in Close Proximity to Earth

The new Moon will be at a distance of 358,000 km (222,500 miles) to Earth, making it the closest distance of the year.

31 May – A Lunar Meeting with Regulus

Today, the Moon will be at 1.5° of separation from the star Regulus.

 

With the following code, you can embed our inforgraphic in your blog:

Available as JPG and PDF.

Enjoy stargazing and clear skies!

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Celestron CGX: a mount close to the limits of perfection

February 27 2017, Stefan Taube

The Celestron brand once again has set the standard for hobby astronomers: The new CGX-mount combines the current technical standard with a well thought out product design – and all for an reasonable price.

CGX-Montierung

Some special features of the CGX-mount:

  • Toothed belt drive and spring pressure mechanism: The belt drive minimises the gear play when changing the direction of movement (“backlash”). The spring pressure mechanism ensures uniform contact pressure between the worm gear and shaft, reducing friction and optimising the operation of the gear – also evident by the reduced noise level.
  • Optical encoders register the position of the mount. The motors can then be stopped before the mechanical slew limit is reached and approach their home position. The mount is able to track objects up to 20° above the meridian.
  • Internal wiring: Only the power supply cable and the cable to the hand control box are exposed. However, the sockets for these exposed cables are arranged in such a way that they do not need to move with the mount.

Der neu konzipierte Antrieb der CGX-Montierung.

  • Large handles: Transport handles ensure easy transport, but all clamping levers are also designed for operation with gloves.
  • Compact design: The saddle plate position near the right ascension axis gives the mount very favourable oscillation characteristics. The declination motor serves as a counterweight.
  • Latest variant of the Nexstar+ control with internal clock to save the last settings and USB-port for simple software update.

Further information on our CGX product page.

Die neue CGX-Montierung mit dem EdgeHD 925 Teleskop.

The CGX-mount is available on its own or as a set with the well-established Schmidt-Cassegrain optics from Celestron. You can find all variants under the link CGX-Telescopes.For ambitious astrophotographers we highly recommend the CGX 925 in its Edge HD version. The most reasonably priced and recommended combination of SC-optics and mount for beginners is the CGX 800.

However, due to the dual Vixen/Losmandy saddle plate you can easily combine almost any other optic from other manufacturers with the CGX-mount.

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Now available: the EQ6-R mount from Skywatcher!

February 20 2017, Stefan Taube

The new EQ6-R Pro SynScan GoTo mount from Skywatcher is now available for ordering. With its price of EUR 1,599 it is just slightly more expensive than its predecessor. We offer you the EQ6-R even cheaper than the price recommended by the manufacturer: You save EUR 100!

The EQ6-R mount is the further development of one of the most popular astronomical mounts. The classic EQ-6is an equatorial mount with computer control (GoTo). It has a high load capacity, but is still portable. And this all for a fair price. No wonder that the EQ6 has really found its way into the heart of the stargazer community.

“Only those who change remain true to themselves.” (Wolf Biermann)

The new EQ6-R does not do everything differently, but many things better:EQ6-R-Pro-SynScan-GoTo

  • Ergonomic design with bigger twist handles for polar elevation setting and a better polar elevation display, convenient handle for transport, mounting saddle for Vixen or Losmandy standard prism rails.
  • Latest version of the SynScan hand controller, permanent PEC correction and camera shutter control.
  • And best of it all: a toothed belt drive! With this new drive system there is no effect known as backlash, i.e. no gear play when changing direction. The mount runs much quieter, with higher torque. All this has a positive effect on autoguiding.

With this new version Skywatcher gives its classic mount a facelift. This way the new EQ6-R will be a standard in hobby astronomy for years to come: the EQ6 just keeps on running…

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TAKEAWAYS FROM ASTROFEST 2017 IN LONDON

February 14 2017, Joshua Taboga

Astrofest-headline-pictureThis past Friday and Saturday, we had the pleasure of partaking in AstroFest 2017.  Over two days we made many new friends, saw old friends, and overall enjoyed the atmosphere of the show with numerous astro-fans and experts.

Astrofest 2017 - Stand 2

We brought along a few of our more impressive refractor telescopes, including the Apo Triplet and stargazing binos for our advanced astronomers!

Astrofest 2017 - Telescopes

As always, AstroFest featured a number of interesting presentations on the amazing advancements and progress in the fields of Astronomy and Astrophysics!

Astrofest 2017 - Conference

We were also happy to be in the presence of the great Brian May, astrophysicist and former lead guitarist of Queen, as he spent time speaking with fans at the London Stereoscopic Company stand.

Astrofest 2017 - May and London Stereoscopic

We also got in on the action…

Astrofest 2017 - Pedro and May

Astrofest 2017 - Carlos and May

All together, it was an exciting weekend and a great experience.  If you haven’t been to AstroFest before, we can only recommend it!  Plan to be there next year, as it takes place during the first half of February, to take part in all the excitement!  We will be there!  Will you?

Image: europeanastrofest.com, Astroshop.eu

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Now available for a special price: Skywatcher 120mm EvoStar on EQ-3 mount

February 13 2017, Stefan Taube

For years this has been one of the most popular beginners telescopes: the AC 120/1000 EvoStar EQ-3 from Skywatcher. As of today, you can buy this telescope for a price of only EUR 489 instead of the previous EUR 599. You save EUR 110!

A tried-and-tested beginners telescope:

One reason for the popularity of this telescope surely is its classic form. This slim refracting telescope with a focal length of 1000 mm perfectly meets the idea you might have of a telescope. But it does not only look elegant; its power or capacity is also something worth mentioning. With its aperture of 120 mm this achromatic refractor already is one of the bigger telescopes of this design variant. With an aperture ratio of f/8.3 the colour errors have been corrected quite well. As a refractor it offers a particularly high contrast, which has a positive effect when looking at planets. Moreover, with the aperture of 120 mm numerous DeepSky objects, like the Ring Nebula and the far away Globular Cluster M13, are also visible.

EvoStarA solid base that can be retrofitted with motors:

The mount is a further development of the EQ-3. It provides a solid base for medium size optics and is most suitable for taking a stroll across the night sky.

If the equatorial mount is aligned with the North Star before starting a stargazing session, all that is left to do is to track one single axis – the right ascension axis, also referred to as hour axis – to keep the celestial object visible within the eyepiece. On telescopes with basic equipment this tracking is done by hand. However, you can, at any time, retrofit a battery-powered motor for the right ascension axis. RA drive motor for EQ-3-2 mounts.

If you would like to have both axes of the mount motorised, you should choose the EQ-3-2 motor set RA and DEC.

With such a motorised tracking system you can use this telescope to get started with astrophotography. The new EQ-3-2 motor set RA and DEC with ST4 even allows you to connect an autoguider – an advanced piece of technology in astrophotography.

The extremely robust and well-established telescope AC 120/1000 EvoStar EQ-3 can also be adapted to meet your requirements – and this even at a later date, after you have become familiar with the basics.

The portable telescope comes with complete basic equipment, which allows you to start immediately. The equipment includes 2 eyepieces and a relatively big finder scope with an aperture of 50 mm. Just unpack it, take it outside into your garden and start!

This offer remains valid as long as stock lasts – buy now!

 

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Now available: Omegon Autoguiding-Set with 15% price advantage

February 6 2017, Marcus Schenk

Simply useful for astrophotography: a guidescope and an autoguider, with which you can control your long exposure photographs and ensure perfect and dot-shaped tracked shots.
Omegon now offers a mini guidescope with a 50 mm or 60 mm diameter. With the Touptek Autoguider GCMOS01200KMB Mono the whole system becomes an astrophoto control base.


Even more economical in a set

You can also buy the mini guidescope in a set with the Touptek guider.
Your advantage: buying the set you save up 15% compared with the individual products:
1. Omegon camera Easy Autoguiding-Set50
2. Omegon camera Easy Autoguiding-Set60

 

Why these guidescopes are so convenient

Until recently, photographers used long refractors mounted parallel to the main telescope, which require their own tube clamps, are impractical and, all in all, very heavy. Used on a stationary telescope, there is no problem. But what if you want your telescope to be portable? With the new mini guidescopes, it is as simple never before. Simply mount the guidescope to your existing finderbase, connect the camera – and you are ready to go. Plus, it is not much heavier than a common finderscope. We think this is really convenient! This way you can even use smaller telescopes for taking photos of DeepSky objects.

What are your astronomical plans for 2017? To take your best astrophoto? With our new technology this dream can easily become a reality.

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AstroFest 2017 in London!

February 1 2017, Joshua Taboga

Calling all Astronomy Fans and aficionados! On the 10th and 11th of February the Universe comes to London!  

The European AstroFest 2017 will take place in Kensington, London on the 10th and 11th of February and Astroshop, as well as Omegon and Universe2go, will be there ready to discuss the cosmos with you and show you all the ways you can explore the heavens. We’ll be exhibiting several of our Omegon Pro telescopes and accessories, along with our awesome and innovative Universe2go augmented-reality star viewer!AstroFest London2_neu (1)

“European AstroFest is the world’s premier space conference and exhibition, bringing together the professional and amateur communities.” This year’s expo will feature experts discussing exciting space developments and exhibitors showing their gear, which you can use to observe the cosmos!  Tickets start at £22.50 and more info can be found here.

See you there!

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Omegon APO 104/650 ED: these astrophotos show the beauty of space

January 30 2017, Marcus Schenk

We frequently receive beautiful photos of celestial objects from our customers. They are eager to show us, what they were able to achieve with their equipment. Very often we are over the moon, when we recognise the love of detail and the energy these astrophotographers have invested in these pictures.
Today we would like to present some very delightful astrophotos. The astrophotographer and filmmaker Sebastian Voltmer shows us beautiful impressions of space. These were taken, amongst others, with a Sony a7s and an ST-2000XM camera. The telescope used was a premium telescope: the Omegon apochromat 104/650 ED with field flattener.

Der 104/650 ED-Apo von Omegon
The Heart Nebula IC1805

The name of this nebula refers to its special shape: a red heart in the night sky. You find this nebula between the constellations Cassiopeia, Perseus and Giraffe. The heart is located approx. 4° east of the star ε Cas. An open star cluster, which illuminates the nebula, is embedded in the middle of the emission nebula.

ic1805_omegonapo

The Dumbbell Nebula M27

The Dumbbell Nebula M27 in the Vulpecula constellation is the second brightest planetary nebula and thus a beacon in the starry sky. The originator of this nebula at a distance of approx. 1400 light years is a white dwarf, a star that has reached the end of its life.

M27

Pacman Nebula NGC 281

The names of some nebulae clearly demonstrate that astronomers have a vivid imagination. NGC 281 is also known under the name Pacman Nebula. If you still can remember the time of the Commodore 64 etc., you will surely also remember the computer game. And this nebula with its dark clouds starkly resembles Pac-Man. The nebula is 9500 light years away from us and contains the twin star Barnhard 1. With a strong telescope, we can discover its four companions.

ngc281_omegonapo

Crescent Nebula NGC 6888

Crescent: a half-moon in the form of a nebula. NGC 6888 is also known under the name Sickle Nebula. It is located right in the middle of the Swan constellation, at a distance of approx. 2.5° from the central Swan star, Sadr. Despite its prominent position in summer, the Crescent Nebula is not easy to see because of its small size of 18×13’ and its brightness of 10 mag. Scientists assume that the nebula has been ejected by a Wolf-Rayet star in the later stages of its life. For successful observation you need a crystal clear sky and an OIII-Filter.

ngc6888_omegonapo
Solar flare

The picture gives you an impression of the size of a solar flare in comparison to Earth. This solar flare that appeared on the 15th of August 2016 had a length of approximately 13 Earths lined up.

prominence_2016-08-15_earth

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Omegon Mini-Guidescope: Small Guidescopes for better astro photos

January 23 2017, Marcus Schenk

Times are changing: Everything is getting smaller. Also in photography! In the past one solely had to handle large and long Guidescopes in astro photography. The assembly of such equipment often was very inconvenient. With the new Omegon Mini Guidescopes tracking is considerably easier.

Finder and Guidescope: The 60 mm Omegon Microspeed Guidescope mounted on a telescope.

“A Guidescope is a telescope, which is mounted parallel on the main instrument. While the camera is mounted to the main telescope, the Guidescope is responsible for accurate tracking.”

Presentation: Guidescope types 50 and 60 from Omegon.

The Omegon Mini-Guidescopes are available with 50 mm and 60 mm diameter. They are only 200 mm and 260 mm long and with 600 and 900 gram they are almost as light as a 2″ eyepiece. What are the benefits when compared with “conventional” Guidescopes?

  • Lighter: Your telescope will not be overloaded. Even smaller telescopes will be suitable for astro photography.
    Simpler: Simply plug the Guidescope into the finder shoe. It is also simple to remove.
    Better focussing: Sensitive focussing with the helical focuser.

For further details please refer to the product pages for the 50 mm and 60 mm Mini-Guidescopes.

Autoguider and Guidescope: Are they an effective team?

This question can be answered with a clear: “Yes”. The Guidescope works optimally with an Autoguider. Why? Most modern Autoguiders have small pixels. This comes with a clear advantage: A shorter focal length of the Guidescope. Touptek Autoguiders, for instance, have such small pixels. Main feature: Due to the new sensor design these cameras are highly sensitive. This enables you to find,the right guide star for any object.

“With the Guidescope and my camera I always find a guide start in the field of view” says Bodo Fischer, astro photographer and user of the Guidescope.

The Guidescope with a Touptek camera

Which camera is suitable for Microspeed Guidescopes? Our recommendation: Touptek “GCMOS01200KPA” cameras. Highly suitable due to the high image rate of 30 images per second, a ST-4 Autoguider port for your mount and an image processing software.

The best combinations:

  1. Microspeed Guidescope 50 mm + ToupTek GCMOS01200KPA Mono Guider
  2. Microspeed Guidescope 60 mm + ToupTek GCMOS01200KPA Mono Guider

Tip: With the camera use a Omegon UV-IR-filter or the Baader Semi APO filter. For even more brilliant stars and even more success in Autoguiding.

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Celestron Astro Fi: beginner telescopes with App

January 16 2017, Stefan Taube

It all started with the NexStar Evolution: Celestron had this telescope series equipped with WIFI. This enables you to connect your tablet or smartphone with the telescope. This not only gives you the opportunity to control your telescope without cables, you can also utilize all functionalities of the free-of-charge App Celestron SkyPortal: Your display screen uses an appealing planetarium view to show the current view of the sky and provides you with a lot of background information. The most popular objects are available as images and even an Auto-Guide (in English).

Celestron now offers this technology also for reasonable starter telescopes. At present this series Astro Fi consists of four different instruments:

Newton telescope N 130/650 AZ GoTo Astro Fi 130

Refractor N 90/910 AZ GoTo Astro Fi 90

Maksutov telescope MC 102/1325 AZ GoTo Astro Fi 102

Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope SC 127/1250 AZ GoTo Astro Fi 5

astro-fi-5

Our tip: The Astro Fi telescope with SC optics.

The model Astro Fi 5 mentioned last is particularly interesting. With its aperture of 5 inches it is already relatively fast. However, the telescope is very compact and thus only has a minor leverage effect on the tripod. The closed tube protects the main mirror against contamination. Moreover, SC optics show a high adjustment stability. Despite their compact design and the high focal length, SC optics are highly suitable for taking photos of moon and planets – a well suited camera is the NexImage 5.

As already described before, all four Astro Fi telescopes generate a WIFI for the control via the SkyPortal App. In contrast to the NexStar Evolution, Celestron delivers the Astro Fi without an additional manual control box.

Just like the bigger Celestron telescopes, the Astro Fi also come with the SkyAlign technology. This is a particularly simple technique for aligning the computer control to the actual night sky and your station. At the beginning of your stargazing session you must align the telescope to three bright celestial objects, that is all. The telescope uses the angles between the objects and the GPS-data from the smartphone or tablet to calculate the actual view of the sky. After this short procedure you can automatically approach any object that the SkyPortal-App shows you. All you must do, just touch the object on the touchscreen.

The special feature of this SkyAlign method is the fact that you even don’t need to know the names of the three bright objects you use for initializing the control. For beginners this is a great help, but it is also a useful feature for experienced stargazers, because at dawn the number of visible stars is often too low to assign the correct names.

The Astro Fi telescopes are equipped with a battery compartment. However, the best power supply method surely is the LiFePO4 powerpack from Celestron.

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28.03.2017
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