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Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2021/22

December 3 2021, Marcus Schenk

The highlights of the winter sky are the bright stars around the constellations Orion and Taurus. But the next three months also offer us more to discover: a bright evening star, meteor showers and a beautiful necklace made of planets.

In the “Astronomy Highlights in Winter 2021/22” infographic, you will find many important celestial events at a glance. Information and further explanations of the events can be found in the accompanying text.

We wish you lots of observing pleasure.

December:

4 December Bright Venus

Venus is at its brightest at the beginning of this month. At mag -4.8, it stands out in the evening sky now and is, after the Moon, the brightest object in the sky.

7 December The Moon near Venus

In the early evening sky, the waxing crescent Moon joins an attractive planetary parade. Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are visible, looking almost like a pearl necklace.

8 December The Moon near Saturn and Jupiter

Those who sighted the Moon yesterday will discover it higher and about 14 degrees distant today, between Saturn and Jupiter.

13 December Geminids

If the sky is clear in the evening, you should take a look towards the south. There you will find the Geminids meteor shower, appearing to emerge from the constellation Gemini. More precisely: from a point two degrees above the star Pollux. The best time for observing it is between 21:00 and 06:00. With 120 meteors per hour, the Geminids are among the most prolific meteor showers. This year we have to wait until the morning hours to observe undisturbed and with no Moon.

17 December The Moon occults Tau (τ) Tauri

Tau Tauri is a star in the constellation Taurus and, at magnitude 4.3, it is visible with the naked eye. Since the Moon’s orbit appears to run through Taurus, occultations often occur. This is the case today: at 22:30 Tau Tauri disappears behind the almost full Moon and appears around 80 minutes later on the other side.

29 December Mercury near Venus

Mercury begins to be visible in the evening and meets with neighbouring planet Venus at dusk. If you have a good view of the horizon, you will discover both planets from 17:00.

January:

3 January Quadrantids

The Quadrantids are a meteor shower originating from the constellation Boötes. The new year brings us up to 100 meteors per hour, but they are only moderately bright. The radiant, from where the shooting stars seem to originate, does not appear until after midnight. The new Moon was just yesterday, making astronomical observations particularly worthwhile right now.  Green light for all deep sky observers!

5 January The Moon nears Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter

Planet fans will be delighted: at dusk you can see a beautiful chain of planets consisting of Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury. The three-day-old crescent Moon accompanies the trio. A lovely way to welcome the new year.

6 January The Moon occults Tau (τ) Aquarii

It’s still twilight and we’re waiting for the night to come. But the first astronomical highlight is already taking place. At 17:00, the Moon occults the mag 4 bright star Tau Aquarii in the constellation Aquarius. In this occultation, the Moon approaches from its unlit side.

8 January Mercury in the evening sky

Over the last few days, Mercury has become increasingly visible in the evening sky. It’s not exactly bombastic, but for those who would like to see reclusive Mercury, now is a great opportunity. Today and for the next two days, the conditions are particularly good, because its brightness and altitude in the sky are aligned. Soon Mercury will sink back toward the horizon and disappear.

11 January The Moon near Uranus

The planet Uranus is a distant agent in the solar system. Today, it is just 2.5 degrees from the Moon. Try your luck with a pair of binoculars.

26 January The Moon occults Alpha (α) Librae

This is something for early risers only: an occultation by the Moon of a star in the constellation Libra. More specifically, the Moon occults the mag 2.7 bright double star Alpha Librae. It gets going at 6:40!

29 January The Moon near Mars

Those with a great craving for the planet Mars will be able to see it at dawn in the south-east on 29 January. On this day there is an attractive meet-up with the narrow crescent Moon. You won’t catch another glimpse of Mars in the night sky until the coming summer.

February:

3 February The Moon near Jupiter

Jupiter accompanied us last year and was visible every evening in the sky. But soon it will escape our gaze and disappear from the sky for a while. On 3 February, it reveals itself once more in the twilight in a duo together with the delicate crescent Moon.

7 February The Moon near Uranus

Tonight, the Moon passes the planet Uranus at a distance of just 1.5 degrees.

9 February The Moon passes the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic

The area between the Hyades and the Pleiades has a name: the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic. Today, the Moon is a nocturnal wayfarer between the two well-known star clusters.

9 February Bright Venus

Venus lives up to its title of the Morning Star. Because with almost mag -5, it is radiantly bright. This astronomical spotlight appears above the horizon at around 05:00. It shines so brightly that no one can miss it.

27 February The Moon near Mars and Venus

Bright Venus, red Mars and a slender crescent Moon, just before the new Moon. What a great motivation to take a very early morning look at the sky. A peaceful morning mood is guaranteed.

 

Just in time for Christmas – gift sets for star gazers

December 1 2021, Marcus Schenk

Rudolph the red-nosed ….  bah. Once again Christmas is nearly upon us. Are you still looking for a Christmas present? But haven’t got the patience of a saint to search through telescopes and accessories?

Most people have hardly any time for shopping in the so-called tranquil Advent time. Finding the perfect gift is a tough nut to crack, but to be certain you’re not grinding your teeth we have the perfect solution for you!

Our telescope gift sets are perfect for your loved ones. Eyepieces, filters and star maps are all here, and Rudolph and his friends will have them winging their way to you in no time. Take a look at our telescope sets!

Merry Christmas!

 

New additions to the MiniTrack family: the new LX Quattro NS

November 22 2021, Marcus Schenk

We’ve expanded our range and have welcomed a new member to the MiniTrack family: the MiniTrack LX Quattro NS. Unlike in most families, the new arrival is not the smallest member of the family, rather it is already fully grown. This means that our product developers were able to considerably improve the LX Quattro even more. But what exactly has changed?

MiniTrack, what is it?

The MiniTrack is a minute and fully mechanical travel mount (also known as an astrotracker) for astrophotography. You can use it to effortlessly produce images of the night sky. Cameras that are mounted on it follow the movement of the stars over a prolonged period. These photos often include the landscape of the night. This results in fascinatingly beautiful shots. It is also the perfect way to get into astrophotography.

 

 

The MiniTrack LX Quattro NS

LX Quattro stands for precision, increased power and a four-kilogram load capacity. The new MiniTrack combines all of this in one. Compared to the LX3, the load capacity is even higher. This means that you no longer need to avoid using your favourite lens, which was previously too heavy. Even with longer lenses, the MiniTrack takes things easily in its stride.

Tracking with the Quattro is extremely precise as a newly constructed needle bearing provides greatly improves this. This step was necessary to guarantee smooth tracking with heavy weights.

A brand new spring bar design provides better draft to move the load even more precisely. There is no longer any unilateral strain within the mechanical system. Yep, the Quattro simply has more oomph. An attractive side effect is that the MiniTrack is significantly more elegant and more user-friendly.

The MiniTrack LX Quattro is also a tracker for capturing the night sky using wide-angle and normal lenses. Anyone who has already gained a little experience can also treat themselves to a lightweight telephoto lens.

Overview of features:

  • 4kg load capacity for larger cameras or larger lenses
  • New and stronger spring system
  • Needle bearing for softer, precise movement
  • New, more stable CNC body – the Quattro should survive every night of observation with no scratches
  • Integrated Gp-style mounting as well as ¼“ und 3/8“ threads
  • Holiday anywhere now: usable beneath the northern and southern night skies.

You can find further information on the MiniTrack LX Quattro NS and its benefits on our product page. Furthermore,  this MiniTrack can be bought in a set with a ball head or with a ball head and polar wedge.

 

The other members of the MiniTrack family

What do you need to take beautiful photos? A MiniTrack alone is not quite enough. So we would like to introduce the other family members to you:

 

Omegon 32mm carbon tripod Thanks to the 32mm tripod legs, this tripod provides a sturdy foundation. Weighing only 2kg and with a length of 59cm, is it ideal for travel.

Stativ für die MiniTrack

Deluxe polar wedge: You can simply secure your Astrotracker to the tripod head. However, this is easier and more precise using a polar wedge. This enables you to precisely align the north celestial pole. The provides the benefit of providing a stable north orientation.

Polhöhenwiege Deluxe

Pole finder light: Being able to see the pole finder’s images in the night sky is a priceless advantage. At night you tend to have your hands full. It is good when you don’t need to use a lamp to complicatedly light up the polarscope. The pole finder light is convenient and evenly illuminates the images using a red LED.

Polsucherbeleuchtung MiniTrack

OM10 ball head Still don’t have a ball head? You need one to align your camera with areas of the night sky. The Omegon OM10 fits perfectly on the MiniTrack.

Kugelkopf für MiniTrack

MiniTrack LX3: The white version holds cameras up to 3kg in weight and contains an optical polarscope. To mount the LX3 on a polar wedge, you require the 55mm MiniPrismRails.

MiniTrack LX3

MiniTrack Essentials: Exceptionally good value and sufficient for getting started with wide-angle lenses. The MiniTrack Essentials contains a small polarscope that can be used to align the tracker with the Pole Star. This basic model can be upgraded at a later date.

MiniTrack Basis Version

Interested in taking your first images with the MiniTrack? You can find out how to do this in our step-by-step video “Astrophotos with the MiniTrack – a how-to guide”. Have fun observing and photographing.

Video: astrophotography with the Omegon MiniTrack

November 3 2021, Marcus Schenk

In this video, you will get to know the Omegon MiniTrack astrotracker. What equipment do you need for good landscape astrophotography? And what do you need to watch out for, adjust or activate once you’re outdoors?
We’ll take a step-by-step look at everything from set-up to capturing an image.
After the video, you’ll be ready to create your own beautiful pictures with the MiniTrack.

Hot off the press: we are also introducing the new MiniTrack LX Quattro!

Products used in the video:

Omegon MiniTrack LX3 mount set Product no.: 62037

Omegon MiniTrack LX Quattro NS mount Product no.: 69307

Omegon Deluxe polar wedge Product no.: 69370

Omegon Pro 32mm carbon tripod incl. ball head Product no.: 60251

Omegon polar finder light for MiniTrack LX 2 + 3 and EQ mounts with light unit Product no.: 69568

Omegon 55mm prism rail with screw Product no.: 64965

New version: the Polarie U star tracker mount from Vixen

October 28 2021, Stefan Taube

A few years ago, the Japanese manufacturer Vixen launched the Polarie, the first tracking unit for cameras that can fit in every photographer’s bag. The tracking device, also called a star tracker, compensates for the celestial rotation. With it, a camera remains aligned with a section of the night sky for many minutes, and can gather light from faint stars, the Milky Way and cosmic nebulae.

Vixen now offers a new version of its successful star tracker mount, the Polarie U Star Tracker.

Fotomontierung Vixen

Polarie U star tracker mount with camera and optional ball head

Compared to the classic Polarie, the new Polarie U is significantly lighter whilst at the same time having a higher load-bearing capacity. The distance between the two bearings supporting the rotating shaft is approximately four times that of its predecessor. This has led to a higher load-bearing capacity despite a 20% weight reduction. It can carry 2.5kg for wide-field astrophotography using lenses with a short focal length. The optional mounting accessories comprising a prism rail and counterweight can be used to increase the load capacity to 6.5kg, so that the star tracker mount can also carry cameras with large lenses.

In addition, the  Polarie U creates its own WLAN. You can connect your smartphone to the mount and control it using a free app. With a suitable cable release from the Polarie U accessory selection, you can also control the camera itself via the app, for example to set a series of exposures. This is not only convenient, but also very useful thanks to the hands-free operation.

The Polarie U can of course also be converted for use in the southern hemisphere. The lightweight mount is therefore ideal for your next expedition south of the equator.

POLARIE U Star Tracker Astrofoto-Montierung

Discover the laser collimators from Farpoint

October 12 2021, Jan Ströher

Just as a car needs regular maintenance to work perfectly, a Newtonian telescope must be precisely adjusted from time to time in order to achieve the best possible optical performance and image quality. This is done by adjusting the mirrors so that the incident light, reflected by the primary and secondary mirrors, converges at a central point from which it is then directed into the focuser. In astronomy, the process of exact adjustment is called collimation. For correct collimation, the secondary mirror must be aligned with the focuser – lengthwise and centred. In addition, the secondary mirror must be aligned precisely with the centre of the primary mirror. Finally, the primary mirror should then be perfectly aligned with the axis now created by the focuser and secondary mirror.

To facilitate this process, there are various tools available to ensure the telescope’s collimation is as accurate as possible. Laser collimators in particular are very popular, as the laser beam can be used to precisely simulate the incident light in the telescope tube and align the two mirrors so that the laser beam is centred and directed into the focuser. Due to the red colour of the laser beam, the whole exercise becomes visually easy and ensures that even beginners can manage a fast, simple and effective collimation.

Collimation set from Farpoint

There are of course high-end devices among the range of collimator lasers, such as those from the American manufacturer Farpoint. This company produces and sells several collimator sets with 1.25″ and 2″ collimator lasers, with either 635nm or 650nm wavelength, as well as a robust padded case, in which the collimator can be stored and transported nicely protected from dust, moisture and other influences.

In our shop you will find the various high-tech lasers from Farpoint to suit your individual needs. Just take a look and perfect the performance of your Newtonian telescope!

Baader SunDancer II for observation and solar photography

October 7 2021, Stefan Taube

The Baader SunDancer II sun filter transforms smaller refractors quickly and simply into telescopes for solar observation using H-alpha spectral lines. In this wavelength, you can see the Sun’s chromosphere with dark filaments, bright radiation bursts and spectacular solar prominences!

Baader Sonnenfilter SunDancer II H-alpha 2"/1,25"

Baader SunDancer II H-alpha 2″/1.25″ solar filter

Simply position the SunDancer II between the diagonal mirror and the eyepiece and connect it to a power source. The filter is then automatically brought to the optimal operating temperature so that no adjustments are required during longer observations.

The SunDancer II can be safely used on refracting telescopes with apertures up to 80 millimetres. An additional energy rejection filter is only required in front of the telescope for objective apertures upwards of 80 millimetres; alternatively, the telescope can be dimmed using an optional 80mm screen in front of the lens.

Telescopes with secondary mirrors, such as Newtonian, Maksutov or SCTs, always require an additional energy rejection filter, regardless of their size.

The complete solar disc can be seen in telescopes with apertures of up to 600mm.

The T2 thread beneath the eyepiece clamp facilitates easy adaptation for larger cameras:

SunDancer II mit DSLR-Kamera

SunDancer II with DSLR camera

A power supply unit is included. For mobile observation, a  powerbank can also be used.

You can find further information on this particularly high-quality H-alpha filter for the eyepiece side here in our shop.

The Skywatcher Heritage FlexTube telescope, now available as GTi

September 22 2021, Stefan Taube

The Heritage FlexTube telescope is a much-loved Dobsonian with a table-top tripod. Its very compact mount is easier to transport due to a collapsible upper part – it doesn’t get more compact!

The manufacturer Skywatcher now offers this handy Dobsonian with computerised controls: the Heritage FlexTube Virtuoso GTi telescope

Skywatcher Dobson Teleskop N 150_750 Heritage FlexTube Virtuoso GTi

Skywatcher Dobson N 150/750 Heritage FlexTube Virtuoso GTi telescope

 

The Virtuoso GTi’s mount hones in on selected objects and follows their path across the sky, so that they are always visible in the eyepiece.

The mount also has its own WiFi to which your smartphone can connect. Using the free SynScan app for iOS and Android, you can then set up and control your mount. Once the app is installed on your smartphone, you no longer need an internet connection to control the mount.

Manual controls are also not required and are therefore not included.

kywatcher Dobson Teleskop N 150_750 Heritage FlexTube Virtuoso GTi 2

The motorised version of the Dobsonian is also very compact and easy to transport.

 

As with the non-motorised version, the Virtuoso GTi telescope also uses tried and tested 150/750 Newtonian optics. This 6-incher with a convenient aperture ratio reveals faint nebulae in the night sky, such as the famous Orion Nebula, the Messier 13 globular cluster or the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light years away.

By the way, you can also mount the Heritage FlexTube Virtuoso GTi on a camera tripod or an astronomical tripod with a photo thread, such as the Skywatcher tripod with 3/8″ mounting bolt.

Infographic: Astronomy Highlights Autumn 2021

September 1 2021, Marcus Schenk

Autumn has a planetary focus on Jupiter and Saturn which are both still brilliantly visible. Additionally, you have the chance to see the two outermost planets, Uranus and Neptune, at opposition.

In the “Astronomy Highlights in Autumn 2021” infographic, you can find numerous important celestial events at a glance. You can find dates and detailed descriptions of the events in the accompanying text.

Have fun observing!

September

September occurs in the period between summer and autumn. This can also be seen in the night skies. The constellations Hercules and Lyra drift westward. Contrastingly, the constellation Capricorn is conspicuous alongside the large planets Jupiter and Saturn in the south.

02/09 The Moon occults Epsilon Gem – In the early hours of the morning, the slender crescent moon occults the star Epsilon Gem in the constellation Gemini. The Moon approaches with its illuminated side at around 2am. You need a very good view of the horizon facing towards the north-east. (Visibility depends on observer location)

03/09 The Moon occults Epsilon Gem – At 4:38am, the slender crescent moon occults the star Kappa Gem in the constellation Gemini. An attractive occultation as the Moon appears as a narrow crescent. (Visibility depends on observer location)

3.9. Conjunction between the Moon and Pollux – In the second half of the night, the Moon appears over the horizon in the constellation Gemini. Only 3 degrees separate it from Pollux.

14.9. Neptune at opposition – The solar system’s furthest planet is at opposition and looks magnificent. You can see it as a star by using binoculars but it is only by using a telescope that you can see the 2.3 arc second planet as a small sliver. A star chart or an app would benefit you here.

17.9. Conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn – Both large planets meet in the constellation Capricorn. With the Moon in the middle, they form a triangle.

October

October definitively marks the start of autumn. High above our heads we can see the famous Great Square of Pegasus and the constellation Andromeda. Time to take an extensive trip to the Andromeda Galaxy. Always an experience with binoculars.

03/10 The Moon occults Eta Leo – In the early hours of the morning, at around 5:27am, it is still dark. It is now that the Moon occults the 3.4 mag star Eta Leo with its narrow-illuminated side. It is definitely the most impressive star occultation of the quarter. (Visibility depends on observer location)

08/10 Giacobinids – The Giacobinids or Draconids are a meteor shower which appears to stem from the constellation Draco. The maximum fall rates can be expected on 8 October. Unfortunately, the expected number cannot be predicted as it can vary considerably. The radiant is located near the star Beta Draconis. Draco is part of a circumpolar constellation which is why the radiant is at its optimal visible altitude in the evening.

09/10 Conjunction between the Moon and Venus – At sunset, a brilliant Venus and a 3.5-day-young crescent moon rise in the southwest. There is a maximum time window of 2 hours until Venus disappears below the horizon.

14-15/10 Conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn – At the end of the civil twilight, at around 19:00, the planets Jupiter and Saturn rise dominantly in the sky. Although they were at opposition in August, they are still a rewarding target. The Moon does not disrupt their observation.

21/10 Orionids – The Orionids are a smaller meteor shower with around 20 meteors per hour. The radiant is located in the constellation Orion, near the star Betelgeuse. Although you can observe the meteor shower all month, it peaks between October 20 and 21. The best time for observing is between 22:00 and 05:00.

23/10 Mercury in the morning sky – In May, Mercury could be seen in the evening sky whereas now the planet is offering us a short period of morning visibility. Between 23/10 and 31/10, you can see it just above the eastern horizon.

November

The constellation Perseus is near the zenith in November. This is where you will find the two brightest stars, Mirfak and Algol. The famous binary star cluster h + chi illuminates the space between Perseus and Cassiopeia and can be seen with the naked eye in dark areas.

03/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Mercury – There are two reasons to get up early today. This morning, the delicate crescent moon and Mercury are in conjunction. One of the last opportunities before Mercury disappears into the Sun’s glare.

05/11 Uranus at opposition – At mag. 5.6, Uranus is currently visible with the naked eye. However, it is easier to spot using binoculars or a telescope. This makes it appear as a tiny green disc with no recognisable details. However, it can still be identified as a planet.

08/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Venus – The waxing crescent moon is in conjunction with the twinkling brightness of Venus.

10/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Saturn – The Moon passes Saturn only 4.5 degrees beneath it.

11/11 Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter – Tonight the Moon passes Jupiter, moving at almost one degree per hour. We can track the movement relative to Jupiter quite well.

17/11 Leonids – The Leonids reach their peak from November 16 to 17. Along with the Perseids, they are one of the most famous meteor showers. There have been years in which these meteors have fallen like raindrops from the sky. This generally takes place every 33 years when the Earth runs into the Leonid cloud. In normal years, the shower does not exceed 20 meteors per hour at its peak. This year, the slender crescent moon sets early on and we can enjoy the meteors all night long without interruption.

New: Deluxe equatorial wedge for Omegon MiniTrack

August 27 2021, Marcus Schenk

Using the latest deluxe equatorial wedge, aligning the MiniTrack with the north celestial pole is easier than ever. The advantages? Spherical stars all night long.

How do you align your MiniTrack and other astrotrackers without an equatorial wedge? In theory, this is possible using a tripod head but the alignment and the fixed support sometimes resemble weather forecasting, in a word: uncertain. And yet, the photography session is meant to be a success.

The right tools for success

Thanks to the deluxe equatorial wedge, you can simply and precisely align your MiniTrack with the north celestial pole. It’s easy peasy lemon squeezy!
A robust locking mechanism provides permanent polar alignment, even when you are continuously focusing your camera on new targets.

In our set-up, we use an Omegon 32mm carbon tripod, the deluxe equatorial wedge and a MiniTrack 3 with pole finder.

Simple installation on any tripod

Using the 3/8 inch thread, you can attach the polar wedge to any camera tripod. To do so, you simply need a mini Vixen-style rail, such as the Omegon 55mm prism rail, which can be used with the MiniTrack. You can then connect and align your astrotracker easily.

Quality made in Portugal

The equatorial wedge is manufactured to the highest quality and consists of CNC components and stainless-steel screws. It is produced in small batches in Portugal and checked for quality.

The ideal addition to your MiniTrack: view the Omegon Deluxe equatorial wedge in the shop now.

07.12.2021
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Right of return up to January 31 2022!

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