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Stefan Taube

Stefan Taube

Posts composed by Stefan Taube

Lithium LT – the new power tank from Celestron

August 10 2020, Stefan Taube

With the PowerTank Lithium LT, Celestron is introducing a particularly light battery, which is especially suitable for smaller telescopes.

Celestron_Powertank_LT

The power tank can be attached to a tripod leg using the velcro straps included.

Modern telescope electronics react very sensitively to an incorrect voltage. Operating a telescope at too low a voltage can cause the motors to suffer at higher loads and even cause the electronics to fail. The PowerTank Lithium LT uses a built-in voltage regulator to ensure that it continually delivers at least 11.8 volts, until the battery is almost empty and shuts itself down.

Compared to a classic lead-acid battery, the PowerTank Lithium LT is smaller, lighter, more efficient and better for the environment. It offers better performance, a longer life and safer operation than other, cheaper lithium-ion batteries. It also offers automatic shutdown, reverse polarity protection and charge/discharge protection, as well as protection against overvoltage and short circuits.

Celestron_Powertank_LT_1

A smartphone can be charged using the USB output.

We recommend the PowerTank Lithium LT  for telescopes from the following series:

By the way: the battery also meets the current FAA regulations for hand luggage – ideal for travelling!

New: StarSense Explorer telescopes from Celeston

June 30 2020, Stefan Taube

The idea of controlling a telescope with a smartphone is nothing new. With the StarSense Explorer range, Celestron brings  another option into play, which may be particularly interesting for beginners.

A special feature of the StarSense Explorer telescopes is that a WLAN connection does not need to be established between the telescope and the smartphone. The free StarSense Explorer app orients itself directly to the night sky, via the smartphone camera and a sophisticated mirror system.

Celestron StarSense Explorer DX

Celeston StarSense Explorer DX

 

Here’s how it works: All you need to do is install the free StarSense Explorer app and insert your smartphone into the special cradle attached to the telescope. The app uses location data from your smartphone to determine the observing location and does not require you to separately enter the current date and time.

The StarSense Explorer app uses a special lost-in-space algorithm (LISA), which is also used for the orientation of satellites. Star patterns recorded by the smartphone camera are compared with the internal database. These calculations are combined with information from the smartphone’s gyroscope and accelerometer. All this leads to a very high degree of precision that no other planetarium app can achieve! So you can move confidently through the night, even with no prior knowledge!

In drei Schritten zum Erfolg

Insert your smartphone, launch the app and you’re ready to start observing.

The StarSense Explorer app will suggest rewarding objects to observe that night at your location. You can also use the planetarium view to pan to interesting objects and identify them.

StarSense Explorer telescopes are supplied with an altazimuth mount so you can move the telescope simply about the altitude and azimuth axes. Two shafts with large grips allow fine adjustment and tracking. The telescopes are not equipped with a motor, but belong to the class of PushTo telescopes.

By the way, of course you can also use your StarSense Explorer telescope without a smartphone, for example, for a quick view of the Moon, which you should be able to find without an electronic helper.

Gran Turismo GT 81: the high-end telescope from William Optics!

April 9 2020, Stefan Taube

The Gran Turismo 81 refractor is a triplet apochromat with a lens unit with FPL-53 glass from Ohara, Japan. This combination ensures maximum colour purity and high contrast! The GT81 is therefore a versatile refracting telescope which satisfies every requirement!

William Optics GT 81 Astroshop

Apochromat refractor AP 81/478 Gran Turismo GT 81 from William Optics.

Equipped with an optional diagonal mirror, with this apochromat you can observe the Moon and the planets in high contrast. This fast telescope also enables sustained observing of more difficult deep sky objects: star clusters, galaxies and nebulae. Thanks to needle-sharp star images, resolving and observing globular clusters becomes a particular pleasure.

For astrophotography, we recommend the field flattener and focal length reducer (flattener/reducer) Flat6AIII. With this, the telescope delivers a flat field with the same focal position, even for full-frame cameras. The Bahtinov mask integrated into the telescope body helps with precise focusing.

Using the dovetail plate integrated into the frame, you can equip your Gran Turismo with a finder scope or guiding scope.

The very robust and stable GT81-Apo is ideally suited for mobile astronomy and astro-photography. The tube weight of four kilograms is easily accommodated by medium-sized mounts. Take this apo with you to a dark sky and discover the best objects from the Messier and NGC catalogues. The GT81 from William Optics will be, after the Firstlight, your new favourite telescope!

High-quality canvas prints with astronomical themes

April 8 2020, Stefan Taube

We are offering you high-quality semi-gloss astronomical photographs printed onto canvas. The canvas is stretched onto a pine wood frame, which is equipped with sawtooth brackets, ready for hanging. Every picture is hand-finished and individually checked!

Die Andromedagalaxie auf Leinwand

The Andromeda galaxy on canvas

The pictures are all images created by the astrophotographer Boris Štromar. The following images are currently available:

Each image is available in three sizes.

Secure shipping: The pictures are individually shrink-wrapped and supplied with corner protectors.

Oklop_Leinwanddruck

The astronomical themes and high-quality prints ensure a pleasant ambience.

You can find more information and ordering options here at Astroshop.

 

Now available: the new MGEN autoguider from Lacerta!

March 19 2020, Stefan Taube

An autoguider is a very important accessory when taking astronomy photos involving long exposure times. The autoguider is a tracking control device that ensures that the mount always keeps the telescope pointing as precisely as possible at the astronomical object desired. The autoguider images a bright star on a separate camera in order to achieve this. The autoguider then uses the apparent movement of this star to calculate the appropriate control movements for the mount.

Lacerta Stand Alone Autoguider MGEN Version 3

Lacerta MGEN Version 3 stand-alone autoguider

It is possible to use a simple planetary camera, a laptop and free software from the Internet for this type of tracking control. The MGEN autoguider from Lacerta has also proven itself to be excellent. But the great advantage of using the MGEN autoguider is that you don’t even need a laptop or PC; hence the term ‘stand-alone’ autoguider. In particular, this type of stand-alone solution makes astrophotography with SLR cameras much easier, as you do not need a laptop when using this type of camera.

The MGEN autoguider also comes supplied with a matching camera and already has all the necessary software – simpler autoguiding is just not possible! Another great advantage is that the MGEN autoguider does not just use a single star for the tracking control, but several. This has the effect of increasing accuracy considerably! The following graphic comes from a test by the manufacturer and illustrates the higher precision you achieve with multi-star guiding:

Durch das Multistar Guiding ist die Nachführkontrolle unabhängig vom Seeing.

Multi-star guiding also means that tracking control is less dependent on the seeing.

The new version MGEN-3 autoguider offers many other improvements:

  • improved hardware allows the new, self-learning, AI multi-star guiding.
  • the large colour display makes operation easier.
  • the new quick-start function allows guiding to commence at the push of a button!
  • polar alignment using the digital Scheiner method.
  • power supply via USB (5V), only 1.2 watts.

This is, however, just a small selection. You can find the entire list of advantages on the Lacerta MGEN Version 3 stand-alone autoguider webpage.

Skywatcher EQ8-R: The new observatory class mount!

February 5 2020, Stefan Taube

Skywatcher’s EQ8 series astronomical mounts are the most capable models from this manufacturer. They can carry telescopes and accessories weighing up to 50 kilograms! This makes EQ8 mounts particularly interesting for observatories – no matter whether garden, school or club observatories.

Skywatcher EQ8-R Montierung mit Stativ

Skywatcher EQ8-R mount with tripod

Skywatcher has updated its EQ8 mount and now offers it in two versions: the EQ8-R and EQ8-RH mounts. The EQ8-RH version has a high-resolution Renishaw encoder on the right ascension axis. This eliminates the need for tracking control during astrophotography.

Both versions of the EQ8-R mount come supplied with the Skywatcher’s proven SynScan control.

These latest EQ8 models offer the following improvements as compared to the initial version:

  • Internal cable routing prevents cable clutter and cable damage
  • More connection options for accessories: 4x USB, 3x 12 volt outputs
  • Optimized positioning of the drive motors for improved balance
  • Improved clutches on the axes for a more secure grip
  • Improved clamping screws on the prism clamp for greater comfort and greater clamping force
  • Belt drive on the declination axis for smoother running

Skywatcher offers a special tripod for its EQ8 mount. The tripod also allows portable use of the mount, but does require two people for setting it up.

If you want to set up the mount on a fixed pier, you can simply order the EQ8 mount without the tripod. The tripod may also be ordered at a later date. All versions of the EQ8 mount can be found here at Astroshop.

With its EQ8-R, Skywatcher offers a modern mount for large OTAs – which the latest stage of development has made almost perfect!

Regal M2 range of spotting scopes from Celestron on special offer!

January 23 2020, Stefan Taube

The high-end Regal M2 range of spotting scopes from Celestron deliver the sharpest possible images – whether in broad daylight or increasing twilight. They are ideal for bird and nature watching and long-distance viewing.

Celestron-Regal-1

Celestron spotting scope REGAL M2 22-67×100 ED

Right now we are offering you all four models at a special price:

  • REGAL M2 16-48×65 ED for just EUR 629 instead of EUR 699. You save EUR 70! The reasonably priced entry-level model for occasional bird and nature watching.
  • REGAL M2 27×80 ED LER for just EUR 719 instead of EUR 799. You save EUR 80! This model has an eyepiece with especially long eye relief: ideal for sport shooting or wearers of glasses with thick lenses.
  • REGAL M2 20-60×80 ED for just EUR 845 instead of EUR 939. You save EUR 94! Similar to the previous model but with a zoom eyepiece for adjustable magnification. Perfect for bird watchers.
  • REGAL M2 22-67×100 ED for just EUR 1,035 instead of EUR 1,150. You save EUR 115! This model has a very fast front lens and so delivers a bright image even in twilight. This is perfect for observing wild animals.

These spotting scopes offer all the features seen on significantly more expensive models including Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass. The magnesium alloy body reduces the weight by 14% compared to their predecessors. The focus mechanism with fine adjustment has also been improved and now works twice as fast. The Regal M2 models are waterproof and nitrogen-purged to prevent fogging. They come with a carrying case which can also be used as a standby bag.

Celestron-Regal-2

The spotting scope can remain in its protective case while observing

You can also take photographs using the Regal M2: you simply adapt your DSLR camera for the spotting scope by using a suitable T2 ring and the T2 adapter supplied and you convert it into a telephoto lens.

The Regal M2 spotting scopes are the perfect companions for every nature lover.

 

The SkyGuider Pro camera mount from iOptron is now available with an electronic polar finder

January 8 2020, Stefan Taube

The SkyGuider Pro is a very light mount on which you can set up a camera with interchangeable lenses or a small telescope. This approach allows longer exposure times and so you can create fascinating wide-angle shots of the night sky.

iOptron Montierung SkyGuider Pro iPolar Set

iOptron Mount SkyGuider Pro iPolar Set

The SkyGuider Pro is now also available as a set together with the iPolar electronic polar finder, which has been built into the mount. With this accessory, you can easily and very precisely polar-align your mount.

The electronic finder has a built-in camera. This shows the position of the northern celestial pole and the location that the polar axis of the mount is pointing at, on your laptop. Simply bring the two points together by turning the adjustment screws for the azimuth and altitude axes of the mount – and you’re done!

SkyGuider Pro mit iPolar

SkyGuider Pro with iPolar

The location of the celestial north pole differs somewhat from the location of the Pole Star. The electronics calculate the exact position using the date and time. Thanks to the sensitivity of the camera and the large field of view, this so-called polar alignment is successful even when the mount has been only roughly positioned. This also works in the southern hemisphere and even takes into account atmospheric refraction at low latitudes!

If want to do without iPolar, you can of course still purchase the SkyGuider Pro mount without the electronic polar finder here.

New Starquest Telescope from Skywatcher

October 30 2019, Stefan Taube

Skywatcher’s new Starquest telescopes combine small optics with a lightweight equatorial mount in a new design. A lightweight aluminium tripod with a storage shelf is also included, the perfect telescope for easy transportation and a quick view of the sky.

Skywatcher Newton 130/650 Starquest EQ

Skywatcher Newton 130/650 Starquest EQ

The high-quality Starquest mount contains a worm gear with 122 teeth on each axis. This ensures high stability and sensitive manual tracking with the easy-to-use flexible shafts – even beginners can easily cope.

The correct telescope to choose from depends on your preferred application:

  • The refractor AC 102/500 shows large sections of the sky. Large objects such as nebulae, open star clusters or comets can be observed with it.
  • The Maksutov MC 102/1300 is particularly compact. Despite its small size, this telescope has a very long focal length. It allows high levels of magnification, and is a real specialist for the Moon and planets – but also planetary nebulae and double stars can easily be observed with the Maksutov. With this selection of potential objects and the rear-facing lens position, the Maksutov is ideal for the balcony observatory in light-polluted cities. Another advantage is the closed optical tube: the mirror cannot become contaminated.
  • The Newton 130/650 telescope is the best compromise. It has the widest aperture and therefore collects most light. Even faint nebulae can still be identified. The Newton telescope is also particularly inexpensive due to its design. However the relatively long tube has the greatest lever effect on the mount.

More information and all the models can be found here in Astroshop.

Celestron RASA Astrographs: Telescopes for Astrophotography

September 20 2019, Stefan Taube

The RASA range of telescopes were developed specifically and exclusively for astrophotography. They are very fast; with a focal length of f/2 they take pictures twenty times faster than a Schmidt-Cassegrain lens at f/10! Because of this a tracking control is not required, and generally fewer demands are placed on the mount!

The RASA 1100 model with a 279 millimetre aperture has already been on the market for some time, and Celestron is now also offering a smaller version, the RASA 800, with a 203 millimetre aperture.

Celestron Astrograph S 203/400 RASA 800

Celestron Astrograph S 203/400 RASA 800

This optical system is also within reach of smaller budgets with the RASA 800, particularly since it can be used with a smaller mount. The illustration above shows the RASA 800 with the AVX mount. This astrograph is optimised for astrophotography cameras with a 22 millimetre field diagonal. The larger RASA 1100 is the better choice for those who prefer to use a DLSR for their photography.

The abbreviation RASA stands for the developers’ names: Rowe-Ackermann-Schmidt-Astrograph. It is basically a normal, routinely-produced Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain instrument; that is with a spherical primary mirror in front of which is a corrector plate invented by Bernhard Schmidt. Instead of using a secondary mirror to direct the light path towards the Cassegrain focus at the end of the telescope, the camera sensor is incorporated in the prime focus. A corrector assembly comprising four lenses made of especially high-quality glass ensures optimal illumination.

Die RASA-Optik von Celestron

The RASA telescope from Celestron

As the term astrograph implies, RASA telescopes are designed exclusively for photography. There is no option to use an eyepiece. But if you are an amateur astronomer who specialises in astrophotography, you will not see this as a disadvantage, instead you will quickly learn to appreciate the advantages of the RASA telescopes.

01.10.2020
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