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Archive for the 'Events' category

Posts Tagged 'telescope-accessories'

Mars Opposition 2018: How to Observe Mars and its Details

June 29 2018, Marcus Schenk

On the 27th of July, 2018, the time will finally be upon us: our neighbor, Mars, will stand in opposition to the Sun.  Such an event happens every two years, but this time around is something much more special.  The last time Mars was so close to Earth, during opposition, was back in 2003.  This year, the red planet will come within 57 million kilometers, which is about the same distance as 15 years before.  Mars will appear to be about half of the size of Jupiter, something only rarely observable, but with numerous details.

For more info about the Opposition, how to observe, which details to look for and which accessories improve your chances of a rewarding observation, read on below:

Photo: B.Gährken


  1. Mars: The facts about a fascinating planet
  2. The Mars Opposition: What is it?
  3. Why only every two years?
  4. Why will Mars be so large this year
  5. Which Telescope?
  6. You can see this on Mars
  7. Helpful accessories, to improve your observation

1. Mars: The facts about a fascinating planet

With a diameter of 6,000 km, 687 day orbit and a mountain at 27,000 meters – Mars is only half as large as the Earth, but resembles our home very much.  Much like Earth, Mars is home to a rocky surface with mountains, plateaus and canyons.  Valles Marineris is a massive 4,000 km long canyon, with a width of 700 km, and is considered the Grand Canyon of Mars.  Comparatively, our Grand Canyon is relatively small at only 450 km in length and with a 30 km width.

Mars features other similarities, with its polar ice caps and even seasons.  Standing on Mars, you would also see sunrises and sunsets.  You could even see Earth with a telescope.  The planet even features a similar tilt in its orbital path and a day lasts 24 hours and 40 minutes.

What a nice twin, right?  Many space pioneers think so.  And to top it all off, recently NASA revealed clues that the planet was able to support life.  There are, of course, a few disadvantages to lifing on Mars: the cold.  A thick jacket won’t be enough, given that the temperatures drop to -85°C.  Nevertheless, temperatures could reach about 20°C at the equator.

Even the oxygen levels and atmospheric pressure varies greatly: 95% carbon dioxide, 1.8% nitrogen und 0.1% oxygen.  On Earth: 78% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. In other words, breathing on Mars would be suffocating.  Take off your spacesuit and your blood would boil in short time, as if you were at 35 km in altitude above the Earth – 3 times higher than cruise altitude of a commercial jet.

2. The Mars Opposition: What is an opposition?

An opposition occurs, when Mars stands in a straight line with Earth and the Sun.

3. Why only every two years?

Mars orbits the Sun once every 687 days, so roughly 2 years.  We on Earth travel a much higher speed and only require 365 days to orbit.

Imagine that both planets start at the same spot.  The Earth would lap Mars at some point during its orbit.  Given that Mars is also orbiting, one trip around the Sun would not suffice, however.  Only after 780 days will the Earth and Mars be aligned once again.  An opposition!

4. Why will Mars appear to be so large this year?

Mars is pretty conspicuous in the sky this year.  The red planet rises as dusk falls, and will shine bright in the night sky until dawn.  The disk will appear to be enormous!  It will increase to up to 24 arc seconds.  Through a telescope, Mars will appear especially large, meaning we will be able to identify many details on the surface.  It is a unique chance for observers and astro-photographers.  Mars only appeared slightly smaller during the Opposition of 2003.

Mars does not have a circular orbit, rather an off-center orbit around the Sun.  That is why its distance to Earth can vary so greatly.  Depending on the position, oppositions can vary between 101 m and 55 m km.  This year: 57.7 m km.  In 2020, 62.2 m km and two years later 82 m km.  By year 2035, Mars will once again be about as close as this year.

For observers in the norther hemisphere, the close oppositions will take place below the celestial equator, since they occur in the Summer months.  The planet will not be found high above the horizon, but rather just above it: this year, just 15°.

5. Which Telescope?

Mars is bright and an object, that you can see with the naked eye.  It will rise late in the eveing in the south west, climbing ever higher and reaching its meridian on 27th of July, 2018.  Shortly before sunrise, the red planet will once again disappear under the horizon.  You cannot miss Mars, since it will be the only bright object with a very bright and red color.

During the opposition, Mars will be quite large.  That is why you could use just about every telescope to have a look at the planet, even a telescope with a 70-80 mm aperture.  A good beginner’s scope for planets would be the Omegon AC 90/1000 EQ-2.  With an intermediate or large telescope from 150 – 200 mm, you will be able to enjoy a greater resolution, which is important if you want to be able to see the small details.  Keep an eye out that the telescope is well calibrated and adjusted for the temperature outside – important factors for a good, contrast-rich image.  Many observers cherish Dobson telescopes, since they are inexpensive, bright, and easy to work with.

Mars bei 250-facher Vergrößerung

Mars through a telescope

To view Mars, use a magnification of at least 100.  Reason is, the small the planet, the more difficult it will be to see detail.  Shorter focal lengths additionally afford you the greatest magnification.  Magnifications of 200 – 300x are sensible to use.  Hint: high-quality Televue Eyepieces on Sale are available here.

6. What to See on Mars

If you have a telescope of 100x, mars will appears only as red ball.  With patience, you should be able to identify the bright, white polar caps.


Mars with notations, Image: B. Gährken

The most noticeable dark area on the red planet is the Syrte, which is a large, dust-free, and high plateau with a width of 1,300 km.  The area lies close to the equator and should be noticeable with an intermediate telescope.  The Hellas Basin is a large, bright region, found south of Syrte and often home to storms.  Of course, we will only be able to see these two regions, if Mars happens to be sharing this side of itself.  Additionally, white clouds of meteorological phenomena can be seen with larger telescopes and color filters.

A foldable “Mars Map”  from Orion is helpful in preparing for observations and photography.

7. Helpful Accessories

The ADC Corrector: for more contrast on the horizon

If we observe an object just above the horizon, the object could already set.  The light of the cosmos is often distorted, while passing through the atmostphere or bowed.  We see the same effect, for example, in a glass of water or a straw.  The water is an optically dense medium – just as a straw would in a different way.  Our atmosphere does the same.

ADC Korrektor

A Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope with ADC and a Toupek camera

Is that a problem? Indeed, when we talk about an astronomical object.  Blue and red light is distorted in different ways.  Objects then exhibit a colored edge and appear to be contrast-less.  The images are just less sharp, than those higher in the sky.

The ADC from Omegon produces – if you will – a negative color defect, which works against the atmosphere.  The planet Mars plays a role here.  Mars appears, to float just a bit higher.  When one of our colleagues tested the ADC the first time, he noted, “The effect was massive.  It appeared as if the telescope was suddenly replaced with another.”


The atmosphere has an effect, like a simple lens and the colors of light are dispersed in various ways.  An object appears higher, as a result, than it really is, in addition to color fringes.  Image sources: NASA/JPL Solar System Simulator, Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

In the next few years, many of the planets will be found quite close to the horizon.  But, the ADC is your best hope.  You can use it for visual observations, as well as for photography.  Putting it to use is also quite simple: just place it into the recess, where the eyepieces normally is attached.

The advantages of the ADC in a nutshell:

  • ADC corrects atmospheric dispersion
  • Color fringes are reduced or disappear
  • Sharpness and contrast increase, as if the planet were higher in the sky
  • Just put it in the eyepiece recess and adjust the prisms.

Color filters: to unlock Mars’ detailed surface

Color filters are very useful for planetary observations, since they increase contrasts and make many details visible, which you may not see otherwise.  The only requirement is that you should have some experience in observing, because seeing in astronomy is learned.

Color filters are available in sizes 1.25″ or 2″ and are simply screwed into the threads of the eyepiece.

But which details can you see on Mars?

Farbfilter für die Marsbeobachtung

Color filters are screwed directlz into the thread of your eyepiece.

Green filter: with it, you can directly enhance the surface, clouds and freezing fog.

Blue filter: only used for freezing fog and clouds.

Yellow filter: Great for seeing the occasional several week-long dust storm on the surface, by brightening such areas.

Orange and Red filters: Orange filters enhance the bright/dark structures of the surface and are the standard filter for observing Mars. The red filter does the same, but only utilized in large telescopes.

Tip: There are also special Mars filters, which increases greatly the contrasts of the red planet.

Filter wheel: For the quick switch

When you want to use several different filters, we recommend the filter wheel, for a quick switch between filter types.

Camera: Capture Mars

Do you want to photograph Mars? Then get your hands on a Touptek Camera G3M178C, which offers a high sensitivity and a resolution of 6.4 megapixels.  Plus, it is extremely fast.  With 59 images per second, you can put the shortest moments to use, resulting in sharp images of the red planet.

Aufbau für Planetenfotografie

The assembly of a successful Mars photography session: a Touptek camera, a barlow lens with a flip mirror and an eyepiece.

Flip Mirror

A great aid for planetary photography, making centering the planet in the dark hours no contest.  With a flip mirror, you can switch between an eyepiece and camera in mere seconds.

Get out and observe!

Don’t wait until the year 2035! This Summer is a great opportunity to marvel at Mars in all its glory.  In contrast to the opposition in 2003, camera technology has come quite a long way.  Instruments like the ADC additionally enable you to view objects on the horizon.  Get your telescope read and have a look at our nearest neighbor this Summer!

Product tip: Want to show your enthusiasm? Then get your hands on the Mars T-shirt!  The backside features all the info of the opposition: distance, size, and brightness.  Order now!

Mars T-shirt

Mars T-shirt

Everything You Need for the Solar Eclipse

July 7 2017, Joshua Taboga

The big moment inches ever closer.  On the 21st of August, 2017 millions of people in the USA will witness a total solar eclipse.  The event of the decade will soon be upon us!  Do you have everything for the “Great American Eclipse”?  Or are a couple things missing from your toolkit?  Check out our list below of necessary and useful products.

1. The Most Important: Solar Eclipse Glasses

Experience the eclipse in the simplest of ways, with Omegon SunSafe Solar Eclipse Glasses.  The glasses give you the ability to safely and comfortably look at the Sun.

Omegon's Solar Eclipse glasses allow you to safely view the elcipse.

Omegon’s Solar Eclipse glasses allow you to safely view the elcipse.

•    Orange, natural image of the Sun
•    Optimal for solar observations, including viewing sunspots and eclipses
•    Completely Safe: SunSafe material certified according to ISO guidelines
•    One size fits all
•    Harmful sun rays blocked by a factor of 100,000
•    Optical density – at least ND5

Price: one set $2.90 (£ 2.90), 5 pack $9.90 (£ 8.90)
Omegon Solar Eclipse Glasses

Alternatively, Baader offers Solar Eclipse Glasses – Solar Viewer AstroSolar® Silver/Gold. The glasses provide 100% safety and the Sun will appear blue/white.

Baader Solar Eclipse Glasses with AstroSolar film

Baader Solar Eclipse Glasses with AstroSolar film

Price: $3.50 (£ 3.90), set $29.00 (£ 25.90)
See Baader Solar Eclipse Glasses

Warning: These glasses are to be exclusively used for visual observations.  Do not use them in combination with an optical instrument.

2. Solar filter for Your Telescope

Frameless film filters

A classic for fans of solar observation is the Astrosolar Solar Filter film.  Being somewhat of an art and craft situation, users can build their own filter frame.  The advantage is the cheap price and variety of sizes available.  Most buy the small 20cm x 29cm or the large 50cm x 100cm.

In the special case for astrophotographers, a photo film with the optical density of 3.8 affords the user the possibility of using short exposure times.  Put simply, this filter allows only 0.016% of light through – perfectly fine for photography, but still too much for the naked eye.  For visual observations, you should consider adding a ND 2.0 Filter or simply using a film made for visual purposes.

Baader Solar Eclipse Glasses with AstroSolar film

Baader Solar Eclipse Glasses with AstroSolar film

Warning: Always place the film in front of the optics and not behind.

Price: 20x29cm  $ 25.00(£ 22.90), 50x100cm $ 75.00 (£ 67.00)
See Baader Astrosolar Solor Filter Film

Framed Filter for Telescopes

The manufacturer Baader has come up with an elegant solution for telescopes: the ASTF Sonnenfilter. This filter is suitable for telescopes from 70mm to 290mm diameter. Three centering pins affix the filter inside or outside of the tube. An overview, which filter best suites your telescope, is available here: Filter Finder Tool.

ASTF Filter mounted on a Schmidt-Cassergrain Telescope

ASTF Filter mounted on a Schmidt-Cassergrain Telescope

Baader AstroSolar Telescope Solar Filter ASTF 80mm Article-Nr.: 46632
Baader AstroSolar Telescope Solar Filter ASTF 100mm Article-Nr.: 46633
Baader AstroSolar Telescope Solar Filter ASTF 120mm Article-Nr.: 46634
Baader AstroSolar Telescope Solar Filter ASTF 140mm Article-Nr.: 46635
Baader AstroSolar Telescope Solar Filter ASTF 160mm Article-Nr.: 46636
Baader AstroSolar Telescope Solar Filter ASTF 180mm Article-Nr.: 46637
Baader AstroSolar Telescope Solar Filter ASTF 200mm Article-Nr.: 46638
Baader AstroSolar Telescope Solar Filter ASTF 240mm Article-Nr.: 46639
Baader AstroSolar Telescope Solar Filter ASTF 280mm Article-Nr.: 46640


Filter for Binoculars

Even with binoculars, a solar eclipse can have quite an fantastic effect.  The best thing is that a smaller pair of binoculars easily fit into a suitcase.  Our special binocular filters are flat on one side, allowing your binoculars to remain fully functional.  Available for 40mm to 110mm.

Baader ASBF Filter for Binoculars and Cameras

Baader ASBF Filter for Binoculars and Cameras

Baader ASBF Filter for Binoculars and Cameras

By the way: These filters are great for camera lenses.

Baader AstroSolar Binocular Solar Filter ASBF 50mm Article-Nr.: 46641
Baader AstroSolar Binocular Solar Filter ASBF 60mm Article-Nr.: 46642
Baader AstroSolar Binocular Solar Filter ASBF 70mm Article-Nr.: 46665
Baader AstroSolar Binocular Solar Filter ASBF 80mm Article-Nr.: 46667
Baader AstroSolar Binocular Solar Filter ASBF 100mm Article-Nr.: 46668


3. Solar Prisms: The Better Choice?

Many have already heard.  Aside from solar filters, solar prisms are also available.  However, are they a true alternative?  Most definitely – if your goal is detail solar observation – but only for refractors up to 150mm (no reflector telescopes)

In comparison to a lens filter, the Herschel Wedge offers a clear, contrast-rich image of the sun.  Advanced solar observers swear on it.  With a Herschel Wedge, you will see the finest details, whether a granulation or structures surrounding a sunspot.

A Herschel Wedge creates a wonderfully contrast-rich image of the Sun.

A Herschel Wedge creates a wonderfully contrast-rich image of the Sun.

Tip: While observing with a Herschel Wedge, a ND 3.0 and a variable gray filter are requisite.

APM 1.25″ solar prism / Herschel wedge Article-Nr.: 18916
Baader OD 3,0 ND Filter 1,25“ Article-Nr.: 10885
Omegon Variabler Gray filter 1,25″ Article-Nr.: 7399
Baader Cool-Ceramic Safety Herschel prism V visual, 2″ Article-Nr.: 16816

4. The Sun in H-Alpha Light

Images of a solar eclipse in H-Alpha are unusual and create a lot of attention.  Photos of partial phases with protuberances and spots and flares are simply appealing to the eye.  The Quark Solar Filter from Daystar transforms your refractor into a bonafide solar telescope that shows you the sun in H-Alpha light.  Now would be the best opportunity to turn a dream into reality.

QUARK Protuberance Filter: Transform your refractor into an H-Alpha telescope.

QUARK Protuberance Filter: Transform your refractor into an H-Alpha telescope.

DayStar Solar Filter QUARK H-Alpha, Protuberance Article-Nr.: 44774
DayStar Solar Filter Combo QUARK H-Alpha, Chromosphere Article-Nr.: 48679



Imaged with the Omegon ED80 Apo and a Daystar Quark, Photo: Carlos Malagón

Imaged with the Omegon ED80 Apo and a Daystar Quark, Photo: Carlos Malagón

5. Small Scopes and Mounts for the Road

For those traveling by plane probably need to limit their baggage.  The nice thing about the eclipse is that you don’t need a large instrument.  A small Apochromat and a compact mount will suffice.

Tracking, Autoguiding or Time Lapse are all a possibility.

The iOptron Mount SkyTracker Pro is popular on astro-trips and weighs only 1.1kg.

The iOptron Mount SkyTracker Pro is popular on astro-trips and weighs only 1.1kg.

The mounts available range from a mechanical AZ Mini Mount to the heavy duty Cube Mount with a Go-to System:

iOptron Mount SkyTracker Pro Article-Nr.: 51870
Skywatcher Mount Star Adventurer, Set Article-Nr.: 45119
Omegon Mount AZ-Baby Article-Nr.: 49753
Omegon Tripod ball-head Pro OM20 Article-Nr.: 33149
Omegon Pro carbon-fibre tripod Article Mount-Nr.: 33146


6. Books about the Sun

A clear-as-day and basic entry into the topic can be found in the book Your Guide to the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, Springer Verlag.

PS: Be sure to get what you need for the solar eclipse today, to ensure that your trip is an unforgetable experience.

Solar Eclipse 2017 USA: What to know

July 6 2017, Joshua Taboga

Something impressive will move in front of the Sun and obscure our star.  The Sun’s rays will disappear, shadows will change, the temperature will drop and the stars will shine brightly in the middle of the day.  A wind will come up and the animal would will be strangely still.

Earlier peoples felt fear.  The Chinese thought a giant dragon swallowed the Sun.  Only with a roar and bellowing was the dragon forced to spit the Sun out again.  Indeed, the idea is eerie, not knowing what exactly is going on… of course, was the event we call a solar eclipse.

Solar Eclipse fans have long known: on August 21st, 2017, a total solar eclipse will take place from coast to coast across the USA.  A once in a lifetime experience, which many people are longing for.

All the important info and numbers, as well as what a solar eclipse looks like, can be found below in this article.

Solar eclipse Slider EN

Data Compact: The Great American Solar Eclipse 2017

The total solar eclipse will stretch from the Pacific, across North America, to the Atlantic.  Most interesting will be the population centers, because the eclipse’s path will traverse not only desolate deserts, but also cities and towns.  Across the American continent, the thin path of totality at a width of 115 km or 71.5 miles will stretch across 14 U.S. states.  On the day of the 21st of August, millions of people will experience the eclipse first hand, lasting a total of 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

The partial phases of the eclipse will be visible north and south of the path of totality throughout the entirety of the USA.  Partiality will stretch north through Canada and south through Mexico as well as northern South America.
Of special note: The Americans have already termed this solar eclipse the “Great American Eclipse”.

© NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

© NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

What is a Total Solar Eclipse?

An interesting coincidence: the Sun is around 400 times larger than the Moon, but is also 400 times further away from the Earth than the Moon.  That means, the Moon and Sun appear to have the same diameter in the sky.  Such a lucky coincidence, since it makes a solar eclipse possible in the first place, allowing the Moon to completely obscure the Moon.  Were the Moon a bit smaller or further from the Earth, we would never have the pleasure of witnessing a total solar eclipse.  The result would be a ring of fire eclipse, although that is a story for another time.

As the New Moon moves in front of the Sun’s disk and covers it, a shadow will fall onto a slim are of the Earth and darkens the stretch of land.  This region then experiences a total solar eclipse!  On the outside of this region, the Sun will only be partially eclipsed, meaning the Moon will only cover part of the Sun.

A solar eclipse can only occur, while the Moon is in the “new” phase, as the Sun and Moon find themselves in a nodal point.

Sonnenfinsternis Schema

Of course, we have a New Moon every month, but not a solar eclipse.  Why?  The Moon actually orbits the Earth at 5° degree deviation from the ecliptic.  Most often the New Moon moves past, above or below, the Sun, resulting in no eclipse.

However, returning to the dragon swallowing the Sun.  The point of intersection, where the Moon and ecliptic cross.  When the New Moon and Sun by chance meet at this point of intersection, the Moon no longer moves past the sun, but obscures it.  The then becomes black and the corona majestically lights up behind it.

Then a very long, round but sharp moving shadow falls upon the Earth, which can be a maximum of 273 km or 170 miles wide.  The totality, meaning the complete covering of the Sun, can last a maximum of 7.5 minutes.  Most of the time, we don’t get to experience such ideal circumstances.  In the case of the USA, the shadow is only 115 km or 71.5 miles and last a total 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

How Will the Eclipse Happen?

The path of the eclipse will pass across the middle of the USA.  More precisely, through the states of Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.  The beginning will take place in Oregon.  At 10:16 AM PDT (Pacific Daylight Time), the first people will witness the total phase.  In the Oregonian capital of Salem, the eclipse will last a maximum of 1 minute and 58 seconds.

From there, it will proceed to Idaho and then Wyoming – the Cowboy State.  In Casper, the event will occur at 11:43 AM MDT and will last 2 minutes and 27 seconds.  The weather there August is very often clear and sunny.  The further one travels east from there, the higher the chance of cloud cover.  In Kentucky, the length of totality will reach its height at 2 minutes and 40 seconds.  At 2:42 EDT, the shadow of the eclipse will reach South Carolina.  After that, the shadow will jet off over the Atlantic towards Africa and Europe.

"Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak,"

“Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak,”

From West to East in 1.5 Hours

The core shadow will race across the American continent at a speed of 4,260 kmh or 2,647 mph, which is approximately double the speed of a modern day fighter jet. Altogether, the shadow will traverse more than 4,000 km or 2,500 miles of North America over a period of 1.5 hours, totaling about three hours of eclipse, from first to last contact.

Only with Eye Protection

Perhaps, you have already long had plans to travel to a specific spot in the USA and witness the total eclipse. Supposedly, the number of people experiencing the eclipse will reach around 7.4 million people. What is of utmost importance is to protect your eyes!

Never look directly at the Sun without protection!  Solar Eclipse glasses are a must, to adequately protect your eyes. Should you decide to travel to a spot in the USA to see the eclipse, we recommend Omegon’s certified Solar Eclipse Glasses.

Similarly, a solar filter is also must for a telescope. A large selection of filters are available here.

If you cannot follow this event at location, you can access NASA’s live stream.

Interesting Links:

Solar Eclipse Site NASA:

Solar Eclipse in the Rocky Mountains with Wyoming Stargazing

July 4 2017, Joshua Taboga

If you are contemplating traveling to the USA for the Total Solar Eclipse on August 21st, check out Wyoming Stargazing, a non-profit organization aspiring to “educate and inspire through Wyoming’s extraordinary skies”.

logo    logo

The organization, based in Jackson, Wyoming, was founded by local Jackson resident, Dr. Samuel Singer, as a way to further stoke the interest of exploring “the extraordinary in the ordinary”.  Indeed, the night sky may seem just ordinary to many people, but from the standpoint just above beautiful Jackson, peering beyond our own world offers a glimpse of what was, is and will be awe-inspiring, while offering a large dose of perspective to our every day lives.  We are but a small part of the Universe – a fact that makes our world, teeming with life, all the more special and amazing.  To learn more about what Wyoming Stargazing stands for and aspires to achieve, check out their website here.

Eclipse 2017


Wyoming Stargazing is holding a two-day, pre-eclipse event on the summit of Snow King, just above Jackson.   If you are interested in participating or simply making yourself wise to the events in the area, click the image above.

For basic info about the solar eclipse, as well as a map of the eclipse’s path across the United States, see Wyoming Stargazing’s 2017 Solar Eclipse page.  The organization has also started a Solar Eclipse blog, entitled “100 Days until Totality Blog“, offering history, tid-bids and interesting facts about past eclipses, and of course the upcoming eclipse in two month’s time.

If you happen to be in the neighborhood, stop by Jackson!  Come for the sights!  Stay for big wonderful Wyoming!

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