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Archive for the 'New Products' category

New mount from Skywatcher: EQM-35 Pro SynScan GoTo

May 16 2018, Stefan Taube

Many amateur astronomers started their hobby with the EQ-3 by Skywatcher. There’s one reason: The mount is excellent value for money and easy to transport. It can be used as an equatorial mount with motorised tracking for astrophotography and offers the functionality of larger mounts with its SynScan control.

Skywatcher has developed the EQ-3 mount further. We would like present to you the new EQM-35 Pro SynScan GoTo!

 

Die neue Montierung von Skywatcher: EQM-35 Pro

Combine the EQM-35 Pro with a 6-inch telescope. The much-loved Newton optics N 150/750 is very suitable. You will receive this telescope with an improved eyepiece holder: N 150/750 PDS Explorer BD. It has a gear reduction that is useful for astrophotography. If you are interested mainly in photography, the new apochromatic refractor EvoStar 72 ED would be a great choice!

The special highlight of the EQM-35 Pro is the removal declination axis. This way you can use it as a photo mount , with a camera and lens taking the place of the telescope. The EQM-35 Pro then tracks the sky’s rotation, allowing long-exposure shots of larger constellations.

Die EQM-35 als Fotomontierung

With the new EQM-35 Pro, you’ll be getting a versatile and very light mount on a sturdy steel tube tripod. A very good choice for taking up astronomy as a hobby without breaking the bank and a good travel mount for experienced astrophotographers.

Solarquest, the new mount by Skywatcher for observing the sun

April 19 2018, Anita Maier

Adjusting your telescope while observing the sun is not as easy as you might at first think. The telescope should, of course, already be oriented towards the sun using a sun filter before setting up. When attempting to orient the telescope towards the sun, you can quickly become careless and peer without eye protection through the telescope at the blazing sun. Help is at hand here with the solar finder or the new Solarquest mount by Skywatcher.

Skywatcher Solarquest

The Solarquest mount has GPS, an automatic level and an electronic solar finder, Heliofind®. You only have to fit the mount. After a short initialisation, the mount moves by itself to the sun. But, of course, the  Solarquest can do more than that: The mount guides the telescope as the sun moves across the sky, so that it is always in line with the eyepiece or camera sensor. This precise tracking can also be done via the built-in Heliofind® finder.

Skywatcher Heliofind

Of course, you can also correct the orientation of the mount by hand, for example, if you are working with greater magnification, and would like to move to a specific place on the solar disc. To do this, there is a slider button on the mount so you can guide the movement yourself.

Solarquest

The azimuthal single arm mount, Solarquest, can hold small optics weighing up to four kilos, making it especially light and quiet. The Solarquest, in combination with a small sun telescope, forms an easy-to-transport system that is quick to set up – that is both particularly comfortable on your balcony at home and ideal for travel or for training purposes.

Skywatcher Vixen

You can also place a small refractor on the Solarquest and fit a sun filter  to it. In combination with a QUARK by DayStar, it is even possible to observe in H-alpha or Calcium-H light. You can even use it for night astronomy without a sun filter using the Solarquest mount. The Solarquest mount becomes a part of your versatile system for night observation.

New, high-performance astrophotography computer, the EAGLE series

April 10 2018, Elias Erdnüß

With the brand-new models, EAGLE 2 and EAGLE 2 Pro, as well as with the upgraded EAGLE CORE, the innovative Italian company, PrimaLuceLab, is taking astrophotography into the 21st century.


Many astrophotographers use a laptop: to control the wide range of camera equipment, autoguiders and filter wheels and to save the shots you take, a portable computer is essential. All devices must be connected separately to the battery and be connected to each other properly. It takes times and you end up with cables all over the place. When using heater bands, you need ever more controls, and this creates even more cable chaos. This hardly bothers those who have their own small observatory: All the equipment can remain permanently and perfectly set up with ideal cable routes and cable ties, and everything is controlled via a PC that is installed in the observatory.

EAGLE 2 makes this comfort also available to astrophotographers without an observatory! The EAGLE 2 computers are full, high-performance Windows 10 computers on which you can install any software, just like a PC. Using USB connectors, cameras, mounts and autoguiders can be connected to the EAGLE 2, and it also features 12V outputs to supply the power for mounts, camera cooling systems and heating bands. The power supply of all the equipment operates like that via EAGLE 2 and can be set and controlled. A compact battery with just one single 12V direct current output is now all that’s needed! The EAGLE 2 is not just another device that takes up extra time every night to set up and for all the cables to be connected. It has many mechanical connection possibilities so it can be permanently connected to your equipment. The idea is to set up the optimum mechanical connection and perfect cabling once, and then carry it as a whole without stumbling or getting tangled up.

The greatest highlight of the entire system is, however, the Wifi capability of the EAGLE 2. From any terminal you want, whether it be your smartphone, tablet and even a Mac, you can control the EAGLE 2 remotely and wirelessly. On the terminal, you’ll see the familiar Windows 10 interface of the EAGLE 2 and can use it like any normal PC.

The pro version of the EAGLE 2 computer is fitted with more working memory, a more powerful processor and a larger hard drive. It is perfectly suited to more CPU-intensive image processing or other advanced application that go beyond simple telescope and camera control. The inexpensive small brother is the EAGLE CORE. There’s no Windows 10 running on this; instead, it has special software for controlling DSLR cameras and autoguiding equipment. So, the EAGLE CORE is the right choice for DSLR astrophotographers who want to use an autoguider without having to take an extra laptop with them.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a new laptop for astrophotography for a while, you really ought to consider the EAGLE 2 computer as an alternative. A permanently installed solution, no messy cables, no problems with power supply and comfortable wireless remote control all speak for themselves!

New Skywatcher Apochromatic Refractor: EvoStar ED 72 DS Pro

March 29 2018, Stefan Taube

The telescopic lens tubes in the EvoStar series by Skywatcher have been greatly appreciated telescopes for years for both beginners and advanced users.

With the EvoStar 72, the Skywatcher now offers a dual-lens ED apochromatic refractor at a good price: You can purchase the EvoStar 72 ED DS Pro OTA for just €349.00!

EvoStar 72
The very decently priced EvoStar 72, thanks to its short design, is the ideal instrument for travel, but more than that, it’s great for constellation astrophotography. You only need a small parallactic mount with a load capacity of 5 kg.

The apochromatic refractor has a double lens made from particularly tough ED glass. High-quality glass by Schott is used for the crown glass element. Every glass-air surface of this optical item is fitted with a metallic anti-reflective coat to achieve high maximum light transmission of 99.5 %! The optical construction of this apochromatic refractor considerably reduces chromatic aberrations and creates a much sharper image!

The apochromatic refractor comes with a carry case and a sensitive eyepiece holder with 1:11 reduction. For visual observation, you will also need a zenith mirror and eyepieces. You can find these in the “Recommended accessories” section for EvoStar 72.

We will be pleased to advise you personally!

The new Sony Exmor R sensor: What does it mean for astrophotographers?

March 26 2018, Marcus Schenk

“Where there’s a lot of light, there’s a lot of shadow”.

These words come from no less than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. When he wrote these lines, nobody had even conceived of digital cameras. And the famous poet expressed this in a totally different context.

And yet: This sentence is so well suited to astronomy camera sensors that we simply had to use it.

But how does it all fit together? And why does this quote no longer apply to cameras with new Exmor R sensors? We’ll come back to that.

100% more sensitive cameras by ToupTek

This is news that many friends of astronomy will be pleased with: The latest ToupTek cameras are up to 100% more sensitive (source: Sony) than older, conventional CMOS cameras. For recently, great things have been achieved in sensor technology. To put it briefly: Thanks to the new Exmor R sensor, it’s now possible to put even more object information on the chip with short exposure times.

The cameras by ToupTek have already been fitted with these latest, brand-new sensors: Here’s the link to the cameras.

Until a few years ago, people still preferred CCD sensors. This was because they created less noise, were sensitive and you could recognise more details. But CMOS sensors have been improved. Fast data transport and super-fast digitalisation round out the achievements. Noise was markedly reduced, making this technology interesting for astronomy.

These CMOS sensors are also referred to as front-illuminated sensors. And this is where Goethe’s quote: “Where there’s a lot of light, there’s a lot of shadow” becomes interesting. Because it’s got something to do with the architecture or the construction of the chip.

Der Front-Illuminated Sensor: Lichtstrahlen treffen auf den Sensor, werden aber zum Teil abgelenkt.“Classic” CMOS sensors

Front-illuminated sensors contais quite a few elements that the photons must go through before they reach their target land on the pixel.

First, there are the microlenses, then the colour filters and then finally the electronics. The latter were placed on the chip from above. This means: at this spot, there are aluminium strips, wires and transistors. The photons must go through them, too. After all that, the light finally reaches the long-awaited pixel.

The electronics, however, unfortunately, acts like a shadow-caster. It’s a little like what we experience with telescopes with large secondary mirrors: some of the light is absorbed and diverted.

Some photons simply don’t have a chance. They are not let through or they are simply reflected by the metal wire. This consequence is unavoidable: Less light reaches the sensor.

Sony, however, thought about how current chips could be made more sensitive. And something amazing occurred to them and which is now being used in astronomy cameras: “Back-illuminated” CMOS sensors.

 

The new “back-illuminated” sensors by Sony

Sony has taken sensors apart and put them back together quite differently. Now, the photons pass through the microlenses and then the colour filters. So far, so good. But after that, they go straight to the pixels.

The electronics, wires and transistors are located behind. The photons now reach the photo cells without being diverted. The silicon substrate is illuminated from behind instead of from the front. Another advantage is STARVIS technology, a sub-group of the Exmor R sensors that possess even higher sensitivity. This technology realises its greatest benefit precisely where there is little light.

Thanks to numerous improvements, the Exmor R sensors are extremely fast , produce even less noise, and are twice as sensitive (source: Sony) and even have higher transmission in the infra-red.

This technology has been used in research for a long time already. But until now, the price of such cameras was astronomically high. Thanks to the fall in price, amateurs can now enjoy the benefits of these CMOS sensors.

What does this mean for your astronomy shots?

  • More light in a shorter time
  • Shorter exposure times – and therefore fewer problems with tracking
  • Galaxies and nebulae can now be photographed without cooled cameras
  • Extremely high frame rates – resulting in even sharper planet shots
  • Higher sensitivity in the close infra-red range – for images of Mars and Venus
  • Brighter celestial objects often possible as live video

Conclusion:

These new “back-illuminated” sensors by Sony offer new and exciting possibilities for astrophotographers. Thanks to the lower costs the prices are low. And the gain is beautiful astronomy photographs with little outlay. But the best of all is: The cameras by ToupTek are already fitted with this technology. Perhaps, we could now say: “Where there’s a lot of light, there remains a lot of light”. At least, as far as these new cameras are concerned.

P.S.:

If you want to use these cameras, too, then go here.

The new Atik Horizon is finally available!

March 20 2018, Elias Erdnüß

The new highly promising astronomy camera Horizon by Atik will be available very soon. This actively-cooled CMOS camera – available as a colour and mono version – comes with Infinity Live Stacking software, offering an easy introduction to astrophotography. At the same time, this high-performance camera has all the functions that experienced amateur astronomers could wish for. If you would like to take the bold step of taking up the fascinating hobby of astrophotography, with this camera, you have a product that will offer features that go way beyond beginner level.

The 16-megapixel CMOS MN34230 sensor by Panasonic is used. With an active chip diagonal of 22 mm, the sensor surface area is comparable with that of the popular APS-C format on SRL cameras. This large sensor, with a much high pixel density, is a great benefit compared with the well-loved Atik Infinity that comes under the same price category. The extremely low noise level of modern CMOS chips in conjunction with active cooling make the Horizon ideal for deep-sky photography.

If you have already gained experience in astrophotography with an SRL camera , the Atik Horizon is perfect for the leap to a specialist camera. The active cooling reduces not only sensor noise dramatically, it means that a stable sensor temperature can be obtained. You no longer have to shorten the valuable observation time just to take a few dark frames for image calibration. Thanks to the cooling, you can maintain the same sensor temperature throughout the day, thus collecting valuable dark frames for hours on end.

This camera is, however, not suitable for planet shots – for example, with a lucky imaging process – because you can only take around one image per second. If you are looking for a high-quality planet camera with which you can take lots of images per second, you need look no further than the models by ToupTek or The Imaging Source.

The company, Atik Cameras Limited, has made a name for itself in recent years with its high-quality CCD astronomy cameras. With this first step to rapidly improving CMOS sensor technology, a camera is being offered that should be considered by both beginners and professionals.

New Explore Scientific Dobson with 20-inch mirror!

March 6 2018, Stefan Taube

With the Ultra Light series, Explore Scientific is offering telescopes with the Dobson construction that can be taken apart easily for transportation. This means you can travel to dark observation sites with Dobson telescopes. For an unimpeded look into the night sky!

The latest model in the series has a 20-inch mirror: Dobson N 500/1800 Ultra Light telescope.

ES-500-UL

It’s no longer quite so ultra-light. There needs to be two of you to set it up at the observation site. But apart from that, it can be taken apart into practical parts just like the smaller models.

Other features of the Dobson N 500/1800 Ultra Light Hexafoc telescope:

  • Truss tubes made from solid aluminium: Very high level of stiffness
  • Main and secondary mirrors made from quartz with a test certificate
  • Low viewing height of just 1.63 m at the zenith
  • The main mirror can be adjusted from the top, and hence, during observation
  • Very transportable thanks to the small packaging dimensions
  • Large 2.5-inch eyepiece holder with 1:10 fine adjustment
  • Large powder-coated adjustment wheels for wobble-free tracking

The telescope is made in Hungary and Germany

The Imaging Source presents new astro cameras: The Signature Series.

March 2 2018, Elias Erdnüß

We are now introducing the new Signature Series by the camera manufacturer, The Imaging Source. For over 20 years, this company has been making professional cameras, mainly for industrial applications. The company’s products are, however, readily used in medical and scientific fields. The cameras meet above-average quality standards.

In 2007, The Imaging Source designed a series of cameras specifically for astronomy applications for the first time. The manufacturer quickly became well-known and popular among amateur astronomers and astro-photographers because the cameras it produced were of excellent quality while being affordable.

In recent years, the brand became quiet in the field of astronomy. Other manufacturers came to the fore and every year new products, due to the rapid and continuous improvement in the digital camera technologies, put older models in the shade. The Imaging Source continued to diligently make astro cameras: The well-known NexImage and Skyris models of the Celestron brand are being made by way of a collaboration between these two companies.

Now, The Imaging Source is, however, finally presenting its own series of astro cameras once more! The Signature Series features outstanding robustness, which is not surprising from a manufacturer that regularly has to meet the high standards of industrial customers. The series is also equipped with state-of-the-art CMOS sensor technology. The old wisdom that you can only use CCD sensors for astronomy has not held for a long time: CMOS sensors now feature low noise and very high sensitivity, so that leading manufacturers are no longer producing CCD chips any more. In the Signature Series, the latest Pregius and STARVIS CMOS chips by Sony have been incorporated.

The cameras are wonderfully suited to planet shots. They deliver high-resolution, uncompressed, low-noise images at high frame rates. This is ideal for lucky imaging techniques to show every planet detail that is caught by your telescope. These cameras are not, however, primarily designed for taking photographs of very faint galaxies and nebulae: Depending on the model, maximum exposure times of only a few seconds are possible.

The range of models in the Signature Series is very extensive, with almost 60 models. This means you buy exactly the camera that is suited to your own needs. It is, however, challenging to keep an overview.

You should know the following:

Each camera is available in three versions: DMK, DBK and DFK. DMK models are monochromatic cameras. Since they do not need Bayer filters (to capture colour information), they are most sensitive to light. The DBK and DFK models are colour cameras. They do, however, have the same structure, including an infra-red filter in DFK cameras. The built-in CMOS sensors are also sensitive to invisible infra-red radiation, but this can be filtered out if necessary. Many amateur astronomers want an infra-red-sensitive camera, however. If this is what you want, too, DBK cameras are right for you.

Furthermore, there are different connections on each model for data transfer: The 33U cameras can be connected to your computer via a USB 3.0 and the 38U cameras can be connected via USB 3.1. For all USB cameras, a USB cable can be used for the power supply. The 33G cameras have a Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) interface. This is particularly widespread in professional image processing applications. For GiGE cameras, you also need an additional power supply, and the power pack required for this is included.

The built-in CMOS chip can be seen on the model description. This determines, for example, the resolution and frame rate of the camera.

The following table can help you to find the right camera:

If you are interested in a recently developed and high-quality planet camera, the Signature Series should be on your shortlist.

Touptek: Which camera is right for me? How to find out – at a glance.

February 23 2018, Marcus Schenk

Imagine the following situation: You’re looking for the right camera.

The amateur astronomer stares desperately at the hundreds of cameras on the screen. The technical data gives him a headache. Gradually he loses sight of the big picture. Which camera should he buy then? He does not want to search for ever; he just wants to take beautiful photos.

In this post, you will find two aids that will make it easier for you to quickly find the right ToupTek camera for your needs.

 

Das Touptek Kamera-Sortiment

 

1. A graphic that will give you an overview

The range of cameras is constantly increasing. How can you keep track of them?

Sensor size, pixel size and resolution are just a few of the key features. And you have to compare all the cameras with each other.

But the question is: Are they suitable for planets, deep sky or only for guidance?

Isn’t there an easier way to find out? Yes, we have wondered that, too; and have found the solution for ToupTek cameras. Here is the result: A graphic for a quick overview that also offers additional information. This saves you from having to constantly click all over the place. What can you see in this graphic?

Sensor size: At a glance, you can see the sensor size of ten different cameras. The frame sizes are matched accordingly.

Article numbers: Above every sensor, there is an article number in addition to the camera name. If you are interested in a camera, you can enter the number directly into the search function in the shop.

Coloured squares: Within the frame, you can see three small coloured boxes and/or a black and white box. It is actually self-explanatory: The boxes indicate whether the camera is available in a colour and/or in a monochrome version.

Number under the sensor: the sensor name is indicated, as IMX178 or AR0130, for example.

Pixel size (micron) and frames per second (fps): The cameras have been plotted on an X/Y graph. You will be able to see immediately whether a camera has small or large pixels, and whether the number of images recorded per second is very low or very high. Sensor size, pixel size and fps: These are all important pieces of information to help you decide which camera is right for your needs.

Planetary, focal length, guiding: Three coloured bars on the edge indicate for which purpose or telescope the camera is best suited. The more colourful the bar, the better suited for the respective area. These bars will tell you immediately which cameras are suitable for you.

Example: A high frame rate is suitable for planetary images, while a very large chip is not particularly well suited for just guiding. Chip size and pixel size will give you a clue about the appropriate focal length of the telescope.

 

2. How do I distinguish between different sensor sizes?

The sensor sizes of Touptek cameras range from 4.8 mm x 3.6 mm up to the large 20 MP sensor which measure 13 mm x 8.7 mm.

For planet images and guiding, smaller sensors are sufficient; for large moon shots or extended deep sky hosts, there should be more field.

A presentation of the various sizes is difficult, but it is important before making a purchase. That is why we have also created a graphic for you here and projected it on an image of the Galaxy NGC247.

The various frames with product numbers are marked clearly. Much better than an explanation could do, for example, you can see how much bigger the ToupTek EP3CMOS camera20000Kpa Deep Sky Color is than the ToupTek GPCMOS1200KMB Mono Guider.

 

 

With these two graphics, you’ll be on the safe side before you make your purchase and without many hours of searching. The best thing to do is take a look at the product pages of modern ToupTek cameras.

“Hot Product 2018” by Sky & Telescope

February 9 2018, Stefan Taube

At the beginning of each new year, the magazine Sky & Telescope features interesting product developments. The criteria are innovation, an elegant solution to a typical problem, or the particularly high quality of a product.

We would like to present from this long list of “Hot Products 2018” those that we also considered to be particularly noteworthy:

 

Explore Scientific GoTo control PMC-8 with WIFi

ES-PMC-8

The company, Explore Scientific, has developed a control system that, in conjunction with the app, ExploreStars, enables wireless control of astronomical mounts via a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. You will receive this control system in combination with two tried and tested mounts with completely different load-bearing capacity, namely:

 

Stargate Dobsons by Skywatcher

Stargate-Dobson

For the purists who would rather invest in optics than in electronics, the Skywatcher Dobsonian N 458/1900 StarGate-450P telescope is a dream! The Dobsonian telescope with truss tube, mirrors and a lightweight construction collects a great deal of light, but despite its size, it is still relatively easy to transport.

Sky&Telescope awarded both motorized Stargate versions with GoTo control:

They are equipped with the tried and tested SynScan control system, which helps you to find celestial objects and then automatically guides the telescope.

Mini Star Adventurer by Skywatcher

Mini Star Adventurer

Camera mounts have taken a positive development in recent years. Thanks to the high demand for this very immediate method of astrophotography, manufacturers are always coming up with new innovations. Sky & Telescope awarded the Mini Star Adventurer by Skywatcher. This mount also creates its own WIFI, so it can be controlled via the app. This eliminates the need for a manual control box; control is done wirelessly – and thus vibration-free – and the clear graphic user interface can be used for adjusting your mobile device.

Things that make the life of astronomers easier and lovelier

Orion Astrolampe

The many smaller things on which Sky & Telescope has bestowed the Hot Product Award 2018, include the Astro Lamp by Orion, which, of course, can also be operated with glare-free red light. The editors of the magazine also like:

  • Diagonal mirror with TwistTight fixation for 1,25″ and 2″ connector diameter, also by Orion. This special fixation centres the accessory, keeps it secure, won’t scratch, and can be screwed in place while wearing gloves.
  • The “bible” for one of the most powerful astrophotography programs Inside PixInsight by Springer Verlag. The book is available in English, and is very popular. The book is published in the Practical Astronomy
  • Sky & Telescope has also awarded its own Globes. At least for the Pluto Globe, this is most justified. The globe shows the spectacular view of the dwarf planet, Pluto, as the New Horizons spacecraft revealed in 2015.

Mount and accessories for observatories

Paramount Taurus

We can help you with advice and support for your observatory project. This also includes the high-end products by Software Bisque. So, we are pleased that Sky & telescope has awarded the recently developed bracket mountings, Paramount Taurus.

The Spanish company, Lunático, is making a useful accessory for observatories. Its remote control, Dragonfly, has made it to the list of Hot Products 2018.

Every year, it is interesting to see what products the well-known magazine, Sky & telescope, will award – and we are pleased that every year, these award-winning products are already part of our offer.

25.05.2018
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