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Archive for the 'New Products' category

New: Star Discovery telescopes by Skywatcher with a smartphone app

June 25 2018, Stefan Taube

An increasing number of telescopes can be controlled with a smartphone. The advantages are obvious: Smartphones offer, with their colour display, touchscreen and GPS mobile, more possibilities and are more intuitive to operate than a classic hand-held controller. The app can be kept constantly up-to-date and the telescope can be controlled wirelessly.

So, the manufacturer, Skywatcher, now offers its azimutal one-arm mount, Star Discovery, without a hand-held controller only. Instead, a Wi-Fi module is included, with which the smartphone can be linked. The telescope can then be controlled with the free SynScan app.

At the moment, Skywatcher is offering the Star Discovery mount with two telescope optics. We can recommend in particular the Star Discovery P1 50i:

Star Discovery P1 50i

The 150/750-Newton optic of this telescope has proven to be valuable for beginners and can be used in many variants. With a mirror diameter of 150 mm, objects from the Deep Sky guide can be viewed, but it is also a pleasure to observe the Moon and the planets with this telescope! Thanks to the relatively small focal length of 750 mm, the telescope is still very compact and transportable.

Those who prefer to observe with a classic telescopic lens should get hold of a Star Discovery 90i. Thanks to its deep eyepiece, it is especially suitable for children.

Both optics can be removed from the mount by way of a handy screw to they can be transported. The Star Discovery has a classic prism rail connector thanks to which almost any small telescope optic weighing up to five kilogrammes can be secured. The mount is also an attractive option if you already have a telescope.

Take another look in the App Store for the SynScan app. You can get the right telescope from us.

AstroReality: Moon- and planetary models with interactive 3D App

June 22 2018, Elias Erdnüß

The young company, AstroReality, from San Francisco, is bringing the solar system to your living room. The innovative developments in the fields of 3D printing and augmented reality have been brought together to form unique products. Models of heavenly bodies in our solar system  made with great attention to detail are now available. Each reproduction shows the unmistakable character and features of each one. The most impressive is the model of the Moon, LUNAR Pro. Based on data from the NASA, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a highly detailed relief surface of the Moon was created. Craters, mountains and seas can be touched, and the realistically coloured surface gives you the feeling that you are holding the Moon in your hands.

The models are not just great to look at, and make excellent decorative objects, they also invite users on an interactive journey of discovery. The AstroReality app (currently only available in English) recognises the models via your smartphone’s camera and embeds them into a simulated 3D space environment. Details are then added to these heavenly bodies (e.g. the rings of Saturn or Earth’s atmosphere), from which you will learn valuable knowledge about the planets. With the highly detailed model of the Moon, the LUNAR Pro, there is additional information about specific features of the surface, and it’s even possible to simulate interactive Moon missions.

The models of all the planets and of Pluto are available in a set with a diameter of 3 cm. To go with them, there is also a LUNAR mini model of the same size. The 12-cm LUNAR Pro globe (with a surface 16 times bigger than the mini model) represents the Moon with much greater detail.

In addition to the heavenly bodies, AstroReality also offers a LUNAR AR notebook. With a relief surface of the Moon and a 3D model of our satellite that can be retrieved via the app, it’s the right notebook for astronomy enthusiasts and night owls.

The AstroReality products also make great presents for members of the family and friends who are fascinated by space.

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.

18.07.2018
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