Blog

  • Losmandy Announces Major Release of New Mount Systems

    Losmandy has announced an new mount system based on their long-standing and well loved GM8, G11 and Titan mounts.   With the addition of a simple adapter, you can now split your existing Losmandy mount and attach to new, alternate bases without having to buy an entirely new mount.   In other words, if you have a GM8 and have been wanting to upgrade to a G11, you add an RA extension adapter and a G11 base increasing your mount's weight capacity to 50 pounds.   Have a G11 and want to upgrade? Add the RA Extension and the Titan base and you have a mount with a 75 pound capacity for a fraction of the price of a new Titan mount.

    There are great major possibilities and potential versatility with a modular equatorial mount system.   For astronomers with multiple fixed viewing or imaging locations that you travel to, you could have two bases and a single mount head rather than two complete mounts.  You could keep a larger fixed system at home and travel with a lighter setup when you're out in the field.  By splitting the mount in two it becomes more portable and easier to handle as well.   Losmandy has updated the mount design by tucking motors away making the mount bodies more streamlined and compact than before.    The new mount systems are also available in pre-configured sets under the new models, GM811G and G11GT.

    As of this posting mounts, Losmandy is expected to start shipping in about 4 weeks and the RA Extension for the GM8 is due out soon as well.  We are accepting preorders now for these mounts and upgrades.

     

     

  • Rayox Saddle Plate Cloudy Night Review

    Derek Wong recently reviewed the Rayox Saddle plate on Cloudy Nights.  Derek walks through the ins and outs of this innovative saddle with detailed pictures and why the Rayox Saddle Plate makes a smart investment.

    "The Rayox principle is simple. There are three basic positions for a dovetail saddle—open, balance, and locked. The sloping edges of the Losmandy system allow you to have a balance position that enables plate movement without the telescope tipping out. The Rayox’s ability to reach the balance position is repeatable and precise, as it uses an auto-engaging system with audible feedback.  In contrast, with standard dovetails it is difficult to determine whether they are engaged while mounting a large scope.  Most rely on knobs connected to screws to achieve a balance position.  Using these knobs on a cold night can be difficult, especially with a large OTA where a lot of force is needed. The Rayox cam lever provides a simple alternative to adjusting these knobs. "

    Check out the review and order your Rayox Saddle Plate today.

  • High Hopes for Valley Clear Weather (This event has been canceled due to rain)

    THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO RAIN

    Oak Canyon Astronomy Group's next scheduled star party at Oak Canyon park is on Saturday, March 25th from 5pm to 10pm.  The group has yet to have their first star party of 2017 due to an unusually rainy Spring and we're all hoping for a dry weekend this month so we can get out under the stars.

    You can find more details about the star party on the group's Facebook page. This is a free and open to the public event.  Children are absolutely welcome but the group does ask that they are closely supervised due to the value and sensitivity of some equipment.  Bring a red flashlight and be sure to arrive before dark.

  • iOptron CEM60 by Andrew Davies

    Astrofarms proprietor reviews the iOptron CEM60 Equatorial Mount.

    A brief review by Andrew Davies of the iOptron CEM60 center balance equatorial mount. Andrew is the lead astronomer at Astrofarm residential astronomy center in the South of France. He has been hooked on astronomy since his childhood and continues with observation and astrophotography to this day. Always willing to share his enthusiasm and knowledge with others, he teaches both astronomy and photography classes.

    "Last night I managed to spend some time getting to grips with the IOptron CEM60 mount. If like me, all you have been used to up to now is standard hand controllers then the CEM60's display will seem a little daunting to begin with. This is, however, only until you read the user manual, something I never used to do, and then it becomes a wealth of information from GPS position to object position in Re and Dec.

    Setup

    Polar alignment is, if you take your time, relatively easy with the CEM60. Once the system is switched on and the GPS has got your position and you have put in all the other required data such as UT difference, it shows you where the polestar should be in the polar scope. There are also options for when you cannot see the pole star from your position and a correction option using two stars to show what adjustments need to be made to mount to improve polar alignment.

    Other useful menu options on the CEM60 are Period Error Correction (PEC) utility which allows you to record the Period Error using a guide scope and save it so that the mount compensates for any errors in the gears, which most mounts with gearing have by the way. This utility is a great utility for long un-guided exposures.

    Closing comments

    I am very impressed with the CEM60. I like the funky robotic noise it makes when tracking. The CEM60 is a very powerful mount which I am looking forward to using more of. That said, like most things that come with any form of technology it is easy to see how some people could become very frustrated at the companies expectation that the user is either computer savvy or has some years of experience. This is another justification for outreach, teaching, and patience with newcomers."

    For more information about Andrew or Astrofarm: http://astrofarmfrance.com/

     

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  • NGC 7635 by Geoffrey Graham

    Scope: Astro-Tech 12" RC Astrograph with AP.75 focal reducer plus Moonlight Nightcrawler Focuser-Rotator.

    Mount: Orion HDX 110

    Imaging Camera: SBIG STF CCD 8300 Mono

    Guide Camera SBIG STi

    Image Capture MaximDL

    Filter: Baader Ha 7nm

    Subs: 1800" X 60 -20c

    Total Time 30 Hrs for the Ha

    Dark Frames: 50X1800"

    Bies Frames: x100

    Ha Flat Frames: X100

    Processed in PixInsight.

     

    Best Regards and Clear Skies

    Geoff”

     

    NGC 7635

  • Sun through Marumi and Baader

    The whiter one is Marumi and the darker one is Baader.

    Shot with 100 to 400 L IS lens from Canon

    _MG_3290 _MG_3289

  • Star Party 2/18/2017- Oak Canyon Astronomy Group

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    Update: 2/17/17 - We regret to say that due to the expected storm this Star Party has been canceled. Please stay tuned for information on Oak Canyon's March star party. 

    The Oak Canyon Astronomy Group has returned!   Sponsored in part by SkyWatcher and Software Bisque (many thanks for donating equipment!) and FOCUS Astronomy Outreach and run by the generous volunteers that have kept the club going.   Join OCAG for the Joe Napolitano Memorial Astronomy Outreach star parties each month.  Due to inclement weather the January star party was canceled. The first star party will be February 18th, 2017.   Here are the details:

    • The subject of conversation on the 18th will be Observing the Night Sky with focus on general observing tips, orienting yourself with the sky and finding key objects.
    • Set up is from at 4pm-5pm.    Please be respectful of this setup time.  It has been allocated to get set up done before dusk when the need for flashlights is minimal.
    • Starting at 5pm outreach telescopes will be available to the public.
    • Event ends at 9pm.  Because the star party is held on Oak Canyon Park property, we ask that you be prepared to depart in a timely manner.

    Oak Canyon star parties are held at 5600 Hollytree Dr. in Oak Park, CA 91377 at the Oak Canyon Community Park.   Outreach telescopes will be set up on the upper parking lot on the northwest end.     Oak Canyon Community Park is in a suburban setting and while the skies are dark, these monthly star parties are designed to offer an opportunity to the community to get up close and personal with the night sky.    Children with supervision are absolutely welcome and seeing the moon, planets or a star cluster through a telescope for the first time can be an awe-inspiring experience.   Outreach volunteers have kindly lent their equipment and are happy to answer any questions you might have.  Don't forget, running lights only as you approach the lot if you're arriving after dark.

    We'll see you out there!

  • Coronado SolarMax II 60mm H-Alpha Telescope - VIDEO

    Coronado's SolarMax II line is an advanced series of h-alpha telescopes designed for the serious  solar astronomer or hobbyists in search of high definition detailed views of the Sun.   Easy to use, these complete telescopes are compact and easy to travel with.  The 60mm SolarMax II comes in a variety of models with various blocking filters depending on your needs.  Shooting video or images? Go with the 30mm blocking filter which will let through the maximum amount of safe sunlight.   Do you wear your sunglasses at night? Go with the 5mm blocking filter which will let though the least amount of light, perfect for prolonged observing without tiring your eyes.

    Checkout our latest video with Dr.D on these solar telescopes and don't forget to subscribe to our Youtube channel for new content weekly!

  • Coronado Personal Solar Telescope - VIDEO

    The Coronado Personal Solar Telescope or PST was an innovation at it's introduction.  A small, self-contained h-alpha telescope that didn't break the bank.  Perfect for outreach and travel the PST is a 1 angstrom 40mm dedicated h-alpha solar telescope that will bring out the incredible detail of the Sun's surface.   This small but mighty telescope is also available in a double stacked 0.5 angstrom version that will further refine surface details and bring out solar flares as well.

    An h-alpha filter produces a false color image of the Sun in a brilliant orange-yellow color that we typically associate as being the Sun's 'color'.   H-alpha filters and telescopes are an eye-opening and thrilling way to observe, image or video our nearest star and an up-close way of watching live solar events like the upcoming 2017 Total Solar Eclipse.  

     

  • Meade ETX Observer Series - VIDEO

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    The Meade ETX series of telescopes are a portable, fully computerized telescope, mounted on a smart Alt-Azimuth mount and built to travel easily.   Ranging from a backpack sized ETX80 with an 80mm refractor to the ETX125 which sports a 127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope there is an ETX to fit a range of budgets and needs.   The ETX Observer series includes Meade's AudioStar which is an immersive audio experience packed with information on over 30,000 night sky objects.    Check out this video from Meade to learn more about the Meade ETX series of telescopes.

     

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