Whether you’re looking for a gift for the astronomy enthusiast in your life or you’re a stargazer yourself, we’ve got some great astronomy gift ideas for you. For the amateur astronomer, a simple star chart can be a great way to get started in learning about the night sky. A more serious stargazer will appreciate a telescope or binoculars to get a closer look at the stars and planets. And for those who want to take their astronomy to the next level, consider a subscription to an astronomy magazine or online course. Whatever your budget, there’s an astronomy gift out there that’s sure to please.
On a recent trip to my local Barnes & Noble, I discovered a brand-new astronomy magazine. Sky at Night, exactly like the television program, is published by the BBC. As one would expect, Patrick Moore, the TV show’s presenter, has a lot to do with the magazine, which is presumably why it’s so wonderful.
At first glance, you can tell this magazine is going to be unique. This is due to the inclusion of a companion CD-Rom. The CD is more than simply a novelty for the first edition. They want to have one for each issue! The most recent CD includes a Virtual Planetarium, MPEG video of the presentation The Sky at Night, Telescope software upgrades, Reader Photos, Titan Descent Video, and two free applications, Celestia 1.2.3 and Stellarium 0.6.2. But the fun doesn’t end there. The articles are simple and straightforward. The star chart is easy to see in low light, and the visuals are crisp and sharp. Simply said, it is on par with Astronomy or Sky and Telescope.
Unfortunately, the magazine has one serious flaw. At least for those who live in the United States. Because it is published by the BBC, everything is in pounds, and the advertising is entirely about the British Isles. But how many of us genuinely buy magazines for advertisements? Another disadvantage is the pricing. However, the CD-ROM is included.
Would I purchase it again? Most certainly, but only if the CD-ROM had something I was really interested in. This is not due to the magazine’s pricing or general quality. It’s more because I can’t store any more periodicals or books!
Well, I got my C102 refractor for Christmas and couldn’t wait to use it! I brought out the scope for first light on Christmas Eve, and as soon as I put it up, I saw that it had a very sturdy setup on its supplied Alt-Azimuth mount, with extremely smooth slow-motion controls. I set it to M42 and was pleasantly shocked at how wide the FOV really was!
When I examined the full moon more closely, I discovered that it had nearly little Chromatic-Abberation. The focuser has a pretty stiff action, although it is excellent for little focus adjustments.
This is also well suited to photography requirements IF you install it on a tracking mount as I did later. It contains a built-in 35mm camera adapter to which you may connect your camera. Its wide field is ideal for use with the Meade DSI CCD camera.
Overall, I couldn’t find any serious flaws with this fantastic telescope, which is a valuable addition to any beginner’s or professional’s armory.
As I said you can build it yourself for cheap or order the parts.
You may now place the scope flat on the tripod top, and the bolt just depresses. Slide the scope a little (now with all of its weight equally distributed on the tripod), and the bolt pops up into the scope base’s locking hole. MUCH better than supporting the scope weight while attempting to put the scope above the bolt! It’s easier on the scope’s base and the back!
Three 5/16″ diameter hex head bolts, each 1/2″ long (or less), with a washer.
One 1/2″ fender washer, two 1/2″ nuts for the 1/2″ thread rod (13 threads per inch = normal American-coarse thread), and three springs, around 2 and 3/4″ long and not too stiff ($1.77 per pair at Home Depot).
Drill one tiny hole near the edge of each little washer and three holes (at 120-degree intervals) near the edge of the large washer. Assemble with two nuts above the huge washer (to lock against each other) and screw the three hex bolts into the tripod base’s bottom (into the 3 holes not used by the wedge).
Note: I had to grind down one side of the three washers I purchased to get them to lie flat.
I did have some difficulty fitting the 1/2″ nuts over the cut-away C-type section of the normal threaded rod – I needed to clean up the threads in that area a little. The nuts went on easily after that. (With a pair of pliers, I easily got the 1/2″ nuts through the cut-away.)
Adjust the two nuts so that the rod stands up about 1/2″ and readily depresses.
- 2″ barrel; 30mm focal length
- 80° AFOV = 1.40 radians = a true ultrawide
- Fully MultiCoated Ultrawide Eyepiece!!!!
- 48mm filter threads, blackened lens edges, plastic bolt case
In 2005, I acquired the Astrobuffet 1rpd 30mm at NEAF. I was looking for an eyepiece with a very broad field of vision. I’ve been missing the larger vistas I used to get with my old dobs since I got my 10″ Meade LX200. This eyepiece was initially presented to me at one of the NJ Night Sky Star Parties. I was astounded that I could obtain the double cluster in the eyepiece without using a focus reducer. The double cluster now just fits and cuts off a few stars, but that was the goal. Another member had the Tele Vue – 31mm Nagler Type 5, which sells for over $600, Astrobuffet’s 1rpd 30mm ST80 is just $95 and I bought mine via NEAF from Astrobuffet’s blems for about $70. So, after looking through both of these eyepieces, let’s just say I went for the 1rpd 30mm ST80, not because I felt it was superior, but because the 31mm Nagler is not $500 more expensive than the 1rpd 30mm ST80.
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