Astronomy Products

Road Atlas for the Total Solar Eclipse of 2024
Black & White edition $14.95
and
Road Atlas for the Annular Solar Eclipse of 2023 $19.95

September 2019

I am going to start this review of the Road Atlas with the most obvious omission – why does the atlas omit the location of camping areas? Why are the State Parks within the line of totality, for example, not noted on the Atlas?

I really need to start paying better attention to orders when I am making purchases on the net. I ordered the Black & White version of the atlas, only to discover my mistake after it was delivered. For around $5 more I could have gotten the color version. I’m betting someone in my family is getting a B&W Eclipse Atlas as a gift! I certainly want the color version!

The best thing about this atlas is that you can easily follow the centerline of the eclipse to find the premo-locations. Our home lies on about the 4 minute line, so I will be plotting a B & C emergency location to our South West and North East just in case.

As soon as I get a copy of the Colar Atlas, I will return here and update this review.

I cannot saw if having the color atlas over the black & white offers any advantages, the data obviously will be the same. My best guess is that it might be a bit more readable than the black and white and offer a better Souvenir of the event. So mostly a matter of aesthetics and personal preference. The color edition does cost about $5 more than the Black & White version.

 

Review forthcoming!

Celestron Power Tank 12V DC Rechargeable Mobile Power Station with Spotlight.

This was my second Celestron Power Tank to purchase because the first one died on me and would not hold a charge after about 18 months. I have to confess it was not used for that time much and I should have recharged the unit more as advertised was necessary. On this second unit I will be taking notes and watching closely. I wanted to try the larger one but could not afford it at the time I placed this order as it was needed quickly.

The Celestron Power Tank is a 12V DC Rechargeable Mobile Power Station with spotlight. So far I have used it once on an astronomy outing of several days. The power tank worked flawlessly. I was happy to see that it included a drop down drawer containing a DC battery charge plug which I believe will power the Celestron SE8 Telescope I am using the power tank to power. My previous Power Tank was missing that door, and it did not come with the additional cord.

I love that the unit has Two Outputs for USB Charging, one 5V and 1 1.5V. It also is fused (2A) and has a 10A reset. The on and off button works in three configurations, Centered the unit is off, push the on button an to power your Telescope or other items and CHA when charging the unit. I wish it came standard with a battery charge status gauge, but it does not. I used one from our Casita to monitor the battery status and am considering buying one for use with the power pak. The pak features two DC cigarette style ports for powering the telescope and anything else you need.

For charging, you can use the DC power cord supplied or the AC adapter also supplied with the unit. I have read complaints about the AC adapter, but must confess so far I have never noticed anything out of my expectations, other than on my previous pak I thought it was extremely slow to charge. I will keep an eye on that and review it in an update.

Basic Stats:

7-amp hour
Two 12V output cigarette lighter ports
Built-in flashlight with red filter cap
Built-in (2) USB ports for charging portable devices
Energy efficient LED spotlight
Built-in Circuit Breaker for safety
Cigarette lighter and 110 V/220 V switchable universal AC adapter included

Starlight Instruments Feather Touch Focuser

Back during the days I owned an 18 inch Starmaster GOTO Newtonian Telescope, I fell in love with the Feather Touch focus control. There is no much I miss about that Telescope – it had been my dream all of my life to own a big DOB (Dobsonian) Telescope. The Starmaster was to me a Rolls-Royce among its peers. For me it was then the perfect telescope. Today it might be a bit of a struggle with my lifting restrictions.

Anyway, when I obtained a Celestrob 8 inch SCT SE8 Telescope, I decided to buy the Feather Touch. I am so glad I did. I actually have had this for at least a year and am just now getting it installed.

I really was afraid this was going to be a real challenge. However, I found this video instruction segment on Youtube, followed it step by step, and found out that installing it was a snap! I will try and update this short review with the guys name and website if I can figure out who he is. My speaker isn’t the best on this computer and I cannot make it out!

It has a 1x focus control as well as 10x. You gain very fine adjustment, and will really help focus on things such as the moon and planets, and Astronomy objects in general. If you have a Celestron SCT, you cannot go wrong with Feather Touch. And installation is very easy following this video.

A Cheap Alternative to Expensive Telescope Cases

This was my solution and alternative to having to spend several hundred dollars on a carry case dor my Celestron Nexstar 8SE. A suitcase, on wheels, and with a handle! This alternative makes use of the shipping foam that came with your case. Hopefully, you are a pack-rat like me and did not throw it away!

I took the shipping foam to a store with me to shop for a cheap suitcase, and found one just a bit larger than perfect. At first I was looking for a perfect fit. Then I bought this one and realized it was perfect…it allows me to also keep stuff like my vibration pads inside with the OTA.

And guess what I just discovered writing this review. By unzipping the expansion zipper on the suitcase, now I also have my Celestron eyepiece case inside. Talk about genius – I deserve a Nobel Prize for this idea, don’t you think?! Now my eyepieces fit the case carrying my OTA!

I remember once going for a night of deep sky observing only to drive 2 hours and discover I’d left all my eyepieces at home safely stored in their nice comfy case! Now they go everywhere with me and the OTA, and I have my vibration suppression pads in there and the cigarette lighter plug charger for the SE8 as well.

 

Farpoint Parallelogram Mount

I drove up tonight for some observing at the Texas Astronomical Society Observatory and site in Atoka County. OK. I wanted by now to be praising the Farpoint Parallelogram and my Oberwerk 25 x 100mm Binoculars. However…

I saw the Farpoint and the Oberwerks at TSP 2019 in May, and fell in love with the apparent design of the mount, I especially liked the extra bracket that was available for an additional $50 that allowed a pivot point enabling a seated observer to pivot the view without having to adjust a chair all the time. It looked like it would fit a number of criteria I was seeking in a Bino mount. I bought the mount from Camera Concepts & Telescope Solutions, who was a large vendor at TSP, though I could not make a purchase of it at TSP. So instead I ordered the mount after selling some items from my other hobby specifically to buy this mount. So this purchase was a sacrifice and strained my budget a bit.

The package arrived and immediately I felt nervous. The packaging was grossly done, very poor and shabby at best. I was shocked when I opened it was intact; I expected to find it was damaged. Even more concerning, there was NO INSTRUCTIONS AT ALL!

I set IT up in the front yard trying to figure the mount out without the foggiest idea how to set it up. I got the mount assembled (I thought) and coupled it with my Celestron 20 x 80’s. Now the problem starts. No instructions whatsoever, so I trIED extending the bar with the counter weights; Then CRASH!. The whole mount toppled over, landing mostly on the softer ground.

The Celestron Binoculars, however, crashed onto the concrete walkway, sustaining damage as a result. I am anal with protecting my optical equipment, probably as a result of trying to live on a substitute teachers salary.

So, I sent a cordial email off to CC&TS complaining about the lack of instructions and reporting my damaged bino’s and contractors tripod and to this day have received NO reply.

Circumstances delayed my arrival at Atoka by hours, and by the time I got the trainer set up and everything ready (I still have to get my stabilizers down), daylight was fading fast. So here I am with my farpoint, and my Oberworks – but I do not feel comfortable putting those expensive bibo’s on this mount I am not sure at all about.

So – you will have to come back for my update…I can tell you I am very disappointed in the company I bought these from. I do not like being ignored. I wish I had not bought this mount fir my heavy Oberwerk Binoculars. If my primary use were to have been a lighter Binocular like my Meade 11 x 80 or Celestron 20 x 80 Binoculars, I think they would have been great. But I am just not sure about the heavy 25 x 100mm Oberwerk Astronomical Binoculars yet.

The unit is offers specifications of a 12lb max load, Standard style-Parallelogram mount, corrosion resistant, 1/4 or 3/8″ Mounting Adapter and includes the counterweight.

I am tempted to return them for a refund and buy another Fred Tenny Parallelogram mount like I once owned…but as usual I was mostly trying to save a buck and this is what usually happens. You get what you pay for…