Gear Galaxy Science & Astronomy Blog – A Place for Space
Welcome to Gear Galaxy – a blog where we discuss the latest events in the science and astronomy world (i.e. the universe). Stop by for science news, telescope and optical equipment reviews, and other interesting jabberwocky. Gear Galaxy is brought to you by OpticsPlanet – the best source for sport optics, cool gadgets, telescopes and astronomy equipment on this planet or any other that we know of so far.
Astronomy, when looked at as a whole, is a tough subject to master all at once. There are thousands and thousands of different aspects to learn about when looking through telescopes and star maps, only the most experienced will fully experience quality star gazing. OpticsPlanet, your optics information resource, has a few tips for the beginning telescope user to have the most fun possible in the night sky.
When setting up your space telescope, stay away from buildings, pavement or large objects that absorb heat by day and release it at night. Upon releasing heat, these objects create air currents (heat mirages) which ruin image quality in your telescope. This is why observing from a terrace or top of a building is not a good idea. Grassy, open meadows or clearings are the best for star navigation.
Parallel to above, observing from a porch is also a bad idea. Not only are you stationed near a building, the ground will constantly be in motion from gatherers circling around. Even at low magnifications, the slight vibrations around you will make noticeable distortion of your picture. Telescopes work best on the solid ground.
Speaking of magnification, too much of it is, perhaps, the single biggest beginner mistake with a telescope. Too much magnification yields an unclear and unstable image. When clarity becomes an issue, use less magnification.
This is just a tiny fraction of the tips and tricks you can find in our How To Articles. For more telescope tips, check out our Dozen Observing Tips. For telescopes, spotting scopes, or binoculars, you know that you can find it at OpticsPlanet.
Telescopes are great learning tools to help raise interest in astronomy and the stars amongst viewers young and old. A telescope is not only a great visual aid; it also looks really neat in a den or study. Regardless of the application or decoration, choosing an astronomical telescope can be difficult. Not to worry! OpticsPlanet is here to guide your through those introductory questions that every aspiring astronomer dares to ask.
The first question to ask is whether you would like a computerized telescope or one without a computer. The telescope mount can come with a built in computer that can locate celestial objects for you. Computerized telescopes are recommended if you are a beginner, and if you live in a polluted city with a cloudy sky. There are plenty of star maps available to help guide you across the night sky, but with out seeing the stars themselves it is a bit hard to navigate. Celestron telescopes or Meade telescopes with a computer will cost more than their non-computer counterparts, meaning that a bigger telescope without a computer will cost similar to a smaller version with it. Computers also come with the same headaches that your personal computer can give you. Software, compatibility, and crashes are all risks you must take when dealing with a computerized telescope.
Should you get a big reflecting telescope or a refractor telescope? Telescope size is the way that performance is measured. Large-objective Meade telescopes won’t necessarily outperform smaller Celestron telescopes. Remember that the best telescope is the one that you will use the most, and a clear night sky will allow for the telescope optics to be exemplified. OpticsPlanet has hundreds of telescopes available so that you can find the right one for you.
There is an assortment of tripods available on the market ranging from low budget to high end. Bogen tripods, Gitzo tripods, and other brands are fighting for your business and support, but what makes a good tripod? Is a camera tripod or a mini tripod your best bet? Should you worry about getting a lightweight tripod or focus on the tripod head? OpticsPlanet has all of these answers, plus the tripods from all of the name brands that you trust.
The type of tripod that you select is directly related to the safety of the optical equipment that you are mounting. There are two basic parts of a tripod: the tripod head and the tripod leg set. On cheaper models of tripods, both of these components come together, so there is no need to buy them separately. When ordering a Bogen Tripod, for instance, you only get a leg set if you order a model labeled as a “tripod“. If you want both a leg set and a head, you must order a tripod by Bogen labeled as a “kit”.
The most important fact that you should consider when buying a tripod is the material. As tripods get more expensive, the quality of materials goes up as well. A plastic tripod will not be able to hold a heavy spotting scope or telescope. Also, the wind is a huge factor when looking through a binocular with high magnification. A lightweight tripod will not hold steady even with slight gusts. Gitzo tripods are known worldwide for their reliability and stability.
There are many things to take into consideration when buying a tripod. For more information, read the in-depth tripod guide, or our other how-to articles. Make sure that you tune in to OpticsPlanet to learn more and save.
Eyes have been turning with the recent announcement of the 1st Annual OpticsPlanet Brilliance Awards winners. The top ranked products in the Astronomy category are making a statement about the design and creativity for the future. All of the hundreds of telescopes available at OpticsPlanet have had their sales numbers for 2008 calculated and have been tested and reviewed by numerous product specialists to bring out only the telescopes that are making the galaxy that much more closer to home.
The limitless features and sheer strength of the Meade ETX-125 Astro Telescope made it the clear winner in the fight for Telescope of the Year. Its GOTO compatibility and terrestrial viewing opportunities make for a serious telescope that does the job well. One of the most popular celestial viewing instruments of 2008, the Meade MySky Plus, shook the industry and took the OpticsPlanet Brilliance Award for Best Educational Product. This enviable award will bring the MySky into serious consideration as a tool used in the classroom.
Another notable winner in the Astronomy category was the Meade Autostar Suite and LPI Package, taking the award for Best Telescope Accessory. It makes looking at the stars that much easier and serves as a guide to make all of your sessions flow smoothly. Who will top the lists next year? We can only wait and see what companies will come up with next.
Tripods are an important part of many optical instruments. They are mostly used with cameras to ensure a steady shot and a blur-free photo. The use of compact tripods as well as mini tripods has increased because of their size and portability. Another great application of tripods is their functionality with telescopes, allowing viewers to easily sit behind the unit and comfortably aim the telescope.
Some newer optical instruments are made to use without the assistance of a tripod. The Celestron SkyScout and the Meade MySky are both handheld celestial viewing tools that can be attached to a camera tripod with additional tripod accessories. The MySky from Meade, winner of the Editor’s Choice Award by Children’s Technology Review magazine, is an interactive Sky Exploration tool that features a full-color LCD screen that guides you around the galaxy with multimedia presentations. The mySky is a point and shoot device that doesn’t require a stand. Implementing a tripod with the MySky keeps your arm from getting tired and lets the family crowd around the unit to view the excitement..
OptisPlanet is your source for tripods and tripod accessories from all of top leading brands. Also, check out our tripod buyer’s guide to make sure that you find the tripod that meets your needs. If you are confused or having an issue deciding on what type of tripod or other piece of optical gear, turn to OpticsPlanet and watch everything develop in your hands.
>”It was a dark and stormy night, ” has been the theme across much of the country so far, this winter. That means a lot of Meade MySly Plus sky computers as well as many a Celestron Skyscout have not seen too much action. Can a MYSky Plus still work through the clouds? Yes, it can still identify objects, but if you can’t see well enough to point, it would be sheer coincidence if you happen to center a MySky on an object. It may not seem like it on a dark, starry night, but the sky is mostly empty. Take heart, the sky will clear. In the meantime, turn on your MySky Plus and be entertained by the informative software.
>I sometimes play music while doing astronomy. Not too informative, but music never fails to do wonders for my spirit and soul. In the old days, I had to deal with cassette players and then CD players, but now I use an mp3 player (iPod). Very handy. For those of you more interested in information, though, a sky computer, such as the Meade Mysky Plus will talk to you and provide a lot of very useful information. It even includes a set of ear buds so you don’t bother the neighbors or, maybe, so they don’t bother you. When they see what a Meade Mysky is all about, they may want to borrow it.
>Should I get a star map, like the Celestron Sky Map or should I get a sky computer like the Meade MySky Plus or the Celestron Skyscout? Best answer is to get both a star map and a MySky Plus. There is some overlap, of course, but both are quite different tools with different features. Once you learn how to use a star map, it is your best choice for learning how to trace the outline of constellations, but the MySky Plus will help pinpoint and identify the main stars in the constellation.
One of the most amazing creations to hit consumers in years, the Meade MySky Plus continues to turn heads as the holidays come along. Both are professional and amateur astronomers are using this skygazing tool to learn more about the galaxy and all of its wonders. The mySky brings the same advanced technology to the table as Meade telescopes, an ease of use right out of the box, a straightforward design, and a quality that comes only with the Meade brand.
Ergonomically designed to be used night after night, the Meade mySkay Plus utilizes "point and shoot" technology to put an astounding amount of knowledge at your fingertips. User can aim the mySky at a celestial body and read a description from the full color LCD screen, or embark on one of the included guided tours of the universe. The MySky Plus even tells you about the most interesting sights at the current time, tailored to your specific location!
The Meade mySky arrives just in time for the upcoming 2009 International Year of Astronomy, where countries around the world gather to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo‘s use of a telescope to study the sky. In the comfort of your own backyard you can honor his tradition and learn about planets, stars, and galaxies with the pull of the MySky‘s trigger. It is no wonder that the Meade mySky was nominated for Outstanding Technology of the Year Award in 2007 and won the Editor’s Choice Award by the Children’s Technology Review magazine. Click here to see the positive reviews that the mySky has received from impressive sources.
The Meade mySky Plus is the ideal gift for any of your family and friends that love to learn, and with updates constantly being made available online, you will never run out of things to learn. Stop by OpticsPlanet and get yours before time runs out!
Emergencies are bound to happen, and two of the most important items in an emergency kit are a flashlight and a radio. Opticsplanet offers a selection of radio flashlights to make sure that what is really important during a critical situation is within reach.
VWR Labware & Accessories has released the VWR Enviro-Lite Emergency Flashlight with Radio, a handy flashlight radio that can be used as a crank radio or powered with an external power supply. One minute of winding provides up to ten minutes of bright light, and utilizing three super-bright LED bulbs, you can expect this emergency flashlight to shine for over 10,000 hours.
Another great flashlight from VWR is the Infinity Emergency Flashlight. This radio flashlight has similar features to the Enviro-Lite crank radio flashlight, but adds a Nokia cell phone charger. When times are rough, who are you going to call? With 2-8 minutes of cell phone talk time after 3 minutes of cranking, you will be able to reach help quickly. There are adapters available for other phones as well, just contact one of our friendly sales representatives and we will be glad to provide one for you.
Last but not least, the Dorcy 3 LED Dynamo Flashlight (pictured above) includes an LED flashlight, an emergency crank radio, and a universal DC charging adaptor. Dorcy has combined three necessities into to one crank flashlight. The manual that illustrates all of these features can be view here.
Whether helping you change a flat tire during a dark evening, or being alerted of approaching severe weather while you are out hiking in the woods, a flashlight radio combination will quickly become a necessity in your life. You never know when you will need it, but here at OpticsPlanet, we want to make sure that this lifesaver is in your disposal at all times.