theopportuneastronomer.comThe Opportune Astronomer - Observing the heavens from wherever you are

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The Opportune Astronomer - Observing the heavens from wherever you are The Opportune Astronomer Observing the heavens from wherever you are Menu Skip to content Observing Equipment Reflections Astro Deals About T.O.A. Summer-weight Observing with Binoculars and Sky Safari November 3, 2016 | By David Philips | Leave a reply Summer has traditionally seen a waning in my telescope use. Longer days that see twilight stretching into night time hours put a bit of a damper on my enthusiasm to spend a lot of time viewing and then there are the bugs. Dare to stay out too long without mosquito protection and you’ll quickly regret it. Of course I’ll make a point to bring a telescope on any trip to darker skies but my summer backyard viewing time is generally much more limited and oriented around binocular viewing. Read more… Browse related posts Binoculars, Sky Safari Mercury Transit May 9, 2016 | By David Philips | Leave a reply Today Mercury crossed between the Earth and the Sun. These Mercurial transits occur roughly 13-14 times a century – the last one was in 2006 and though we only have to wait until November 2019 to see the next one, the following transit won’t happen until 2032. Between clouds and trees in my Eastern sky this morning I wasn’t sure I would be able to catch the beginning of the transit but it worked out. I set up my 80mm refractor with a Baader solar film filter for white light viewing. With this telescope an 8-24mm zoom eyepiece gives me 20-60x, which is just about right for solar viewing as the high end of the range still allows the entire disk to fit within the field of view and daytime seeing conditions don’t often allow very high powers. Read more… Browse related posts Mercury, Sun, Transits Gary Seronik leaving Sky & Telescope March 29, 2016 | By David Philips | Leave a reply Sky & Telescope’s May 2016 issue announces the departure of Gary Seronik who will be leaving the magazine become the chief editor of the Canadian SkyNews. Over the past 20 years Gary has made significant contributions to S&T and the May issue contains his final columns. One of my favorite regular features of S&T has been Gary’s Binocular Highlight column. In fact it was with a planisphere and a copy of Binocular Highlights, a collection of articles from the column published in book form, that I first started observing and I’d highly recommended the same combination to other would-be enthusiasts. I’m glad that the monthly Binocular Highlight will continue to appear – starting with the June issue it is to be taken over by Matt Wedel of 10 Minute Astronomy. Here’s wishing both Gary and Matt the best in their new roles. -Dave Original content copyright 2016 by David Philips. All Rights Reserved. This post may contain links to affiliate sites; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. Vanguard Auctus Plus 323AT Tripod Sale February 16, 2016 | By David Philips [Update Mar. 3: It looks like B&H has sold out and the tripod now shows as discontinued.] B&H Photo is having a sale on the Vanguard Auctus Plus 323AT tripod. This sturdy, ~8lb tripod will make a good platform for the AWB OneSky and can even be used with a 4″ refractor, provided it isn’t too heavy or long. After receiving mine and being impressed with the stoutness and quality I thought I’d pass this along. If you’re looking for a stable, mid-weight tripod for photography* or spotting / telescope use this is an amazing deal at the sale price of $159.99. *Though it’s a bit on the heavy side unless you use a larger format and lenses. -Dave Original content copyright 2016 by David Philips. All Rights Reserved. This post may contain links to affiliate sites; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. Levenhuk Strike 900 Pro Refractor Review October 15, 2015 | By David Philips | Leave a reply The Levenhuk Strike 900 Pro refractor and EQ2 mount. The burgeoning astronomy enthusiast faces one of the most difficult decisions in the hobby – what to choose for a first telescope? The choice is difficult not only because of the vast range of available options but more so because of a lack of awareness of the viewer’s own preferences and tendencies. Ideally the first instrument will nourish a love of viewing the night sky that will enable the observer to get over any inconveniences or difficulties that might be encountered early in their journey. I tried to keep these considerations in mind when assembling my impressions of the Levenhuk Strike 900 Pro – an equatorial mounted, long focus refractor kit clearly designed with beginners in mind. Before we start I do want to point out that this telescope was provided by Levenhuk on loan for the purposes of this review and I have spent the past four weeks putting it through its paces. Read more… Browse related posts Refractors Supermoon Lunar Eclipse September 28, 2015 | By David Philips | Leave a reply Total lunar eclipse on September 27, 2015. We had clear skies for Sunday night’s lunar eclipse and it was quite a show. I was able to photograph a sequence from umbra to totality lasting about 2 hours. The photos were taken from my back yard with a Canon 6D attached to a 5″ refractor at prime focus. Exposures ranged from 1/250 second at ISO 100 to 1/3 second at ISO 6400. With the exception of the last image, the bottom half of the sequence are blended exposures. -Dave Original content copyright 2015 by David Philips. All Rights Reserved. This post may contain links to affiliate sites; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. Browse related posts Eclipses, Moon The Joys and Laments of Viewing Under Darker Skies September 15, 2015 | By David Philips | Leave a reply Over Labor Day weekend I brought the OneSky along on a family camping trip to the green zone skies of Northern VT. Thanks to the late rising third quarter moon I had lots of time under dark skies gawking at an overwhelming number of stars. It had been a little while since I’ve used the OneSky and I was reminded just how great a scope it is. Some highlights of the two nights were seeing the Andromeda galaxy stretching beyond the OneSky’s 2.5o max field of view, the Double Cluster, and the brightest, most detailed view of M81 / M82 I’ve had yet. Not to mention the star clouds of the Milky Way arcing across the sky. Returning home I was disappointed to see my skies appearing gray and washed out but I am slowly becoming re-accustomed to my suburban backyard view of the heavens. I’ve heard of other enthusiasts who only or primarily observe from a dark site and I can certainly see the appeal. The Moon and planets excepted, pretty much every object shows a brighter, more detailed view under a darker sky. Still, I plan to pursue enjoyment in viewing from wherever I can. At the very least it’s good practice – keeping me mindful of the constellations’ current positions, star hopping to new and familiar targets, and rehearsing the dance of working with the telescope – it all helps me to make the most of the brief opportun...

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