Telescope Accessories - Part 2

Introduction | LED Red + White Flashlight (Adjustable Brightness) | Power Tanks | SkyWire Serial Accessory | Sky-Watcher SynScan WLAN | Celestron StarSense AutoAlign for Sky-Watcher | Crosshair Eyepieces | Laser Collimator | Digiklemme 1 | Sky Quality Meter

On this and a further page, I present an overview of my telescope accessories. Since there are now so many accessories, I need two pages for this...

See also: Telescope Accessories - Part 1

 

Introduction

As with all hobbies, you are not done with astronomy when you buy a telescope with perhaps two kit eyepieces. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of a series of further investments. These do not only apply to larger and larger telescopes, but also to better eyepieces, which can be even more expensive than beginners' telescopes, as well as a wide range of accessories that improve the observation experience or make it possible at all.

Note: One might list the Atik Infinity Colour camera and the ZWO ASI224 camera as an accessory here as well, but I present it in a section of its own. Here is the information page for the Atik Infinity, and here the one for the ZWO ASI 224.

In the following I present the second part of the most important accessories (except eyepieces), which I acquired over time. This includes devices that...

 

LED Red + White Flashlight (Adjustable Brightness)

Flashlight with box, side view

Side view: You can see three screws that need to be loosened to open the case for changing the 9 V battery

White light

Flashlight with box, top view

Top view: On the top you can see the red-white switch (left) and the control for setting brightness and turning the light on or off (center)

Red light

I use this lamp (from Sky-Watcher) to read star charts and astronomy books or do other things at the telescope without losing my dark adaptation. Unfortunately, the red light illuminates everything rather unevenly. Annoying is also that you have to unscrew the lamp for changing the battery (9V block battery; I am curious how long this will work...).

Link

 

Power Tanks

12V / 7 Ah Rechargeable Power Tank (Sky-Watcher)

Long overlooked by me: When the battery is fully charged, a green LED is lighted

The 12 V cable for charging via car battery and for supplying the GoTo mount is stored in a timber (with caption); initially, I thought it would be missing (in the instructions it is listed, but not where it is ...)

I bought the Sky-Watcher 12V / 7Ah Power Tank with red / white light and a rechargeable lead acid battery, because the 8 AA batteries, with which I had initially supplied the Star Discovery mount, had been used up very quickly. So I hoped that with this device power will last longer. However, I read that even the Power Tank is drained in only one night. In my eyes, this is not a problem, because you can recharge the Power Tank over night (if you do not forget this*...). At the moment, I can only tell that the power did not exhaust in one session.

*) You should recharge the Power Tank after each observation session before you stow it away, because fully charged battery cells are more robust against damage than partially charged cells (did I read in a forum).

Main technical data:

Link

12V / 84 Ah Rechargeable Power Tank (Celestron)

I bought the Celestron 12V / 84 Wh power tank with red/white light (far too bright) and a rechargeable lithium battery because I wanted a more compact "package" for my Sky-Watcher AZ-GTi mount for travel. Besides, a lithium battery has many advantages over a lead gel battery and is recharged in 3 to 4 hours.

Main technical data:

Link

 

SkyWire Serial Accessory

Originally, I intended to use the Star Discovery GoTo mount only with the SynScan hand box, even though I knew that controlling the telescope using astronomy software applications such as Stellarium is possible with the Star Discovery mount. However, an RS232 to USB adapter is required to connect the hand box to the computer, but it is not guaranteed that such an adapter will work on the Apple Macintosh. So I did my first attempts on using GoTo with the SynScan hand box. This succeeded fairly well, but I am not a friend of this kind of interaction and find hand boxes rather counter-intuitive to use - quite in contrast to controlling telescopes using astronomy apps.

Southern Stars SkyWire Serial Accessory

Ditto connected to iPad and hand box

Ditto

Ditto, detail

Ditto

Ditto

I accidentally came across SouthernStars' SkyFi WiFi control accessory* (built for Simulation Curriculum, the developers of the Starry Night and SkySafari astronomy applications), which seemed too expensive for me. But then I discovered that there is also a wired solution for the iPad from SouthernStars, the considerably cheaper SkyWire serial accessory (unfortunately it does not work with the MacBook ...). This device is available in two versions, a cheaper one for the old 30-pin connector and a slightly more expensive one for the Lightning connector. Since my iPad sports a Lightning connection, I would have needed an adapter for the cheaper version. But this combination would be priced similarly to the Lightning version - and would include a potentially wobbly adapter. So I finally decided to buy the Lightning version of the SkyWire serial accessory, because I was curious to learn how controlling a telescope using an astronomy app does work. I describe my experiences on an extra page.

*) Note: The SkyFi and SkyWire telescope control accessories are now owned and supported by Simulation Curriculum Corporation. Contact Simulation Curriculum for technical support on these products (from: www.southernstars.com/products/index.html).

Note: In May 2019, I gave away the SkyWire serial accessory because the SynScan WLAN adapter replaced it. I am therefore regrettably unable to report any further experiences with the Skywire serial accessory on this site.

Links

 

SynScan WLAN

Box content (and glasses...)

The adapter module

Ditto

Ditto

Ditto, with cable

Ditto, connected to the mount

I came across the SynScan WLAN adapter through an e-mail contact in April 2019. This module is compatible with all Sky-Watcher GoTo mounts and allows wireless control via smartphone, tablet, or computer using the SynScan or SynScan Pro app. These apps support the SkySafari Plus/Pro planetarium software for Android and Apple iOS, but Apple iOS requires two devices at the same time (two iOS devices or one iOS device and one Macintosh).

The WLAN adapter is connected to the connection for handboxes on the mount and draws its power from it. It creates its own WLAN network to which the mobile devices or computers are connected. I can report here only about iOS/OS X and the Windows App, where the whole thing did not work as smoothly as I had imagined initially. I describe my experiences on an extra page.

Links

 

Celestron StarSense AutoAlign for Sky-Watcher

Working with the Star Discovery GoTo control did not save me from crawling "under the mount" to find the calibration stars for alignment. In addition, I generally had problems with the alignment and the accuracy of the tracking. After participating in the Kiclstarter campaign for the eVscope in November 2017, I learned that the alignment can also be performed fully automatically. Celestron had been doing this for quite some time in the form of the StarSense module, but I had not noticed that, and it was initially limited to Celestron telescopes. In the meantime, Celestron had also introduced a solution for Sky-Watcher GoTo controllers, probably because both companies now belong to the same group, Synta. This encouraged me to buy the StarSense module in February 2018 in the hope that everything would now become much easier. The opposite was the case, however, and I still have not been able to persuade the module to work reliably (after some successes in between...). In the meantime, a way has even opened up to let the module cooperate with SkySafari...

StarSense scope of delivery...

Starsense with small base after exchange of the base

Handbox

StarSense relay box and handbox at the mount

Skymax-127 tube with StarSense module on the mount

Explorer 150PDS tube with StarSense module on the mount

Links

 

Crosshair Eyepieces

Crosshair Eyepiece, 12.5 mm Focal Length, Illuminated

Package content, batteries already installed in the illumination device

Above: Illumination device with batteries and brightness control / on/off switch screwed in

Middle right: double cross hairs, not illuminated

Bottom right: double cross hairs, illuminated

I bought the crosshair eyepiece (12.5 mm focal length; by Seben) for two purposes:

However, I have the impression that the focal length of the eyepiece is a bit short (or the magnification is too high...) for the second purpose. After experiencing some difficulties, I once again returned to the 32mm eyepiece for the alignment, and after some years I bought a 23 mm crosshair eyepiece (see below). I am also curious, how long the two small batteries will last (it still works)...

Crosshair Eyepiece, 23 mm Focal Length, Can Be Illuminated

Top row: Crosshair eyepiece (left), caps removed (center), illumination device screwed in (right)

 

 

 

Bottom left: crosshair not illuminated

Bottom right: crosshair illuminated

I bought the crosshair eyepiece with 23 mm focal length, because the magnification in the Seben crosshair eyepiece was too strong for me, and I therefore had problems with the alignment on my GoTo mount. This eyepiece can be illuminated, and I can use the illumination device of the Seben crosshair eyepiece. However, the threads for the illumination device do not match exactly, so that I can screw it into the eyepiece only partially.

Links

 

Laser Collimator: Baader Laser-Colli Mark III

To adjust misaligned telescopes correctly, a collimator is used. A collimator using a laser beam is also referred to as a laser collimator. In the case of a Newtonian reflecting telescope, the primary and the secondary mirror must be adjusted so that they are mutually centered as well as centered on their optical axes. Since I was not satisfied with the performance of my telescopes, I decided to buy a laser collimator to improve the adjustment of my telescopes.

The Laser-Colli Mark III with package and instructions

Laser-Colli Mark III in "off" state

Laser-Colli Mark III in "on" state: Laser beam made visible

Baader Planetarium offers a laser collimator, called Laser-Colli Mark III, which differs from other collimators by having a vertically mounted transparent disc with a central hole and a grid of crosses to show the position of the the laser dot. Thus, one can observe the adjustment process when adjusting the primary mirror. Moreover, the device has a particularly large cut-out, which also reduces its weight.

Since this collimator was selected in a comparative test by the magazine Night at Sky in 2010 as the winner, I decided for it. It is a little more expensive (85 EUR) than other devices (but there are also much more expensive devices ...), but Baader is considered to be a renowned manufacturer of astronomical products, and therefore, I hope that the device was adjusted properly at the factory (you can re-adjust it). For details and first experiences see page My Collimation Experiences.

Note: In May 2021, I sold the Laser-Colli Mark III. I am therefore regrettably unable to report any further experiences with it on this site.

Links

 

Digiklemme 1

I often use the 1:50 method to take photos of the moon, but holding the camera (one with or without a filter thread ...) to the eyepiece is a wobbly affair, and I often have trouble with getting a view without vignetting. The Digiklemme 1 from Teleskop-Express announces itself as the solution to this problem: "The Digiklemme offers an easy to use adaptation that works with most compact digital cameras and most eyepieces for telescopes, spotting scopes, microscopes etc. Each compact digital camera has the 1/4" camera thread needed for this adaptation." But already on the Website, the Digiklemme 1 looks more like a "tinkering solution." Nevertheless, I ordered one for myself (the price had dropped a little...) to try it out. I soon found out that I cannot use my better wide angle eyepieces together with Digiklemme 1 because the maximum allowed eyepiece diameter is 40 mm... I describe my experiences on page Digiklemme 1.

Digiklemme 1, all parts

Ditto

Ditto

Figure of Digiklemme 1 on its box

Digiklemme 1 at the telescope, no camera

Digiklemme1 with Ricoh GR camera at the telescope

Note: In May 2019, I gave away the Digiklemme 1. I am therefore regrettably unable to report any further experiences with the Digiklemme 1 on this site.

Links

 

Sky Quality Meter

Inspired by an eVscope star friend, who owns such a device and does not want to miss it anymore, I bought a Sky Quality Meter in June 2021, namely the Unihedron Sky Quality Meter L, i.e. the version with converging lens, which my star friend also owns. Teleskop Express writes about this:

By the way, the version without a lens (SQM) measures around an angle of 42°.

 

Links

 

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15.08.2021