Money talks

Welcome to the new home for my Money Talks blog, where I’ll be continuing to take a look at what’s new and upcoming in the ever-changing Iniverse of astro equipment.

One of the great ways for companies to launch new products or services is at the major Astro shows that occur worldwide such as the Northeast Astronomy Forum, or NEAF in the US. Sky at Night Magazine attended this year and saw lots of exciting new products that hopefully we’ll get to see over here in the UK in the coming months. With over 130 vendors there (including Sky at Night Magazine) it’s no surprise the event is regarded as the premier US astronomy event, with astro enthusiasts from all over the globe now attending it regularly.

So what’s new and upcoming? Hot on the heels of their LX80 and LX800 mounts, Meade has now added an LX600 with Starlock, a complete package for astro imagers all on a fork mount – just add camera and clear skies! With OTAs ranging from 10-inch to 16-inch systems, these are technically ‘portable’, but I suspect I may have to go on a bodybuilding course to be able to play with the 16-inch version, or any of them for that matter!

CCD cameras continue to develope at an amazing pace and SBIG (Santa Barbara Instrument Group) unveiled its STT 8300M mid-range camera, a device that has it all: camera, autoguider and filter wheel in one compact package. Employing the 17.96x13.52mm Kodak KAF-8300 CCD, giving a pixel array of 3326x2504 pixels, this all comes in at just 1.2kg in weight so shouldn’t tax the good focusers that are to be found on many of the astrographs being manufactured today. Lastly, don’t forget to check out the June issue’s new-look Reviews section with its three First Light reviews, including the Vixen BT81S-A binocular telescope, iOptron’s MiniTower Pro Go-To mount and Lunt’s latest solar telescope, the LS152THa.


Meade Instruments’s Chris Morrison in front of the new LX600 mount at NEAF 2012 (right)

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