Every year the entire crew goes away around Columbus Day weekend. Last year we brought along our Meade 2045 scope. This year we plan on doing the same. Along with the Meade, we also plan on bringing with us some new astro gear to review.
Awhile back we picked up a non-functional Celestron CG-5 ASGT mount via Craigslist. We brought it back to life and mounted our Meade 2045 scope on it. The CG-5 is a fairly easy GOTO mount to use. To make setup even simplier, some have added GPS tracking to the mount.
We wanted to do the same, but Celestron charges over $300 for their GPS. We looked around and found a few less expensive options. One is the StarGPS from PixSoft in Canada. Readers who already have a handheld GPS unit may want to consider using the StarDate GPS adapter from EarthShine Technologies. The StarDate adapter will enable a handheld unit such as a Garmin to work with the CG-5. We'll install and test out both units this month and will be bringing them with us on our Columbus Day weekend outing for their field tests.
Another item we'll be taking with us out into the field is the new HoTech AstroAimer. The AstroAimer is a flashlight/laser pointer combo designed specifically for astronomy use. The unit is water resistant, has both red and white LEDs, and an integrated 5mW green laser. The red LED has 3 variable brightness modes, controlled via the end cap. The red light is used so night-adapted vision is not disrupted when more illumination is needed.
The AstroAimer's controls have more capabilities than the standard flashlight or laser pointers. There is a time-delayed laser switch. This enables the user to have both hands free...no need to use one to keep the laser on. There is also a blue "laser on" indicator under the switch for safety. This is a better way to see if the laser is activated then by waving it around.
The body of the AstroAimer is about 1" in diameter. It is sized to fit nicely into most 6x30 finder scope mounts. The housing material is anodized high-grade aerospace aluminum. In fact, this unit may replace our SureFire as the flashlight of choice for everyday use.
We are looking forward to the Columbus Day outing. If the weather cooperates, we'll give both the StarGPS and the HoTech AstroAimer a thorough workout. Look for our FirstUse report in October. [Permalink] - StarGPS and HoTech AstroAimer