Investing in astronomy accessories

Sometimes it pays to push the boat out a bit when it comes to buying astronomy accessories, writes BBC Sky at Night Magazine Reviews Editor Paul Money.

Celestron SkyMaster Pro 20x80 binocular

I write this blog as the January 2020 issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine has just dropped through the letterbox and, looking at our review of the Celestron SkyMaster Pro 20×80 binocular on the 10Micron BM100 Leonardo binocular mount, it strikes me that we often take for granted the huge range of accessories that ‘complete’ our respective setups.

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Astronomy accessories come in all shapes and sizes and in a similar range of prices, and it is always tempting to buy something on the cheap. Indeed, why not?

Although quite often a good bargain can be found, seeing the Leonardo mount reminded me that sometimes it really is important to make that investment and spend a little (or a lot!) more to get the best out of your equipment.

If you buy a good pair of large binoculars then put them on a flimsy mount, you get what you pay for: an unstable view that makes your astronomy less enjoyable and indeed may cost you a little in the light grasp you crave to explore.

Accessories are absolutely vital aspects of astronomy and the key to their success is how they enhance your enjoyment when using your primary equipment, be it a visual or imaging setup.

Good eyepieces, star diagonals, filters and much more can give that finishing edge that brings the target to life.

For example, I have a half metre telescope, the StarGate 500, and last Christmas Santa kindly brought me some high-quality visual H Beta and UHC filters. They transformed the view from being good to ‘WOW’ when the sky conditions cooperated.

They are best for large aperture instruments but the difference on the eastern Veil Nebula made it look like the photographs we often see in the monthly Gallery in the magazine.

So, what at first glance appear to be expensive accessories can transform a good system into an excellent system, bringing you even more pleasure when those seemingly rare nights of clear good skies come along.

Pick up the January 2020 issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine from today to read our latest reviews for yourself.

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Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2020!