The challenge of clear skies
Paul Money discusses how clear skies can be a real nuisance when there's a new telescope to review.
Here at BBC Sky at Night Magazine we love to review large pieces of astronomy kit, and in our latest issue we take on the Celestron CGX-L EQ 1100 EdgeHD Schmidt-Cassegrain, an 11-inch SCT on a new mount from Celestron.
Or rather, I should say poor Pete Lawrence had the job of unboxing, assembling then testing the system which, with our unpredictable UK weather, is quite a feat!
It is often forgotten when reading our reviews that large telescopes that can’t be left set up have to be assembled, polar aligned and working before the testing can begin.
All the while the reviewer has to hope that the skies stay clear with good seeing conditions for a good part of the night in order to give the equipment a good workout.
Kudos to Pete for achieving the review under what is often a quite trying period for our dedicated team of testers.
Along with a complete system, in the October issue we also review the Altair Astro GP-CAMv2-290C, a deep-sky colour camera that can do ‘lucky imaging’ and planetary too.
Tim Jardine captured and processed some stunning images with it and his 6-inch apo refractor, so make sure you check out his review.
Talking of processing brings me to software.
Our third review is a program that doesn’t process images but is a great planner for seeking out what your visual or imaging targets should be.
Steve Richards explores the virtues of the latest version of Deep Sky Planner (v7) for us and shows that there is actually a lot more to this package than simply planning your astroimaging!
For this month's reviews features and your guide to October's night skies, pick up the October issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine, on sale 21 September!
Paul Money is an experienced astronomer, BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Reviews Editor and author of the annual stargazing guide Nightscenes.