Unusual Astronomy Equipment
Not all of my astronomy equipment is found in the pages of Sky and Telescope. This is a follow up of Joe Shuster's article "Virtual Astronomy Store". I found this first piece of equipment at the karaoke internet store.http://www.sumakaya.com/product.asp?sku=HAY000007
It is a music stand that I use to hold my star charts. I set it up next to my telescope while I'm seated or standing looking through the eyepiece. It's nice not to have to get up and down and walk over to the table or my vehicle to view my charts. I find it handy to have a chart by my side when I am star or galaxy hopping. The stand is of high quality and will not tip over easily unless I forget its there and walk into it. It's not affected by fairly strong wind. The bookplate can be adjusted up or down and tilted or laid flat. It will hold my Millennium or Uranometria star Atlas, also the sky Atlas 2000. I own the Largest size Atlas 2000 and I found that a thin board behind the atlas gives it more support. Set up time is about 60 seconds. When searching for a music stand, features to look for are: High quality, ability to fold and store in a case, clamping system (large knobs). One vulnerability is that it is exposed to the night sky and the charts will get wet. I've used this for about 6 months and when I don't set it up I really miss the convenience of a chart close by.
The next piece of unusual astronomy equipment is something that I haven't used but when I saw it in an advertisement for Bass Pro Shops a light bulb went off in my head. It is a layout blind. This item can be found on the Bass Pro Shops website www.basspro.com under Hunting Accessories in the 'Blinds' section.
It seems that this would be great for watching meteor showers. There are several price options and each has an insulated and padded backrest and headrest, and pockets for binoculars or other objects. Its windproof and waterproof, which will be great for that dew filled night. One down point is that it's camouflaged and you might get stepped on. It might be a good idea to set up a flag! Let me know if someone actually tries this thing.Published in the November 2007 issue of the NightTimes