In the shops
The latest books, apps, software, tech and accessories for space and astronomy fans alike
Book NASA Skylab Owners’ Workshop Manual
Cost: £22.99 (approx. $32.60) From: Haynes Publishing
This manual covering the full workings of NASA’s first ever space station, Skylab, is precise, thorough and informative, consistent with the quality we have come to expect from Haynes manuals.
An amazing piece of engineering and technological genius, Skylab orbited our planet between 1973 and 1979. What the book's author - David Baker - covers is so much more than its years in operation, and way more than just the basics of its layout. It covers everything from the early concept design through to the eventual premature decline, which occurred due to unforeseen solar activity. This book is packed full of facts, figures and many illustrations, leaving no stone unturned.
With this book essentially being an encyclopedia of NASA’s Skylab, it's a pleasant read for a space enthusiast looking for a story or a narrative to follow. Not only that, but with almost 200-pages of text and photographs, this book will delight those looking for a revolutionary memento from space exploration’s past and who want to learn more about the intricate details of Skylab's operation.
Accessories Celestron Firstscope Accessory Kit
Cost: £19.00 (approx. $27.00) From: David Hinds Ltd.
The aim of this accessory kit is to enhance your view of the night sky, providing enhanced sights with impressive contrast. What is included is very generous and good quality for your money: a 12.5 millimetre (half an inch) eyepiece, a six millimetre (0.2 inch) eyepiece, a 5x24 finderscope, a CD-ROM for ‘The SkyX’, a nylon carrying bag as well as a Moon filter featured below, which alone is over half the price of this full kit.
The 12 and six millimetre eyepieces, giving a magnification of 24 and 50x respectively, allow an astronomer to mix up their options when it comes to tackling different celestial objects. We were also impressed with The SkyX CD-ROM, as it is available to install on PCs including Windows 7, XP and Vista and Mac computers. The program not only provides you with a fine computer planetarium, but you can also print out the star charts in preparation for an efficient night of observing. The only possible confliction is that you’d have to check if the finderscope is compatible with the telescope you wish to pair it with. Boasting superior quality, we recommend this product to anyone who wants to expand their astronomy 'tool kit' whether they're new to observing or are seasoned astronomers.
Accessories Celestron Moon Filter
Cost: £10.00 (approx. $14.00) From: David Hinds Ltd.
There is no doubt that if the Moon is out, many amateur astronomers will begin their night focusing on our own natural satellite. This amazing object, covered in craters and darkened surface seas, known as ‘mares’, provides an amazing sight to even the most unseasoned eye. However, the Moon reflects a large amount of light, especially at full Moon, and this can cause a slight issue when our eyes are trying to resolve the finer details of its surface.
In the same way a pair of sunglasses will dim incoming light, Celestron's Moon filter will help you to improve your views of the lunar surface with ease - simply by attaching the filter on to any 1.25inch eyepiece, which is incredibly straightforward. After testing the filter, we were impressed by the improved contrast of the Moon when using it, which made a pleasant and noticeable difference. A handy accessory for any lunar viewings, it should also be clearly understood that this filter is for use in observing the Moon only, and for any solar observations.
App Mars Globe
Cost: Free For: iOS
With this app you’ll be able to take your own tour of the Red Planet thanks to a combination of satellite images of the surface and a navigation system controlled by your fingertips.
At first glance, Mars Globe may seem fairly simplistic, but after using it we were quite impressed with what it had to offer, given the fact it is a free app. It allows you to head to different craters, dormant volcanoes, Martian probes’ landing sites and the ‘albedo’ features, which are large Martian areas that show a high contrast in brightness and darkness. Not only does it show the Red Planet's features, but it also supplies a short description of each and offers links to further information and images - an essential feature for the more inquisitive minds.
Overall, the app is great for going on a tour of Mars and learning about its surface features. However, it is just limited to the Red Planet, which means it may not take long before you’ve seen what you’ve wanted to observe and want to move on to another world.