In the shops

The lat­est books, apps, soft­ware, tech and ac­ces­sories for space and as­tron­omy fans alike

All About Space - - Stargazer -

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.

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