Tag Archives: Sky & Telescope

For Sale Outside Tully, NY: Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian Telescope #9908 (Vintage 1999) – SOLD

The scope has sold!

Greetings fellow, astrophiles!

Local amateur astronomer extraordinare and friend of CNYO John McMahon has a SkyQuest XT8 for sale. For interested parties, please drop a line to info@cnyo.org and I’ll forward your contact info to John directly.

Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian Telescope #9908 (vintage 1999)

Excellent condition
Completely assembled
Perfect for both Solar System and deep-sky observing


Specifications and description from original instruction manual (included):

* Enameled steel tube
* Tube outer diameter: 230mm
* 200 mm parabolic mirror (f.l. 1200mm, f/6)
* Mirror coatings: aluminum with SiO overcoat, 89% reflective
* Aluminum R&P focuser
* 6×30 finder scope
* Original Plössl eyepieces included: 25 mm (48X), 9 mm. (133x)
* Eyepiece rack (accommodates four eyepieces)
* CorrecTension mounting system
* Rigid plastic dust cap
* Wt.: 42.3 lbs (tube + base)

Reviewed in Sky and Telescope, January 2000 (Vol. 99, No. 1): pp. 60-69. Excerpt:

“The Orion SkyQuest XT8 stands out as the best telescope of the batch, with its good optical performance, smooth, controllable motions, freedom from most problems and good package of standard accessories. This is a fine telescope for beginners and should provide enjoyable observing for anyone…”

You can also find some additional information on the scope line (+/- some generational modifications) at: telescope.com/Orion-SkyQuest-XT8-Classic-Dobsonian-Telescope/p/102005.uts


Personal note: This instrument has been well-maintained and has afforded the owner many hours of serious astronomical observations, easily providing excellent views of deep-sky objects (including those on the Messier and Caldwell catalogs), numerous double stars, comets, planets and a wealth of lunar details.

Original list price as purchased: $499.00. Asking: $225.00

2015 Geminid Meteor Shower Sessions At Baltimore Woods – Event And Weather Updates

UPDATE: Sunday, December 13th, 6:00 p.m.

We’re going to try for Monday night (Dec. 14th) instead given the poor conditions over Marcellus and the hope that patchy forecasts tomorrow will mean holes enough to see meteors. Check back around 5:00 p.m. Monday evening for a final announcement.

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

As of 9:00 a.m. Sunday, the weather is only looking slightly promising for Bob Piekiel’s scheduled session at Baltimore Woods, and for the observing of any Geminids from CNY in general. According to the current Clear Sky Clock


… there may be a slight amount of clearing this evening. While the CSC looks a little better for some of tomorrow night, the other forecasts you might see online differ as to if and how much rain to expect.

We’ll make a final post here and on our Facebook Group page around 5:00 p.m. In the meantime, if you’re in a location with a large clear patch over the next few days, this handy-dandy sky chart from Sky & Telescope gives you all the important information. If you can find Orion’s Belt, you’re well on your way to orienting yourself for the Geminids.

Map of the Geminids from Sky & Telescope. Click for a larger view.

For all sorts of useful info on Meteor Showers in general, have a look at our CNYO Brochure:

A Guide To Meteor Showers

Maine Astronomy Retreat – Email Announcement And Update From The Organizers

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The following email came across the internets yesterday announcing updates to the Maine Astronomy Retreat, yet another excellent Star Party placed reasonably close to Central New York. For those interested, check out the email and embedded links for more information.

We are reaching out to inform you of an update about the Maine Astronomy Retreat at Medomak Retreat Center in Washington, Maine – a vacation for you and your telescope!


We are pleased to announce that Babak A. Tafreshi has been added to our team of instructors. Tafreshi is the founder of The World at Night or TWAN program and a photographer for the National Geographic image collection, specialized in nightscape imaging, connecting the Earth and sky, bridging art and science. He is also a science journalist and astronomy communicator. He is a board member of Astronomers without Borders and a contributing photographer for Sky & Telescope. You can explore his photography in the links listed below:

* Personal website: http://dreamview.net
* The World at Night: http://twanight.org/tafreshi
* National Geographic: http://natgeocreative.com/photography/tafreshi
* Timelapse Motions: https://vimeo.com/btafreshi/videos

We would love if you would pass on this information to your group members or include it in your newsletter and calendar of events.

Please see our website, http://www.astronomyretreat.com, for more details, and to register. If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at 1-866-MEDOMAK.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

David Brunner
Director, Medomak
Summer Camp for Families & Retreat Center for Adults

A Universe Of Free Resources Part 1: Astrofilo/Free Astronomy Magazine From astropublishing.com

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

Author’s Note: Have an online resource you find valuable enough to want others to know about? Please consider writing up a brief post for the CNYO website so we can include it in our list! If you’re not the blogging type, then please send along the info to info@cnyo.org.

It can be rightly argued that the internet’s greatest benefit to society is the amount of information made freely available. It can also be argued that the internet’s greatest drawback is the amount of information made freely available. And I’m not just talking about the many, many nonsensical pseudo-scientific videos that go viral on Facebook that accost your logic centers and disappear the next day. Websites and bloggers who consistently provide organized, well-researched, up-to-date information about any topic are worth their weight in bookmarks. This is particularly true in astronomy, where what we know about pieces of the universe both close by and beyond the first visible photons seems to change noticeably by the year.

Every hobby has its online resources, and hobbyists who want to keep their knowledge bases current eventually discover where to go to find out what’s what. My plan this year is to start highlighting some of these resources in the hopes of speeding up the discovery process to those who want to quickly cycle their way through to “the good stuff.”

Free Astronomy Magazine, From astropublishing.com

2015mar6_FAM_marchapril_2015_coverLong before the rise of the www, numerous RSS feeds, podcasts, and amateur astronomy blog sites, our community relied heavily on the august Sky & Telescope and venerable Astronomy Magazine as one-stop shops of current events and new discoveries (and our friends across the pond extra-enjoyed Sir Patrick Moore and Sky At Night). The serious gear-centric amateur astronomer might also feel a hole the size of the Boötes Void without a subscription to Astronomy Technology Today. All three have taken the internet to heart and incorporate web specials and social media as part of their everynight activities.

Back around 2009, an Italian group started Astrofilo, an online astronomy magazine regretfully (well, for us non-Italian readers) in Italian. I’m sure the pictures were great regardless, but things finally got more interesting for the rest of us in May of 2014 when the magazine was made available in Italian AND English. As described briefly by the magazine editors on another web post

Our content is written with the collaboration of professional astronomers, and while suitable for all levels of interest, aims to avoid the over-simplification characterising many other sources.

2015mar6_FAM_marchapril_2015_tocThe completely free PDF magazine uses the best that social media and our direct feeds to global space agencies has to offer, providing well-written, highly informative articles complete with embedded videos and all of the best images that fly by our favorite astro (and general news) websites. Once you get used to the interface, you’ll quickly be able to jump around pages, zoom around for better views, and download the magazine in PDF format (which may make your life a little easier if you’re reading on a tablet or slower laptop).

Do give the current issue on the astropublishing.com website (and the many available back issues) a good look, which includes a nicely varied list of topics (click on the image at right for a view of the current Table of Contents).


“Stu’s Last Lesson” – Sky & Telescope’s Focal Point For December, 2014

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

2014oct23_stuDr. Stuart Forster (a.k.a. STU – full caps) was one of the THE fixtures in the CNY amateur astronomy scene and his name still comes up regularly, often as part of some pearl of wisdom being imparted to new observers and seasoned members alike (I’ll leave you to read the top of the Stuventory page for more info about STU and to check out links to some of his images on the Syracuse Astronomical Society website). The trials and tribulations of Ryan Goodson and myself to handle the massive equipment collection we’ve come to refer to as the “Stuventory” is olde hat to local observers who’ve kept track of the process from a far. The sorting, documenting, and distribution of the Stuventory has taught us both about how very unique the hobby of amateur astronomy can be when you step beyond the 1×7 mm binoculars in your head and effort the collection of more and more photons.

To that end, and to prod others to recognize the complexities of sorting through the mound of gear inhabiting their basements, garages, and domes by those who follow when the unexpected happens, I am honored to have an article on the topic, “Stu’s Last Lesson,” included as the December 2014 Focal Point in Sky & Telescope magazine.


The article can be distilled to a single, all-encompassing message – Imagine you not being around to help your family unload your astro gear, then take steps to simplify their lives. Think about all the boxes, hex wrenches, leftover focusers and brackets from your modifications to other scopes, eyepieces (eyepieces!), cables, controllers, everything, and organize it all, either in a notebook or with a bunch of pics and notes on your smartphone.

If you read the article and have other ideas on how to help organize your equipment, by all means let others know (post a comment here, write a letter to the editor with your ideas, start a cloudynights.com thread, etc.). In the meantime, I hope the article gives you the impetus to block out a Saturday afternoon listening to astronomy.fm as you commit your astronomical obsession to pen and paper (or keyboard and monitor). Better still, I’m pleased that readers of Sky & Telescope (of which he had the full collection back to 1964) will learn a little bit about one of CNY’s great amateur astronomers.