Telescope GOTO or not GOTO. That is the question

Often we get first time buyers looking for a telescope with GOTO as an important factor. This topic divides many people on either side. I am old fashioned in my ways, and think the view you get through the eyepiece is the most important factor. With this in mind, if for example a customer has £500 to spend, my question will be “do you want a £500 telescope or a £200 telescope with £300 worth of electronics”

Through no fault of their own many customers think you take the telescope out the box , press GOTO and it will go to any object you need. If only it was that simple. You still need to enter coordinates , date , time and star align. Not meaning to put you off, as this a simple procedure that takes a few minutes.

Also ask yourself if you need GOTO if the brighter stars, planets and Moon are your targets. These are easy to find with a good star map and finderscope. No GOTO needed. The only thing I would recommend GOTO for is if you are deep space imaging and need to image something you may not be able to see through the telescope visually.

If still in doubt if GOTO is suitable for you, give us a call and I,ll do my best to help


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North Lincs astro meeting 3rd April 2017

A slightly depleted attendance of 20 people came to the April 2017 meeting of the North Lincs astro society.  The speakers were John, who gave his monthly updates on the latest astro news, followed by Chris Roche giving an excellent talk on the new James Webb space telescope. With no 2nd chance if anything goes wrong after lift off, lets all cross our fingers all goes smoothly and too plan.

Northern Optics were in attendance on the night with some bargains as always.  With no surprise the popular sellers were the £10 plossl eyepieces. Thank you as always to the Lincolnshire wildlife trust for the use of the venue and Glenys and Malcolm for the teas and refreshments, in particular the hot crossed buns. The next meeting is Monday 8th May due to the 1st May bank holiday

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Olivon 1.25″ #12 light yellow filter

As always with coloured telescope filters, ask 10 people if they make a difference and you,ll get 10 different answers. From my point of view the #12 yellow is my favourite filter for Jupiter. It darkens the clouds against the white disk, and so makes them stand out more. Can also be used as a Moon filter by simply reducing the light reaching the eye. Obviously you will not get true colour. Though hard to find the genuine Olivon filter, you can contact Northern Optics to ask us if we have any in stock. Northern Optics is a genuine Olivon stockist and has a weekend public outlet at the Waters` Edge visitor centre at Barton Upon Humber

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Olivon car window mount OL337877

The Olivon car window mount is a compact yet well made solution for a range of cameras and tripod heads etc. Complete with standard 1/4″ thread, meaning it will accept a number of tripod heads and other adaptors such as ones for smart phones.

So why have a car window mount. Will give a more smooth pan and tilt than a bean bag, and also offers the chance to video on the move with lightweight devices like go-pro,s and smart phones. As always with car window mounts be sensible on how much weight is put on the glass. This window mount comes retail packaged and weighs 220g

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Helios Nitrosport 8×26 binoculars review 30218


One of the most popular compact binocular sellers at the Northern Optics weekend outlet at the Waters` edge visitor centre is the Helios Nitrosport 8×26 binoculars. This is a good way of judging binoculars, as what people buy at the centre is what they actually pick up and compare against others in the same class. So here is my unbiased opinion. Priced at just under £50 at the time of this write up for open hinged binoculars, with multi-coated optics and nitrogen waterproof, they at first glance look exceptional value for money.

Unpacking – Unlike some generic plain boxes the 8×26 Nitrosport come in a grey / white box showing an image of the binoculars with the logo and full specs. It is a little over sized, but this is to accommodate the padded strap for your binoculars and the nylon clip in one for the case.  The padded strap is very good quality and not one you would expect on low cost binoculars. The case is basic, but does the job with a secure fit , belt loop (as well as neck strap) and a compartment for your cleaning cloth.

Looks and handling – These look very modern compared to many single hinge binoculars on the market. At only 266g they are ridiculously lightweight, yet feel solid. Despite the compact size, they have a large focus wheel which moves very freely with no tight / loose spots. The dioptre is also easy to move, if a little stiffer (as they are supposed to be) and can be easily adjusted with the twist type eye cup down. With some binoculars you need to twist the cups out to do this. The twist cups move freely and do not push back in when you put them to your eyes.

Optics – What you get is without doubt the best sub £50 view I have seen through a 25-26mm set of binoculars. You are greeted by a wide 119m @ 1000m field of view with great colours, contrast and sharpness. This is aided by great internal baffling giving no internal reflection even with the eye cups twisted down and glasses off. The field is very flat with equal focus to around 80% from centre. On the question of close focus, it quotes 5.5m in the spec. Under normal circumstances I would say that is the trade off for the price. But I just tested a set and found close focus was 5 ft or 1.5m..Only had one set with me, so could not compare to see if the rest where the same or if it was a one off. If I get the chance to test others I will update here. Yes the 10×26 was around 5m close focus, but that is another story and another review do be done later.

Pro,s – Excellent starter set, and a good choice for a 2nd set if you have a larger pair of binoculars. Optics as good as they come for the price

Cons – Objective lens caps are tricky to put back in. But that,s being really picky

Helios binoculars can be purchased from Northern Optics



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Hessle Foreshore photograph 26th March 2017

Both light conditions and still waters on the Humber combined to give a lovely effect. Used my trusty old Canon EOS 1100D + Tamron 70-300mm lens to take this image. RAW file, 100ISO at f8. In DPP I darkened the shadows and brought out the highlights to bring out more detail in the shadows

Image was taken from the south bank on the Far Ings nature reserve. When ever there is not much wildlife on show, there are always landscape opportunities like this

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Visionary V1 8.5×42 binoculars review

After not seeing any reviews on the Visionary V1 8x5x42 binoculars, thought I would give my own honest opinion. So lets have a look at the price and spec. With an RRP of £279.99 , the price suggests these should be premium binoculars. BaK-4 prisms, fully multi-coated optics and nitrogen gas filled.

So opening the box, we find a soft but glossy finish case. The 2nd thing you notice is the weight. At just under 1 kg, these are heavier than the average 42mm porro prism binoculars. But anyone that knows me will know I never say heavy. I say well built.

So providing the weight is not an issue, they fit nicely in the hands. Maybe not for those with small hands. But saying that if you come to see us you can try a set. The large focus wheel moves a little stiff but freely (if that makes sense) with no tight / slack points. The right eye dioptre adjustment moves very smoothly, even with the eye cups down. With some you need to twist the eye cups out to make the adjustment.

The eye cups are twist type. On the subject of these I will point out a minor quibble. But believe me, these are so good, I am really being picky here. In my opinion they twist out a little to far. For me with glasses off they need to be twisted out about 80%. Any more and you will not get the full field of view.

So lets talk about the field of view. WOW its wide. An amazing picture window wide angle greats you when you correctly adjust the eye cups. It is quoted as 7.1 degrees, but to me its more like 8.2. Brightness , colours and contrast are stunning, and well on par with many similar priced 42mm ED roof prisms. There is a touch of purple fringing, but is hardly noticeable unless you spend your day looking at tops of lamp posts and chimneys (this is how I test for CA).

The low light performance is exceptional. Minute detail can be picked out in the shadows. The 8.5x magnification is a nice compromise and will suit most needs from general use to bird watching.

There is a little fall off right on the edge of view. But the flat field and the WOW factor will the field of view will more than make up. Also a little internal reflection is evident, but only if you have the twist eye cups set wrong.

Other accessories include lens covers than fit well, a basic strap and cleaning cloth.

The Visionary range of binoculars can be purchased from Northern Optics


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Minox DTC 550 digital stealth camera February 2017

The MINOX DTC 550 is fitted with a new 5 megapixel sensor which provides outstanding imaging quality and pin-sharp definition in both day-light and night use; the camera captures single images and video recordings in full HD resolution and also features a new variable time lapse mode designed for speeding up the long-term recording of motion sequences.  An infrared flash helps capture images in poor light or darkness at distances of up to 15 meters; the flash is invisible to people and most animals. The DTC 550 has a remarkably fast shutter release of 0.4 seconds and a dormant ‘stand-by’ battery life of up to 6 months.

All data are stored on a SD card and images can be reviewed directly from the integrated 2.4‘‘ monitor or transferred to a computer via USB port. The DTC 550 can also be password protected against unauthorised access.

A robust and weatherproof plastic body protects the inside of the camera and keeps out moisture, dust excess of cold and heat.
The new MINOX DTC 550 is available in a camouflage design and comes with fixing strap, wall mounting fixture and USB cable.

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Lincoln astronomy society meeting 4th April 2017

Paul Cotton shall be giving a talk “Finding colour in the night sky” at the Lincoln astronomy society on 4th April 2017. Paul has already give this talk at the North Lincs astro society, so I can confirm it will be worth going. For more details visit the Lincoln astronomy website

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How to get auto exposure with a camera on manual setting

Sounds daft or impossible. That,s what I thought when I heard you can get auto exposure on a DSLR with it set on manual.

So how does it work. So lets say you need to use a specific shutter speed and f-ratio. 250th sec at f5.6 for example. Adjust the camera to manual and enter these settings. But this still will not get you auto exposure….or will it. To do this, set the ISO to auto if your camera allows this. The auto ISO will now adjust to give you the correct exposure. So that`s how to get auto exposure with the camera on manual.

OK, this is not for everyone and not something that may suit me. Saying that I may experiment one day to see the results. One major drawback is that you can not use exposure compensation. Why not give it a try and see how you get on

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