Celestron EclipSmart Solar Scope (NEW)

2/26/17

With the total solar eclipse coming August 21, 2017 there is a lot of emphasis on being ready for that rare event.  Astronomers both pro and amateur are get their equipment ready for the big event and many will be traveling to be along the line of totality that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina.  My two astronomer friends, Pete Detterline and Gary Becker, are heading for Wyoming and are planning their lists of cameras and scopes and mounts and how they are going to image it.  Which brings to mind the other side of the coin.  What about those who will not be lucky enough to be able to travel to that great line of totality and will only be able to see a partial eclipse.  What can they do?

This is where Celestron has started to try a find the answer for those people.  They recently started to market a line of products called Eclipsmart that includes solar glasses, binoculars, solar filters for a telescope and a small, solar travel scope which is what this article is about.


Before going any further let us understand that this scope is not a Lunt or a Coronado solar scope.  You are not going to see the detailed images that those kind of scopes show. Of course, this scope doesn't carry $2,000-$6,000 dollar price tag either.  Shipped to my door it was slightly over $108.  The scope is basically plastic and weighs 2.2 pounds. It is a 50mm(2 inch) aperture refractor. This Scope is meant for the individual or family that would like to see the eclipse safely and doesn't want to mortgage the farm to do so.  I think it is also meant more for the person that will see the event as a partial eclipse and would miss out on the corona and other more specific phenomena associated with the total eclipse path.

The requirements of the solar glass used are listed on the box and in the manual supplied if you have any concerns about safety.

 


When you open the box the scope comes in a carrying case(remember it is advertised as a travel solar scope), the scope itself with a solar finder already attached, a basic photographic tripod, a diagonal with the male end being a .965 diameter and the female accepting a 1.25 eyepiece and a 20mm Plossi eyepiece.  The tripod is REALLY basic.  Light aluminum and small.  I am not a fan of these types of tripods, but for pictures I set the scope up on it to show the complete setup.





The tripod has the typical Altitude and azimuth controls as any normal tripod has, but as I said I am not a fan of this tripod, so I decided to attach it to a Celestron Alt/AZ mount I keep for my normal solar observing.



I had already enabled the Sun menu on the Goto and use the hand control to get me in the general direction of the Sun.  As I got close I then turned my back to the Sun and used the Sun finder to try and center the Sun in the eyepiece.  I used the Hand Control to put the ball end of the plastic arm in the center of the bullseye and then looked in the eyepiece.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the image near my expected result.  It was slightly off, so I adjusted the image to the center and then looked at the sun finder to see where I should remember to put the ball to achieve a centered image(see below).



As you see I have to be a little right of center to achieve a centered image.  The focuser on the scope is also very basic.  If you are use to a good focuser or micro-focuser this focuser, of course, will not compare.  A minute or two of work with it and it was surprising the nice clean focus I was able to obtain.  I could even bring out the lone sunspot that was visible that day.

I imagined seeing my 80% partial eclipse in August through this and realized it could be a very pleasant way to view the 2-3 minutes of seeing that would be available especially if seated.  Of course there are the other options being offered by Celestron to safely view the eclipse and you can see them on there website.  I will say again I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw in the eyepiece.  Now if I can only figure out how to get an image with my Canon 60Da which is a challenge by itself because of the lightness of to scope and focuser.  If I can I will post it here in the next week depending on the weather.  Stock up on sunscreen and gear up and get ready for the biggee Monday August 21,2017.  Clear skies and keep looking up!


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