A brief note here — though I’ve mentioned it elsewhere — that yes, I will be doing DFL again for the Beijing Olympics. I’d been hemming and hawing about it until Monday night, when a conversation about it turned into a long rant by me about the Olympics — that clinched it. On Tuesday I redesigned the blog template — it’s still off the shelf, just different — and started up a DFL page on Facebook. New posts will not appear on the blog until Friday, August 8, but I’m already getting ideas for material to relaunch with.
You know authentication alone is effective in preventing spam when you look in Movable Type’s junk comments folder and the only things you see are legitimate comments. So I’m turning off the spam filters system-wide: too many false positives. And some very old comments have just been published.
Would I ever like to lay my hands on one of Orion’s newly announced 190-mm f/5.3 Maksutov-Newtonian astrographs (an astrograph is a telescope specialized for photography). Of course, I’d need a fairly robust equatorial mount first, and a place to put it on a semi-permanent basis. Oh, and $1,300.
As usual, I gravitate towards the obscure and unique corners of my interests. Maksutov-Newtonians are weird telescopes: most Maksutovs on the market are Maksutov-Cassegrains; Mak-Newts combine the Maksutov corrector plate with a Newtonian reflector configuration. The upshot is that they have a reputation for superior image quality — certainly better than other catadioptric telescopes (e.g., Schmidt-Cassegrains), and approaching that of premium Dobs and apochromatic refractors, as this comparison demonstrates. In short, damn good for astrophotography, which seems to be Orion’s target lately — they’ve announced a six-megapixel CCD and a cheap autoguider, for example, while Celestron and Meade futz around with handheld planetariums.
Most Mak-Newts come from Russia, although Ottawa-based Ceravolo used to make them. Orion imported several from Intes a while back; I wonder where this new one comes from. Orion’s marketing copy highlights its component quality; earlier Russian imports apparently had first-rate optics but were a little unrefined otherwise. I look forward to reading the reviews. With any luck, it’ll still be on the market when I’m ready for one.