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We review eight planetary eyepieces that tease out detail on the Solar System's worlds
Reviews editor Paul Money asks whether online robotic scopes can deliver satisfaction
The sky is clear and you set up your equipment, leaving it to cool down. So far, so good. But then you peep out a while later to find cloud cover as far as the eye can see. Blast! If only there was somewhere with reliably clear skies that you could observe from all year round. Actually you're in luck, because there are several robotic telescopes around the world that you can use over the internet. Large-aperture telescopes in Australia, the US and South Africa are available to anyone for a small fee.
For me, there are two sides to this. Robotic scopes are great for getting that longed-for picture when the clouds prove stubborn at home. Or perhaps an object you've always wanted to see lies permanently below your horizon. On the other hand, I get a lot of enjoyment from observing or imaging in the knowledge that I prepared everything myself and waited patiently for a clear sky.
The robotic setups available online have all been put together by someone else, which begs the question: do you get the same level of satisfaction when you take a picture remotely?
I'm not sure, but several friends regularly use robotic scopes to produce stunning images. When I see these images, I always wonder whether you can really call a picture taken in this way 'yours'. Mind you, give me another couple of years and I could well be singing a different tune.
In the meantime, we're covering a gadget that makes one aspect of taking your own images rather easier - turn to page 90 to find out more.
AA FIRST LIGHT Mil We test the Sky-Watcher SynGuider - one of the most affordable stand-alone autoguiders to hit the market.
QA GROUPTEST i/Tr We review eight planetary eyepieces to see which one delivers the clearest and most comfortable views of the Moon and planets.
1 Vincent Whiteman rounds up the latest astronomy-related gadgets, including a wi-fi telescope control module (pictured).
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