Ok, Ok, I know…You are like “What the heck do telescopes have to do with hot sauce?”. Well, let me explain my train of thought.
I was thinking about hot peppers and their South American origins. Ancient peoples, like the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayans used them for all kinds of things (which I may do another article on later).
Then I was thinking about how the ancient Mayans had been astrological geniuses and how they had incredibly predicted eclipses and other celestial events by following the stars. Then I thought I should do a special post in tribute to the upcoming total eclipse. Which made me think I should do the Celestron Astromaster 114EQ review. Which is my telescope that I have actually had for one year this month (best anniversary present ever!).
See it all makes sense!
Just in case you aren’t aware, the first total eclipse visible in North America in 38 years is this coming Monday, August 21, 2017. The Total Eclipse will be visible in 14 states, one of which I am lucky enough to be living in, but the partial eclipse will be visible in all of North America, most of South America, and parts of Africa and Europe!
I have wanted a telescope for as long as I can remember. My first passion is the ocean, but my second is space. Both of which I am totally fascinated by, but would be utterly terrified to be deeply submerged in.
Several years back I did actually get a little telescope as a Christmas gift from my Mom. She bought it with the best of intentions, and it looked cool, but it just didn’t have any power. Honestly, my binoculars do a better job (Sorry Mom, I love you).
Wonderfully, however, last year my dream came true. I was surprised by the best anniversary present ever, my first real grown up telescope! I was so excited that I finally had this awesome tool, it made me cry.
It came, what they say was, partially assembled. I had to put together quite a few parts, but it made me feel really cool. I felt like I was some kind of scientist. It was fun, but I definitely had to read and follow the instructions. But once I got it all together it was so awesome! It is truly a thing of beauty!
Features and Specs
- It is a Newtonian reflector telescope
- It has an equatorial mount
- It is portable- it only weighs 17 lbs
- It has 10mm and 20mm eyepiece
- It has a 50x eyepiece magnifier
- It has a mounted red dot finder
- It comes with The Sky Level 1 software
- It has a 2 year warranty in case of any defects
- Priced very well (around $200)
(This is a great little video I found showing how to put it together)
This telescope is highly recommended as a starter telescope. With it you can observe the Moon, Saturn and its rings, Jupiter, and even deeper space phenomenon like star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae (that’s more than one nebula).
The tricky part is finding all these things in the vastness of space. I was able to find the Moon… Granted, the Moon looks really awesome and super close up, but that is all that was all could manage to find on my own.
There is a free Celestron Sky Portal app for ios and androids that helps you locate popular celestial bodies, but the app is very large. I have not been able to get it to download. There are other smaller apps, however, that can also give you direction to popular telescope targets, like Star Chart.
One really great thing about this telescope is the equatorial mount. In case you don’t already know, this allows you to naturally track the movement of an object as it appears to drift across the sky without having to try to do adjustments to keep it in your view.
The Celestron Astromaster 114EQ is a really great telescope for someone who doesn’t want to spend a ton, but still wants to see our solar system and beyond! If you would like more information on how you can get your own you can click here.
The Total Eclipse
Thought I should leave you all with a little more information on the upcoming eclipse. If you are somewhere where you will be able to see the full or partial solar eclipse, make sure you use proper protection for your eyes!
Never look at at the sun or solar eclipse with a telescope unless you have an official solar filter. You can buy a solar filter for most telescopes, or you can buy a sheet of solar film that you can cut to size. You can actually do this even with binoculars or sun glasses. It is very important there are no gaps or scratches in the film.
If you are using disposable eclipse glasses, make sure there are certified, and follow the directions (there are fakes out there, so be sure). And again, no gaps or scratches. No one should look at directly at the sun ever. Apparently, every time there is an eclipse a lot of people get eye damage for doing something they shouldn’t have, so enjoy the awesome celestial show, but make sure to be careful.
Map of Totality (by NASA)
The above map shows the band where the eclipse will be total. It also shows the percentage of coverage there will be as you move away that center line. If you click on the image you should be able to see a bigger version of it for closer inspection.
Below is a chart (made by NASA) of some of the towns the eclipse will pass through. If you live anywhere near any of these it will give you a better idea of when you should ready to observe.
Make Your Own Viewer
If you can’t get a hold of any solar glasses then you can easily watch it using the pinhole method. This is something anybody can make. There are a couple variations you can do. Here is the simplest form first.
Take a piece of flat cardboard, or even stiff construction paper and put a small pinhole in it. like literally a pinhole. It needs to be super tiny so no extra sunlight gets through. If your cardboard is too think to get a pin or needle through then you can cut a hole in the box and put foil over the hole. Make sure to tape the edges down well, and then put the pinhole through the foil instead of the thick box.
Then hold the cardboard over cement or a sidewalk so the sun shines through and you will see a small ball of light on the cement below. That is the sun. As the moon moves in front of it you will begin to see the sun disappear.
If you want the image to be a bit closer for easier viewing, hold another piece of cardboard below it to catch the image. As it you bring it closer the image will get bigger, but it will get less sharp. You can play around to find your favorite compromise there.
You can also build a box. Here is a video I found showing how to do this with a cereal box. This is from a news show in North Carolina, so it has some local information for them, but it is a very informative video.
So, I hope you all enjoyed my little break away from my usual post topics. This website is really about my passion for hot sauce and the foods they go on, but why not share some of my other passions with you all too? I mean it is my website after all, guess I can allow myself a bit of creative freedom.
For those of you who will be lucky enough to see this Total Solar Eclipse enjoy! For many of us this will be our first ever, and possibly our last, so it’s a kind of a big deal.
Even if you won’t be able to see the full eclipse, hopefully you will get to check out the partial eclipse, which is still pretty darn spectacular!
If you have any questions or comments feel free to let me know below. Enjoy the Total Solar Eclipse 2017!
Just wanted to give a little post eclipse update. It has been a little over a month since the event, but I haven;t had a chance to get an update on this post until now.
We were going to drive to see the full eclipse, because we were only about 3 hours from where we could see totality. Sadly, however, the media blew it up so big that we were afraid to go.
We really wanted to, but then decided against it because we we didn’t want to get stuck in traffic. Plus we were having really bad forest fires in the area right about then, and we didn’t want to be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic in a fire.
A few days before the eclipse we heard about traffic jams and towns running out of gas, and we were like, “Uh oh, it’s happening!”
But that was just for one day, and all those people were going to a specific eclipse festival.
So, what ended up happening, was that all the media threats of millions of people flooding our state scared people away. Hardly anyone came. Tons of local businesses in the totality belt lots a lot of money, because they overstocked for the huge amount of people that were supposed to come.
They actually had less business than a typical weekend, because locals were afraid to go anywhere.
Really pretty sucky, and so wish we would have gone. But we didn’t. So, we saw about 93% totality from our backyard. It was incredibly smokey here from the fires, so we were lucky to see anything.
I will post some pictures that I took, but like I said I wasn’t able to get my telescope equipped in time, so I just took pictures with my phone camera.
It was still really awesome. I really loved the coverage on TV. It was super cool to watch it approach and cover each city as it made its way across the United States…I actually just got chills while typing that sentence. It was really an awesome event.
Make no mistake though, when the next one comes across the U.S. in 2024 we will be in the path of totality! I will make my way there no matter what. I am not missing it again.
I have also been using my telescope a lot more since the eclipse. It is really fun, and still highly recommend it.
Also, I would love to hear any eclipse or telescope stories you have. So feel free to leave comments below.
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