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7/09/2010

NASA Art Contest Winners Humankind returns to the Moon

Found this in my email this morning and thought I would share it since I am an educator by profession and young people need their visions to be shared. Here are the two videos on YouTube that NASA posted for their Art contest winners and runner ups for the return to lunar theme. From this I can say we have some very promising artists and visions here.

9:24 minutes for Part 1; about 5 minutes 20 seconds for Part 2. Good viewing for when the clouds are overhead.

NASA Art Contest Winners Part 1

NASA Art Contest Winners Part 2

Review of Orion LaserMate Pro

























Today I thought I would review another piece of equipment that I got with the XX14i. This is the Orion Lasermate Pro, their newest laser collimator that is guaranteed to retain laser collimation. Now up front I'll state that I own a set of passive collimation tools from Catseye and I really like collimating using those tools. However, there are times when a laser is good to use so I was able to purchase this item. I will also at some point purchase a Howie Glatter and a Tplug as I want to compare everything and keep what I like, and sell the rest. Now on to the Orion.

The Orion costs $99 and for the $99 you get a very sturdy and durable piece of equipment, or it seems to be after two weeks of owning it. First thing you'll notice is in the package they come in a heavy plastic to protect them. I've kept the plastic to store mine in my accessory case. It also comes with a heavy duty sight tube as well. The laser is very heavy and very thick. In my 1 1/4 inch compression adapter in both the XT10 and the XX14i (not the stock as I like the brass compression rings) the laser sits snug and tight with no movement. More importantly I can use it without tightening the brass ring as it fits that well. Same with the sight tube.

To turn the laser on there is a red button you push that is large and even my short, fat stubby fingers can do it. The button could wear over time so I wouldn't play with the laser on this one. The laser comes out a short black end ring on the other end. My laser is not all the bright during the bright sunshine of a summer afternoon so positioning of the scope during daylight hours is a consideration when collimation is done before twilight.


The Big Red Button to turn the laser on and off:





















The black roundish end where the laser emits:






















Accuracy of the laser. Somewhere around here I have my laser collimator tester, a wooden contraption that I made that has two V's in block of wood and that allow me to turn the laser to check collimation. If/When I find it, I will shoot a movie of it and post it here. The laser was spot on doing this test.


Collimation. The sight tube is far nicer than the stock tube that comes with the Orion telescopes as it is also thicker and sits in the 1 1/4 inch adapter very snug with no real compression needed (perhaps I got lucky). I believe I stated this, but I have a habit when I get a new scope of really messing with the collimation and then bringing it back into collimation so that I can learn how the scope collimates (I feel each of my scopes have some unique quirks in collimation though the process for 90% to 95% is the same). I did this and the sight tube helped me to center the primary and secondary very quickly. I used the laser to fine tune the secondary, then back to the primary with the site tube (I found my Cheshire worked better here allowing me to adjust from the back of the bottom tube). One last check of the secondary, which had moved just a millimeter or two. The laser honed in quickly using my Bob's Knobs (you can see on in the pictures I believe) and the milk jug washer adaptation and the secondary collimation came quickly.



So, do I recommend the Orion LaserMate Pro? Yes, to a point. The laser is heavy, durable and well built and should last if the claims with it are true. The sight tube is good but what would be more helpful is a Cheshire/Sight tube combo so one isn't running back and forth to the holder to see how the primary is moving. It is a vast improvement over the other laser collimators that Orion has offered, or the similar products offered by other companies. The LaserMate Pro I see as a go between an above average collimator and the fantastic tools offered by Howie Glatter and Catseye. So if you don't have the money for a Catseye or Glatter (and they really are not that much more) then the Orion may serve nicely. A Hotech may also serve as a good in between collimator also. A final comment. I am not associated with or receive any kickback or favors from Orion for purchasing and using this product.