Astronomy Christmas 2016 and New Moon Bust November 2016

     Well, the best observing day was Thanksgiving Night for me, but of course, I did not go out. Sorry, family is first for me. I had my Mom who will be 78 in December, my wife and two adult kids home for Thanksgiving so that is the most important of course, to spend time with them.

I may get out this coming week IF the weather turns, but for now the forecast is not good. We are getting an inch of snow on Sunday and another inch of snow on Monday. New Moon is Tuesday and as you can see from the National Weather Service Forecast for my home and observing area:

I might get out on Sunday, December 4th, or maybe Wednesday November 30th through Friday December 2nd but I am not counting on it. It may be this month I miss new moon and will have to do some observing from my back porch or take my 4" refractor for a short drive during the early waxing crescent moon phase.  Oh well, can't control the weather. I hope December opens up for me.

I know many will be wondering what to get for the Holiday's so I am going to offer some suggestions from across the board and with a wide range of prices. I will state up front I am not going to get anything astronomy related this Christmas. There is nothing I need.

1. Red Light. LRI FMR Photon Freedom LED Keychain Micro-Light, Red Beam Cost $11.35 at Amazon LINK.  This is what I use to sketch with and I like it because I can darken it with its adjustable brightness, put on some red brake repair tape on it to darken it more and it is small and easy to use. I keep one on a lanyard around my neck for use at the scope and another on a cell phone holder over my sketching pad.  Combine with with an eye patch and it works great!

2. Lenovo - IdeaPad 100s 11.6" Laptop / Intel Atom Z3735F/ 2GB Memory / 32GB eMMC Flash Memory / Webcam / Windows 10- Red Amazon LINK. Cost: $176.   Earlier this year I purchased 5 different laptops or ThinkPads as I call this item to see which would load up Sky Tools 3, which allowed me to darken them to the put to use in the field so I could stop printing off charts from Sky Tools 3.  This item, the Lenovo 100s IdeaPad has been the best. I have two of them and the work wonderfully. Sky Tools 3 runs terrific with them and I use a SD Card to store my data on.  I don't put any other products on them and they are dedicated for field use. I did purchase a clear red acrylic cover from Scopestuff to go over each screen, and several layers of rubylith from Scopestuff. Between using them on their lowest brightest setting, turning on red night mode on Sky Tools 3, and using the material from Scopestuff and an eye patch over my observing eye, maintaining night vision is not an issue. These are small enough, light enough that I often pull my observing chair over, put the IdeaPad on the chair to use while on my step ladder. Works nicely, or I can hold it while observing also.
Note, if you put the items from Scopestuff on using their thick, black rubber bands the IdeaPad will tilt over so the screen is laying down if you don't prop it up. Oh, these have a 9 hour battery life and in the field I have run them for 7 hours in the summer and in the fall (down to 15 degrees F) and gotten that battery life out of them.

3. Dew Heater Power and material.

I use a Thousand Oaks Dew Heater controller with connecting items for the Telrad, Focuser, Eyepiece (either 1 1/4" or 2") and my secondary heater. I use to use a portable battery jumper with a 9 volt but I have traded it in for the following.

a) First thing you need is a battery. I will use this one from Amazon but any that match the characteristics will work.

 ML35-12 - 12V 35AH U1 Deep Cycle AGM Solar Battery LINK. I have two similar batteries that I use to run my CPAP for one of them, and this battery will run my CPAP for 3 to 4 days in the field and then in the fall and winter is the only time dew my come up so then I will put the other battery in to run my dew control.

With the battery you need a battery tender to charge it. Here is the one I own and it has worked wonderfully.

Battery Tender 021-0156 Battery Tender Plus 12V Battery Charger True Gel Cell Model
LINK to Amazon.

You will also need this to hook up to the charged battery.

Battery Tender 081-0069-6 Ring Terminal Harness with Black Fused 2-Pin Quick Disconnect Plug
Link to Amazon. This lets you power your items off the battery.

To run your 12v items you will need this to adapt in to the cord I posted for the Ring Terminal.
Battery Tender 081-0069-8 Female Cigarette Adaptor for Quick Disconnect
LINK to Amazon.

Prices are around $5 to $10 for the cords, $60 for the battery.  You can also power USB devices or other devices by buying this cord:
NOCO ISCC2 5-Way SAE Adapter Connector LINK to Amazon and then buying another 8 Female Cigarette lighter or this device:
Battery Tender 081-0158 Black Quick Disconnect Plug with USB Charger LINK to Amazon.

For Dew Strips and Controls you can go to Agena Astro and look over their selection at this LINK.

I will be upfront that on my CPAP I have a 12V that fits from the power adapter in the back of the unit to the 12V Lighter and that is all I need to run my machine when camping.  Like I said I can also run my Dew Control System on this with no problem and it works better for me than a battery jumper. 

4. Hand Warmer for Cold Nights. This goes to Zippo Hand Warmer and you can get them at Aamzon, I've seen them at Walmart also.  Here is the Amazon LINK. You'll need Zippo Lighter Fluid with them also but these work extremely well if you get cold hands or want to keep them warm during the winter. 

5. Telrad 2" or 4" riser. Use a Telrad? Ever have neck strain? This is a simply and wonderful tool you can purchase to end that neck strain from using a Telrad. Most go for the 2" though some of us, myself included, prefer the 4". Your choice. 

6. Far Point UHC Filter. LINK.  I have both the 1 1/4 inch and 2 inch UHC filter and I have to say, I REALLY like this filter. I own the DGM, and 1000 Oaks equivalent filters, and the Far Point really seems to provide just a touch more contrast over the other two. However, I think the 1000 Oaks and the DGM UHC filters are really really close. So if your looking for a premium or near premium UHC filter, give FarPoint or DGM or 1000 Oaks a try. 

7. Want something different? How about a meteorite? Yep, you can buy them from around $20 to over $100 or more at Meteorites for Sale LINK. It provides whoever you give it to as a gift the opportunity to own something that came from above! For example you can own or gift a piece of the Chelyabinsk Meteorite that exploded in Russia on February 15th, 2013.  Here is a LINK to that. Prices are from around $35 to $115 for these small pieces. 

8. Finally, have a reader? I recommend the Willmann-Bell site for books. The Annuals of the Deep Sky are new books that are excellent reading and great for planning observing sessions in a given constellation. Need an all encompassing deep sky atlas? I highly recommend the Uranometria 2000.0, Atlas from Willmann-Bell. There are other selections so perhaps ask the person you want to gift or who will buy you a gift what they would want or what you would want and write it down. 

There are some suggestions. It's snowing tonight, on Monday November 28th, 2016 so I am sure I am not getting out observing! Oh well, perhaps later in the week or later in the month.