The Telescope Drive Master

A mid-level mounts’ best friend?

My Telescope Drive Master v2 arrives
My Telescope Drive Master v2 arrives

To take truly inspirational images of the cosmos you need three astronomical tools; a telescope (optical tube assembly), an imaging device (normally a CCD or DSLR camera), and a mount. All three components should be of good quality in order to achieve the results desired during your journey to the beginning of space and time.

Some amateur astronomers may believe the imaging device and optical tube assembly are more important than the mount. This might make a good mount less important in their eyes, but a safe, steady, well-made mount is just as important in taking great astroimages.

Modern telescope mounts

There are modern mounts in the $3000 range available capable of excellent tracking with minimal periodic error (error induced due to small mechanical imperfections in the device). You can also break the piggy bank and opt for a German equatorial mount (GEM) in the five figure range that’s even more accurate. In the case of modern mounts, made by a reputable manufacturer, you really do get what you pay for. 

The Telescope Drive Master

In an effort to make mid-level and GEMs, even better Hungarian firm MDA-TelesCoop has introduced the Telescope Drive Master (TDM). Designed to correct the periodic error of a telescope mount, without the requirement for an auto guider system, the Telescope Drive Master is made to enhance the ability of both mid-level and expensive GEMs.

You can obtain a Telescope Drive Master through Explore Scientific in North America and in other areas of the world.

Price: $1,799.95 

My Telescope Drive Master v2 arrives 

17059I used a Celestron CGE Pro GEM to test the claims of MDA-TelesCoop concerning the Telescope Drive Master’s ability to make this excellent quality mount even better.

I got the Telescope Drive Master v2 I tested through Explore Scientific. It arrived securely and safely packaged, and with the right mechanical adapter for my CGE Pro GEM. You need to indicate which model of mount you’ll be using with the TDM when ordering because each requires a specific adapter.

You can check which models the Telescope Drive Master v2 can be used with here.

They included instructions and helpful photographs on setting up the Telescope Drive Master, which I found easy to understand. They also helped explain how the TDM works with my CGE Pro GEM and computer to make beautiful images. Getting the setup right only took me about an hour and a few minutes to get everything ready to view the cosmos.

Performance

The Telescope Drive Master significantly reduced the periodic and even non-periodic tracking errors of my CGE Pro GEM to within 0.5″. This is a result in agreement with previous reviews and independent tests.

It also integrated well with the autoguider system, offering me precise tracking of celestial objects.

These results would likely not be possible with a lesser quality mount than my CGE Pro GEM. Still, it should improve the ability of even mid-level mounts.

The conclusion

Overall this device did improve the ability of my mount to improve the quality of images taken of the cosmos. It’s worth the price I paid to obtain.

If I was a serious astroimager desiring to enhance my ability to take stunning, unforgettable images of the cosmos, I would purchase the Telescope Drive Master.

It can definitely make your journey to the beginning of space and time more memorable.

Telescope Drive Master

Price: $1,799.95

Learn more about TelesCoop here.

Learn more about Celestron’s complete lineup of astronomy products here.

Looking for a quality telescope for your journey to the beginning of space and time? Read about Explore Scientific’s 80mm Triplet Apochromatic Refractor

Need a good pair of astronomical binoculars? Check out Denkmeier’s new Binotron-27 Binoviewers

Looking for a quality portable mount to enhance your journey to the beginning of space and time? Read about the Maxim DL

Advertisements

Did Life Evolve in the Early Universe?

Were there even suitable planets upon which life could survive? 

Space news (February 03, 2015) 117 light-years away in the constellation Lyra –

Astronomers have often wondered if life could have evolved in the early universe? Space scientists using data provided by NASA’s Kepler mission recently discovered a planetary system containing as many as five earth-sized planetthat formed when the universe was two billion years old.

The tightly packed system, named Kepler-444, is home to five small planets in very compact orbits. The planets were detected from the dimming that occurs when they transit the disc of their parent star, as shown in this artist's conception. Image Credit: Tiago Campante/Peter Devine
The tightly packed system, named Kepler-444, is home to five small planets in very compact orbits. The planets were detected from the dimming that occurs when they transit the disc of their parent star, as shown in this artist’s conception.
Image Credit: Tiago Campante/Peter Devine

  

The five earth-sized planets discovered orbit close to their home star in the star system called Kepler-444, range in size between Mercury and Venus. They also take less than ten days to complete each orbit, which means the weather on these planets is hotter and more extreme than any planet in our solar system.

Earth-based life would never survive on these planets unless of course, these planets were once further from their home star. If these planets were once located within the habitable zone of their home planet? It’s possible life once evolved and flourished on one or more of these early planets.

“While this star formed a long time ago, in fact before most of the stars in the Milky Way, we have no indication that any of these planets have now or ever had life on them,” said Steve Howell, Kepler/K2 project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “At their current orbital distances, life as we know it could not exist on these ancient worlds.”

Space scientists studying the age of planets within a star system measure small changes in the brightness of the parent sun produced by pressure waves within the star. These pressure waves result in small variations in star temperature and luminosity leading to very small changes in brightness. Asteroseismologists – asteroseismology is the study of the interior of suns – use these measurements to determine the diameter, mass, and age of the parent sun. The age of the planets within a star system is the same as the parent sun since they formed at about the same time. 

The existence of earth-sized planets in the early universe indicates life could have evolved and survived. This news doesn’t tell us how common solar systems with planets of this size were, but it does mean the possibility existed. 

What’s next?

Space scientists will now begin looking further back in time and at more early star systems to see if they can find more earth-sized planets life could have evolved on. Any intelligent life evolving in these planets would have long ago moved to another planet. Is it possible we could be descendants of life that evolved in the early universe? If any civilization had the time to develop the technology required to travel the universe and seed planets it would be one that developed on one of these early earth-sized planets.

For more information on NASA’s Kepler space mission go here.

Read about methane clouds moving over the northern seas of Saturn’s moon Titan

Read about the first earth-sized planet discovered orbiting within its home star’s habitable zone

Read about the search for extraterrestrial life taking a turn at Jupiter

Space Scientists Take a Closer Look at Lenticular Galaxies

To study how galaxies evolve and change over time 

Space information (February 03, 2015) – lenticular galaxies –

Lenticular galaxies are a class of galaxy space scientists have always considered to be an intermediate form between spiral and elliptical class galaxies. This type of galaxy is characterized by a prominent central bulge and disk, with no obvious arms like the Milky Way. More recently, space scientists are starting to think lenticular galaxies could be the end result of a collision between galaxies, resulting in the different varieties recorded during the human journey to the beginning of space and time.

The Hubble Space Telescope image below shows Arp 230 (IC 51), an oddly-shaped galaxy recorded in Halton Arp’s Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, classified as a lenticular galaxy. NASA space scientists studying Arp 230 believe the funny-looking shape of this galaxy is the end result of a collision between two galaxies smaller than our own Milky Way.

This image shows Arp 230, also known as IC 51, observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
This image shows Arp 230, also known as IC 51, observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

The ring of light seen surrounding the galaxy is gas, dust, and stars orbiting the poles of the galaxy they call a polar ring. Space scientists think this is mainly composed of remnants of the smaller of the two colliding galaxies, which was perpendicular to the disk of the larger galaxy during their merger. Space scientists believe this would have resulted in the formation of the polar ring as the smaller galaxy was torn to pieces by the chaos.

NASA scientists and astronomers studying and classifying lenticular galaxies are now going over each galaxy in this classification to see if they can find more data to support their ideas. At the same time, they’ll begin conducting computer simulations using available data to obtain a better understanding of lenticular galaxies.

You can learn more about the Hubble Space Telescope here.

You can learn more about galaxies and their evolution here.

You can learn more about lenticular galaxies here.

Read about NASA seeking private and business partners to help enable the human journey to the beginning of space and time

Read about ancient dust with metal ions falling onto Mar’s atmosphere from Oort Cloud comet

Learn how to calculate the orbits of asteroids in the Main Asteroid Belt