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Steve Holmes

Thanks for your input Andy. The item you mention is pretty close to Roger’s idea but in fact the “Altair MG32 Mini Guide Polar Alignment Scope + QRB Rings + GPCAM Guide Camera” (phew!) seems to be a closer match – no (un-necessary) focuser and a sensible size objective lens. However, the cameras on both of these are only mono (presumably a colour one would cost rather more) and there’s no mention of FoV – but as they are specified to be mainly for guiding purposes one must assume that this could be quite narrow. And then there’s the price of course (£275 for the Altair!) when a basic, beginner level, optical finder can be bought for £35 (Rother Valley). Note that I’m not suggesting that the build quality of these two would be anything close to the same, simply that there doesn’t seem to be anything available for a beginner.

The Celestron and Meade devices do indeed seem to work only with their own products – and pretty beefy ones at that, judging by the Meade pictures! I suspect that in these cases if one has to ask the price then one can’t afford it!

Sorry about the apparent emphasis on price, but this is a factor which should not be overlooked if beginners are to be encouraged to move onto slightly more complicated observations than simply looking at the larger planets. Finding Uranus, Neptune and the brighter galaxies (for example) with only an optical finder on a standard “consumer” 150mm reflector, for example, can be very difficult – particularly for someone with little experience. Adding an “electronic finder”, a bit of technology and a star-hopping plan makes things so much easier! Not everyone has large aperture OTAs on motorised, permanently mounted, perfectly adjusted GOTO drives, I’m afraid.

All offers to manufacture gratefully received!