Astrozap Artificial Star for Collimation
There's no test of optics or collimation more precise than star testing. But what happens if you'd like to collimate your scope or test your optics when it's cloudy? The Astrozap artificial star is designed to provide a steady, stable reference for star collimation, and can be used in lieu of an actual star. This device will allow collimation without the worry of star drift or seeing conditions. This very bright, small point source of light will provide a consistent brightness, and produce beautiful diffraction rings when defocused in any eyepiece.
The Astrozap Artificial Star has a new and improved design that features a brighter 18,000mcd ultra white LED focused on a 100-micron precision laser drilled stainless steel aperture. The artificial star can be placed on a table, or attached to a standard photo tripod using the ¼-20 adaptor provided on the bottom of the unit. The placement of the artificial star depends on the telescope. For an 8" SCT Astrozap recommends approximately 100 feet. The further away from the scope, the better until you start loosing contrast in the eyepiece. Indoor use is a possibility although we recommend collimation with the scope in position.
The Astrozap Artificial Star can be used at star parties to provide a star for everyone. It never moves, so there are no tracking or centering issues to worry about. It is unaffected by atmospheric disturbances so you can get an accurate collimation under any seeing conditions. Collimation, in its simplest terms, is the alignment of the mirrors or other optical surfaces in the telescope. A telescope that is out of collimation will typically not perform as well as a lesser telescope (25-50% less aperture) that is in collimation. If you put the extra money into a larger telescope, you are not reaping any benefits of it unless the scope is collimated. Also, no telescope will allow you to reach a crisp focus at the high power end unless collimation is perfect. It is well worth the time and effort.
The picture on the left side represents an optical system that is in perfect collimation. The rings themselves make collimation easy to perform. Note the complete lack of any atmospheric disturbance. This photo was taken with an 8" SCT using a modified webcam at prime focus. Star distance was approximately 50' from the telescope. This picture was taken on a 95º summer day just before dusk! The picture on the right is an example of an optical system that is out of collimation.
The procedure for collimating your particular telescope should be outlined in its manual. Please read the instructions there first. It will tell you the location of the collimation screws and any cautionary notes concerning collimation adjustments.
AstroZap Product Number: 1600