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Home - Andy's Shot Glass Home Page. Watch the Home page for information on new and upcoming articles, reviews and tutorials.

Articles - Links to all my articles, tutorials and reviews!

    • Antares 152mm Refracer Review - Andy Raiford and Daniel Maloney weigh in with their opinions of this scope in separate reviews.
    • Astrophotography 101 - The Honest Truth About Affordable Scopes - An explanation of what scopes in the affordable class are capable of -- and what they are not capable of.
    • Astrophotography 102 - Introductory information for the beginner on the three basic components necessary for astrophotography.
    • Autoguiding with the Atlas EQ-G and ST-4 - Autoguiding the Atlas is a breeze using the Sbig ST-4 stand alone auto-guider - once you learn how. The learning curve is steep, and can be difficult for beginners. This article explains both handguding autoguiding.
    • Balancing Your Equatorial Telescope - In order for an equatorial mount's motors to function smoothly and properly, it is important that your scope be balanced in both Right Ascension and Declination axis. This article contains basic information for the novice astronomer.
    • Astrophotography Hat Trick - My Canon Digital Rebel jerks incredibly when the shutter mirror slaps open. Most of my photos gave evidence of this, until I learned this cool hat trick.
    • Choosing a Telescope - This article is for those who have never purchased a telescope and would like input to aid their decision.
    • Cleaning the Primary Mirror and Lenses of your Telescope - Information to help you if you ever find yourself with an incredibly dirty primary mirror.
    • Collimating a Newtonian Telescope - This animated tutorial teaches two basic collimation techniques: Visual and Laser Collimating. My multimedia demonstration makes the process of collimating a Newtonian easy to understand.
    • Coronado PST - The Coronado PST or personal solar telescope allows astronomers to see things that they've never been able to see from their back yards - prominences on the sun! This article describes the workings of the scope and its photographic capabilities.
    • Don't Do What I Did - A humorous look at getting started in amateur astronomy, I share my own mistakes, trials and tribulations.
    • Drift Alignment - A video demonstration of how to perform a drift alignment in preparation for astrophotography. Find out why so many people tell me that my video is worth a thousand words!
    • Eclipse Makview 4 Review - The Eclipse Makview 4 is a 105 mm, f/13 (1365 mm focal length) Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope featuring BK7 glass optics. It is reviewed here by Jeff Phillips.
    • Helical Focuser I - This article spotlights the helical focuser. Inexpensive telescopes are not known for their precision focusers. The addition of an inexpensive device called the helical focuser makes all the difference in the world when you are trying fine-tune in that celestial object.
    • Helical Focuser II - An overview of the design improvements made to the helical focuser.
    • Hartzman Mask - Your telescope is polar aligned. You have your camera mounted with your object in the viewfinder. You look through that little viewfinder and wonder if you really have the focus you need. The Hartzman Mask is an cheap and easy way to help you focus on deep space objects.
    • Leveling your Tripod - Information for the beginner on leveling your mount's tripod.
    • Nebula Filter Shoot-Off - A side-by-side comparison between the Bandmate™NebuStar™ and the Orion UltraBlock™ filter. (Conducted at the Central Texas Star Party 2004)
    • Observing Techniques and Filters - Learn the art to observing deep space objects through a telescope. This article covers observing techniques and explains how telescope eyepiece filters can enhance viewing.
    • Orion's Crayford Focuser - How and why to consider replacing the Orion Rack and Pinion focuser.
    • Orion 100mm ED - In this article, I compare the Orion 100mm ED apochromatic refractor to the 80mm ED. I also explain the improvements Orion has made to the Skyview Pro mount, and show how I used the StarTarg™ drift alignment software I designed with the SAC Mintron CCD video camera.
    • Orion 100mm ED Spacer Modification- Some amateur astronomers have noticed that three paper-thin spacers located between the two lenses of the Orion 100mm ED, can show up as defraction spikes in astrohotos of bright stars. In this article, I explain how to quickly build an inexpensive spanner tool that will help you dissassemble the lens cell, and alter the spacers to remove this defraction.
    • Orion 100mm ED Drawtube Modification - Tune Up Your 100ED Focuser with these handy tips for honing the flat side of your drawtube to prevent slippage during astrophotography.
    • Orion 120mm ED: Part 1- This is Orion's big aperture apochromatic refractor. It is sure to be popular with astrophotographers and visual observers alike. First light took place at Mansfield Dam at our usual friday night gathering of the Austin Dam Astronomers. The results were astonishing.
    • Orion Atlas EQ-G GOTO Mount - The Atlas EQ-G GOTO Mount mount features technology that until now only very expensive mounts have offered. This demonstration/tutorial covers basic setup, polar alignment, and using the handset to complete a two-star alignment.
    • Orion SkyView Pro™ Equatorial Mount for Astrophotography - This article addresses weight limits for the SkyView Pro™ EQ mount and telescope considerations for astrophotography.
    • Orion SkyView Pro™ Pier Mount - A review of Orion's steel pier mount. It just may be your answer to stability problems.
    • Orion SkyView Pro™ Mount Modification - Demonstration of how to modify your mount so that it operates more smoothly while tracking, allowing for clearer astrophotos. This article is a click-through that takes you step-by-step through the whole process.
    • Orion Status 35mm Widefield Eyepiece - This 68 degree field of view eyepiece is the largest in Orion's Status collection to date. The article discusses issues such as weight, field of view and coma. At $199, this eyepiece is comparable to eyepieces twice the price.
    • Orion® Polar Alignment Scope - This polar alignment scope may need some attention to insure that it is functioning properly. This article defines the problem and gives detailed photographic instructions on how to solve it.
    • Q70 2" Widefield Eyepieces - A review of the Orion Super Wide angle eyepieces: 26mm, 32mm, 38mm on both refractor and reflector scopes.
    • Seven Must-Haves for the Amateur Astronomy - This is my short list of the most important astronomy accessories that will go a long way toward helping you get the most enjoyment from your hobby.
    • Solar Observation - Tips and warnings about the dangers of Solar Observation.
    • Telescope Facelift - Give your old telescope a new look!
    • The $800 Question - Refractor? Reflector? In this article, I give you some things to consider when deciding to buy your first telescope.
    • Wall Racks for your Scopes - A quick and easy way to get your telescopes up off the floor.
    • Wilcox Rotating Rings - Daniel Malony explains how to economically build and install these special rings to make rotation of your tube assembly easy, while keeping your eyepiece in a comfortable position, and the scope in balance.

Gallery - Weather permitting, I have set a goal to shoot every one of the Messier Objects. This is an up-to-date gallery of the photos I have taken. Central Texas has experienced a long period of cloudy or just bad-seeing nights. It's taking longer than I expected, but I committed to seeing it through to the last Messier Object.

About ASG -

  • The meaning behind the name of my website and the reason I started the site.
  • Contact information (email, snail mail)

Telescope Junkies Forum - In March 2006, with the help of my fellow amateur astronomer/computer programmer Daniel Maloney, I created a way for Andy's Shot Glass visitors to get astronomy information and assistance. Whether you're just starting out or have been an amateur astronomer for years, this is the place to ask questions. Forum topics include refractors, reflectors, tips for beginners, colimation, polar alignment, filters, focusers, eyepieces, lenses, astrophotography, and much more! Check it out!

Web Store - This is where you can go to buy some of the handy astronomy tools and tutorials I've developed including:

  • Andy's Telescope Tips and Tuneups CD - Features the expanded SkyView Pro Mount modifications video (includes Seven "Must-Haves" for Beginners, the Collimating and Drift Alignment demonstrations and much more!)
  • StarTarg - An excellent piece of software for astrophotographers designed for use with a laptop computer that makes drift alignment easier.
  • ShotGlass Gallery - An easy way to showcase your astrophotos on the web or on your hard drive - designed especially for astrophotographers!
  • Andy's Red Plexiglass - Dim your laptop screen while using your computer for observing with a sheet of specially-cut 1/8" 14" wide by 11" high red plexiglass.
  •  Question about your order?

Photo of the Week - Each week, Andy's Shot Glass features photos taken while using an astrophotography rig not exceeding $3000 (retail price). Read the submission requirements at the bottom of the page and send in your photos today!

Kudos - A compilation of good things people are saying about the web site.