Category : Astronomy Equipment

ZWO ASI120MM S USB3.0 CMOS Astronomy Camera

Well I just got my ASI120MM S USB3.0 camera through via DHL. Ordered it direct from ZWO Optical on AliExpress and paid £250, then had to pay an extra £19 on import duty etc. But still a bit cheaper than buying from 365Astronomy – they were also out of stock at time of ordering.

The video shows below me unboxing it, and what it looks like.

This is a still image of my desk at 1280×960 on the ASI120MM S with the CCTV lens attached.

ASI120MM S USB3 Camera

I used the default capture software AMCap to get this still. Remember to install the correct drivers from the CD or from the ZWO website before you plug the camera into the PC.

ASI120MM S CMOS Camera

The CD is quite good it comes with ASCOM, PC drivers and ST4 software, as well as all the different ZWO camera driver versions. There is also some PC and Mac software on the disc. PHD2 and oaCapture for the Apple Mac and FireCapture and SharpCap as well as PHD2 for the PC.

I have now installed the camera on my observatory PC. The install was easy. I also installed the ASCOM drivers as well FireCapture and SharpCap 2.

I began with SharpCap 2, but found the best fps I could get was around 70fps at 640×480 (it was 30fps at 1280×960). Other people had reported around 100fps. So I loaded FireCapture – which I must say seems to have a lot more functionality than SharpCap.

I tried my tests again in FireCapture and at 640×480 I was now getting 106fps-116fps. So it seems which software you use makes a difference, unless some other settings were different.

It appears that the ASI120MM S is a very sharp camera and so far I am very impressed with it.

John Lewis Telescopes

Whilst I was searching lately for a new Skywatcher telescope I was amazed to see that John Lewis appeared in the lists on Google. So I had to have a look, John Lewis now sell telescopes. They don’t sell too many, about 7 in total. Maybe telescopes are becoming mainstream, maybe it’s the Brian Cox effect?

John Lewis currently stock the following telescopes:

Still a great Christmas present for the budding astronomer and a great place to start.

View all the John Lewis Telescopes

Second Hand Astronomy Equipment

I’m sure this is a highly emotive subject. But this is the question should you buy 2nd hand astronomy equipment?

I myself have bought and sold lots of astronomy equipment, either through AstroBuySell, Stargazers Lounge or eBay. But there seems to be so much astronomy equipment constantly on the second hand market, I wonder how many people have actually owned some of the items and how many ‘hands’ have touched them. I imagine there must be items that are constantly being passed onto the next person.

There are of course savings to be made on buying second hand equipment, which is the main reason we buy it. But sometimes it’s just nice to pay that little bit extra and have the assurance that you are buying new and that the item will come with at least a one year warranty.

The thing that makes me laugh is when people try to sell astronomy equipment when it only costs about another 10-20% to buy it new.

Selling your items not on eBay is the best thing to do as you don’t pay the eBay and PayPal commission, but I do think your items may go for a higher price on eBay just because of the number of visitors that eBay has.

You also have to watch out for dodgy astronomy sellers – they are out there. It’s always best when buying larger equipment to check the history of it, if you look on the archives in AstroBuySell or search the forum on Stargazers Lounge or search on Google, you may find some information on your item – especially if it has been bought or sold before.

Most astronomers look after there equipment very well, but I still like to have the end caps on an eyepiece and have the item boxed. That tells me that the owner has looked after the equipment, plus it means that the original box with help when I come to sell the item on.

Make sure the item works, and make sure the item is complete in everyway, it’s also advisable to see an image of the item when buying it. I have purchased a couple of items that did not work, like an illuminated reticule which did not illuminate! I asked the eBayer for a refund to help me fix it, but I did not get one. In the end I visited Maplin bought a new cable and an LED and fixed it.

If you are a seller and know something is wrong or missing, please be truthful and tell us about it, and don’t try and hide it and hope we as the buyer don’t find out about it.

Once you get hooked on the second hand astronomy items, I swear you never go back to new items unless you have to. I have lots of second hand equipment and I love it. But sometimes I wonder if I am mad, sending complete strangers hundreds of pounds for equipment I have never seen. So please think twice before buying, and if the item is over a couple of hundred pounds or so then why not visit the person and collect it – that is as long as it’s not too far away – especially with fuel costs being so high.

So should you buy 2nd hand astronomy equipment over new?

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