You possibly can take a protracted publicity picture of the night time sky with any guide digicam, however solely a motorised star tracker just like the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini (SAM) will let you expose for longer than 30 seconds earlier than the celebs start to path and blur.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer mini: Key specs
Weight: 650g (mount solely)
Dimensions: 76x70x103mm (mount solely)
Max. lens focal size: 100mm
Max. payload: 3KG
Energy: 2x AA batteries or exterior transportable battery
Tripod thread: 3/8-inch and 1/4 inch
Alignment technique: Polar scope
That’s as a result of Earth’s transferring at 1,000 mph, one thing the SAM accounts for as a result of it aligns with Polaris, the north star, and successfully cancels-out trailing stars. The tip result’s higher pictures of the night time sky that include extra stars, extra nebulae — and much more Milky Means.
Such trackers have existed for a number of years, however most are both cumbersome or lack accuracy. The SAM is an effective stability between portability and precision, however how does it carry out out within the area?
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer mini: Design
- Shipped with complete accent bundle
- Takes as much as 100mm lenses
- Polar alignment design is fiddly
The ‘Professional Pack’ we reviewed consisted of six parts; the motorised mount unit, an equatorial wedge for precision aligning with Polaris, a ball head adapter, a polar scope that helps you place Polaris in its crosshairs, and a small plastic polar scope illuminator to make that job simpler. This pack additionally features a dovetail L-bracket (for utilizing with a counterweight, out there individually). Regardless of its complete equipment you do have to offer a ball-head in your digicam.
We have been in a position to get all of it in a reasonably small digicam backpack alongside a DSLR digicam that additionally took a 24-105mm lens and an ultra-wide angle 14mm lens (each of which we used efficiently with the SAM).
Polar alignment is time-consuming even when yow will discover Polaris, the North Star. The trick is to first know precisely the place it’s within the night time sky, but additionally to get it within the crosshairs of the polar scope’s sights. There’s a small crimson laser gentle that will help you, however in follow that merely blocks your view of Polaris. We have been capable of finding Polaris by wanting by means of the principle Polarscope tunnel, roughly aligning the Star Adventurer earlier than making a positive adjustment utilizing the polar scope (the app has a Polar Clock Utility web page that will help you get it spot-on). Nonetheless, by far the best technique to make an preliminary tough alignment is to get another person to level at Polaris utilizing a inexperienced or crimson astronomy laser pointer (in the event that they’re authorized in your nation).
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer mini: Efficiency
- Good, dependable monitoring as soon as arrange
- SA Console app may use some work
- Higher to run off exterior battery financial institution than AA batteries
In our take a look at we managed to set it up, align it correctly with Polaris, and take a sequence of 1, two and three-minute take a look at pictures – to verify it was aligned – in about 25 minutes. Every time it succeeded, although you then need to be insanely cautious to not contact your tripod.
The SAM performs admirably, creating pin-sharp stars and wealthy star fields throughout tracks of as much as about 4 minutes. We had nearly precisely 3kg on the SAM, so it was working at its restrict. Nonetheless, in the event you’re considering of shopping for the SAM then don’t simply take into consideration the burden of your digicam physique and the lenses you plan to make use of. You additionally need to issue within the weight of your ball head.
After connecting your smartphone to a Wi-Fi community produced by the SAM it’s needed to make use of the SA Console app to get the SAM to trace. That’s a disgrace as a result of the app is dangerous. Not as soon as throughout 4 nights of testing was the SAM nonetheless linked to the app by the point we had completed a batch of lengthy exposures, nor the app nonetheless working correctly. To cease the SAM from monitoring as soon as we have been able to take lengthy exposures of the foreground we at all times needed to force-quit the app and resort to switching the SAM on and off once more to reset it.
You possibly can nonetheless do what it’s good to do, however no app for a tool this expensive needs to be crashing each time it’s used. It’s so dangerous that if Sky-Watcher doesn’t shortly enhance its app we will see the Star Adventurer Mini shortly being supplanted by rival star trackers coming down the road (such because the long-awaited and much-delayed Benro Polaris).
The SAM runs off a few AA batteries, which ran out of energy after three nights of prolonged use; as an alternative we ran it off a conveyable battery through micro USB.
Do you have to purchase the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini star tracker?
If you wish to take higher pictures of the Milky Means if you journey to hunt darkish skies then, sure, the SAM is likely one of the finest star trackers round.
It’s simple to make use of and one of the vital correct, most versatile and finest worth star trackers available on the market. Nonetheless, it’s received one main weak spot – its poor app. If Sky-Adventurer can vastly enhance the reliability of the app and freshen-up its dated consumer expertise then the SAM can stay as among the finest star trackers round.
If this product isn’t for you
You probably have heavier gear or need to use longer lenses then go for the bigger Sky-Watcher Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i (opens in new tab), which has a built-in polar scope, and may take payloads as much as 5KG and 400mm lenses. Nonetheless, it makes use of the identical poor SA Console app.
The priciest and possibly the very best star tracker out there at current is the iOptron SkyGuider Professional (opens in new tab), which may additionally take 5kg of substances and maxes out with 400mm lenses. It’s additionally received its personal polar scope built-in.
A smaller, extra nimble possibility than the SAM is the Transfer Shoot Transfer, a star tracker for 50mm lenses that requires solely on a tough alignment with Polaris utilizing a inexperienced laser pointer. Nonetheless, it will possibly reliably observe for a shorter time — about two or three minutes.