Observing Aids
At Gondwana Telescopes, we are also active amateur astronomers.  This experience is what is behind the entire design philosophy of the telescopes we produce.

It is also the same practical experience that is behind these observing aids.  From practical observing tools, through to observing chairs, all of these products have been designed from in the field experience and constant refining of designs to optimize their effectiveness.
Blinking Paddles - for astronomical filters

"Mini" for 1.25" filters, & "Maxi" for 2" and 1.25" filters

A blinking paddle is a blink comparator device.

What is a blink comparator device?  It is a tool where alternating views of an image can be switched quickly in order to make a direct comparative examination.  It is the method used to discover Pluto.

How is a blinking paddle useful?  There are instances when it is an advantage in being able to quickly pick up subtle details of a planet, deep sky object, or even the Moon, between a filtered and unfiltered image.  The paddle securely holds a filter, and allows the user to flick the filter in and out between the user's eye and the eyepiece, providing a blink image comparison.

Blinking paddles are useful if your telescope does not possess a filter wheel or slide, or cannot have a filter wheel or slide fitted to the telescope, and offers the same image comparison with minimal expense.

But I can hold the filter to do the same job!  Yes, you can.  However, there are some things to consider about just holding a filter between your fingers:

  • *  Cold fingers are clumsy fingers.  You are more likely to drop a filter accidently.  And if you drop a filter in turf…
  • *  The paddle allows you to concentrate wholly on the image in the EP.  A finger held filter is a distraction on keeping the filter safe in your fingers.
  • *  Fingers can fog up filters too while holding them.  You are constantly holding the filter.  Whereas when the filter is under your eye, it is only momentary.
  • *  Fingers are bulky – the paddle is slimline and low profile.  Easier to slip in between EP and eye than a finger-held filter
  • *  Shape of paddle is ergonomic to the human face.
  • *  The shape also allows for a single, small wave of the paddle to flick the paddle in and out
  • *  Paddle can be easily and safely shared between people – again leading on to the cold fingers are clumsy fingers problem.
How is a blinking paddle helpful?  There are many instances when a blink comparison is most useful:

*  While filters can be wound into an eyepiece, this all too often requires one to memorise a star field, and then rely upon this memory in order to identify the feature being sought.  A blinking paddle frees one's mind from attempting such a tideous and flawed memory comparison, and allows for direct and instant image comparison.  Once the feature has been identified, the filter can be retained in the paddle, or removed from the paddle and replaced where ever desired.

*  Examples of visual blink inspections are - looking for faint clouds on Mars, locating tiny planetary nebulae, locating specific features within a nebula, identifying HII regions within the arms of galaxies, locating comets within a busy star field, immediate identification of the Great Red Spot, feature contrasts on the Moon, red-blue contrast on Saturn.  Just about any visual inspection of an object can first benefit from an initial blink comparison inspection.

*Even if you have a filter slide/wheel on your telescope, there are some applications of blink comparision where a very fast change between a filtered and unfiltered view is the best way to tease out features, eg. such as finding a tiny planetary nebula from a busy star field - this is something that a filter slide/wheel is not able to perform well.  But our blinking paddle, with its specific design, can be very quickly flicked in and out of view - limited only by how fast you can move your fingers, and no risk of jostling the scope out of position or inducing unwanted vibrations.

*  When there are several people gathered at a telescope, it is impossible to have everyone reliably commit a star field to memory to then compare that memory to a filtered image.  Yet a blinking paddle allows everyone to quickly and easily make the necessary image comparison, instantly.
Demonstration on how to use the "Maxi" blinking paddle from Gondwana Telescopes.
Handcafted Observing chairs
Our observing chairs have developed from an evolutionary process of redesign and modification over many years of in the field use.  The structural design is one that is robust, secure and practical.  But just a chair alone is not enough.  It should accommodate other features that make the whole observing process easier.  To this end, we have developed a unique shelf that serves to hold maps, charts, books, even a tablet device.  We also include with the shelf a gooseneck holder to hold your flashlight or even your palm device/phone.

We offer two models of observing chair:

Delux Obs Chair - These chairs utilise all Australian hardwood timbers, such as Tasmanian Oak, Jarrah, Queensland Silky Oak, and Blackwood.  The timber used for any given chair may vary depending on timber availability, so you are guarranteed to get a totally unique item!

Other features include:
*  Removable outrigger feet, both outriggers can be used, or just the rear one for a tripod effect.
*  Jarrah frame brace
*  Over a dozen seat location positions
*  Stainless steel hinge & outrigger feet wing bolts
*  Marine grade varnish
*  Sculpted timber seat
*  Inclusive of shelf and gooseneck holder
*  Shelf has a clear vinyl cover to protect items from dew and designed to drain dew off the shelf
*  Stows into a very slim package without outrigger feet to contend with - shelf easily separates from chair and is stowed separately.

Standard Obs Chair - These are a more cost effective design, and utilise less expensive imported timber, such as Merbau.

features include:
*  Fixed outrigger feet
*  Pine frame brace
*  Six seat location positions
*  Stainless steel hinge & outrigger feet bolts
*  Marine grade varnish
*  Flat timber seat
*  Stows into a flat package
*  Ready to accept optional shelf

Shelf for the Standard Obs Chair is available as an optional extra.

NOTE:  Observation chairs should always be used with the person's feet touching the ground, and not without feet touching the ground.  Foot perch is not provided with these chairs.