Welcome to Flash Astronomy

Links to Manufacturers of Flash Astronomy Gear
Tips for Flash Astronomers
Links to Web site of interest to Flash Astronomers
Other Reasons to Look up at the sky
What other's have to say about Flash Astronomy
Contacting us

What is Flash astronomy?

Flash Astronomy is not using a strobe light for imaging the stars, it is a term coined by me to describe short observing sessions. The use of equipment that is fast and easy to setup, quick to come to thermal equilibrium, and quick to pack up typifies Flash Astronomy.
In the cosmological scheme of things (time scale), a ½ hour observing session is really just a Flash.

Wheels on your scope so you can roll it out of the garage is one of the first steps to Flash Astronomy.
Fans on mirrors to get them to cool faster is the next step, but the big light buckets still take too much time and space to setup and use.

The advent of the small, fast apochromatic refractor first popularized by the Tele Vue Pronto and Ranger make things easier and more portable.
Adding a permanently mounted pier, instead of setting up a tripod is the next step.
The use of a pier instead of a tripod can save a huge amount of time with today's smart "Go To" scopes by letting you take advantage of their parking features, instead of having to redo the position initialization each time you want to observe, just park it, then wake it up next time you want to observe. The path I have taken is to use an all weather stainless steel mount. The Dyna Cradle by FAR Labs is a good example. I leave it permanently connected to the pier. Now I have a system that all I need to view, is attach the scope. I can setup the scope or remove it in less than a minute.

Having good quality cases to store and organize your scope and other accessories in, also adds to Flash Astronomy. Dealing with an old cardboard box is not Flash Astronomy.
Using a computer to organize and plan you observing session is another way to maximize the effectiveness of your time at the eyepiece.

Birders can go to the ultimate route, by using a weather proof spotting scope that is set up all the time. However spotting scopes really don't have the flexibility of a telescope. I prefer a star diagonal bending the light path 90 degrees instead of my neck.

Flash Astronomy while conceived to make observing more fun, doesn't necessarily mean that you can't do real science to. The AAVSO is always looking for more people to make observations, and all it takes is frequent but short (flash) observations of your star to record its brightness.
The same thing applies to sun spot counting.

Has your lust for satisfying your aperture fever actually taken away from your observing pleasure? That big scope just takes too long to set up or is just too heavy or hard to put together by yourself.

There is no law against being a regular astronomer and a Flash Astronomer. You just can't do them at the same time. I have spent years planning eclipse trips and spent days in travel to far away places to view the eclipse. I even have an observatory behind my home that I have spent many enjoyable evening in. Considering that, I have lots of fun popping the Pronto on the deck railing, watching the moons of Jupiter cross each in their never ending dance and getting back in the house in less time, than it takes to walk out to the observatory and get the roof open.

My set up on the deck. The green building in the background is my Roll-Off Roof Observatory.

Other reasons to be a Flash Astronomer:

Flash Astronomy lets you play with sucker holes without feeling you have been cheated out of a nights observing.

Flash Astronomy lets you get some viewing in on cold nights, when the air is really crisp and clear, but just too cold to stay out for a long time and get frostbite.

Flash Astronomy lets you get out observing and back in before the mosquitoes drain all the blood from your body.

Flash Astronomy lets you get in some observing while you are waiting for your wife, husband or partner to get ready.

Flash Astronomy saves you from having to buy a mini van to haul your Dobsonian around in.

Being a Flash Astronomer means you don't have to add an extension on your home to store all your telescope gear.

Flash Astronomy gives you the chance to share observing with friends and family who just want a taste and not a seventeen course meal of the heavens.

Flash Astronomy gives you the chance to observe, and still spend enough time with your family so that you still remember your children's names.

And lastly, Flash Astronomers spend fifteen minutes at the end of the day relaxing, watching and enjoying the sunset without the use of any equipment at all, except maybe for the aid of a chaise lounge and sipping on a Piña Colada while looking for the green flash.

This site is put up as a public service to promote Flash Astronomy and just getting people to go out and look at the sky.

Thank you for visiting.

Alan Rifkin
Go ahead and dream the impossible dream, and don't let anyone or thing stop you, for to make it happen tomorrow, we need to dream of it today.

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