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Astronomy Snake Oil...


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Are there any "snake oil" products for astronomy?

On another thread someone brought up some of the "snake oil" products you can get for audio. By "snake oil" I mean products with ludicrous claims which defy the laws of physics and seem merely designed to part the gullible with their hard-earned cash. They trade on the desperate hopes and dreams of the technically ill-informed.

For example these Super Intelligent Chips which mysteriously "treat" your audio CDs and DVDs to give you improved sound and picture quality. Then there's the little Coloured Magnadiscs which improve sound and picture quality in your home, simply by sticking them to the walls and doors. Of course it's not all crackpot little-guys. Even otherwise respectable companies have been known to jump on the Snake Oil bandwagon, such as TDKs Minidiscs with "improved bass response" (which were shamelessly endorsed by Level 42 Bass Player Mark King) and another example would be high-end audio manufacturer Denon's extraordinary claims associated with its infamous $500 Ethernet audio cable when a $5 one works just as well (by the way, do not, under any circumstances, read the Amazon reviews of that cable here <click> if you've got a mouthful of coffee... They are amongst the funniest you will ever read... :icon_confused: )

Anyway - back to the question - are there any ludicrously advertised astronomy products that are clearly bogus? I don't mean the usual "this eyepiece is sharp across the entire field" bogus claims (we're all used to those by now!), I'm talking about things like (hypothetically):

  • Sticky "biomagnets" that improve your mount's tracking performance.
  • "Anti-cloud" powder that you sprinkle around your eyepiece case
  • Filters that remove harmful "neurophotons" for visual astronomy

Anyone spotted anything of that nature?

I'm disappointed I haven't found anything so far :rolleyes:

(there's so many for audio enthusiasts!)

Jeremy.

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Anyone spotted anything of that nature?

I'm disappointed I haven't found anything so far :icon_confused:

(there's so many for audio enthusiasts!)

Jeremy.

When was the last time you visited ebay?

Ruby coated optics is an obvious one.

They want £60 for this

Barska 10-30x60 Gladiator Zoom Binoculars, AB10762 Ruby | eBay

Pin-sharp clarity is achieved through a combination of top quality BAK-7 roof prisms and over-sized 32mm diameter objective lenses, ruby-coated to reduce glare and maximise light transmission - even under the most adverse light conditions.

Ruby Coated Binoculars-Telescope-Bird Spotting-(532) | eBay

and then you get Sebens

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I tend to think of those that purport to sell you the right to have a star named after you or sell you a patch of the Moon or another planet are in this sort of category.

They claim that their customers know full well that it's all a bit of fun and that all they are buying is a phoney certificate. I hope that is the case ...... :icon_confused:

The irony is that for a few quid you can actually own a tiny fragment of the Moon or Mars - in the form of a meteorite sample that originated on those worlds :rolleyes:

Edited by John
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Brilliant reviews on Amazon!

Here are some examples which come close:

- 60mm Achromats of dubious lineage with 340x magnification obtained by barlowing a plastic Ramsden ep to within an inch of its life?

- Worse still: an all plastic, non-coated, single lens refractor (phrase used without prejudice), apparently capable of 300x. Rated at 40mm aperture (with a 25mm stop just behind the 40mm diameter lens). This was sold as astronomical telescope.

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I tend to think of those that purport to sell you the right to have a star named after you or sell you a patch of the Moon or another planet are in this sort of category.

They claim that their customers know full well that it's all a bit of fun and that all they are buying is a phoney certificate. I hope that is the case ...... :icon_confused:

The irony is that for a few quid you can actually own a tiny fragment of the Moon or Mars - in the form of a meteorite sample that originated on those worlds :rolleyes:

I bought the whole of the Earth - from 21 December 2012, then onwards everyone on the planet needs to pay me rent ;). Only downside is the cost of the Landlord Insurance:eek:

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Celestron Sky Prodigy! Grrr.

Nothing wrong with the technology. Prof Ian Morison had one to play with and brought it to the Peak Star Party. He reckoned it worked well and he should know if a telescope does or doesn't!!!

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:-) I'm sure SkyProdigy works well. But why pay $500 to automatically point at a couple of bright stars when it is so easy to do it by hand?

The SkyProdigy technology make a lot more sense than the older Meade LNT (Level-North Technology). At least the SkyProdigy does all the alignments automatically. All the LNT does is level the scope and point it North.

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Still no contributions here of the required hippyish, "alternative astronomy" vibe to qualify.

I'm really looking for things like:

  • Overpriced "astronomy" USB cables which produce more captivating nebula images because of the rare-earth metals used in production.
  • Special ointment that treats your eyepieces to "attract more photons"
  • "Quantum foil" that you wrap around the telescope to amplify the emotional connection that you feel with the stars.

- that kind of thing :icon_confused:

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Still no contributions here of the required hippyish, "alternative astronomy" vibe to qualify.

I'm really looking for things like:

  • Overpriced "astronomy" USB cables which produce more captivating nebula images because of the rare-earth metals used in production.
  • Special ointment that treats your eyepieces to "attract more photons"
  • "Quantum foil" that you wrap around the telescope to amplify the emotional connection that you feel with the stars.

- that kind of thing :icon_confused:

Given that astronomers are often quite knowledgeable about physics, that kind of marketeers give us a wide berth. Audiophiles on the other hand often come from a more musical background, and may be more susceptible to this kind of hype. In all the professional audio equipment I have worked with (up to a 500-seater theatre), I have not seen these overpriced cables, etc. What you do see during recording sessions is all sorts of jury-rigged set-ups, made to reach a certain effect. I know of one recording where they suspended a microphone in the bowl of a toilet next to the studio, with the door open to get just the echo they wanted.

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Still no contributions here of the required hippyish, "alternative astronomy" vibe to qualify.

I'm really looking for things like:

  • Overpriced "astronomy" USB cables which produce more captivating nebula images because of the rare-earth metals used in production.
  • Special ointment that treats your eyepieces to "attract more photons"
  • "Quantum foil" that you wrap around the telescope to amplify the emotional connection that you feel with the stars.

- that kind of thing :icon_confused:

2. sounds like anti-reflection coating

3. sounds astrology. Be warn these things may have the opposite effect. see this research into the tin foil hat http://berkeley.intel-research.net/arahimi/helmet/

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I know of one recording where they suspended a microphone in the bowl of a toilet next to the studio, with the door open to get just the echo they wanted.

Ah... Memories... I started my career as Paul Weller's sound engineer in the Style Council days. We stuck a Hammond Organ Leslie Speaker in the toilet once. It sounded like **** :icon_confused: - we even hoisted it down to the underground echo chamber and even *that* wasn't particularly good either.

Trivia: The bubbling sound on Diving was Paul blowing into a McDonald's Diet Cola that simply happened to be next to him when I was recording a run of vocals.

Kids today... It's all "samples" now innit? :rolleyes:

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