STARBOUND OBSERVING CHAIR
Last updated: 27 January 2001
Starbound Observing Chair
During my visit to Oceanside Photo and Telescope for the Meade Day event in November 2000, I became fascinated by an observing chair that one of the local amateur astronomers was using. I asked where he got it and he said "right here". Two things got me excited about this chair: the simple adjustability of the seat height for different observing positions (or for different height people) and the nicely padded (read "very comfortable") seat. So I decided I just had to get one. It comes in two colors: black or white. I wanted the white one for better visibility in the dark but Oceanside was out of them. However, by the time I returned to OPT for the Coronado H-Alpha filter viewing in January 2001 they had received another shipment, so I picked up a white Starbound Observing Chair.
The chair is sturdy (the docs claim it will hold 350 pounds). It is fairly lightweight so is easy to carry outside for an observing session. It folds flat for storage or for transporting to a distant observing location. The seat position (from 9 inches to 32 inches) is adjusted by merely lifting up the front of the seat and raising or lowering the seat. When the seat is put back in the horizontal position, a rubber roller provides adequate friction against the metal railings to keep it in place whenever there is weight on the seat. During use at the telescope, I found it very nice to be able to sit comfortably with the telescope eyepiece at any height and orientation. When the scope was slewed to a new object, it was a simple matter to slide the seat to the new height, sit down, and begin observing again. No more straining the back bending over the eyepiece for long periods of time!
The photo above on the left shows me sitting at the ETX-90RA with it pointed high. (That's Mercury in the lower righthand corner. He got curious about the beeping from the camera's self-timer.) The photo on the right shows me at the ETX-125EC with it pointed near the horizon.
There is one thing that takes some getting used to: many of us tend to move the chair we are sitting on by lifting up on the edges of the seat. You don't want to do that with the Starbound Observing Chair, because the seat will slide. If you are sitting on the seat when you lift it up, the seat, with you on it, will go down. Fast. This could be embarrassing if someone saw you or dangerous to the health of your telescope or your body if you fall. Be certain you tell anyone sitting at your telescope about this. You don't want them sliding down the rails. Also, it is possible to lose your hold on the seat front when lifting it upwards to release the friction on the roller. If you do, the seat will slide rapidly down the rails. So it is necessary to get a good grip on the seat cushion before repositioning the seat. Once you get used to moving the chair by the support structure and lifting the seat front to slide it up or down, you will find it a pleasure to use. I am.
To get one for yourself, contact Oceanside Photo and Telescope at 800-48-FOCUS (800-483-6287), 760-722-3348, 760-722-3343, Fax 760-722-8133, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or you can order via their web site (black or white). Their special price is $149. If you spend hours at the eyepiece, I think you will like the convenience of the Starbound Observing Chair.
Oceanside sent me a unique add-on for the Starbound Observing Chair that is made by a local astronomy club member. Made by Kasner Electronics, "The Handle" ($9.99) adds a "wire stiffened" strap that is secured to the seat bottom using two of the screws that hold the seat cushion to its frame. The strap goes a long ways to overcoming the problem mentioned above about moving the seat to different heights. You reach behind you with one hand and hold the strap; with the other hand you lift the front of the seat upwards. Then you can easily raise and lower the seat without it slipping out of the hand holding the seat front. [this product is no longer available]
It is definitely worth purchasing "The Handle" with the Starbound Observing Chair.
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