Back in 1999, the Synta Technology Corporation of Taiwan, a manufacturer of telescopes and optics, introduced the Sky-Watcher brand.
That move helped propel its new division on a path that has since seen the company grow within the North American market and increasingly embrace a growing interest in astrophotography. A lot of their products moving forward will lean in that direction.
“Astrophotography is the premier place right now. That’s where everyone wants to be for the most part,” said Kevin LeGore, senior product specialist for Sky-Watcher, in an interview with Astronomy by Night.
Manufacturers are always eyeing industry trends to plan their products accordingly and well ahead of time.
In the automotive industry, and specifically in the North American market, carmakers witnessed the decline of the once popular new passenger car segment and the rise of sport utility vehicles. In astronomy, astrophotography appears to be on the cusp of, or is, pulling ahead of visual observation.
That is not to say that visual observation is not important to telescope manufacturers and distributors. Companies like Sky-Watcher understand its importance to the market, just as carmakers understand that consumers still want to buy four-door sedans — it is just that the market is not as hot.
“We haven’t forgotten about the visual side,” said LeGore. “I’m a visual observer as well. It’s just that the market is photography. That’s where it’s at now. So we have to make sure that we are tapping into the vein that gives the most traction for the market nowadays — and that’s astrophotography.”
Telescopes, mounts, and more
Sky-Watcher is a commercial distribution company that caters to mid-tier and above-level products. It is well-known for its Dobsonian telescopes, along with its mounts and other accessories that can benefit both visual astronomers and astrophotographers.
One example of this is the company’s Star Adventurer: a small, equatorial tracking mount for astrophotography. It is small enough to be considered a star tracker, which can be used to photograph the night sky and the Milky Way with a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
Then there is the Star Adventurer GTi: a new, small travel go-to mount that holds 11 pounds (nearly five kilograms). It is meant for the astronomer who needs a small on-the-go companion that they can bring with them as they travel the world (or watch eclipses). (For the hardcore solar observers, the company’s Solar Quest Mount is specifically designed to locate and track the Sun.)
Pushing the envelope
LeGore said there are also a number of product prototypes that have never seen the light of day, such as the Equatorial Dobsonian or 100mm SFS Esprit.
“The concept of that (Esprit) was very cool and I wouldn’t say that it’s completely lost. But it was a Percival refractor with all the elements built inside, designed for very large format cameras without any additional optics,” said LeGore.
He added that their engineers are always pushing the envelope to see what can come out of it. And the company always has something new in the pipeline.
By astronomers, for astronomers
As for the message that he would like people to experience when thinking about Sky-Watcher, LeGore said it’s about products by astronomers, for astronomers. And importantly, it’s about the hobby.
“People should just get out and do what they enjoy doing. We just appreciate that you do it with Sky-Watcher stuff,” said LeGore.
|Notes about the company|
|David Shen launched the Synta Technology Corporation of Taiwan around 1980 as a manufacturer of telescopes and optics.|
|In 1992, Synta established Suzhou Synta Optical Technology to produce telescopes for Celestron and Tasco.|
|Synta introduced the Sky-Watcher brand in 1999, with head offices in British Columbia.|