Welcome to the winter edition of our newsletter. If you are one of our local customers then you probably know that January has not offered us the best weather for observing. As a matter of fact, much of our region received snow this past weekend. If you are one of the many who is reading from afar, we hope that it is warmer where you are and that your telescopes are still pointing skyward.
Today Marks a Significant Milestone
With January 23, 2012 upon us it hardly seems possible that our company came into being eight years ago today. Looking back over those eight years it is clear that much has changed in term of the equipment available and consumer preferences. Fork mounted Schmidt-Cassegrain and Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes took the lion's share of business in our early days, with the Meade ETX line being our most popular telescope. Today the Meade ETX Maksutovs have all but vanished, and now we see a much greater diversity in the types of telescopes sold. The big winners have been refractors and Dobsonians, which now represent the majority of unit sales.
There have been some dramatic changes in terms of brand names over the years as well. Meade and Celestron have continued to battle for supremacy in the US market for several decades, and have traded positions during our relatively brief history. Two of our current top suppliers, Explore Scientific and Lunt Solar Systems, were not in business when we first opened our doors. Orion has slowly and deliberately been moving up market with the addition of go-to telescopes and mounts as well as CCD cameras. Other brands, particularly TeleVue, continue to perform very consistently year in and year out while always raising the bar in their product categories.
Meanwhile the technology of optics and the supporting electronics have continued to move forward. Most of us were content with the 82 degree apparent field of the TeleVue Nagler eyepiece in 2004, but we now have 100 and 110 degree eyepieces with a 120 degree offering coming soon. Schmidt-Cassegrain optics are being superseded by coma free and flat field designs by Meade and Celestron. Go-to alignment has been completely automated on selected telescopes, and we even have multimedia content embedded in some.
Perhaps the most significant and trend setting change we have seen over the years has to do with digital astrophotography. Back in 2004 there were few choices in CCD cameras and prices were beyond the reach of most amateurs. Today there are numerous new brands of cameras with many choices priced well within the means of most amateurs. This trend towards greater interest in astrophotography has driven a resurgence in the popularity of German equatorial mounts and refractors, and it is clearly bringing a new generation of technologically savvy enthusiasts into the hobby.
An Eye Towards the Future
As we commence our ninth year we see both challenges and opportunities ahead for our industry. We look forward to serving you, our loyal customers, in 2012 and beyond. Be sure to join us next month for our view on the trends in our industry over the next few years.
Bob, Ted, and
the Skies Unlimited Team