Red light is one of the most essential astronomy tools in the field, along with a telescope, star maps and perhaps bug spray. A red light enables you to read charts and find eyepieces, while preserving your night vision. Plus, shining a brilliant white light around is a sure way to make you unpopular at the next star party, and identify you as an instant “newbie.”
I’ve used numerous red headlamps and flashlights of all types over the years. Now, Celestron is offering a powerful, yet portable, new tool for your astronomical arsenal: the Powertank Glow 5000 (MSRP $37.95).
The Powertank Glow 5000 is a dual-utility red flashlight and power bank, suitable for charging small USB devices such as smartphones and tablets. With the prevalence of planetarium apps and smartphone-controlled telescopes, having an extra power source in the field is a great idea.
The red light uses a one-watt LED and has three settings, from a generous 70 lumens (low) to 250 lumens (mid) to 500 lumens (high). What I really like is that the Powertank is a dedicated, bright, wide-angle red flashlight: this means no accidentally blinding the crowd as you dial through white-light settings.
The unit also incorporates a 5000 milliamp hour lithium-ion battery, which can be used while the flashlight is in operation. We used it to recharge our aging Asus tablet. The battery revived the tablet from near-dead to 70 percent, while it was in use, in about six hours. The battery easily brought my Android S9 smartphone back to 100 percent (from 0 percent) charge with power to spare, in about two hours during operation.
Of course, the Powertank will charge devices even faster if they are shut down. While it took about four hours to fully recharge the Powertank from a five volt USB port, we fast-charged the unit from a 120-volt wall socket plug-in in just under two hours.
The unit also comes with handy set of black and orange silicon leg strap mounts, perfect for placing the light on a telescope tripod leg for hands-free operation. With a Powertank in hand, you can explore the cosmos, all while preserving your night vision and keeping those crucial tools and devices at full charge.
The price point is a bit high for a single flashlight, though the Powertank is a sturdy, dependable unit.