Various Astro Bits I have accumulated.
Serenity Backyard Observatory
When I first got into this hobby, I very quickly grew tired of setting up and even worse, packing up the gear, so I decided to build my own observatory so a majority of the gear can stay put.
I recently upgraded it and added just a little bit of extra gear (as you do).
The image on the left shows my latest Astrophotography setup. This includes:
– The Skywatcher Esprit Super APO 120 as my main Image scope, with EAF auto focus module.
– The main imaging camera is the QHY268C cooled colour camera and filter wheel.
– EDI with a loadstar video camera for auto guiding.
– All of this is on the Celestron CGX computerised mount.
Celestron CGX Computerised Mount
Prior to getting this mount, I used to have the 12″ meade fork mount on a wedge and piggy back the other scopes on that. This is not ideal as it can be quite easy to get vibrations in that setups and the tracking was not great.
I now have the CGX mount permanently mounted on the pier in the observatory and I can swap between the 12″ meade, Orion Refractor, or solar scope as required.
I had to get a local engineering company to make a pier top mounting plate to fit the CGX to my pier.
QHY 268C APC-C Colour Camera
ZWO 1600mm Pro Cooled Camera and Filter wheel
This is my Monochrome imaging camera. While the QSI 583 WSI has served me well, this camera has several improvements:
- Higher resolution (16mp mono)
- Cooling: 20 to 35-Degrees C below Ambient
- 8 Position filter wheel so both RGB and Narrowband filters are installed
- USB 3. This is the biggest improvement. Things like focussing etc are so much easier when it downloads the images in a flash.
Meade Lx200R 12" and 8"
I have 2 Meade scopes. My very first scope was a computerised 8″ Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain with wedge (which I take out on visits to dark sites), and the 12″ LX200R (which has recently been de-forked to mount on the CGX mount in the obs.
I don’t use this that much as I prefer to do widefield imaging.
Lunt Solar Telescope Lunt60/ds50
Not long after I built my backyard observatory, the neighbours over the back fence renovated and put these nice high lamps in the driveway and they are on all the time (grrrr) . So I bought a solar scope to scratch my astro imaging needs. I walk outside on the first sunny day in the middle of summer when the solar scope arrive and yelled: “Block this ya bastards!!!”
Nowadays I have switched to using a Daystar Quark solar eyepiece filter on an ED80 with an Energy rejection Filter on the front.
QSI583WSG Mono Cooled Camera
Up until recently this was my main DSO imaging camera. This camera performs so well. The built in Filter Wheel, Cooling and Off Axis Guider make it my goto imaging camera. I have never had it frost up while imaging even with the TEC turn on to -20c, due to it having a sealed chamber in front of the sensor.
My Starlight Xpress Lodestar X2 Autoguider camera is the perfect size for this camera guider port.
Steadystar Adaptive Optics unit.
When I used to use the 12″ scope on fork mounts, I had a lot of trouble getting round stars in my long exposures. Guiding helped a little but I was never that happy. So I decided to try a SteadyStar. This moves a prism in front of the camera up to 10 simes a second to shift the image rather than shifting the 12″ scope. It worked far better than I expected and I go fantastic results. It is a shame they stopped making them. It resolved my tracking issues completely and could even compensate for wind moving the scope.