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).

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. 

ZWO 1600mm Pro Cooled Camera and Filter wheel

This is my newest imaging camera. While the QSI 583 WSI has served me well, this camera has several improvements: 

  • Higher resolution (16mp mono)
  • Cooling: 40 to 45-Degrees C below Ambient 
  • 8 Position filter wheel so both RGB and Narrowband filters are installed
  • USB 3. This is the biggest improvement. This 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.

Orion EON 110mm f/6.6 ED Apochromatic Refractor Telescope

This is my main imaging scope for DSO’s. It has a Doublet 110mm aperture refractor objective lens constructed with high-quality FPL-53 extra-low dispersion (ED) glass

 

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.

The only real disadvantage is that this model is only USB 2 so it can take a long time to download each frame. 

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!!!”  

 

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.

 

ZWO ASI183MM Pro

This high speed mono video camera is used for my solar imaging through the Lunt solar scope.

 

GStar 3ex

This is my high speed colour camera. It has built in image stacking so it is great for when I have friends in the obs as it can present a nice live view and give them something to look at while I am imaging through another scope.