Featured Interest: Astronomy

Image: Set up for a night of imaging at the 2006 Texas Star Party.

Parks 10" f3.5 Newtonian reflector or f15 Classical Cassegrain on a Meade LXD 750 German Equatorial mount. Guiding is accomplished with a 80mm Celstron refractor through a SBIG ST-4 auto guider that locks onto and guides very faint stars we call "guide stars".

This setup is carrying the SBIG ST-7XE on a side mount as a piggyback imaging unit. Sometimes I like to do widefield imaging using a 180mm lens and H-Alpha filter.

Whew, what a mouthful!

 





Other Interests:
Astronomy: Equipment

 
Equipment

I think almost everyone who gets interested in astronomy is a equipment junky in one way or the other. I have listened to astronomy speakers say that all you really need is your eyes or some good binoculars, you don't really have to buy anything. This is probably true and I suspect the people that follow this advice know the sky far better than I ever will. However, I grew up around gizmos …

When I took up this hobby as an observer and later as an imager, I read just about everything I could find about what people were using and what was out there for optics, mounts, cameras, accessories and anything else related to astronomy equipment. I also subscribed to several popular astronomy magazines.

My equipment section is just the main things that make my telescope work and allow me to image celestial objects. If I listed everything I’ve purchased or used since 1986 it would be far more extensive than what you see here. I’m not a scientist or a rich person by any stretch of the imagination, I’m just a regular guy; and I do this out of extreme appreciation for natural beauty and personal curiosity.

 

 

© 2006 Graphically Speaking

Refrigerator>>

There's nothing like a cold beer during a hot summer's observing session!

Software>>

For years I embraced Macintosh computers and swore I'd never change, well, I was wrong. There is so much software devoted to astronomy that's designed on a PC platform even a hard core Mac guy like myself couldn't deny the inevitable. I use MAXIM DL to control my cameras and process the raw images. That software is interfaced with "The Sky", a astronomy program that maps out just about everything in the visible universe and controls the pointing of the telescope. And I use a PC laptop. Good Lord, what have I done!

Cameras>>

The telescope is equipped with the venerable SBIG ST-7XE camera, a self-guided CCD camera. The ST-7XE contains two CCD detectors; one for guiding and the other for collecting the image.The imaging CCD is the New Enhanced KAF-0401E CCD from Kodak. The Full Frame Resolution for this camera is 765 x 510 pixels at 9 microns square. An SBIG ST-4 auto guider guides the exposures through a 80mm refractor guide scope mounted on top of the main telescope tube.

Telescope Mount>>

One of the most important pieces of equipment in the observatory, it has to hold your telescope rock steady so the image won't shake at extreme magnification. This is Meade's 750 LXD 750 mount, their entry into the computerized Go-To mounts of the early 1990's.

Other Interests >>