Astro equipment

I’ve gotten back into the stargazing over the past few years, and I’ve been lucky with the browsing of the classifieds and getting some really good bargains.

My current telescope stable:

  • 20″ f3.94 Skywatcher 500p truss Dobsonian with Synscan goto. Absolute beast of a scope, beautiful bright sights. Huge shiny mirror, quick enough to assemble and disassemble as well. (Update – mid-2019; This scope was returned for complete refund as the mirror was ~2 Lambda, and the mirror support could *not* hold collimation)
  • 12″ f4.9 Skywatcher 300P Flextube dobsonian, partly flocked, excellent optics. This scope is now pretty much redundant to me and is up for sale.
  • Celestron CPC800 GPS, 8″ f/10 computerised alt-az scope. Was heavily water-damaged, but since refurbished to a useful state.
  • 8″ F4 Skywatcher Quattro imaging newtonian used primarily for video astronomy but better than I expected for deep sky visual. Secondary is too big to make a great planetary scope but the optics are very good.
  • 130mm f7 TS-Optics triplet apo refractor, with 2.5″ focuser and Riccardi 0.7x reducer. This gives some very pretty and very high contrast images of stars and planets. Should also take a mean photo.
  • 6″ f5 Celestron C6N newtonian, (Since donated to UL Astrosoc)
  • 80mm f/6.2 Celestron Onyx ED refractor, fully flocked internally. This is my main grab’n’go scope but it has pretty amazing optics.
  • 70mm f/5 Ian King Imaging ED refractor, also fully flocked, which is airline portable in overhead baggage with the Mini Portamount below.
  • 50mm Stellarvue F50 finder/guidescope.
  • Coronado PST for solar H-Alpha observation.

Mounts:

  • Celestron AVX mount. This now has a StarSense accessory for automated alignment and pointing. Useful for video astronomy and basic astrophotography.
  • EZCPB Equatorial table. Handy for the 12″dob, even if the tracking is not that good.
  • Skywatcher AZ-3 with slow motion controls. Definitely needs a counterweight to work better.
  • Vixen Mini Portamount, with shortened legs aiming at airline portability. Matches well with the 70mm F/5 scope
  • Manfrotto 3-way head on Meade ETX tripod.

There’s currently a proper car battery to power the AVX and the associated video paraphernalia. There’s a plan to build a better power box and distribution board.

Eyepieces:

  • Televue Ethos 4.7mm, 8mm, 13mm – I understand why people go green for eyepieces!
  • Explore Scientific 100 degree 25mm.
  • 31mm Celestron Luminos 82°
  • 4.7mm, 8.8mm, 18mm and 24mm 82° Meade 5000 UWA.
  • 16mm Meade 5000 SWA.
  • 8-24mm mk2 Baader Zoom.
  • William Optics binoviewer with a pair of 20mm WA eyepieces and a pair of 25mm SW ploessls.
  • 2.25x Baader Zoom barlow.
  • TeleVue 2x barlow.
  • Televue Paracorr Type2

I’ve got quite a few filters as well including an O-III, UHC, H-β and a selection of 8 Wratten colour filters. There’s a couple of hard cases for the scopes and accessories. as well.

In addition to the dedicated astro equipment above, I got my hands on a Skywatcher Synguider for auto guiding purposes, though I tend to use PhD2 with an ASI224 and the 50mm Stellarvue for guiding.  For imaging I have a handful of OSC devices. Primary imaging device is a Zwo ASI294MC-Pro, and a Zwo ASI224MC for planetary and high resolution work. I’ve also currently got a Canon 6D with a selection of lenses (Sigma 10-20, Canon 35mm prime, Canon 50mm prime, Canon 35-135 zoom, and mark 1 and mark 2 versions of the 70-300 zoom). For outreach or just for simplicity I have a Samsung SCB-4000 low-light camera with a few C-mount lenses as well as an adaptor to attach the Canon lenses. There’s also an all-sky camera being built that uses another ASI224 as well, with an Intel NUC for the processing.

If you check my Flickr account, you can see some of my astrophotography attempts, as well as some of my solar system imaging.

Astro hardware in my (ideal, cash-rich) future:
10Micron 1000HPS portable German mount, Aries tripod
And if I won the lottery, a scope like a Webster C32 f/2.7 – a man can dream!