Steve's Place

Photography and Astrophotography

The Observatory

The recent “live streaming” sessions over Facebook Live where a huge success and this can easily progress to “live” Zoom sessions. Lag was found to be minimal over the Asus ZenWiFi XT8 MESH network.

May 2021 – updated photo with greenhouse, planters and a garden bar – observe, healthy food and drink 😉
Carpet is now in place and both ropelights lit (red upper, white lower) – children’s toy boxes make ideal seating
Startrails above the observatory

{May 2021}

Leads replaced by shorter ones and the whole layout now looks neat and tidy. ST80 replaced with a short guide scope which in turn will eventually have a StarAid Revolution B guiding solution. Imaging being conducted using 2x astro modified DSLR cameras one at 900mm focal length and the other at 430mm. All three telescopes while at differing focal lengths are each orientated in the same plane and roughly pointing in the same direction which will help target acquisition and tracking. There is also the option to do extreme closeup work on planets/lunar/solar using a pair of Maxview Scoptronix DSLR solutions.

June 2021 – current setup “tidied” up

{November 2021}

Well, the year has progressed very nicely, I have rebalanced the mount and added another operating position within the dome itself. The SkyShed Pod has had a new application of sealant and weatherproofing strips in an attempt to prevent rain getting in at the hinges. A new addition has been the StarAid Revolution Rev B and now all 3 scopes are aligned with each other (including the guide scope on top).
A further addition has been a Lunt LS60 Solar Telescope together with a SkyWatcher SolarQuest (portable tracking mount) for Solar observations/imaging. This is separate to the dome and can be taken out on location for Outreach events.
The large conifer in front of the dome has now been totally removed so I now have a mostly unobstructed view to the northwest (above the house).

November 2021 – computer removed from the mount and replaced by an 11 port USB hub – balancing is now a lot easier
November 2021 – a second operating position now installed within the Observatory – useful for direct focusing
March 2022 – Mission Control from as displayed in the warm annex over the wireless network
May 2022 – Problem tree removed
Laser calibrated to the main telescope to aid with star alignment while outside the observatory

{May 2023}

A major change in configuration thanks to the addition of a Primaluce Labs Eagle 3S. The whole setup now looks a lot more tidier and it is barely a 10 minute job to switch from DSLR “widefield” imaging by replacing the bracket and adding the WO Zenithstar 73 APO. The main scope is currently setup for Planetary/Lunar imaging with the SkyWatcher Equinox ED120 (900mm) coupled to a Canon 60D (astro modified) + 2x barlow, Scopetronix Maxview DSLR II with a 25mm eyepiece. This combination provides a 72x magnification at f/15 with a 78° field of view. However, the Canon 60D has a “movie crop mode” which can further extend the magnification by 7x. The DSLR on top is for guided widefield captures and this can be swapped out with other cameras (friends/visitors). Autoguiding is provided by the reliable StarAid Revolution revision B.

Current setup with descriptions added below

Laser point in sync with main scope, IP camera, StarAid Rev B autoguider and astro modified Canon 60D

PrimaLuce Labs Eagle 3S with an astro modified Canon 6D for widefield imaging

Future plans:
I am now finally at the point of conducting “Live-streaming” events for STEM and Outreach. If it was not for Covid I would be having friends/visitors around and setting up a small imaging group but it is what it is for the time being.

{Note: I will be continuously updating this blog as “improvements” are made}

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