David's Astronomy Pages
Equipment

Telescope
Telescope
 
Home
Page
  Observatory Use & Setup
Observatory
Use
 

This page describes the telescope, camera and other equipment that I have used  (I've attempted to include some practical points and learning that may be of use to others)

Equipment  Current 

Past / Backup Equipment

 
Equipment Suites Equipment (2009-2013) Equipment (2001-2008)
Equipment /  Imaging Setups Compared Equipment (1995-2000)
 
Pier & Mount Custom Built Pier - 1998+ Meade Tripods - 1995-1997, 2009
Meade UltraWedge - 2009+ Meade Standard Wedge - 1995-2008

LX200 Fork Mount (GPS, SM) LX200 Fork Mount (Classic)
 
Telescopes  Meade 12" LX200R (ACF)  - 2009+ [specs] Meade 8" LX200 Classic - 1995-2008
   
Focusers  Optec TCF-S Focuser - 2008+ [specs] JMI NGF-S Focuser - 2001-2007
Meade Microfocuser - 2009
   

Imaging

SBIG ST-10XME CCD Camera - 2009+ [specs] SBIG ST-7E CCD Camera - 2001-2008
SBIG CFW10 Filter Wheel -2009+ [specs] SBIG CFW8  Filter Wheel - 2004-2008
  BVRI Photometric Filters - 2005+ Moon Filter Filters
  RGB Colour Filters - 2004+ Colour Filter, Cyan, Yellow, Red, Blue
  Star Analyser 100 Diffraction Grating - 2008+  
  Ha Filter - 2010  
    
Imaging Support Antares f6.3 focal reducer - 2009+ Meade f6.3 focal reducer - 1996-2008
  T.Agos Universal Adapter Tube - 2009+
  SBIG AO-8 Adaptive Optics System - 2010. 2013+  
Tele-extender Eyepieces
Barlows 
    
Photography Canon D350 Digital Camera - 2006+ Pentax SLR 35mm Film Camera
 
Other Equipment Telrad Sight 2001-2009+ Meade UHTC 2" diagonal - 2009
View-finders - 1995-2000,  2009 Meade 2" diagonal - 1995
Dew Heater Meade 1.1/4" diagonal - 1995-2001
Dew Cap Dew Cap
Laptop Nightrite Pen
JMI DFC Digital Counter 
Pictures (2009)

 

12" LX200R - with imaging equipment setup including AO-8 unit (Late 2013)
   [Larger Image (not annotated)]

 


Equipment Suites


Equipment (2009 - 2013)

A new set of observing equipment was acquired in Jan/Feb 2009 to facilitate deeper and high resolution imaging.   The equipment set is built around a Meade 12" LX200 ACF scope and a SBIG ST-10XME CCD camera.

The equipment builds strongly on the experience gained with my previous equipment over some 10 year+;  a Meade 8" LX200 Classic scope (in use since 1995) and a SBIG ST-7e CCD camera (in use since 2001). The previous set of equipment has seen some very good service, but the time to upgrade has come.   Of particular importance is the fact that the new equipment will be immediately compatible with my existing software control programs for controlling the scope and for imaging.

Magnitude Limit and Resolution.  
Overall the combination of larger aperture, UHTC coatings and higher QE will enable either deeper images for the same exposure time or shorter exposures for the same S/N.   Whilst the small pixels of the ST-10XME (5.7 microns) are probably too small for the focal length of the 12" scope and my local seeing conditions (typical around 4.5 arc sec FWHM), even with f6.3 focal reducer, there will be certain targets for which oversampling will be helpful whilst for other targets the 2x2 and 3x3 binning options will provide better pixel sizing whilst still preserving a relatively larger image size

Sky Access
The combination of new taller telescope and lower tops to the southern and northern observatory walls will enable me to have improved access to low declination / lower inclination targets. The new setup should enable me to reach down to 5 deg inclination in the southern sky which at my latitude will enable me to see down to declination -27 deg on clear nights. [ my previous setup had a southern limit of  around -17 deg declination ]   

Improved access to stars at high declination should be gained from the combination of slightly larger swing through distance with the 12" scope and use of the TAGOS Adapter tube.  I should be able to observe to around declination +75 deg with my normal f6.3 setup compared to a limit of +58 deg with my previous setup.   This previous limit had become significantly constrained in 2008 after adding my Optec TCF-S focuser which has longer than my previous JMI focuser [more]

With the slightly larger swing through room with the 12" LX200 scope it is possible for me to use an alternative session setup of using the Meade microfocuser , and 2" right angle mirror to reach targets as far north as +90 deg declination (ie the Pole Star).  This would probably be without using a f6.3 focal reducer,  but the larger imaging chip size in the ST-10XME will mean that resulting FOV should still be sufficient for most target acquisition/imaging.     This setup using ST-10XME with a right hand mirror hasn't be tried yet.

12" LX200R - with imaging equipment setup (2009) 12" LX200R - with imaging equipment setup (annotated)
   

Late 2013 Setup

After laying in its box since 2009 the AO-8 adaptive unit was finally added into the imaging train in late 2013.  The setup was changed 2013-11-16 (between sessions 554 and 555). 

12" LX200R - with imaging equipment setup including AO-8 unit (Late 2013)
   [Larger Image (not annotated)]

Besides the addition of AO-8 unit the back plate of the CCD camera was reinserted to increase the distance between the ST-10XME's CCD and the Filter Wheel with Star Analyser 100 diffraction grating.  Whilst this adds an additional window into the train, the aim is to increase Dispersion Value (& Plate Scale) when taking  Spectra.

Back to Top


Equipment - 2001-2008

In 2001 I purchased my first CCD camera - a SBIG ST-7e, adding a filter wheel in 2004 and a new focuser (an Optec TCF-S) in 2008.  I began using Filter Wheel with RGB (colour) and Clear filters in 2004, moving to BVRI (photometric) and Clear filters in 2005.  In 2008 the I (infrared) filter was swapped out for a Star Analyser 100 diffraction grating in order to experiment with low  resolution spectrographic work

By end of 2008 my standard imaging setup comprised

8" LX200 Telescope  with ST-7 CCD camera (2006)

 

Back to Top


Equipment - 1995-2000

I purchased my first serious telescope - a Meade 8" LX200 Classic - in 1995 and used it for visual observing until 2001 at which point I began using it for CCD Imaging.  A Telrad Sight was added in 1996. with a JMI focuser being added to the set up in 1999.

By the end of 2000 my normal equipment set comprised

Back to Top


Comparison of Equipment / Imaging Setups

 

 Year / Session   :

2013 2009 2009 2008 2008 2007     2001
  S455+ S356+ S356+ S290-S350 S150-S289        
 Equipment                   
Telescope Meade
12" LX200 
ACF UHTC
Meade
12" LX200 
ACF UHTC
Meade
12" LX200 
ACF UHTC
Meade
8" LX200 
Classic
Meade
8" LX200 
Classic
      Meade
8" LX200 
Classic
Focuser Optec 
TCF-S
Optec 
TCF-S
Optec 
TCF-S
Optec 
TCF-S
JMI 
NGF-S
      Main
Focuser
Reducer     Antares F 6.3 
focal reducer
Meade F 6.3 
focal reducer
Meade 6.3 
Focal reducer
      often none
Adapter     T.AGOS 
universal 
adapter
Adapter(s) Adapter       Visual Back, 1.1/4" Diagnoal
Adaptive Optics AO-8                
Filter Wheel CFW10 (10) CFW10 (10) CFW10 (10) CFW8A (5) CFW8A (5)        -
Camera SBIG 
ST-10XME
SBIG 
ST-10XME
SBIG 
ST-10XME
SBIG 
ST-7e
SBIG 
ST-7e
      Visual 
Observing [3]
                   
Aperture 305 mm (12") 305 mm (12") 305 mm (12") 203 mm (8") 203 mm (8")       203 mm (8")
Focal Length: 3170 mm 2960 mm 1725 mm 1260 mm         2000 mm
Focal Ratio: f/10.4 f/9.7 f/5.7 f/7.4         f/10
FOV (arc mins) 16.1' x 10.9' 17.2' x 11.6' 29.4' x 19.8' 13' x 6.5'         60' with 25mm 
eyepiece
Plate Scale (1x1) 0.443 "/px 0.472 "/px 0.808 "/px 1.23 "/px 1.23 "/px       n/a
Plate Scale (2x2) 0.886 "/px 0.944 "/px 1.616 "/px 2.46 "/px 2.46 "/px       n/a
Plate Scale (3x3) 1.330 "/px 1.416 "/px 2.424 "/px not used not used       n/a
Main Filters CBVRI, Ha, GB, S, U CBVRI, Ha, GB, S, U CBVRI, RGB, S, Moon CBVRS [2] C BVRI       B, V. R, Moon
Telescope Use Photometry & 
Deep Sky
(2x2 binning,
3x3 binning)

Planetary 
(1x1 binning)
Photometry & 
Deep Sky
(2x2 binning,
3x3 binning)

Planetary 
(1x1 binning)
Photometry & 
Deep Sky
(2x2 binning,
3x3 binning)

Planetary 
(1x1 binning)
Photometry & 
Deep Sky
(2x2 binning)


Astrometry 
(1x1 binning)
Photometry & 
Deep Sky
      Visual
Observing
Pier/Tripod  Pier 
+ Wedge
Pier 
+ Wedge
Pier 
+ Wedge
Pier 
+ Wedge
      Tripod
+ Wedge
Tripod
+ Alt Az
Observing Sessions                   
Telescope Hours                    
                   
Notes     1 1 2,3        

 

Notes:

1) Telescope hours/ number of sessions to date:
2) Filter S = Star Analyser 100
3) Occasional use of Pentax SLR at prime focus or with eyepiece projection 

Mechanical Back Focus Lengths

(1) From CCD to rim of ST camera body, , excluding front plate = .492 inches (12.5mm) 
(2) From CCD to exterior surface of the camera front plate, excluding D block = .742 inches (18.8mm) *
(3) With CFW8A attached to camera's front plate = 1.74" (44.2mm) for new cameras, or 1.69" (42.9mm)  for
  older cameras

Back to Top


Pier and Mounts


Meade Tripods

Back to Top


Custom Build Pier

Back to Top


Meade Standard Wedge

Back to Top


Meade Ultrawedge

Meade Ultra-Wedge sitting on pier Ultra-Wedge showing Az. Adjustment Knob
 
Ultra-Wedge top view Ultra-Wedge showing Dec. Adjustment Knob
  

 

Back to Top


Meade LX200 Fork Mounts

12" LX200R Telescope  mounted on wedge/pier
  

 

Back to Top


Telescopes


Meade 8" LX200 Classic f/10 (operated 1995-2008)

In the LX200 Classic lights first passes through a thin lens with 2-sided aspheric correction (“correcting plate”), proceeds to a spherical primary mirror, and then to a convex aspheric secondary mirror. The convex secondary mirror multiplies the effective focal length of the primary mirror and results in a focus at the focal plane, with light passing through a central perforation in the primary mirror.

The 8" f/10 model has a focal length of 2000mm and theoretical resolution is 0.56 arc sec.The 8" model uses an oversize 8.25" primary mirror which produces higher off-axis illumination than a standard sized mirror.   

    Links:  | Meade.com | LX200 (Classic) Manual
    Tips: | MAPUG Archives (Meade Advanced Product User Group). | Doc G's Information Site |

Back to Top


Meade 12" LX200R / ACF f/10 (operated 2009-2010+)

The LX200R (ACF) is a new LX model from Meade which uses a spherical primary mirror, a special full-aperture corrector lens and a hyperbolic secondary mirror in order to produce a coma-free flat field of field, that also corrects for astigmatism.  The ACF design is advertised by Meade as "producing a coma-free, flat field of view that rivals traditional RC telescopes at a fraction of the cost". The scope builds on improvements already made to the LX200 as part of the LX200GPS range including Primary Mirror Lock, Zero Image-Shift Microfocuser,  SmartDrive™;, Smart Mount™, and AutoStar® II and GPS.

The 12" model has a focal length of 3048mm and a theoretical resolution of 0.375 arc sec.

More Notes on 12" LX200R Telescope

    Links: | Meade.com | LX200 ACF | LX200R Manual |  
    Groups: | LX200R yahoo group | LX200GPS yahoo group

 

12" LX200R Scope in Observatory
  

 

Back to Top


Telescopes Specs :

Scope 8" LX200 Classic 12" LX200R (ACF)
  (1995-2008) (2009+)
     
Clear Aperture Diameter 203 mm (8") 305mm (12")
Primary Mirror Diameter 209.6 mm (8.25") ?
Focal Ratio f/10 f/10
Focal Length  2000 mm 3048 mm
Coatings Standard
Coatings
Ultra-High-Transmission 
Coatings (UHTC)
Optical Tube Size 9.1" Dia. x 16" Long 13.6" Dia. x 25" Long
Theoretical Resolution 0.56 arc sec 0.375 arc sec
Gears 5.75" worm drives 5.75" worm drives
Periodic Error Correction Yes, RA Drive Yes, Both axes
Primary Mirror Lock No Yes
Net Weight (Telescope) 37 lbs
? 73 lbs
73 lbs
?125 lbs
Telescope Mounting Heavy-Duty Fork-Type Heavy-Duty Fork-Type
Supplier  BC&F (1995)
Telescope House

Pulsar Optical
     
Equatorial Wedge Standard Wedge
9 lbs
Ultrawedge
29 lbs

Back to Top

Back to Top


Focusers


JMI NGF-S Focuser (operated 1999-2007)

The LX200 telescope inherently suffers from image shift when its own focuser is used. It is worse on some LX200s than others.  The amount of shift was initially very bad on the scope when I bought it.  Even after the telescope went off for adjustment back at BCF it still displayed some image shifting through not as much as before.  In the end I decided I would get a JMI NGF-S focuser and it proved to eliminate most of the image shift problems that  was experiencing.

The JMI NGF-S focuser screws to the visual back of the scope and button controls a little handset (which contains a battery) is used to move the focuser and attached diagonal & eyepieces back and forth.  The focuser is perfect for getting the very best focus whilst having the object/star stay rock solid in the centre of the eyepiece.

The JMI focusing range is limited however and the main LX200 focuser still needed to be used when changing optics and even when swapping between 26mm eyepiece and my 9mm illuminated reticule eyepiece. 

Use of the JMI NGF-S Focusser on an 8" LX200, requires use of 1.1/4" diagonal if access to sky areas above Dec 74 deg N is needed - as a 2" diagonal will hit the telescope stand if an attempt is made to slew to Polaris with the focuser installed.   

The JMI NGG-S model is now discontinued. The current near-equivalent models are a) EV-1cM and b) NGF-XTcM

    Links: | JMI (Jim's Mobile Incorporated) |    Reviews | NGF Focusers, S&T 1994

Back to Top


JMI DFC / Digital Focus Counter (operated 2001-2006)

I acquired a Digital Focus Counter in 2001 with the aim of making mirror focusing easier when changing equipment (e.g. eyepiece to ST7).  Initially it didn't work, since the DFC tends to slip on the LX200 focus knob (This is in part related to the stiffness on the mirror focus knob which as been stiff since 1996 when I had the mirror focus adjusted to help reduce image shift).  I subsequently put in a grub screw to form a stronger connection between the DFC and the Meade Focus knob. This fix has been reasonably satisfactory for several years, however after my focus knob became difficult to move and I was unable to get the DFC to move the focuser I was forced to remove the DFC device, Due to a the grub screw slipping round, I was forced to 'cut' the DFC off the SCT focus knob, in a way that it couldn't be subsequently removed.

    Links : | JMI Digital Focus Counters | Picture

Back to Top


Optec TCF-S Temperture Compensated Focuser (operated 2008-2010+)

    Links : | Optec | Optec TCF-S Product Page | TCF-S Technical Manual |

 

12" LX200R - with Mirror Lock , Manual Focusing Knob 12" LX200R - with imaging equipment setup (annotated)
   

Back to Top


Meade Microfocuser  (backup from 2009)

 

12" LX200R - with Meade MicroFocuser
   

 

Back to Top


Imaging 


SBIG ST-7e CCD Camera (operated 2001-2008)

My first CCD camera was a SBIG ST-7e Dual CCD/Self Guiding Camera purchased in September 2001. It is a Parallel version of the ST-7 series of mid size cameras and uses the KAF-401E CCD and TC-211 Guide CCD. The camera is an ABG version. 

The camera was mainly operated in 2x2 binning for Photometric Work and Deep Sky Imaging (382 x 255 pixel images), whilst the native 1x1 binning was used for Astrometric Work and Planetary/Lunar Imaging (765 x 510 pixel images).   The self guiding capability of the camera was rarely used due its relatively small size and associated difficulty of finding suitable guide stars (particularly during automated operation)

 ST-7 models have evolved with time, the current Sales version is the ST-7ME USB version with TC-237 Guide CCD, but the size of the imaging CCD and principal attributes have remained largely the same).

    Links  | SBIGST-7 Current Version (ST-7ME) |    User Groups/Forums : | SBIG yahoo group |

    Kodak KAF-401 E performance specification (June 2000)   (copy at http://www.lancs.ac.uk/depts/spc/resources/observatory/kaf-0401e.pdf )

Back to Top


SBIG ST-10XME (operated 2009-2010+)

The Model ST-10XME is the flagship of the "ST" series of self-guiding CCD cameras from SBIG. The body is similar to that of my older ST-7e, but it has a larger and more superior CCD with lower dark current, lower read noise and higher quantum efficiency (QE). It also has a larger guide chip and a faster computer interface (using USB interface instead of older Parallel connection - up to 14 times faster). Cooling is more efficient allowing the camera to reach -35 degC below ambient instead of -30 degC with my older ST-7e camera.

[Note the previous ST-10 model - ST-10XE - used the KAF- 3200E Image Sensor and had a peak QE of 65%.  This compares with the new ST-10XME model which uses the KAF- 3200XM sensor and has a peak QE of 85%. The new sensor is the same CCD as the KAF-3200E with the exception of the addition of micro lenses over the pixels.]

    Links: | SBIG | ST-10 Product Page |  ST-10XE/ST-10XME CCD Imaging Camera |    User Groups/Forums :   | SBIG yahoo group |

    ST-10XE / ST-10XME Information  |    
KAF 3200ME Specification (Kodak)
    Properties of the KAF-3200ME Image Sensor (by Richard Berry)
      
    Testing QSI's 532ws Scientific CCD Camera (also uses the KAF-3200ME) ( by Richard Berry)

 

ST10-XME CCD Placement
At Image Scale of 0.443 "/px  (1.329 3x3)  the Centre to Centre distance
 between Imaging and Guide CCD is 9.98 arc min

 

 

Back to Top


CCD Camera Specs :

Camera SBIG ST-7e
(Parallel Model)
SBIG ST-10XME
  (2001-2008) (2009+)
     
Imaging CCD  KAF-401E KAF-3200ME
Pixel Array 765 x 510 pixels 2184 x 1472 pixels
CCD Size 6.9 x 4.6 mm 14.9 x 10 mm
Total Pixels 390,000 3.2 million
Pixel Size  9 x 9 microns  6.8 x 6.8 microns
Well Capacity 50,000 e- (ABG) 77,000 e-
QE (peak)  60% 85%, micro lens
A/D Convertor 16 bit 16 bit
A/D Gain 2.3e-/ADU 1.3e-/ADU
1.5e-/ADU
Read Noise 15e¯ RMS 8.8e¯ RMS
Dark Current   0.5e-/pixel/sec at 0 deg C
Binning Modes 1 x 1, 2 x 2, 3 x 3 1 x 1, 2 x 2, 3 x 3
Shutter Electromechanical Electromechanical
Exposure 0.11 to 3600 seconds 0.12 to 3600 seconds
Cooling Single Stage Thermoelectric, 
Active Fan, Water Assist Option
Single Stage Thermoelectric, 
Active Fan, Water Assist Option
Cooling below Ambient -30 degC (w/air) - 35 degC (w/air)
Computer Interface Parallel USB 1.1
Guiding Chip Dual CCD Self-Guiding with 
built-in TC-211 CCD
192 x 164 pixels
15 x 15 u
2.6 x 2.6 mm
Dual CCD Self-Guiding with 
built-in TC-237 CCD
657 x 495 pixels
7.4 x 7.4 u
4.9 x 3.7 mm
Weight 0.9 kg 0.9 kg
Backfocus ~ 0.92 inches / 2.3 cm 0.92 inches / 2.3 cm
Supplier  BC&F (2001)
Ian King Imaging (Jan 2009)
Ian King Imaging
     
     

Back to Top


SBIG CFW8A - 5 position filter wheel (operated 2004-2008)

The CFW8A model is now discontinued. The current equivalent model is the CFW9 

   Links  | SBIGCFW9 Product Page  |  

Back to Top


SBIG CFW10 - 10 position filter wheel (operated 2009-2010+)

   2009-2010    CFW10 (10 position)

Back to Top


Filter Wheel Specs :

Camera SBIG CFW8A SBIG CFW10
  (2004-2008) (2009+)
     
Filter Positions 5 10
Filter Size 1.25" 1.25"
Weight 14.7 oz 2lb (0.9 kg)
Backfocus 1.0 inches (2.54 cm) 0.6 inches / 2.3 cm
(when attached in lieu of the camera's
 face plate, otherwise 0.75")
Supplier  SBIG / SBIG
 (model now discontinued)
Ian King Imaging (Jan 2009)
Ian King Imaging
     
     

Back to Top


Filters

I have Orion Set 1 of Colour Filters (1.1/4"). Contains 4 colour filters. I used them occasionally when looking at Planets, when they can help increase the contrast between different surface or atmospheric features.

I also have an Orion Moon Filter. This is indispensable for glare reduction when attempting to look at the moon , which is incredibly bright (almost painfully so in fact) when viewed without the  filter in place.  [I would predict that a variable polarising filter would work better,  allowing the optimal amount of filtering to be set for the lunar phase and lunar feature being observed]

I haven't tried using a Broadband or Narrowband Nebular filter at all.

Since 2004 I also have a set of 1.1/4" Clear and RGB filters and a set of 1.1/4" UBVRI filters for use with a colour wheel for CCD Imaging.  I will typically work with one of the following filter wheel carousel  setups :

  1) Clear, 2) Red, 3) Green, 4) Blue, 5) Moon Filter

  1) Clear, 2) B-Band, 3) V-band, 4) R-band, 5) I-Band

1) Custom Scientific 1.25" RGBC 4 filter set
RGBC Product Page 

2) Custom Scientific 1.25"  UBVRI Photometric Filters (Product Page)

Back to Top


Imaging Support


Meade F/6.3 Focal Reducer (1995-2008)

I purchased a Meade F/6.3 Tfocal reducer (teleconvertor) at the same time as my 8" LX200 telescope. I didn't often use it for visual observing, though when I did it performed very well for viewing extended sky objects like open clusters and the milky-way. 

After getting my JMI NGS-S focuser,  using the F/6.3 focal reducer entailed taking off the JMI focuser, which meant that I would tend to not use it or positioning it after the diagonal (I need to check it again but I believe that the Focuser tube could 'crash' into the F6.3 Focal Reducer Lens if they placed next to each other. 

I began CCD imaging with telescope set up in original focal ratio of F/10, however over time I tended to use the telescope almost exclusively with F/6.3 focal reducer in order to obtain a larger field of view thereby increasing my chance of having sufficient stars in view to achieve plate solution/linking in areas away from the milky way.

Back to Top


Antares F/6.3 Focal Reducer with Ted Agos Universal Focal Reducer Adapter Tube (2009+)

In early 2009 I purchased a Ted Agos Universal Adapter Tube fitted with an Antares focal reducer.  This will become a main part of my new imaging setup from 2009 onwards.

The advantages of the Adapter tube are several

Potential issues arising when using the Adapter tube :
    
    Links: | Ted Agos Universal Focal Reducer SolutionFocal Reducer Notes |       Links: |  Antares Optical

Back to Top


SBIG AO-8 Adaptive Optics System (2009-2010+)

This is an additional add-on to my system.  More information will be added in due course when I develop some experience with it.

The AO-8 is adaptive optics systems from SBIG specifically designed to "enable an SBIG camera user to obtain the ultimate in image resolution that his/her telescope and site can achieve". The AO-8 system uses a tip-tilt transmissive element to correct for image wander due to low order local atmospheric effects and for correction of mount errors, wind vibration and other erratic motion of the optical system that is otherwise too fast for an autoguider or telescope drive corrector to respond to effectively. By monitoring a guide star with the smaller tracking CCD that is built-in to SBIG ST-series cameras, or a Remote Guide Head, the AO makes fine corrections at approximately 10 times per second to hold the image fixed on the CCD during the exposure. 

The AO-8 system take up far less backfocus than the former AO-7 which required  3.5 inches of backfocus and also placed the camera at right angles to the optical system.   The frequency of corrections is however lower with the AO-8 (~10/sec, compared to ~30/sec).

 

    Links: | SBIG | AO-8 Product PageAO-8 User Manual |       User Groups/Forums :   | SBIG yahoo group |

Back to Top


Meade 2x Short-Focus Barlow (1.25")

This Barlow is new and was purchased in 2000 with the aim for varying the magnification power of existing eyepiece lens and for using in combination with 13.8mm Super Wide Angle eyepiece in particular.  I will add more comments as I gain more experience with it.

Back to Top


Orion Tele-extender

I have an Orion Teleextender which I have used on occasions for taking photos through the LX200.

My first attempts of using the Teleextender where for taking pictures of Mars, M31 Galaxy, M42 Nebula and the Moon. The attempts were frustrating and none of the picture results where very good. I put this down to poor alignment, (I was using Tripod based Alt-Azimuth alignment in those early days), poor telescope stability, the severe image shift on Meade focuser and lack of experience.  My experience taking photos is still fairly limited, but now that my scope is permanently installed on a pier, and consequently more stable and more reliably aligned I got better results.

I still occasionally use the tele-exender in combination with my CCD camera, when taking close up images of planets.  This is often also in combination with eyepiece projection.

Back to Top


Photography


Canon E350 Digital SLR Camera

Back to Top


Pentax 35mm Film SLR Camera

Back to Top


Camera Mount

I have a Camera Mount on the top of the LX200 which I can attach my 35mm Pentax Camera too. I've used it for  taking tracked photos of the night sky.   Photos of Hale Bopp are the best photos I've taken so far using it.

Back to Top


Other Equipment


Eyepieces and Barlows

I have the following eyepieces  : 26mm,  9.7mm , 9mm Illuminated Reticule and a 13.8mm superwide, which I used extensively until 2003. Since then I use a CCD Camera for practically all my astronomical observations, the eyepieces are now hardly ever used, except for when using eyepiece projection and teleextender for taking closeup shots of planets. 

Meade 26 mm Plossel 4000 series (1.25")

This is my main 'workhorse' eyepiece, and came with my LX200 when I bought it in 1995. It carries the odd scare from when it was once dropped onto concrete paving. However it still performs reasonably well, but it tends to show show glaring sometimes.

Meade 9.7 mm Plossel 4000 series (1.25")

I used to use this eyepiece for higher magnification work on double stars and planets.  I don't particularly like this eyepiece as I find the ocular size too small. A larger angle of view would help or a lower mag eyepiece in conjunction with a Barlow lens (see 13.8mm Super Wide Angle below).

Orion 9mm Illuminated Reticule (1.25")

This eyepiece works well. The illuminated reticule is battery operated and is controlled by a switch on the end of the battery-containing side pod.  Whilst it is not par-focal with my other eyepieces I like the reticule shape and find the additional refocusing an acceptable limitation.  

Meade 13.8mm Super Wide Angle, Plossel 4000 series (1.25")

This eyepiece is fairly new (2000) and was purchased in 2000 with aim of adding a lens with reasonable high magnification (x145 for 8"/f10 LX200) but retaining reasonable eye relief. Combined with Barlow lens it provides a better combination than the 9.7mm lens alone.  I've used it in combination with my teleextender for close -up shots of planets. 

Meade 26mm Eyepiece (Series 5000)

 


Meade 2" diagonal (1995)

This diagonal came with the LX200 telescope in 1995. I tended not to use the 2" diagonal much, preferring instead my 1.1/4" diagonal.  I tried the 2" again in 2000 and concluded that it gave no obvious optical benefits (none that I could easily perceive) and in fact had several practical disadvantages :

Back to Top


Meade 1.1/4" diagonal (1996-2000)

After using a 2" diagonal for a while, I purchased a 1.1/4" diagonal in 1996 for its compact size, which permits operation with the JMI focuser when aligning on Polaris or viewing any objects north of Dec 76 deg.

I subsequently used the 1.1/4" diagonal almost exclusively for visual observing between 1996 and 2000 and the 2" diagonal was left sitting in its box.  Since moving to CCD imaging I no longer used a diagonal.

Back to Top


Meade 2" UHTC diagonal (2009+)

Meade 2" Star Diagonal (Series 5000)

 

Back to Top


Meade 8x50 View Finder

Back to Top


Telrad Sight

I purchased my Telrad sight in April 1996 and have since found it to be an indispensable tool for quickly bringing the telescope to bear on alignment stars.  I used to have my Telrad fitted on the lower surface of the LX200's tube, however it has now moved to the upper right surface of the LX200 due to installation of a 3D counterweight system below the tube.

The Telrad is highly practical and comfortable to use. With the eye(s) someway distant from the device it is easy to move the telescope so that an object or star is brought to the centre of the Telrad's sight. The smallest circle is 1/2 deg in diameter and guarantees that the object/star is placed within view of 26 mm eyepiece, though not necessarily within the view of my 9mm reticule eyepiece.

In certain telescope positions, the Telrad - as positioned on my telescope - does not permit sighting of object/star  (e.g. this occurs when looking at Polaris at some times of the year, directly overhead objects/stars and objects in NNW or N sky ).   These occasions are relatively rare and I then switch over to using the Meade Finder.  A Telrad positioned on the upper surface of the tube would also suffer restricted viewing in certain telescope positions.

Even nowadays with CCD imaging I use the Telrad at the very start of each session in order to align the telescope on a bright star.  The Telrad is sufficienctly well aligned with my scope that I can place a bright star onto a 16 x 11 arc min field of view of my CCD camera nearly every time.

Back to Top


Flexi Dew Cap

This is a black plastic sheet which folds into a cylinder and is secured with Veco, whereupon it can be fitted to the front of the telescope tube.

I fit it at the start of each observing session and it works fairly well in keeping dew off the LX200's front corrector plate. However whilst it certainly defers the onset of dew formation on the front lens, it is not a cure for dew - it can still end up terminating an observing session.

The black sheet is very shiny on the inside, which probably means it could have the unwanted effect of capturing unwanted light.

Back to Top


Nightrite Pen

This pen has a built in light just behind the tip of the pen. I haven't used it for some time.  (I can't remember why -  as the pen performed ok in the first year I had it - it might be that the pen has run out of ink, however it may be due to my preference to use pencil rather than pen).

Back to Top


TheSky Level IV (vn 5)

I purchased the astronomical software package called TheSky Level IV (vn5) in 1999 and have it installed on my home PC and on my laptop.

I currently use TheSky for preparing sky charts and examining past/future events. I used it for helping to locate the Asteroid Amphitrite and later on Herculina, Hebe & Irene

I've having begun using it for controlling the LX200 in the observatory since mid 2001 and have just begun using it in conjunction with CCDSoft for doing CCD Imaging - see Future Steps & CCD Imaging.

Back to Top


Laptop

I bought a Compaq Presairo 1700 laptop in 2001 and combined with TheSky software I now use it in the observatory for controlling the LX200.  I take the laptop out to the observatory each session.  Setting up the laptop merely involves plugging in 2 USB cables (mouse and USB-Serial adapter) and switching on.

The Compaq doesn't have its own serial port,  instead I use a Belkin USB Serial Adapter. The adapter stays in the observatory and connects to an RS-232 cable which runs beneath the observatory floor, up the pier to the LX200.  All I need to do is plug the USB cable into the laptop (this by the way is slight easier to do in the dark than a serial cable). 

[ I initially bought a Belkin combined USB-Serial-Parallel Port Adapter, but returned it to the shop after finding that the Parallel Port doesn't allow true 2 way communication - and thus I wouldn't be able to use it with a CCD camera later on ]

Whilst I change the computer's colours to reds (via TheSky's Night Vision Mode), the LCD screen is still too bright and effects night vision & introduces excess light into the observatory whilst viewing.  I have made a screen which uses red film filter to reduce this problem. 

Back to Top


Pictures (2009)

Meade Ultra-Wedge sitting on pier Ultra-Wedge showing Az. Adjustment Knob
 
12" LX200R Telescope  mounted on wedge/pier
  
12" LX200R - Fork Base sitting on Wedge

  
12" LX200R Scope in Observatory
  
12" LX200R Scope showing roof clearance 12" LX200R Mirrors & Baffle Tube

  
12" LX200R Mirrors & Baffle Tube 12" LX200R with "Advanced Ritchey-Chretien" labeling 
before Meade were required to remove it 
and re-brand the scope as LX200 ACF

    
12" LX200R with Dew Heater & Dew Shield Balance Rail with weights

  

12" LX200R - GPS Reciever

12" LX200R - Control Panel
   
  
12" LX200R - Visual Back (open), 
also showing mirror lock and focusing knob
12" LX200R - Visual Back (open)
 
 
Autostar II Hand Controller 12" LX200R - / Ultra Wedge)

  
12" LX200R - Visual Setup
  

Back to Top


This Web Page: Equipment 
Last Updated : 2013-12-26
Site Owner : David Richards
Home Page : David's Astronomy Web Site