New Equipment Page

Cymbeline Observatory goes Meade SCT

Towards the end of the 2007/2008 winter season and I'm beginning to need to get longer exposures due to some good success with imaging through the WO Megrez 80II with the Canon EOS 300D and so a drive upgrade was contemplated. The Beacon Hill mount and synchronous motor drive was good for 2 to 3 minute exposures, but I was going to need to get to 5 to 10 minutes for those elusive emission nebulaes.

Initial thoughts were to beef up the motors to stepper motors with microstepping drives and to build in a guiding interface so that the mount could be guided using something like GuideDog or PHD Guiding, but.....

.....I was fortunate to obtain a second hand 12" Meade LX200 classic on the UK Astronomy Buy and Sell website (but just missed the Milburn Wedge to go with it).

So summer 2008 (if you could call it summer) was spent de-commissioning the 14" Newtonian and installing the 12" Meade, which went in initially in Alt-Azimuth mode on the Meade field tripod. This was not going to be suitable for imaging so it had to go equatorial.

First purchase was an Astro Engineering Megawedge and I managed to secure an ex-demo model to keep the cost down. But this couldn't be mounted onto the field tripod because the legs of this rested on the observatory floor and the telescope bounced around when I moved.

I commissioned a portable pier (i.e. one that isn't bolted to the isolated concrete pad) to fit the Megawedge onto from my good friends at Charles Watts Engineering and they came up with the goods.

LX200 Motorised Focuser

A new page about how I've motorised the LX200 focus has been added to the Projects section, see here.

Mono CCD Camera, Filter Wheel and Filters

April 2010 saw me take delivery of CCD equipment purchased from First Light Optics, their service was great.

Here's a shot of the kit, that I took soon after it all arrived.

So the camera (red object at the back) is an Atik383L+, it uses the Kodak KAF 8300 CCD chip with 8.3 million, 5.4 micron square pixels in a 3362 x 2257 array. With the WO Megrez 80II FD short focus refractor this will give me a 113 x 85 arcmin field of view, very similar to view I was getting from the Canon EOS300D.

The filter wheel is a Starlight Express SXUFW-25 model, with a carousel that takes 5 x 50mm filters.

The filters are all Baader Planetarium - an LRGB set for "normal" colour imaging and also Ha, OIII and SII filters so I can do narrowband imaging.