This is the main telescope.

It is a 14 inch (355mm) F4.1 classical Newtonian reflector with a skeleton tube manufactured by Beacon Hill Telescopes of Cleethorpes, North Lincolnshire.

The telescope is mounted on a Beacon Hill MkII equatorial mount with A.C. synchronous motor drives to both axes. The right ascension axis motor is controlled by a variable frequency oscillator for sidereal rate and fine guiding. The declination motor is also driven by the VFO. The mount also has manual slow motions to both axes.

The main telescope is fitted with an Antares erect image right angle 8x50mm finderscope. The erect image is most useful for the finder as the view looks the same as the star map that you work with.

The main telescope is also fitted with a Skywatcher ST80 short focus refractor for use as a guidescope. This small telescope is additionally used for wide(r) angle imaging.

CCD Cameras

This is my Philips ToUCam, it is probably the  most widely used webcam for astro-photography of bright objects. With an unmodified camera it is possible to get excellent views of the sun, the moon, all of the major planets, bright double stars and even the brighter deep sky objects.

It is possible to modify this camera for long exposure photography. See the QCUIAG website or Steve Chambers website for details.

I got interested in using Webcams for astrophotography as a result of the work done by QCUIAG, but I don’t have the facilities to modify the cameras myself, so to do long exposure (LX) work I bought an Atik ATK-2C cooled camera (which is essentially a modified webcam in a neat enclosure with a fan for keeping the electronics cool).

This was purchased from Modern Astronomy, the UK dealer for the Atik cameras. It is shown here together with the IR Block filter (left) and the 0.5x focal reducer (right).

I have been extremely pleased with the results that this camera gives. All of the long exposure images in the Deep Sky section of this site have been taken with this camera.

DSLR Astrophotography

I’ve recently (Jan 2007) started out in DSLR Astrophotography and Christmas saw the purchase of kit needed to mount a Canon EOS 300 onto the telescopes.

This picture shows the camera at the rear, a t-mount with 1.25” adapter (home made) on the left and a 2” adapter on the right. The filter at the front is for Ha photography.

This will be used for wide field photography of large extended deep sky objects e.g. The Andromeda Galaxy using the ST80 refractor and also for imaging through the 14” Newtonian.


Inevitably I have a (largish) collection of eyepieces. All amateur astronomers collect one of these over the years.

Shown here are my Plossls, from left to right (and back to front) 26mm, 17mm, 12.5mm and 7.5mm. Also on the extreme right is the 2 x Barlow lens. These eyepieces give magnifications of 57x, 87x, 118x and 196x on the 14” Newtonian (addition of the barlow doubles these magnifications). These are excellent eyepieces for observing deep sky objects.

These are two University Optics HD Orthoscopic eyepieces in 9mm and 7mm focal lengths giving 164x and 210x magnification with the 14” Newtonian.

These give very clear, high power views of the planets. These can also be used with the 2x barlow lens to give magnifications of 328x and 420x.

The eyepiece to the left is an Antares 32mm Erfle in 2” barrel fitting. This has a field of view of 70 degrees and is a low power wide-field eyepiece. It is compared to the 26mm Plossl seen earlier. The Erfle gives a magnification of 46x with the 14” Newtonian and a field of view of just over 1.5 degrees (3x the diameter of the full moon).

And Finally this is a 12.5mm Illuminated reticle Orthoscopic eyepiece (manufactured by Parks). It has a double crosshair reticle and I use it for centring objects in the telescope field of view so that they fall onto the CCD chip in the cameras.


Filters are sometimes important for both visual and photographic use. the most common type of filter is the light pollution filter use to filter out the orange glow of Sodium streetlights and the blue of Mercury lights.

For observing faint nebulosity I use a Lumicon UHC filter.

I also own a moon filter for decreasing the glare of lunar landscapes and a set of colour filters which are useful for planetary observing.


There is a large range of software available for Astronomy and Astrophotography. A lot of it is written for specific purposes by amateurs and is usually very good.

Planetarium Software

For finding my way round the night sky I use the excellent SKy Map Pro Version 10. This is commercial software and has a complete range of facilities, including telescope control.

Imaging Software

For imaging I use K3CCDTools, which was supplied with the Atik CCD camera. It enables movie files to be taken of the object in the field of view, with full control of all aspects of the on-screen image. Long Exposure photography of Deep Sky objects is also supported.

Also it provides guiding control of telescope equatorial mounts although I do not use this feature at the moment.

This is a shareware program written by Peter Katreniak. I use this program exclusively for taking my images.

DSLR Imaging needs software to control the DSLR camera for ISO settings, exposure times etc. and for this I chose DSLRFocus. This allows all camera settings to be controlled from the computer including getting a good focus of the subject.

Image Processing Software

Once the image has been taken it needs to be processed to bring out all the detail. There are two aspects to this process. Firstly the frames of the movie file need to be processed to align them all and to ensure that only the best frames are chosen for use. This can be done by eye or the software can be used to choose the best frames, I usually use a combination of both.

Once the best frames have been chosen they need to be aligned and stacked. For this process I usually use Registax. K3CCDTools can also be used for this.

Both of these programs also have some image processing facilities which I sometimes use, especially the wavelet processing in Registax for solar system objects.

After alignment and stacking the image can be further processed using dedicated image manipulation software and I usually use Paint Shop Pro 8 for this purpose.

This enables me to change the size of the image and to manipulate the brightness and contrast, the colours and to blur and sharpen images or parts of images to bring out the best of the detail.

It is usually a fairly difficult thing to do and it is very easy to over-process an image and spoil it.

The final step in the image processing is to produce a picture good enough to publish and I usually run the image through a shareware program called NeatImage to remove noise.