Category: Equipment

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
My new toy
A few weeks ago my new telescope arrived, a f/5.3, 12-inch Dobson from Orion Optics UK, equipped with a 9x50 finder and a Crayford focuser. At the moment I am adding a few extras, like the Argo Navis Digital Telescope Computer, a fan behind the primary, some flocked paper in some parts of the tube and a tube extension to prevent stray light coming into the scope.

I will keep you updated, and of course I will publish my observing reports with this scope in the next few months (weather permitting). I also will publish some technical details (mount, tube, mirrors) and some test results for the primary by Orion Optics UK.

Click to enlarge

Posted by Math on 10/24 at 02:49 PM | (5) Comments | filed in: Equipment | Print
Friday, March 03, 2006
Zeiss Diascope and Coolpix 4500 for Birding and Lunar Imaging

During the last few months I have frequently been asked about the new setup that I use for birding and for imaging the Moon: what setup do you use for birding and for imaging the Moon, and why do you image the Moon with the Zeiss Diascope anyway. Why not use the TAL 200K or the TAL 100RS?

I will start with answering the last question first, why do you image the Moon with the Zeiss 85mm, why not use you’re 8-inch TAL Klevtzov or 4-inch TAL reflector. In the second part of the article I will tell you more about the setup I use for both imaging the Moon and for birding.
Posted by Math on 03/03 at 07:45 AM | (1) Comments | filed in: Equipment | Print
Thursday, December 08, 2005
First light!

Tonight I got a chance to test the Zeiss diascope 85 and the Manfrotto tripod astronomically for the first time. The Moon was high in the south, and my first impression was! Although the seeing was not very good, the Moon was there, crystal clear, in the Zeiss 20-60 eyepiece. What a view. The Alpine Valley was clearly visible at lowest magnification (20x). Beautiful! The contrast between the Mare and highland areas was stunning. My girlfriend also came out to have a look, and her first reaction was: “I never have seen such a clear and sharp image of the Moon through any other instrument we owe”.  We also noted another thing with this little instrument. Usually, at first quarter, we see only the half of the Moon that is illuminated. I only have seen earthshine, or any un-illuminated part of the Moon with a crescent Moon or with a lunar eclipse. But with the Zeiss we could see the contours of the whole of the Moon, full circle. This telescope definitely has a lot of contrast. I am very eager to try it on some of my favourite deepsky objects, like the Orion nebula and the Pleiades.

After the first views with the zoom-eyepiece I tried all my other eyepieces. The 25mm TAL plossl, the 32mm Televue plossl and the whole Lanthanum range (25mm-5mm). They all snapped into focus nicely. The 32mm Televue offered even a slightly wider field of view than the 70-degree Zeiss zoom eyepiece at 20x. Next I tried to focus the Zeiss with one of the deepsky filters or the Baader IR/UV cut filter mounted at the base of the eyepiece. With the 32mm Televue Plossl it was no problem.

What I also noticed is that with this Manfrotto tripod and the 45 degree angled telescope it is no problem to observe objects in the zenith, and because of the 45 degree angle, you see everything oriented in the sky as you see it with your naked eyes. I hope to do some serious deepsky observing and shoot some solar and lunar images with the Zeiss in the next few months.

I am excited excaim

Posted by Math on 12/08 at 08:00 PM | (0) Comments | filed in: Equipment | Print
Friday, October 28, 2005
Camcorder astronomy
Yesterday I finally got my EZ-pix digital camera holder from ScopeTronix. I need this camera bracket to shoot live images of the moon and the sun with my Canon MVX25i camcorder. I tested the setup last night on Mars using my TAL 200K and a Tal 25mm plossl eyepiece. The seeing was lousy, Mars was right above the roof of my house, and the air was very humid. I still got some satisfying results with the camcorder at the eyepiece. With the 25mm plossl (80x) and 14 times optical zoom I was able to get the camera more or less into focus using the camcorder’s color LCD screen. With this low power eyepiece the camera showed mars in color and a broad dark mare-band with Syrtis Major was clearly visible (not really sharp, but just the outline). Of course I have to do some more testing with focussing, exposure and gain control, but the first results look very promising. Today I tested the same setup with the Coronado PST, and again the first results where very promising. The camera recorded a small prominence and a large filament without any trouble. I just have to experiment with some more powerful eyepieces (20, 15 and 12mm) to get some more detailed views. I will keep you updated.

Click to enlarge

Posted by Math on 10/28 at 12:58 PM | (0) Comments | filed in: Equipment | Print
Sunday, October 16, 2005
PST lecture
Last Friday I gave a lecture about observing the Sun in H-Alpha with the Coronado PST. At the local astronomy club people got interested in the PST after I showed them the first images I shot a few weeks ago. To give them an idea of what to expect from the Coronado PST, I made a small PowerPoint presentation about using the PST, observing the Sun in white light and H-alpha, and my first results with the PST. It still amazes me (and many others) what you can see (and photograph) on the Sun with this little instrument. Filaments, plage's, active regions, flares, prominences, sunspots, its all visible with the Coronado PST. This is definitely the best value for money you can get for observing the Sun.


I also hope to show you some more result with the Baader Herschel wedge (white light), but the Sun is going lower and lower in the sky during the coming months. The Sun disappears behind the trees and stays invisible from my backyard for quite some time, so I will have to wait until next spring for more solar observing sessions. But....... when the Sun goes lower in the skies, the Moon rises higher and higher, so this is the season for lunar observing and imaging. I will keep you updated!

Posted by Math on 10/16 at 04:40 AM | (0) Comments | filed in: Equipment | Print
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Coolpix 4500 and solar images
In the last few weeks a few people asked me how I connect my camera to the Coronado PST. On the image below you see the Nikon Coolpix 4500 connected to a Vixen Lanthanum eyepiece using an adaptor. The eyepiece combined with the adaptor and camera goes into the focuser of the Coronado PST. You can get adaptors from Scoptronix for many camera / eyepiece combinations. Just send them an e-mail with the details of your equipment (eyepieces you use and camera you want to connect) and they will tell you which adaptor(s) to order.

Click to enlarge

If you want to see the exact setup of my connectors for the Coolpix 4500, the Televue plossl eyepiece and the Vixen Lanthanum eyepieces, follow this link to the equipment section of my website. Here you will find a photo album with images of the complete setup.
Posted by Math on 10/09 at 08:59 PM | (0) Comments | filed in: Equipment | Print
Monday, August 15, 2005
Navigating the night sky
The Sky-Watcher EQ-6 mount and the Argo Navis Digital Telescope Computer

About a year ago I decided to get a new mount for my TAL 200K. The main reason was that I wanted a mount that could be equipped with some sort of go-to system or digital setting circles. I had been suffering from serious back-problems for quite some time, and I was fed up with kneeling down and crouching under my telescope to locate my favourite deep sky objects, especially in the cold winter period.

Posted by Math on 08/15 at 07:06 AM | (0) Comments | filed in: Equipment | Print
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
White light and H-alpha
Today I tested a new setup for solar observing in white light and in H-Alpha. I mounted a special bracket, that can hold two telescopes onto the EQ6. I mounted the 4-inch TAL 100RS equipped with Baader Solar Screen on one side of the bracket, and the Coronado PST on the other side. After finding the right balance in the system it proved to work quite nice. I still have to do more testing when the sun is in higher position, so I will be back with more info. Click on the images below to enlarge.

image image

Posted by Math on 07/12 at 02:10 PM | (0) Comments | filed in: Equipment | Print
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