Ed Bianchina's Astronomy

Astrophotography

Current

I am currently using a Celestron CGE mount.  It is a beast.  Very stable even with all of my equipment. I had the motors and bearings upgraded as well.  YES, it is still on a wooden post on my deck. I had to add guy wires (yes they are called guy wires, look it up).  Pictured is my 8: Astrotech Newtonian.  It is a scope designed specifically for photography.  The guild scope is my Megrez 80.  The great thing about this is that I can switch the camera's and take photos with either scope.  The AT has a lower field of view and the Megrez see a larger chunk of the sky. 

 

Equipment Circa 2011

Click on the image for the complete library.
 
 

Equipment Circa 2010

Click on the image for the complete library.
 

Equipment Circa 2008 - 2009

Click on the image for the complete library.
 

Equipment circa 2007 - 2008

Click on the image for the complete library.

General Equipment

It has taken some time to acquire the instruments I have. This is important.  Even if someone had all the money in the world it takes time to understand the field of astronomy and the equipment required.  For example those that know about telescopes understand that while I have the SCT and a refractor one is not better than the other but rather meant for two distinctly different observations.  The SCT is meant for higher magnification, low brightness objects like galaxies, planetary nebula and planets.  My refractor is perfect for larger objects like nebula or close galaxies.  Very seldom do I have a hard time deciding which scope I should use for an object.  The object usually decides for me based on its characteristics.  

 

I current own the following equipment

  1. AstroTech 8" Newtonian.  Nice size mirror with a large image area.  It is also designed to have a flat field.  Haven't done much with it yet. 
  2. Celestron 9.25 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope from the ASGT line of telescopes.  It is a vintage 2003 model  Works like a charm.  Used for higher magnifications and smaller objects.  I has a larger mirror so is more sensitive but is a larger technical challenge to operate and get high quality images. Targets are small nebula (or parts of nebula), planetary nebula and galaxies. (retail $1250)
  3. Megrez 90 Refracter This is my newest scope and I really like it.  Yields wide field of view for larger nebula and galaxy clusters.  I use a 0.8 field reducer/flattener to get a very flat and consistent focal plane. (retail $1199)
  4. SkyQuest XT8 Classic vintage 2002.  Works great with clean optics and is a great grab and go scope. (retail $329)
  5. Orion ShortTube 80-T Refractor used as my guide scope. (retail $229)
  6. Orion Atlas Mount - (sold) Heaviest of the "portable mounts.  Mine has been hypertuned which means I've replaced the bearings with high quality bearings.  I've also replaced the grease and done a little work on the gears.  Great scope for the price.  (retail $1400)
  7. ASGT Mount - (sold) My original mount.  Full goto capabilities.  GPS attached.  I use this as a travel mount.  Very easy to carry. (retail $700)
  8. Q453-HR (QHY8, Q8HR) 6.1 megapixel one shot color camera from CCD-Labs. Great camera for the price and can take some great pictures in the right hands.  I am still working on that! (retail at the time of purchase $2100 now $1500)
  9. Meade DSI mono camera.  Used as the guide cam on the ST80.  It was my main imaging camera when I started.  Great starting camera. (retail $300)
  10. Misc (but important) items:
    1. Telerad finder
    2. 4 Dew heaters (main scope,guidescope, Telrad, Focal reducer when imaging)
    3. EQMOD for controlling the Atlas mount
    4. NexRemote for indoor control of the ASGT mount
    5. 7 - Port powered USB.  I seriously need that many ports.  This all runs to one central USB connection to my computer.
    6. Electricity--I think the whole neighborhood dims when I turn the whole thing on!
    7. 2 JMI Motor Focus with computer control.  This makes life much easier.
    8. Meade 6.6 focal reducer. Really helps getting a little larger field for imaging.  Absolutely required for imaging with the DSI.
    9. Meade 3.3 focal reducer.  Probably required for imaging with the DSI.
    10. Orion Sky glow light pollution filter.
    11. Williams Optics Field Flatner/Focal reducer III
  11. Home built wooden pier mounted to my deck.  Before you shake your head, it actually works.  True, I can't walk on the deck when I am imaging but I never did than when I had the tripod either.  I use a Telegizmo's 365 cover.  Everything is perfect.  I just walk out the back door, uncover the scope, mount the camera, power up and connect the USB connection and I am ready to go.  I can be imaging in 10 to 15 minutes (I still have to wait for the camera to cool off).  I also use a "Dry Rod" heating element from ScopeStuff to keep out dew.