Stellar Wanderers Observatory
I know I have gone quiet for a long while but let me tell you... it’s for a very good reason. I have been so fortunate to have crossed paths a great gentleman, Dan. In my extensive conversations with him we have realized we share many common goals in this amazing and humbling hobby. Thus, an observatory is born! He has in his time as an amateur astronomer acquired some of the most premium and advanced equipment in the Industry. From Paramounts, Astrophysics, Televue, Takahashi, and of course at the heart of it all, PRISM.
As I have had some extensive (and at times very frustrating) experience with remote setups, my new friend asked for my cooperation and help with a new observatory. I felt compelled to undertake this new and exciting adventure. I have picked Southern Arizona again for a few reasons as follows:
The location is within a 3-hour drive
It is very dry and provides great clear skies most nights.
Light pollution is minimal as it is “green” zone.
There is ample experience that helped us get up and running quicker.
As I have said earlier, my friend and now observatory partner, Dan has nothing but the best gear. From his collection we have decided that a galaxy hunter as well as widefield super APO is the way we want to go. So, the journey for the equipment began. Shipped to our new observatory was:
Software Bisque MEII: An outstanding mount that very accurate and reliable.
Orion Optics AG16: Beautifully made Newtonian with a Wynn 0.95x coma corrector and 1/10 PV mirror.
Feathertouch 3.2” Focuser with its accompanying Focuslynx.
tik 11000 camera with a 7 position, 2-inch filter wheel (this is the latest release).
Software Bisque MYT: A small form factor mount that provided an allsky error of 8 arcseconds RMS, with the Tak on top.
Takahashi FSQ106 EDXIII: Exquisite optics.
ZWO ASI 071: We do enjoy these cameras due to all the modern features they pack: low noise, fast connectivity, great cooling, the possibility of video and deep sky imaging as well as the great USB hub they provide.
Unfortunately, we started off on the wrong foot with this setup as some of the parts were not shipped to us immediately with the scope. This led to a wave of improvisation and some delay. The Atik EF3 filterwheel had no way of attaching to the new, and massive, 3” Wynn coma corrector. So, I hooked it up instead, to the Tak106. I wanted to see how big of a field of view I could get with a fast refractor, and one of the biggest CCD chips available.
As you can see from this screenshot above (Courtesy of http://www.blackwaterskies.co.uk/imaging- toolbox/) this field of view is massive, and it is hard to just image any target. The pixel scale of 3.5 arc second per pixel means that we cannot resolve all the finer details in the galaxies either. I think for some objects, such as NGC7000, NGC6999 (Crescent Nebula), and especially the Veil nebula cluster, it is a great match. Back to the drawing board!
The first target to test on, is one that was big enough to fit in the FOV. Using the planning tools available to us in PRISM, I identified the veil nebula cluster as a great candidate.
PRISM’ automation is so well coordinated that all you have to do is input your target and press go. As you have seen from my automation tutorial, there is a little bit to be done in setup, but it remains minimal compared to all the automation that this great software can provide for you. Here is the Veil Cluster as out first light.
Telescope : Takahashi FSQ106
Mount: Software Bisque Paramount MYT
Camera: Atik 11000
Filterwheel: Atik EF3 7 position 2 inch filter wheel Filters: LRGBHa Chroma 2 inch filters
Post-Processing: PS CS2
Location: Southern Arizona.
These images are nowhere near the best we can pull out of this gear or location, these are mere first lights for quick testing.
NGC6888: The Crescent Nebula