A Little Progress

Had been struggling with the focuser slipping on the Equinox with the heavy ATIK 383 on it and decided I really wanted a stepper motor for the focuser so splashed the cash again and am now the proud owner of a motorised moonlight focuser.  This is a wonderfully engineered piece of equipment and worth every penny (quick tip – if you import it direct from the USA as I did then it costs less).  So finally there was a brief break in the bad weather and it allowed me to get some imaging done with the new kit.  the first target was Messier 35 and its close neighbour NGC 2158.  I started with a globular as that is where I started out back when I took my first images – allows me to ensure I am getting the hang of focusing.  Was impatient and decided to have a play with the data before I had taken any RGB darks or any flats/bias.


Need to look into sorting the calibration frames next – but It’s a pain while I don’t have the observatory.  Think I need to pull my finger out and dig the foundations so that this all becomes much easier.

New kit has arrived

Everything has now arrived!

Complete new imaging rig – scope (Skywatcher Equinox 80 APO PRO), camera (Atik 383L Plus), filter wheel (Atik EFW2 Filter Wheel), Filters (Baader LRGB CCD Filter set), Controller (HitecAstro Mount Hub Pro V3 – not shown here) and various gubbins. can’t wait to play, but now have to wait for the stupid clouds to go!

Thanks to the guys at

Supernova 2014J

Brief break in the clouds and I’m doing what no doubt thousands of other astronomers are doing tonight – pointing my scope at M82 and the fabulous, unexpected supernova.

My first sub has come in and it’s a beaut!  This is unprocessed straight from the



Closer view


Big splurge

Just pressed the button on a load of new toys.  Will post pictures when they arrive but essentially a whole new imaging setup.  Got frustrated with the heath robinson affair I had constructed and decided to spend a bit of dosh on a more robust solution.  The Atik 383L and Equinox 80 will make up the main part of the rig with a few supporting bits and bobs.

All ordered from First Light Optics who gave some excellent advice about getting the right bits and bobs.

This is of course all part of setting up the new observatory.  Next step is to sort out the foundations once the whether improves.

I apologise for all the inevitable cloud that is about to appear obviously.

Moon and New Scope

I picked up a bargain on Astrobuyandsell – a 200mm Newtonian.  Not used it in anger yet but will post more when I’ve had a chance to play.  I did however get a quick look through it the other night and took some pics of the moon.  The below was just done on my IPhone – holding it up to the eyepiece!



All set up and was nice and easy with the help of the tutorial at Light Vortex Astronomy.  Looking forward to using it once the cloud clears (which at the moment feels like never!)

Also getting to the point where I am contemplating replacing the DSLR with a cooled CCD – but that’s a big and expensive step!


PHD + QHY5L-II Guiding tip

I had been struggling to find guide stars when using the above combination and was confused as others indicated that there should be loads of stars visible.  In a chat about the Sky-Watcher guidescope mount over on AstronomyShed a member advised that he normally increased the gain on the QHY5 all the way up to 95%.  Bam! Tried it and now I have lots of lovely stars to guide with.

Thanks Keith (AKA Aardvark)

Focusing sorted!

Well the new latitude bolts arrived – eventually – and have been fitted.  The back one is a great improvement, but the front one – under the polar scope cap, is still a pig to adjust.  I think the problem is actually a design fault in the mount.  The idea of a bolt just pushing on a lug whose angle is constantly changing it not a good one!  At some point I suppose I will have to take the mount apart and see if an improvement can be made.  I’m not up for that while it is still in warranty so maybe a job for much later!

I also, on a whim, ordered a second auto focuser and controller for the guide scope – wasn’t really necessary but now that it’s fitted it does make things easier.  However, it has highlighted the need to sort out power and data a bit better.

Sigh, always something more to do! 🙂