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

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! 🙂

New toys!

I’ve been struggling to polar align the scope now that it is on its pier.  I’m using the excellent AlignMaster software developed by Matthias Garzarolli.  This was recommended to me by the wonderful folks over at the Astronomy Shed forum.  I call it excellent, but that’s only after several weeks spent cursing it.  Like a lot of software in the astronomy arena it comes with scant documentation – and hence I had failed to understand that for it to work you had to twiddle the sync settings mode in EQMOD (my disatisfaction with that tool is too long to note here!).  I was confused why the stars were moving in both declination and right ascension when it came to the alignment step – until I discovered that if you haven’t put EQMOD in to Dialog mode sync it would cause issues.

Make sure this is set to Dialog Based when using AlignMaster

Make sure this is set to Dialog Based when using AlignMaster

Most of the issues were resolved by this discovery, and I am now singing the praises of AlignMaster, however, I am still struggling to do fine tuning but this is all down to my ‘cheap’ homemade Altitude adjustment bolts for the NEQ6.  I was sick of fiddling so finally bit the bullet and invested in some of the ‘expensive’ replacements on ebay.  Hopefully, when they arrive they will make alignment a breeze!

I also managed to pick up a cheap illuminated eyepiece with reticule, but it may be crap once I receive it – it was very cheap!

Hello world!

Welcome to my little astronomy home on the internet.  This is intended to be a place for me to post my adventures, images, musings and anything else I stumble across in my attempt to map the dark sky.

All a bit bare at the moment but hopefully that will change over the coming months.

I anticipate the new observatory build will probably form the bulk of my postings for the foreseeable future.