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My Astronomy equipment


Astronomy, how it started

My interest about astronomy started 1964 when my father built a 2" f/12 refractor to me, I still have the lens in my desk. I observed the moon, the planets and Orion nebula with it. I wish that I had some photos of this first telescope.

After that I had a lot of different equipment, not very advanced until recently. The 5.2" APO refractor is of high quality and exiting and that's the one I'm working with now.


Equipment

  1. Telescopes
  2. Photography lenses
  3. Cameras
  4. Mounts
  5. Windows softwares
  6. Android apps

1: Telescopes:

  • 2" f/12 refractor
  • My first telescope, 1960s.

  • 3.5" f/12 refractor
  • Built from military equipment (from the beginning it was a signal lamp), this was a big telescope at that time, early 1970s.

  • 8" f/10 Celestron C8 Schmidt-Cassegrain
  • Even bigger telescope, a dream come through. When I had this telescope I lived at fourth floor and no elevator! 1980s.

  • 4" f/10 refractor Chinese built
  • Had this telescope for a short time, much better than my older telescopes, it was light and I could bring it with me, 1990s.

  • 4" f/10 Rubinar Maksutov Russian built
  • Very compact and sharp telescope (or photography lens), but the complicated optical construction gave ghost reflections in some situations, 1990s.
    I took this sequence of the solar eclipse in 1999 with it:
    Solar eclipse 1999

  • 8" f/5 Celestron CN8 Newton/Cassadioptric
  • Had this telescope only for a short time, but fast and not too heavy, 1990s.

  • 4.75" f/8.3 SkyWatcher refractor
  • After many years without a telescope I bought this refractor telescope. Used it visually and I felt it was better than my earlier telescopes. With my QHY5 camera I saw Uranus. 2000s.

  • 10" f/4.7 Skywatcher Newton
  • My biggest telescope yet. Had replaced the original focuser with a high quality focuser. Like this telescope a lot but had no space for it, 2010s.

  • 5.2" f/7 APO TS130 refractor *
  • This is what I have today, my first really good telescope to use for astrophotographing, cost a lot of money but it deliver sharp stars and no color aberration, don't use it for visual observing. Lot of things to work out before perfect.
    Read here how I built an anti dew heater:
    Anti Dew heater project

    Celestron C8
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    2: Photography lenses:

  • f/2.8 16mm fish eye, 35mm format, Zenitar with Pentax M42 mount *
  • Fine 180 degree angle lens, very robust, it's Russian built!

  • f/1.8 50mm normal, 35mm format Canon EOS *
  • I don't get sharp stars at the edges at fullframe with aperature set to f/4.

  • f/4.0 50mm, Carl Zeiss, Pentacon SIX
  • f/2.8 80mm, Carl Zeiss, Pentacon SIX
  • f/2.8 180mm, Carl Zeiss, Pentacon SIX
  • f/3.5 250mm, Jupiter (Russian) Carl Zeiss, Pentacon SIX
  • My plane was to use these famous medium format lenses for astrophotography, but they where too old for this. More to collect for it's beauty.
    Look here:
    Pentacon SIX and Pentax M42 lenses

  • f/6.3 400mm, 35mm format, Yashica with Pentax M42 mount *
  • Use it earlier as a guide telescope.

  • f/8.0 500mm mirror, 35mm format, Soligor with Pentax M42 mount
  • f/8.0 500mm mirror, 35mm format, Centon with Pentax M42 mount *
  • Haven't tested it yet, but don't expect it to be very useful, but very compact.

  • f/4.5 500mm 35mm format, Pentax with 6x7 and M42 mount
  • This lens I used a lot to fullframe work, worked well, but of course some chromatic problem, it's not a APO construction.

  • f/7 910mm 3" focuser, TS130 APO triple lens refractor *
  • 0.75x Riccardi field flattener and reducer to above telescope, system gives f/5.3 682mm *
  • This is what I use today as an Astrograph.
    Lot of things to work out before perfect.
    One of them are are to get a corrected field to a fullframe camera:
    Field flattener project
    and get the focuser precision better:
    Motorfocus project

  • f/2.8 165mm Pentax 6x7 *
  • Very big field and long back focus because it's a medium format lens, I use it with an adapter to Canon EOS DSLR.

  • f/2.8 150mm 35mm format, Sigma APO for Canon EOS *
  • My favorite lens. Sharp to the edges at f/4, see my test of vignetting and photo of Andromeda galaxy and its surroundings:
    Test vignetting and photo of Andromeda galaxy

  • f/2.8 70-210mm 35mm format, Sigma APO for Canon EOS *
  • A lens that I haven't tested yet, older construction and doesn't communicate correctly with digital DSLR cameras, but the optics seems to be of very high quality.

    Sigma APO 150mm f/2.8
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    3: Cameras:

  • Konica T3, SLR
  • The camera for 35 mm film, modified to let the matte screen be viewed through an eyepiece direct (pentax prism removed).

  • SpectraSource Instruments HPC-1, 1024x1024 array
  • My first digital photos in the 1990s was taken by this camera, from Stockholm University.
    One of the photos was of the comet Hyakutake:
    Hyakutake 1996

  • Philips Toucam pro II, web camera
  • Modified for raw image, only used as a guide camera with my EQ6 mount.

  • Canon 350D, 8 Mpixel, DSLR
  • My first DSLR camera.

  • Canon 5D, 12 Mpixel, DSLR
  • My first fullframe digital camera. Worked very good for astrophotography in that time, but the communication over USB was complicated.

  • QHY5m, 1.8 Mpixel, CMOS *
  • This one only for autoguiding, it's monochrome and much better than the color web camera I used earlier for this purpose.

  • Canon 6D, 20 Mpixel, DSLR *
  • My latest camera, lower static pattern than my Canon 5D.

    Canon 5D and QHY5 guide camera and Riccardi field flattener
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    4: Mounts:

  • Homebuilt mount with friction clutches
  • My father built this mount to me, 1960s.

  • Homebuilt, equatorial mount
  • This one I built by myself, roller bearings, parts from old military equipment, 1970s.

  • Celestron C8 equatorial forkmount
  • Friction bearings in Dec & RA, 230 volt motor in RA, I bult a DC motor to it later, 1980s.

  • EQ3, equatorial mount
  • Friction bearings in Dec, wormgear in both axis, 2000s.

  • EQ4, equatorial mount
  • Friction bearings in Dec, wormgear in both axis, motor in RA, modified to be more stable, 1990s.
    Look under project pages how to:
    EQ4 project

  • EQ5, equatorial mount
  • Very stable, friction bearings in Dec, wormgear in both axis, 2000s.

  • EQ6, equatorial mount, GOTO Synscan *
  • The mount I use today, good but I want an EQ8, 2010s.
    Read here how I built a pier for it:
    EQ6, build a pier project
    Read here how I built the computer control and powerunit:
    EQ6, battery and computer project

  • Observatory *
  • Recently I have begun to build an observatory, 2010s.
    Read here about my project:
    Observatory project

  • Star Adventurer *
  • This is my favorite for the moment, easy to bring with you to the dark places, motor in RA, 2010s.
    See more details under project page:
    Star adventure project


    * still in use

    EQ6 Pentax 6x7 165mm f/2.8
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    5: Windows softwares:

    I run these softwares on Windows XP, Vista, Win 8, Win 10.

    All these softwares are free to download, some can be paid to get extra features.


  • ASCOM:http://ascom-standards.org/
  • Connecting my softwares together.

  • EQMOD:http://eq-mod.sourceforge.net/
  • Directcontrolling my EQ6 mount without the handterminal connected. See also Yahoo forum.

  • CdC (Skychart):https://sourceforge.net/ projects/skychart/
  • Starchart, navigate and controlling position of telescope.

  • APT, Astro Photography Tool:http://www.ideiki.com/astro/
  • APT control my Canon camera, focus motor, dithering (together with PHD2).

  • PHD2, Push Here Dummy:http://openphdguiding.org/
  • Autoguidning, dithering, polar driftalign, comet guiding.

  • AstroTortilla:https://sourceforge.net/ projects/astrotortilla/
  • Calibrate pointing of the telescope, normally better than 1'.

  • DSS, Deep Sky Stacker:http://deepskystacker.free.fr/ english/
  • I use DSS to calibrate and stack my images, nothing more, deliver the file to next program as a FITS 32 bit floating point. Get the latest beta ver: 3.3.4 or newer.

  • Dark Master:https://sourceforge.net/ projects/darkmaster/files/
  • If you have a Canon camera with a temperature sensor (all EOS models with liveview I think), then you can have use of Dark Master that arrange your images after the temperature, exposure and iso setting and build a batch file to DSS. Then you will have a much better temperature match between object images and dark images.

  • Fitswork:http://www.fitswork.de/ software/softw_en.php
  • I use this program to process my stacked image. Menus are in English but the help in German languish:
    Fitswork tutorial, in English

  • AstroImageJ:http://www.astro.louisville.edu/ software/astroimagej/
  • This is my latest software I use to process astrophotos. Very advanced, free and it's possible to write your own plugins. I'm learning to write macros to it and I have them for download on my tutorial page. Already now I get much better flatcalibration of my old images, much better cancelation of static pattern and no more debayering, I do demosaic, align much better and it's a rgb align which reduce chromatic problems:
    AstroImageJ tutorial

  • IrfanView:http://www.irfanview.com/
  • To batch scale, rename, resize. It can also show Canon raw files. See example here how I use it:
    Dark calibration tutorial

  • Gimp:https://www.gimp.org/
  • If I want too add some nice texts and other things on the image I use Gimp. Note: Gimp have a 32 bit floating point version coming, ver 2.9 and later. You can then import 16 and 32 bit Fits files and manipulate them.


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    6: Android apps:

    I run these apps on Android telephone or pad.

    All these apps are free to download, some can be paid to get extra features.


  • Simple Astronomy Tools: https://play.google.com/ store/apps/details?id= com.hrastro.simpleastrotools
  • This one I use to find where to place polarstar on the gudie scope circle. And also to find what objects to watch under the night.

  • PolarisView: https://play.google.com/ store/apps/details?id=com.watware.www.polarisview
  • PolarisView, same as above.

  • Exsate Golden hour: https://play.google.com/ store/apps/details?id= exsate.goldenhour
  • Exsate Golden hour, use it to get the time when it's really dark, Astronomical Night and when no moon disturb.

  • Sky Map: https://play.google.com/ store/apps/details?id= com.google.android.stardroid
  • Sky Map, a help to find the objects on the night sky.

  • Night Sky Tools: https://play.google.com/ store/apps/details?id= com.smeunier.nightskytools
  • Night Sky Tools, another star map, haven't use it very much yet.


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