After a several year imaging hiatus due to schedule/career constraints i’m finally getting the astro-imaging rig dialed in for operation. I don’t have a permanent observatory so i’m primarily a mobile imager. My plan is to shoot narrowband data from the backyard (Bortle 8) as time permits, and then focus on LRGB data during my trips to darker skies. I’m able to leave the scope setup and covered in the backyard if the weather is decent, but if there’s a chance of rain or inclement weather then everything must be packed up and moved indoors. For dark sky trips I use the Kendrick Astro tent as my mobile observatory, which allows me to leave the scope setup even if it rains.
Similar to all amateur astronomers, my equipment has slowly evolved over the years, and it’s been a long journey to arrive at my current setup. My main imaging scope is a Celestron Edge HD 8″ (both prime and 0.7x). This is mounted atop an AP Mach 1 GTO and Avalon T-POD 130 that serves as the foundation of my setup. The primary imaging camera is a QSI 683-WSG 8 with the KODAK KAF-8300 CCD, 8 position filter wheel with LRGB/Ha/OIII/SII filters, and integrated off-axis guider port (with Lodestar X2 autoguider). The QSI 683 / Edge HD 8 combination at prime focus provides 0.55″/pixel (0.78″/pixel with the 0.7X reducer). For typical (average) seeing conditions I will be oversampled and sacrificing SNR, but this compromise was chosen in order to take advantage of those rare nights of great seeing. I’m currently using The Feathertouch microfocuser on the primary focus knob with HSM20 stepper motor and FocusBoss controller.
I paid particular attention to cable management and 12VDC power distribution for my equipment to keep the setup as clean as possible, and to virtually eliminate the possibility of a cable snag. Shooting narrowband data at f/10 from urban skies is very demanding on mount/guiding performance, balance, cable management, & the list goes on! A vixen style dovetail was mounted to the top of the OTA and tapped/threaded in order to permanently mount a 12 VDC rig runner, powered USB Hub, and FocusBoss focuser controller atop the OTA. A single 12VDC and USB line are routed through the mount to my power supply & computer, and the remainder of the cables are routed and secured around the OTA with various tie downs.
A list of additional imaging and visual equipment that I use from time to time can be found on the Equipment page.