My Amateur Astronomy to Oct 1, 2000

?? Can technology do justice to the images of the great master ??

Recent changes in my equipment after Oct 1, 2000.
I have always had an interest in astronomy, When I was a young child I would lay on my back in the yard for what seemed hours on warm summer nights looking up into the heavens. Most of that time I lived in various cities in Texas. I can remember how black the background of deep space was behind the stars. Now we have to make a strong effort to find such dark sky sites for our astronomical enjoyment. I would like to encourage everyone to do what they can to help in reducing light polution in our beautiful night skys. My first look through a telescope was my cousins tiny Sears reflector. He trained it on saturn and I was quite impressed. I eventually accidently burned the telescope while trying to enjoy viewing the sun with the thru-the-lens solar filter. Well the bug finally struck me again 33 years later, however, I will only use good solar filters in front of the telescope :-)

I would like to describe some of my equipment (note: the views are somewhat distorted in curvature due to the fixed lens webcam camera used in the digitizing process).

After some serious thought I opted for the Celestron Celestar 8inch Deluxe SCT. Full view of Celestar 8 SCT with Star diagonal attached.Celestron is well known for their many years of innovative astronomical equipment which has elevated them to being a leader that others follow. I guess it shows that I like Celestron. The Deluxe model has an improved worm drive with a larger gear set than its predecessor. It has Programmable Error Correction (PEC) built in and a much sturdier tripod and wedge. The declination motor and hand controller is included. The finder scope is the 9x50 with a 5.9 degree field of view. It could have had a polar alignment marking added to its x-hair reticle. Overall this is an excellent telescope for astrophotography. The model I purchased included the Fastar optics add-on modification. All 8inch models after about June '98' are supposed to come Fastar ready. This SCT is focal length f10 and the Fastar optics option makes it a f1.95. With the Celestron / SBIG Pixcel 237 camera I will discuss later, the full resolution capture goes from (8.0 x 6.0 ^min) at f10 to (41.1 x 30.8^min) at f1.95. As the celestron web site shows, the Fastar will enable capturing the entire M31 (190 x 61 ^min) galaxy in a four frame mosaic Mathematically it would take an 8 frame mosaic at fastar's focal length. In either case, it is a large step from f10 to f1.95.Celestar deluxe with f6.3 focal reducer and Pixcel 237 CCD camera As shown the Pixcel 237 camera conviently attaches to the visual back. This image also shows the Celestron f6.3 focal reducer attached. With this configuration the tube will still rotate the camera through the base of the fork with clearance of about 1 1/2 inches. This might not be possible with an R.A encoder mounted at the center of the fork base as Celestron provides with their Astro Master digital setting circles computer. Also the tele-extender or t-adapter option is too long to clear rotation throught the fork center. If the extender's were to be used simply unscrewing the 1.25inch adapter and screwing them into the front of the camera is all there is to it. An overall view shows the tube and camera together.

The Pixcel 237 CCD camera. and CPU. The Celestar/SBIG Pixcel 237 CCD camera

My accessories and modifications to Oct 1, 2000.

Recent changes in my equipment after Oct 1, 2000.

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