Author Archives: Andrew Thornett

changing guide camera on CCDSPEC spectroscope

I have had 2 x QHY6 cameras attached to my CCDSPEC spectroscopy but as this camera uses an ASCOM driver only one camera can be seen by my laptop at a time which means that in order to use a camera as well in the eyepiece port for finding and guiding on faint object whilst spectrums are taken I need to use 2 x laptops at same time (one for spectra and one for guide camera). What a nuisance! Today u have changed the QHY6 camera in the guide port to a T7C camera (clone of ZWO ASI120MC – uses same drivers) and using a 1.25 inch extension tube focused on the spot and confirmed that both cameras can be used simultaneously in my Dell Windows 10 laptop.

  1. QHY6 camera for spectra – take photos with Nebulosity 4 and use ASCOM driver. Camera plugs onto USB 3.0 port on laptop.
  2. T7C camera in guide port on CCDSPEC. This uses ZWO driver and use SharpCap (currently I have version 3.1.5220 installed). This camera does NOT work when plugged onto USB 3.0 port so needs to be plugged onto USB 2.0 port on laptop.

I have also picked up another of Damian’s habits = which is labels over everything!


Transit of Mercury – RAG event at Rosliston Forestry Centre 11/11/2019

Many members of RAG turned up with scopes and filters to watch the planet Mercury transit the sun today.

The Met Office predicted variable weather and there was even an icon on their website showing simultaneous sun, cloud, rain and and rainbow – never seen that before! However, they were absolutely right because at one point we did indeed see all those things in the sky at the same time.

Due to cloud, we missed those few minutes when Mercury crossed onto the sun, but at various points in the afternoon were able to view it on the solar disc together with a solar prominence through gaps in the cloud. The sky improved towards the end of the afternoon but Mercury dropped behind trees at about 15:45 which meant further observations were not possible. Of course, it was followed by a clear night…..why couldn’t that have been 8 hours earlier?



Pleiades & Eastern Veil Nebula 8/11/2019 Lichfield

With a bright Moon, photography was limited last night – cloud over some of sky limited choices of target. However, having just demonstrated that Polemaster works on my scope, I opted to have a go at taking a photo of these two objects.

QHY10, Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm, EQ6.

Sky very bright and Eastern Veil was difficult to observe with the 30 x 60 sec subs I took last night ==> I have needed to rather over-process the image below to demonstrate the nebula.



Eastern Veil Nebula:

First Light for new mobile EQ6 astrophotography setup and for QHY Polemaster and also review Damian’s new (second hand) Borg 90mm travel scope

First Light for my EQ6 astrophotography setup on homemade mobile wooden base on carrots. Worked very well worth Polemaster to polar align scope – once I’d worked out which was RA axis! 20 mins of embarrassment when I turned the declination axis instead during the Polemaster routine!! Photographed Eastern Veil and to lesser degree Pleiades (lot lesser) whilst Damian came around about bought that wonderful Bord refractor he purchased recently. It is a great little scope with wonderful views and quite a bargain! Damian is quire critical of this little scope but then he is comparing it to his Takahashi 104 which he describes as “snapping onto focus” but I think it is brilliant and, for the money he paid, a great investment. He wouldn’t have got a Takahashi for that price and been prepare to use it as a travel scope either. It delivered great views of Auriga clusters and Double Cluster and M81/82 amd Ring Nebula and seemed well matched his 20mm Pentax 70 degree AFOV eyepiece.

Attached photo is me taking flat frames on my setup.l – QHY10 + Tele Vue field flattener + Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm OTA ON sky watcher EQ6 mount.


Polemaster attached to my EQ6 mount:

Damian’s Borg refractor:

Taking flat frames with my astrophotography gear:

Making a heated computer mat for use outside

Now I am in the business of taking astrophotography, this means my favourite laptop is sittong outside in the cold and damp.

Hence, the need to create a heated computer mat to keep it comfy! Also stops it turning off in the cold.

Composed of two x vivsrium heating mats and one of those plastic mats with lots of holes for putting pots on when you take them off the stove – the mats produce vs. 13W each and the holey mat covering them allows heat through and any moisture to drain away as well as ensuring plenty of ventilation for bottom of laptop.