Equipment for Astronomy

Mounting new rings on Sky Watcher 180

The SkyMax 180 came with a Vixen mounting bar which I have found difficult to use at night due to the the large bulk of the tube. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to change it to a Losmandy bar. I also wanted to add a handle to make the scope easier to handle in the dark.

I have been drilling and bolting my new Orion telescope rings to create a cradle with Losmandy bar and handle for my SkyMax 180 scope this New Year’s morning!

Below = finished product. When I removed Vixen bar there was big crunch as inside the student a nut and holding bar fell off thankfully not onto mirror or corrector plate. So I had to remove the corrector plate and cell to get them out of tube and remove second nut from other bolt golding Vixen bar – needed to get it off to give room for the rings. Then 4 old belts required to pad out the rings bit big for tube. I had bought an aluminium bar for top of rings which I drilled this morning for the rings and to create mounting holes for the handle I purchased from Germany. I bought that one particularly because it has a slot in the middle of the handle – convenient for mounting another mounting bracket onto which I can place a guidescope held centrally so it does not imbalance the scope in use.

The Bubble Nebula and M52

Had this data a while but not the chance to process. I got the RGB and Ha data on 22nd November and then the Sii and Oiii a couple of nights later. I left the Oiii and Sii running overnight, but had to drop a lot of frames due to cloud. The RGB and Ha was the data I used for the HaRGB demo to the RAG AP group on Friday, but I’ve only just had the chance to add the Oiii and Sii.

Kit was 130pds on HEQ5, with ZWO ASI1600mm to capture

Capture details are:
20x 30 sec each of RGB
90x 1min Ha
50x 2min Oiii
55x 2min Sii

Presentations are Ha, HaRGB and SHO with RGB Stars.

My new baby – Sky Watcher SkyMax Maksutov 180mm

Well, new to me any way. 2nd hand off AB&S – bought specifically for planets.

“First Light” (for me) was on Tuesday night – Mars big – limited detail as very windy but held planet in field of view quite a few minutes – some surface detail but hoping for more on still nights.

Also tried it on Double Cluster and Pleaides – OK but without the zazz of my 10″ Dobsonian! (as you’d expect 10″ just brings in the light and gives that wonderful diamonds on velvet effect I love so much!)

…..But clearly has resolution.


Focal points on Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm with different Altair field flatteners

  1. During the changeover today from 1.0x to 0.6x Altair Lightwave reducer, I determined the focal points on the draw tube for future reference.


Focal point in Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm OTA with Altair Lightwave 1.0x flattener and filter wheel and Altair 183M camera used for deep sky (as I used this week for photographing M31 and M33 – so this is the focal point that is correct for night sky for 1.0x Lightwave):

Focal point 1.0x Lightwave on roof our house from log cabin (note goes up from 46mm above on night sky to 56mm below due to roof being closer to telescope):

Focal point on our roof from log cabin with 0.6x Lightwave (44mm = means that the 0.6x field flattener requires extra 12mm of back focus over the 1.0x Lightwave and suggests focal point on night sky for 0.6x Lightwave field flattener should be around 46mm-12mm = 34mm on marking on draw tube):

Comparing 0.6x and 1.0x field flatteners

  1. Just arrived today is 0.6x Altair Lightwave field flattener – to replace my 1.0x version on my mono astrophotography setup – Altair 183M camera, filter wheel, field flattener and Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm OTA on EQ6 mount.

I am making the change to increase my field of view and increase number of visible stars for Deep Sky Stacker, which keeps complaining that it can’t stack more than one file due to inability to detect enough stars.

The images below show the differences in field of view when I took photographs from bottom of my garden today of the solar panels on my roof.


0.6x field flattener:

1.0x field flattener:

Focus point on Sky Watcher Equinox 100mm scope with Tele Vue 3.5 inch extension tube and 2-1.25 inch adapter for ZWO ASI385MC camera with 1.25 inch nosepiece

In my ongoing attempts to successfully take a photo of a planet, first step is to focus and get image of window on neighbour’s house at bottom of garden – gives me approx. focus point for stars/planets – last time I tried to photograph a planet I couldn’t see anything on the laptop!

I really am not very good at this astrophotography stuff…