Equipment

OPTICS

I have four main optics with very different focal lenghts. This allows me to cover different types of objects, from small planetary nebulae or galaxies, to complete constellations.

INTES MICRO M615

99321_5

It is a Maksutov type telescope with a high quality Russian optics. Its mechanical quality, however, is not as good as the optics. The dovetail is not solid enough and flexes a lot, the focuser has a certain backlash and some screws have rusted over time. Even so all the elements fulfill their functions and I consider it a purchase that I will never regret.

It is a telescope designed for observation and planetary imaging, but I also use it for deep sky photography, assuming, of course, its limitations, since it is a slow telescope (f/15) and long exposure times are needed to get enough signal, and also the autoguiding is very delicate due to its 2280mm focal length. On the other hand it has a perfectly flat field, little vignetting and any kind of optical aberration, at least as far as my eye can see.

OPTICAL CHARACTERISTICS
TypeMaksutov – Cassegrain Reflector
Focal2280mm
Aperture152mm
Secondary Diameter47mm
Obstruction28%
Light Gathering Power164.02cm²
OPTICAL QUALITY
Transmission90%
P-Vλ/6
CKO (RMS)0.041
PHOTOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS
Luminosityf/15
Resolving Power0.76 «
Photographic Scale1.51 arcmin/mm
Photographic Diameter25mm
Photographic FOV1º03′
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Lenght440mm
Diameter210mm
Weight4.9kg

BORG 101ED

101ED Foto

This is an apochromatic refractor built by Borg and distributed by Hutech.
The telescopes of this brand have a very curious mechanical configuration, since they are based on a totally modular design, so that the client can customize the telescope to his needs, buying the different components (lenses, bodies, focusers, etc …) separately.

80b-sys

In my case I chose a double configuration. I have a 101ED lens with a native f/6.4 to which I add a specific reducer, converting the telescope into a f/4. When we set this telescope to f/4, the support tube is shortened, and the reducer engages inside the focuser. This makes the length of the tube very short, and lightweight.

OPTICAL CHARACTERISTICS
TypeApochromatic Refractor
Focal410mm
Aperture101mm
Light Gathering Power80cm²
OPTICAL QUALITY
Transmission97%
PHOTOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS
Luminosityf/4
Resolving Power1.14 «
Photographic Scale8.26 arcmin/mm
Photographic Diameter40mm
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Lenght512mm
Diameter113mm
Weight2.4kg

In my opinion, this telescope is a worthy alternative to the famous Takahashi FSQ-106 as far as value for money is concerned.

SIGMA APO 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6

Sigma_508109_70_300mm_f_4_5_6_APO_DG_396833

On paper, this zoom lens should be completely discarded for quality astrophotography. However, it can become an option if the object to be photographed does not fit us with any other objective. I have used it a few times, because as I say, it does not have the level that I consider minimum for astrophotography. It suffers from coma, some chromatic aberration even considering itself apochromatic, but closing the diaphragm enough and working the processing these defects can be mitigated.

CANON EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

img65

I am still in the testing phase with this objective, but it is my bet to take pictures of ultra wide and ultra deep fields. It has an extreme speed, which will surely cause problems with the filters (image shift effect), light gradients, vignettes … but I have expectations of being able to solve all these problems and be able to use it in astrophotography.

It is an objective that in conventional photography has surprised me pleasantly for its sharpness, fast focus (nothing useful in this field) and image quality in general, especially in relation to its price.

OPTICAL CHARACTERISTICS
TypeAchromatic Refractor
Focal50mm
Aperture35.5mm
Light Gathering Power10cm²
OPTICAL QUALITY
Transmission?%
PHOTOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS
Luminosityf/1.4
Resolving Power3.24 «
Photographic Scale68.76 arcmin/mm
Photographic Diameter?mm
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Lenght50mm
Diameter74mm
Weight290g

CAMERAS

QHY163M + QHYCFW2-M US + OPTOLONG HSO-LRGB

8.0

One of the improvements that I considered necessary after my return to this hobby has been the acquisition of a better camera, because until now I worked with a DSLR, with the limitations that it has. So, after evaluating several options, I decided to evolve towards a monochrome astronomical camera.

The camera is a QHY163M, monochrome and refrigerated, with a sensor size of 17x13mm. It is characterized by a very low reading noise, 1.3e with the factory parameters, as well as very little thermal noise due to its efficient cooling, which allows a thermal jump of up to -37.5 °C. On the other hand it has a pixel size of 3.8μm, which achieves a resolution with the Borg at f/4 of 1.9 «/ pixel.

As these cameras do not make sense by their own, I have acquired a motorized filter holder wheel QHYCFW2M-US 7 positions, in which I installed a set of Optolong HSO 6nm filters to work in narrow band, and another set LRGB of the same brand, for broadband photography.

The filter wheel is the US model (UltraSlim) and combined with a Cyclops Optics C-Blade adapter achieves 55mm of backfocus, the same as the Canon DSLR. That means that I can use my old adapters maintaining the optimal distance to the sensor.

SENSOR CHARACTERISTICS
TypeCMOS 12bit
ModelPanasonic MN34230PL
Sensor Size (AnxAl)17.7×13.3mm
Diagonal Lenght22.1mm
Resolution4656×3522
Total Resolution16Mpx
Pixel Size3.8um
ELECTRONIC CHARACTERISTICS
(Factory Parameters: GAIN=174 / OFFSET=77)
Gain0.624e/ADU
Readout Noise1.3e
Thermal Noise0.002e/s
Fullwell Capacity2573e
FILTERWHEEL CHARACTERISTICS
Positions7
Filter Diameter36mm
Max Filter Thickness4.5mm
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Dimensions165x165x130mm
Weight1.2kg aprox

QHY5R-II

qhyccd5r

This is the camera that I use for autoguiding. It is a small and simple color CMOS camera. It is always recommended to use a monochrome camera to guide, but I got it so cheap (€ 70) that I thought it was worth trying. For now the results seem satisfactory because I can guide with the guide telescope with stars of up to 7th magnitude without problems, which I think is enough for the moment.

CANON 350D (IR Mod)

cuerpo-canon-350d-xt

This is the camera that I have used from 2004 to 2010 and although I imagine that I will stop using it, I am reluctant to eliminate it from my official team because it has given me great results. It has a fairly large sensor, APS format (14.8x22mm) and I removed the IR filter to improve its response in Hα. However, as it is not refrigerated, the thermal noise is very high, and this becomes a problem in summer.

Another problem is that a major issue occurred at the end of 2010. It hangs when connected to the computer by USB. That menas that I have lost the ability to have a computer-assisted control and taking images so I have to do with an external timer connected to the trigger socket. In addition, the download of images must be done by extracting the card and connecting it to an external card reader.

MOUNT

SKYWATCHER HEQ5 (Rowan Belt Mod)

imgB

This is a German Equatorial Mount, a Skywatcher HEQ5 SynScan of 2004, currently discontinued and replaced by the HEQ5 Pro. It is a mount with excellent performance in astrophotography if a light equipment is loaded.

MECHANICAL CHARACTERISTICS
TransmissionWorm + Worm gear
Worm Gear Teeth135
Worm Period638.2s
Periodic Error±15″
Payload Capacity14Kg
ELECTRONIC CHARACTERISTICS
MotorStepper Motor
Motor Resolution0.144″/step
Pointing Accuracy1arcmin (aprox)
Max Slew Rate3.4º/s
Autoguiding Ratex0.25-x1 Sideral
Power11-15V / 2A
Data InterfacesRJ-45 + RJ11 (ST-4)
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Head Weight10Kg
Counterweight Weight5Kg (x2)
Tripod Weight4Kg
Head Height35cm
Tripod Height97-121cm

It has a handcontrol for pointing, but for atrophotography it is recommended to control it by computer through the EQ Direct interface (acquired from Astro Instein) and the EQMOD driver. It also has a self-guided ST-4 port, although I do not use it because I prefer self-guided pulses also incorporated in EQMOD.

I have disassembled, cleaned, re-greased and reset 3 times, the last in 2017, when I also took to change all bearings.

In 2018 I decided to install the improvement consisting in replacing the secondary transmission gears with the Rowan Astronomy belt kit.

Resultado de imagen de rowan astronomy