10 Micron GM1000HPS GEM
Having been using the excellent Avalon Linear Fast Reverse for the last 3 years, I have replaced this with a 10 Micron GM1000HPS in my observatory. Engineering quality is excellent and it is a class leader in accuracy with dual encoders enabling unguided imaging.
10 Micron GM1000HPS Mount in observatory
Mounted on the GM1000HPS is my Takahashi FSQ85 EDX. Attached is the QSI683-wsg8 ccd and between this is the reducer which changes the focal ratio of the scope from F5.3 to F3.9.
Sticking out from the ccd is the guide camera, QHY5L-ii mono, this monitors a star and sends corrections to the mount's tracking in a feedback loop enabling accurate tracking, called 'guiding', for long exposure astrophotography. I am also learning to capture long exposures unguided with the mount's exacting trcaking ability. I have successfully managed 1200s long subs unguided.
On top of the scope is a counter balance weight to help balance the scope and the imaging equipment in both Right Ascension and Declination - perfect balance is critical in achieving accurate guiding and tracking performance.
The Takahashi FSQ85 EDX, or "Baby Q", is an optically fast widefield astrograph with outstanding optics and an integral flat field due to its Petzval quadruplet design. It is generally recognised as a leader in its class. It is a joy to use with tight stars and first class apochromatic performance.
Takahashi FSQ85 EDX
Tha Takahashi FSQ106 EDXIII is a premier flat field astrograph with a native FL at F5.0 and a large image circle. It can be reduced to operate at a very fast F3.6. Like its smaller sibling , the FSQ106 is a class-leader and a joy to use.
Takahashi FSQ106 EDXIII
The William Optics FLT132 is another premier apochromatic refractor. Its longer focal length provides a contrasting image scale to the widefield Baby Q, giving me options for imaging smaller galaxies and the ability to focus on detail within large nebula. It is fitted with a Starlight Instruments Feather Touch focuser.
William Optics FLT132
QSI 683-wsg ccd camera
From the QSI website: "The QSI 683 camera uses a 8.3 megapixel Kodak Enhanced Response full-frame CCD image sensor with microlens technology. The high quantum efficiency, wide dynamic range and low noise performance make the QSI 683 ideally suited to a broad range of demanding imaging applications. The QSI 683wsg includes the following: 8.3mp Kodak KAF-8300 sensor USB 2.0 High-Speed, 16-bit output Dual read rates of 800kHz and 8MHz Air cooling to 45C below ambient Mechanical even-illumination shutter with shutter speeds down to 30ms Internal 5-position Color Filter Wheel Integrated Guider Port."
I have the wsg8 version with integrated guider port and 8 position filter wheel for Luminance, Red, Green, Blue, Ha, OIII, SII with the eighth position empty.
SOFTWARE & HARDWARE
The choice of software for mount control, image capture, guiding and processing depends on your imaging objectives. There are many great suites of software to use for imaging and processing. Essential to integrate the various software programmes for astrophotography and automated imaging is the Ascom platform which aims to provide 'plug-and-play' control.
I use the software developed by "mworion", MountWizzard, to interface my observatory pc with my mount, GitHub MountWizzard, MountWizzard and Model Creator by Astromi.ch, Astromi.ch are used to build and create models upon which the unguided imaging rests. For image capture and observatory automation I use Sequence Generator Pro: this programme has really revolutionised my imaging and controls my roof, cloud sensor, sequencing of exposures and filter control of my QSI683 ccd camera, auto-focusing, plate solving (via PinPoint), framing and calibration frames.
Other equipment and software sits in the 'background' - DC3Dreams' PinPoint; Lakeside Astro focus motor; AAG Cloudwatcher and Lunatico Astronomia's Solo (for weather control); HitecAstro's Ascom compliant roof controller and motor, Astromi.ch MGBox for time, refraction and temperature data for my mount, MGBox; a purpose built USB relay switch 'Boot Mount' built by Thomas Acker for my mount's power control (see below) and the brilliant Dragonfly from Lunatico Astronomia for power control and scheduling. TeamViewer ise used to interface for remote PC management and observatory control.
For processing the raw image files I use PixInsight from Pleiades Astrophoto.