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Equipment

Stuff I own now...

At the moment of reviewing this page for the last time (August 2014), for deep-sky imaging I am mostly using a DUAL scope system, with two FSQ scopes and two STL11k CCD cameras. Actually, this also means 2x of a bunch of things (2xRoboFocus, 2x focal reducers, etc).

This allows me - and it's trickier than it may seem at first - to collect twice the data in the same amount of time. For my nightscape photography, I use a couple of Canon 5D Mk2's, but not in parallel :-)

More specifically, this is what I use/have at this moment:

  • Takahashi EM-400 mount (love it!).
  • Takahashi EM-200 mount (love it as well! This one's in Spain, so I can also do some astrophotography when I travel there).
  • 2 x Takahashi FSQ-106 EDX refractors (a perfect match for the STL11k CCD).
  • 2 Orion ShortTubes 80mm for guiding - one here in the US and one in Spain (why travel with a guidescope when you can just have one "there"?)
  • 2 x SBIG STL-11000 Monochrome CCD cameras with 1st gen Astrodon LRGB + Ha filters.
  • 2 x Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The Mk2 is an amazing DSLR camera. My workhorses for night-time photography.
  • Canon EOS 40D IR/UV filter - also mainly for night-time photography.
  • 2 x Orion StarShoot AutoGuider guiding CCDs.
  • Assorted Canon and Sigma lenses, from 10mm to 200mm (primes, telephoto, etc)

I also have a load of accessories such as the two Takahashi focal reducers I mentioned earlier, or the extender for the FSQ, a FlipFlat (to generate flat field images), a TAKometer (to control camera angle from the computer), a TeleVue Powermate x4 I barely use, two RoboFocus focusers, a Moonlite electronic focuser also sitting on a shelf, a whole bunch of eyepieces, dozens of adapters of all sizes and colors (well, they're almost all black :-), and a long etc of "stuff"...

If I were to include EVERYTHING I take with me to an imaging session I'd also have to include my HP Beat laptop, five deep-cycle marine batteries (to power up laptop, mount, cameras, robofocus, etc), two battery packs (I use them only in case of emergency or for other stuff non-astro related while I'm out on a hilltop or camping), portable chair/table, a pair of binoculars, a green laser pointer that I practically never use, miscellaneous camping stuff - including a large tent/canopy - and some other "utility" gear as I call it. Oh, and hundreds of cables, adapters and what not.

Also, my good old 2006 Acura MDX played a huge role in my astro outings, of course - having driven well over 60,000 miles just going places to do astrophotography. The MDX however was totaled after I ran into a poor deer in a fast highway late August 2012. The car had almost 130,000 miles when that happened, but I'm sure it could have gone to another 130k if this unfortunate incident never happened. I came out okay from the accident by the way, although the poor deer didn't make it... Neither my car. The replacement was a 2009 Honda Pilot Touring that I've got in January 2013 which so far has been behaving like a champ.

Stuff I've owned in the past

Here's a complete list of all the astro gear I've owned at some point or another, including gear I currently own, in no particular order:

Cameras:

  • SBIG ST2000XCM
  • Canon 400D camera
  • Canon 450D camera
  • Canon 40D camera - modified IR/UV filter
  • Canon 5D Mark II camera
Telescopes:
  • Takahashi FSQ106EDX
  • Takahashi FS152
  • Takahashi Mewlon 300
  • Orion 80mm ED refractor
  • Televue NP101-is refractor
  • Celestron C11 reflector
  • Celestron C9.25 reflector
  • Vixen VC200L
Mounts and tripods:
  • Orion Sirius EQ-G mount
  • Takahashi EM-400 mount
  • Takahashi EM-200 mount
  • AstroPhysics AP900 mount
  • Many different tripods of "assorted" quality.

Pictures of stuff

Picture Perfect


My "Signature gear". The FSQ and the STL right before an imaging session at Dinosaur Point in 2009.

FSQ106 and STL11k


More of the same, here at Henry Coe State Park, also in 2009. This is the equipment that has produced almost all of my most popular images.

NP101 and C11


The Televue NP101-is refractor and the Celestron C11 on top of the EM-400 mount. 2008

NP101 and C11 and...


The NP101 and the C11, now also with the Short Tube 80 on top showing how NOT to load 3 scopes on the same mount. GSSP 2008

C 9.25


The C9.25 with the STL working "hard" at home - all surrounded by street lights!

Foursome


The FSQ106, an FS-78, C9.25 and the short-tube. What's the point? :-)