Observatory Equipment

The observatory houses a pier mounted CGE Pro on which a variety of telescopes can be mounted depending of the observing or photography project. Photography is the main enterprise and the different focal lengths of the various telescopes provide different fields of view (same idea as a wide angle lens vs a telephoto lens on a camera). The cameras are all used at prime focal length with some telescopes requiring a field flattener/reducer.

For visual work, the combination of the telescope’s focal length and the eyepiece focal length gives the apparent magnification – the higher the magnification the narrower the field of view. However, there is a practical limit to either the widest field of view or the maximum magnification for any given combination of telescope and eyepiece, so generally the shorter focal length scopes are used for wide field views (also coined “rich field”) and the longer focal length scopes are used for close up, high magnification work.

The other factor in selecting the appropriate telescope resolving capability. The resolution increases with aperture – the larger the aperture, the more detail that can be resolved. So it’s often a trade off between capturing/seeing a wide field vs resolving fine detail.

The 80mm aperture f/6 scope provides the widest views of about 5° with a practical maximum magnification of about 100x. The 280mm aperture f/10 scope is the smallest field of view of a little less than 1° with practical maximum magnification of about 500x. Although the atmospheric limit is about 300x. Exceeding the practical magnification limit just produces larger but still blurry views.

Telescopes

Celestron EdgeHD11 – 280mm f/10 SCT
Astro-Tech 106LE with Moonlite focuser – 106mm f/6.5 APO refractor
Stellarvue SV80st – 80mm f/6 APO refractor

Mounts

Celstron CGE Pro – pier mounted German Equatorial Mount – 40kg payload
Skywatcher EQ5-Pro – portable German Equatorial Mount – 9kg payload

Cameras

Canon T2i DSLR with Astrodon UV/IR astronomical filter
Point Grey Chameleon 1280×960 monochrome

Guiders

Orion Shorttube 80mm
TS-OAG9
Celestron OAG for EdgeHD

Observatory Building

The observatory building is a SkyShed POD. The roof folds back and rotates so the open half shell can be pointed at the sky being observed. The disadvantage to this arrangement is the roof interferes with the view directly overhead – the zenith. To see the zenith, the roof can be completely pushed off.