Tasco 80mm Refractor
My first telescope was a TASCO 60mm refractor. This was a birth day present, hence I have always had a stronger affection for the winter constellations. However, the majority of the time I hunted planets and sun spots.
You cannot imagine the excitement of finding your first planet. All I really knew was that this object looked like a disk and wouldn’t focus to a point?
The Sky at Night and Sir Partick Moore introduce me to the vast and amazing world of astronomy.
Life, marrage children and my career all took center stage, however, I never really left the hobby. The Sky at Night and Sir Patrick Moore was always there along with the many NASA probes and landers that were enhancing our understanding of our place in the solar system and universe.
Coming back to Astronomy, buying a Telescope
In my late 30’s I suddenly reallised that I could buy my own telescope! Sounds strange I know. However, your family reaches a certain maturity and money becomes available to spend on other things! A telescope was one of them. At that time everyone was converting web-cams into astro-cams and to be far they made great planetary cameras.
I upgraded my mount to a Losmandy G11, pictured here on the right. The telescope is a Vixen 105 refractor. It gave excellent view of the planets, Jupiter in particular.
Williams Optics Zenith star 105mm ED
I actual bought another Vixen which was a huge mistake. It was the 130mm NEO Achromat and gave nothing but purple haze everywhere! This was returned and I purchase my first Williams Optic Zenith star, the 105mm. My wife loved the look of this telescope with it black and gold finish. It was an excellent performer to. Apart from the focuser that would tend to slip in the night because the paint finish was too smooth.
Takahashi – Sky90
And so it began, my long love affair with Takahashi. Working for a Japanese company gives you a deeper insight into their mindset and culture. Living there only enhanced it further. My first Takahashi was a sky90 bought secondhand here in Europe. Wow, what a telescope. Not perfect by any means, however, it took colour correction to a whole new level. Suffered a little from field curvature with its fast optics, however, that was to be expected.
It seems quite a long time ago now, however, I had the privilege of living and working in Japan. Whilst there I purchased this beautiful telescope from Starbase near Akihabara Station. This is a true APO of the highest class. Colour corrected into the near infrared spectrum. A huge 4 inch focuser comes as standard. Therefore, the focal reducer is also huge. The native focal length is 1000mm @ F7.7 which reduces to F5.6 when the focal reducer is fitted.
This also comes with its own spacer rings to allow adjustment of the focal length to suit the DSO that you want to image.
As you can see I have added the Pegasus focuser with temperature sensor to achieve perfect focus everytime. This is really a quality of life addition that allows me to further automate my image capture process.
Mewlon M250 Special Tube Ring Version
The famous Mewlon M250 was another telescope that I couldn’t resist whilst living in Japan. This is the Dall-Kirkham variant of the classical Cassegrain design. An F10 beast that is perfect for imaging the Planets or the smaller DSO’s (Planetary Nebula). Normally these are built with a puck for mounting at the bottom of the telescope. I however, saw a special version that they built for an American customer. After a lot of negotiation I managed to convince them to build another one for me. so this is an M250S = special tube ring version.
Built-in Electronic Focuser
The main advantage of this telescope is the built-in electrical focuser. Focus is achieved by moving the secondary which is very stable, fast and precise given the long focal length the focus zone is huge!
The telescope has been modified with a corrector baffle tube that is specifically designed by Takahashi to increase the usable imaging field with pin point stars, right to the corners of your imaging sensor. Today these are now known as CDK’s or Corrected Dall-Kirkhams.
Takahashi Epsilon 130ED
By now you should have spotted a pattern here?
Yes, I am an unashamed Takahashi fan!
However, I have an admission to make! The only reason I own this telescope is because I screwed up big style! I sold my BabyQ……
Don’t ask me why as it’s too painful to recall.
What I can tell you is that I upgraded from a Sky90 to the BabyQ to get those perfect flat fields with pinpoint stars and it delivered in spades…
This beauty caught my attention. Listed as new from a nice gentleman in London, UK. I convinced my wife that we needed a city break and the rest is history.
Don’t let it’s size fool you. This is an unbelievably powerful and fast telescope operating at F3.3. A true Astrograph with its Hyperbolic main mirror and dedicated ED corrector lens.
Easy to setup and use when paired with the Ioptron CEM60 this is essentially my portable imaging system.
Omegon RC355 (Ritchey-Chretien)
The Omegon RC355 is a German branded GSO RC. A true Ritchey-Chretien telescope with two hyperbolic mirrors that are designed to achieve a flat field with pinpoint stars over a large imaging circle without the use of any corrector lenses. Certainly big enough to cover an APC size sensor and possibly a full size sensor with some aberration at the edges of course.
These telescopes are the choice of the professional astronomer because the residual primary aberration is astigma. Now that might sound strange to amateur astronomers! However, consider this, you can still conduct photometry & accurate position measurements on an astigmatic star. The same cannot be said for a star exhibiting coma.
My telescope has many improvements made to it that tune its performance and enable efficent collimation of the mirrors when needed.
The stock focuser has been greatly modified and improved with 3D printed parts and a small piece of brass. You can read more about this later in another post.
The well known Astrophysics reducer is used to bring the telescope down to 2135mm focal length and F6. This makes it perfect for my favorite subject, Galaxies.