MY ASTRONOMY PAGE
Welcome to my Astronomy Page!
This page is dedicated to one of my favorite new/old hobbies: Amateur Astronomy.
Sky and Telescope and Astronomy are excellent places to start learning about telescopes and astronomy.
This page will be updated with LOTS of new stuff soon.
I had been interested in telescopes ever since one of my cousins let me borrow his department-store refractor when I was 13 or so. I had been thinking about getting a telescope of my own for years, and finally decided to buy a Meade ETX.
I chose the ETX for the portability, and the RA drive (which was one of my requirements). AFTER I got it, I discovered Mike Weasner's excellent page dealing with the ETX! I had never realized that these little 'scopes were so popular, but now that I've had mine for a few years I can see why (pun intended)! I would have bought the ETX in spite of the problems some have had with them, but would probably have waited for the ETX-125/EC if I had had any clue it might be coming out a few months later...
I have not had the problems with my ETX that many others have reported. The baffle loosened, but I was able to reattach it with R/C servo tape and it has not shifted since.
I began modifying my ETX from the beginning. I started with a MicrostarII+ drive controller from a company that is now out of business, a Daisy point sight, and a Tasco Bantam shotgun sight to replace the pitiful finder that came with the ETX.
I still love the ETX, but I also love my Celestron Nextstar5! I refuse to enter the debate of Meade vs Celestron, vs whoever BTW.
The N5 is a great little scope. I almost got the 8", but after lugging THIS one around in a hardshell case for a while I'm glad I didn't!
Here is my first real attempt at Lunar photography with the N5. This is prime focus with an X10 wireless camera, on a very hazy night... Snappy processed live image at 1500x1125, then sized down from there. The thumbnail below will take you to a 640x480 image.
I've recently glued a 37mm adapter ring to a Logitech webcam and I think I will get better results. One of these days I hope to get a REAL astrocam like SBIG...
If you want to see the 1500x1125 image click here ...
I am really looking forward to trying this on a clearer night. I have the parts to do EP projection, and hope to get some shots of Mars in the next few weeks.
Here's a Streaming RealMedia file of the 2000 Lunar Eclipse. I'd love to show you the .avi, but it's 360+ Meg. I'll e-mail it to you if you want, but I'd rather send you a CD (and your ISP would prefer that too!)
Clicking on the thumbnails below will bring up a larger image (I'm trying to make the pages load faster).
This was an early shot with the ETX on a Bogen tripod, but I found the Meade tripod works MUCH better (and lets me use the Bogens for the 35mm and a camcorder). The second picture was my first setup for an evenings "observing".
This is my "portable observatory". Basically a $41.00(US) Hillary dome tent, but does a good job of keeping those cool breezes away! There's also room for a sleeping-bag (barely)... Note the laptop in the first picture.
This is my home-built bracket for using the Epson digital camera (which is MUCH lighter than the Pentax). This allows me to use eyepiece projection with the Meade 45 degree erecting prism, and take terrestrial photographs that are oriented properly.
As you might have noticed I also have modified a Daisy BB-gun sight for use with the telescope, but as usual I did something a little different! I carved a dovetail out of a piece of scrap aluminum, with a slight taper, so I can slip the sight off when the 'scope goes in the Hard-shell case.
I've removed the factory Meade finderscope and installed a Tasco Bantam S2.5 X 20 shotgun scope. I didn't like the idea of using the plastic Meade mount to hold the Bantam, especially with the pressure placed on it by the foam in the hardshell. While I was at Wal-Mart looking for the Bantam, I spotted a few 'scope mounts on the rack. The one I chose is a Weaver #49515 for $10.00 (US) mounted with High-strength/ High-temp mount tape from Radio Shack (well, it's really 3M tape, but you get the idea). I have added a second rail to my Nextstar5 so I can use the same finder on either scope.
These were just messing around shooting the trees in the front yard through the ETX! The Epson camera was used with the 26mm Plossl in the configuration shown above. The Oak leaf is across the street (about 100') and the treetrunk is about 25' from the telescope.
This picture of a Dogwood bloom was taken with my TeleVue 32mm Plossl and the Logitech Quickcam Pro. This bloom was about 15' from the scope, and these shots were taken through a single-pane storm window in My Studio...
Here are a couple of eyepiece-projection digital grabs of the Moon taken with the Epson camera. These are using the supplied Meade 26mm Plossl that gives 48x magnification for the ETX.
While this is not technically astrophotography, I thought this was a neat shot. One New Year's Eve I was at a friends house and, while their guests were drooling over the ETX on the back porch, "someone" was launching fireworks in the street in front of their house. I had my Epson digital camera and, just for grins, decided to see if I could catch the skybursts. This was a handheld shot, with the camera on automatic. I couldn't get this shot intentionally to save my tailfeathers!
Yes that IS Orion, with the Moon on the left, although the .jpg title IS a little tongue-in-cheek! Now I have to play around with the camera more trying to get constellation shots. Hmmm, maybe if I piggybacked the digital off the OTA and guide...
A couple of my good friends suggested that I might have faked that shot. I DO love trick photography, but I will always make clear what is a real picture and what is not. Besides, that IS a little overboard for a fake, isn't it? A fake should be believable if you're trying to fool someone, and *I* have a hard time believing that's one frame!
Heres my first Solar photo through the ETX!
I have a filter for the N5 also, and hope to update this page with more pictures soon!
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