Astronomy Is Out Of This World
My Journey To The Stars
The idea of owning a telescope was not something I had even given a thought about until I was talking to one of my work clients who had just been given a Telescope for his 50th Birthday. I thought what a great gift and that sowed the seed for my journey to the stars. I was 47 at the time and thought I would suggest that to my wife for my as an idea for my 50th birthday present.
However the idea of getting a scope was now in my mind and within a short time I had purchased my first scope from Ebay in July 2013. I collected my Skywatcher 200p and EQ5 mount from the seller from Canvey Island, Essex. Virtually unused by the college student seller I was very happy with being the successfull winning bidder. It came fully boxed and was like new. I loved it.
In The Beginning
Skywatcher 200p and Eq5
At the time my wife and I lived in Grays, Essex. I really did not have a clue as to what I was doing, no idea about Polar alignment, where the North star was, or how to find it. Light pollution was very bad but I made do as did not know any different. With the help of several books and You Tube the learning curve began.
I remember how pleased I was at seeing the Orion nebula for the first time. I had a big smile that night.
Within a short time I had fitted an RA motor to the Eq5 mount and began learning how to control the Telescope with a laptop and a Playstation style controller.
Start into Imaging
It was not long before I started to look into how to take photos of what I was looking at and so the beginning of my Astrophotography journey started. "Altair" was the first image I captured on 8th September 2013. It was taken with a standard Canon 550d DSLR camera body attached direct to the SW200p with a T adaptor. From this time I was hooked.
It was not long after that I went down the Web Camera road to capture Planet images. My time on Planetary imaging has so far been very minimal with a poor image of Saturn and a few images of Jupiter (see Gallery Images) but I am sure I will look at this avenue again in the future.
The Eagle has landed
I did take few images of the Moon as this is a fairly easy subject to take and test equipment. I was getting into Astrophography but still only at the very beginning of the steep leaning curve. I find that Astrophotography is so rewarding when you see the final picture coming together after hours of work to capture the images. I am no expert but thankfully there are people out there who are, and through the internet/books I can hopefully continue my journey and improve my own knowledge and continue to enjoy this hobby. It can be very frustrating at times for sure.
The Big Move
At the end of March 2014 we moved from Grays to a Village in Suffolk. I had already upgarded my Mount to an EQ6 Pro with Skywatcher ST80 Guide Scope and in the Summer of 2014 I purchased my second scope, this time a second hand Skywatcher ED80 Pro, which came with an upgraded TS Focuser.
I was using a Canon 550D with Backyard EOS software to capture images but at present I use a Mono ATIK460ex, Atik Filter Wheel FW2 and SGPro software.
A Wonderful Wife
Pulsar 2.2m Observatory Dome
In May 2017 I had a Pulsar Observatories 2.20m Dome delivered which has transformed the way I now image. No more setting up and packing away dew covered equipment at 3am in the morning. I opted for the Rigel Pulsar Dome drive motor, this rotates the dome which is synchronised to the Telescope. I manullay open the dome shutter but the Shutter Motor Drive could always be added in the future. Please see the "Dome" section for details of the installation. Within 15 minutes I can now be all up and running and operating the Dome, Scope and Camera all from my Study or Lounge.
A selection of Images taken over the course of my journey in this hobby are shown in the Gallery. When I first showed my wife my first attempt at the Horsehead Nebula she did not believe I had taken it.
Some of the images take hours of data capture often over several nights with software ensuring that the Telescope Mount is perfectly aligned to the same co-ordinates on a return to the same target.
I hope you enjoy reading about Journey to the Stars and my continuing learning of this fascinating hobby can be followed in my Blog.
I am more than happy to answer questions if I can and appreciate comments or suggestions, but remember I am not an expert, I am learning like many others. If I get stuck I ask questions. There are some excellent forums on line which I will be including details of in "Helpful Links" page at some point in the future.
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