Joe Carr
Telescopes
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In November 2008 I purchased a Lunt Solar Systems LS60THa/LS50FHa solar telescope from Island Eyepiece and Telescope Ltd. This Hydrogen-alpha telescope is fitted with a double-stacked set of etalon Ha filters, hence the LS60/LS50 designation. The resulting less than 0.5 Angstrom bandpass provides 3D like enhanced surface detail. I also ordered the B1200 energy rejection diagonal, which results in a wider aperture at the eyepiece end of the scope, and ensures maximum detail can be observed and photographed when observing the Sun.

I mount this scope on the Sky-Watcher HEQ5 Pro mount with the help of some Manfrotto conversion mounting plates and a Vixen-sized rail. This mount is a bit of overkill, however the resulting tracking is rock solid, which is essential for photography.  The precision Crayford-style focuser with 10:1 reducer will support cameras with no problem, and makes focusing much easier.  I use a Tele Vue Sol Searcher finder, which eliminates the tricky part of observing - finding the Sun in the first place!

I mount a Canon T2i dSLR a-focally on the Lunt Ha scope using a Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate in the optical train.  This gives an ideal image scale, with the Sun almost filling the field of view on the camera sensor.

In July 2008 I purchased a Borg 101EDF4.1 Astrograph apochromatic refractor from Hutech Astronomical Products in California. The Borg astrographs have a reputation for high quality build, flexible design, and superb optics.  The Borg astrographs (they make several models) utilize a 4-element design with an ED super reducer optimized for full 35mm sized digital imagers.  The reducer unit on the back of the scope also has a superb Feather Touch focuser, a camera rotator to allow precise framing of objects, and a 2" filter drawer.

HEQ5PROL.gifI also purchased a Sky-Watcher HEQ5 Pro mount at the same time as the Borg Astrograph. The HEQ5 Pro mount comes with a Celestron-compatible goto system. This mount has a reputation locally of representing good value, and it delivers very good tracking without requiring guiding, although it has a guiding port. My motivation for moving to this gear is to upgrade my capabilities for imaging, while reducing the weight of the components I need to lug around.  The Borg 101ED Astrograph weighs a mere 6kg (13lbs), so this is a relatively light weight combination which delivers superb astronomical imaging capability.

Some astronomers look down on "go-to" scopes, but they fit my needs very well.  The HEQ5 combined with the Borg is portable enough to be transported in the car, and can be carried to an observing spot of my choice without strain.  Setup is quick and easy, allowing me to be observing within 15 minutes of arrival.  I don't have to hunt for celestial features using star charts, since the mount electronics reliably point on-target.

The Borg 101EDF4.1 Astrograph delivers about a 4 field of view, which is very good for wide-field photography using the Canon T2i is used at prime focus.  This lends itself very well to photographing fairly large celestial objects.  For smaller objects, it is important to increase the image scale on the sensor in order to achieve acceptable results. I am a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre.  As a group, we operate a well-equipped Observatory which includes a Meade LX200 14" SCT mounted on a Paramount ME.  I used to own a Meade LX200R 8", but sold it when Victoria Centre purchased their LX200 14".  I now have access to this superior setup virtually anytime I want it. I can take advantage of the superb tracking of the Paramount ME, which gives me prime focus photography through an f/10 3,556mm focal length scope with near-flawless tracking and guiding.  This setup is perfect for photographing small objects such as planets, planetary nebulae, and smaller galaxies. Have a look on my Zenfolio - Joe Carr gallery for some examples of this type of work.  The Meade LX200 14" can also be equipped with Hyperstar optics, which turns it into an f/2 imaging scope.

 

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Revised: January 06, 2014

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