Conlin Hill Observatory -- 42 7' N, 71 54' W



Wish List  



OK, so I over-spent my budget...

Wish List as of July 2005

In November 2004 I picked up a used ST8 complete with guiding chip figuring I'd sell off my ST8i. Well, I found that my ST8i produced cleaner and more detailed images than the ST8! I decided to keep both and I've been using the ST8 as a guide camera which I use through the piggyback ETX90. This is an excellent guider and the big field of view means that I spend very little time calibrating, aquiring a guide star and guiding. I can't imagine an easier guiding setup to use and I guess I'll continue using it as long as I'm happy with the guiding resolution provided by this setup.

In June 2005 I sold off my 201xt autoguider, the electronic eyepiece, a laser SCT collimator and a bunch of other stuff I had lying around collecting dust. I used the proceeds to purchase an Astronimik 14nm HA filter, a copy of Images Plus image processing software, and a RoboFocus precision focuser! These have all turned out to be excellent additions to my repertoire of hardware and software tools. So all I have left from my past lists below is the wide field setup, all the other wishes have been obtained! That said, I have quite a few new wishes, the list is not likely to ever be completed!

  .

WIDE FIELD IMAGING

I like taking wide field shots. Sometimes I use the ETX70 and sometimes I use SLR lenses, in both cases I piggy back on the LX200. However, these achromat options introduce false color and bloated stars that makes the end results less than ideal. I would like to pick up a nice short focal length Apo scope or maybe a mirror based 300mm camera lens. I'm considering using a Takahashi FS-60C for wide field imaging. Small, light, and fairly inexpensive for an APO, this is a nice scope. I should be able to get the OTA, field flattener and mounting rings for around $1000. My dream wide field scope is the Televue NP101. It's beyond my current price range and I'll have to save for quite a while to get one but they're really nice. Another great wide field apo is the Tak Sky 90.

  .

ADAPTIVE OPTICS / AO7

Adaptive optics should eliminate the last of my guiding issues and allow me to take very high resolution galaxy shots (I love galaxies). BUT it will mean a return to the frustration of finding good guide stars and dealing with using the ST8 camera which is less sensitive than my ST8i. Also, I'm not sure CCDSoft will like having it rotated to be out of square with the forks - it doesn't like this with the guiding setup but maybe the AO setup is more tolerent of it. If not I'll also need a copy of MaximDL/CCD. Ugh, I'm completely torn on this one, but then again, I'm done spending for a while so I've got plenty of time to think about it...

  .

MOUNT UPGRADE

A nice new mount would be fantastic, but probably not in the cards for a while. I like the Mountain Instruments offerings because they are big and can take big loads. The Paramount ME from Bisque is the ultimate, but Astro Physics, Losmandy and Takahashi all make great mounts too. I'm not a good star-hopper so something with computerized Go To capability, or at least an accurate RA and DEC readout is a must.

  .

SOLAR PRIMINANCE FILTERS

I've never looked through a Solar HA filter before but the images of Solar priminances are astounding and I'd love to get a decent Solar observing setup. I already have a white light solar filter but that only shows Sunspots. Coronado has some very nice but extremely expensive scope / filter combinations. Lumicon has a setup to enable Solar observing in HA light for the LX200 10" for a little less than $1000. The price is right, I might just go for this on my next round of purchasing!

Wish List as of June 2003

June 2003: In June 2003 my wife made the statement "too bad you can't take images in color". Not one to pass up such an opportunity, and knowing we had just received our tax refund, I immediately ordered a CFW-8 and HA filter! The color filter wheel is now off the wish list and on the equipment list! I also managed to get my hands on a copy of Photoshop 7 so the Maxim/DL software need is diminished as well. I continuously struggle with the 201xt and I'm afraid I'll have to add a decent guider to the wish list. Here's what I'll be after the next time I've got some money to spend:

Focusing I spend a lot of time during every session on focussing. A Robo-focus would make a very nice addition to my setup. I may need software too so I'm planning to spend $700-$800 on this, if I'm lucky I'll be able to get it cheaper.
   
Autoguider Upgrade The 201xt is a good value considering I only paid $250 for it, but in the long run, it's just too hard to use and too unreliable. A nice guiding setup like the SBIG STV with the built in viewscreen would make guiding sooooo much better and easier. I might be able to pick up a used one for around $1100.
   
Wide Field I like taking wide field shots. Sometimes I use the ETX70 and sometimes I use SLR lenses, in both cases I piggy back on the LX200. However, these achromat options introduce false color that makes the end results less than ideal. I would like to pick up a nice short focal length Apo scope or maybe a mirror based 300mm camera lense. I'm still considering using a Takahashi FS-60C for wide field imaging. Small, light, and about as inexpensive an APO as you've going to find, this is a nice scope. I should be able to get the OTA and mounting rails for less than $1000.

Update: 2/8/03

Since my last spending spree (shed, pier, lumber, 201xt AutoGuider, ETX90 guidescope), the Minister of Finance has put the clamps on. All I can do right now is dream, but I'm saving my pennies. In June 2002 I quit smoking after 20 years! That's $200 per month I can now spend on other things...
I've removed the Takahashi 60mm scope from the list since I've purchased some screw mount SLR lenses. These mount directly to the SAC7 and I'm getting some interesting wide field results for very low $$ thanks to ebay.

In addition, I saw and could not resist an SBIG ST8i on AstroMart for slightly more than $2000. An excellent camera for an excellent price. It's black and white so a filter wheel is now on the list.

Wish List as of February 2002

   
Processing / Focusing Software    I use Picture Window for imaging processing right now, but in addition, I need software that is a little more tuned to AstroImaging and can help with focusing. I'm leaning heavily toward Maxim/DL which will run about $400.
   
Focusing Hardware How about a Robo-focus to go with that software? That'll cost about $375.
   
Filter wheel The new ST8i is eventually going to need color capability (and maybe a nebular filter too...). Most likely the SBIG CFW8 which will come in near $1000 new.
   


Wish List as of November 2002

Wide Field Scope Although I should eventually be able to get nice shots of planetary nebulae and other small objects with the LX200, I'd like to do some wide field stuff also. I'm considering using a Takahashi FS-60C for wide field imaging. Small, light, and about as inexpensive an APO as you've going to find, this is a nice scope. I should be able to get the OTA and mounting rails for less than $1000.
   
Processing / Focusing Software    I use Picture Window for imaging processing right now, but in addition, I need software that is a little more tuned to AstroImaging and can help with focusing. I'm leaning heavily toward Maxim/DL which will run about $400.
   
Focusing Hardware How about a Robo-focus to go with that software? That'll cost about $375.
   
Camera Upgrade I'm thinking an SBIG ST237 would make a nice next camera. It's small but has a bigger field of view than the SAC7, it can be binned, and uses a filter wheel. Definitely not the last camera I'll ever own, but it should help get me familiar with the features the big camera's have. Even used we're looking at around $1500.

Home   Biography   Equipment   Techniques   Observatory   Gallery   Wish List   Favorites