Joined Jan 12 2010
59 years old
Took up astronomy as a hobby in August 2009. Started with a SkyMax 127 Maksutov Cassegrain on EQ3-2 mount - with hindsight I should have done a bit more research and taken some advice - the mount has been excellent but the scope has been mostly used for measuring periodic error - long focal length and high f ratio. Motorised the mount with my own electronics and software to enable tracking in RA. Have bought a Canon 450D specifically for dabbling in astrophotography, initially with the kit lens (and later the 50mm F1.8, and Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 zoom) on the EQ3, and then through a more recent purchase of a William Optics Megrez 72 FD. Next acquisition was an EQ6 PRO Syncscan mount (Jan 2010).
18th February 2010 added an EQ1 Table Top mount & RA Motor drive, which came complete with a Sky-Watcher Sky Travel 80 achromatic reflector. Surprisingly pleased with results though, once alignment and sagging sorted out. Took to South Africa for use with my EOS - worked a treat although polar alignment was trial, error and adjustment.
31st March 2010 - To complete my range of instruments (well not quite) I now have a Sky-Watcher Explorer 190MN (1000mm f/5.2) Astrograph + 2" (x2) Barlow - which I have to confess was a little bit bigger than I had imagined when I sent off for it. Spent about 10hours making a good solid carrying case for it - see Astro DIY photos. The MN190 has excellent optics, although it pushes the limits of practicallity with an unguided mount.
Applied to join BLAS at end of March.
17/07/2010 For quick look-see scope I have just got an SW Equinox 80 Pro ED to use with the EQ3-2 now that I have mastered the use of setting circles to sufficient accuracy to place objects in the FoV of the scope. This means I can, with a bit of discipline and a stopwatch, use the EQ3-2 as a manual goto mount. The three holes I have made in the grass assist enormously with the speed of accurate polar alignment.
Nov 2010 - Invested (my wife has other views) in the Atik 320e, filter wheel and LRGB filters. Took some mastering of the technique to combine into a final image using Paintshop Pro X3. Bit of a palava setting up now, but I can at least see some significant red in Ha intense objects which is not the case with the unmodified EOS.
Feb 2011 - Bought an SBIG SG-4 standalone autoguider - was originally going for the Sky Watcher unit - but was offered a price I found hard to turn turn down. Use with the ST80 achro, although the narrow field does mean that it needs to be moved off-axis to find a suitable guidestar sometimes. This has been significantly improved by attaching a x0.6 focal reducer which speeds the scope up and increases the effective field of view. I can well recommend.
Mar 2011 - Bought a Sky-Watcher Equinox 120ED Pro and matching focal reducer/flattener. Getting some good results out if guided. A bit slow for using un-guided I suspect. I have made up some objective lens protection cells out of Baader Turbofilm - seems to work pretty well as bonfire ash seems to be coming an increasing problem.