Current setup – spring 2023

The setup consists of two scopes on two mounts – one for lunar / planetary, the other for deep sky.

1. Optics

Both instruments are refractors: the Takahashi FS-60CB and the FSQ-85ED. The focal length of the FS-60CB varies from 355mm to a whopping 2m; used for photos of the solar system. The FSQ-85ED f/6.2 has a 2°x3° FOV and a motorised focuser; used for deep sky photography.

2. Mounts

The mount that carries the planetary scope is the Takahashi Teegul SP3 EQ. This is a tiny equatorial mount motorised in RA only that provides surprisingly good tracking at high focal lengths. Very small, ultra-light setup successfully used to photograph the 2019 total solar eclipse from Chile.

The deep-sky mount is the ZWO AM5 EQ. This is a tiny mount weighing only 5kg that is equipped with a harmonic drive system capable of carrying heavy loads. It is controlled through an app and provides polar alignment even if the pole is not visible. Fully integrated with ZWO cameras, autoguiding included.

The manufacturer provides an error graph (24h) for each unit, guaranteed to be less than 20”. The periodic error is not really periodic, meaning it can not be compensated by playing it backwards. Autoguiding for long exposures (90s+) is imperative for harmonic drive mounts.

3. Cameras

The planetary camera is the ZWO 224MC and the deep sky camera is the ZWO 071MC – both color APS-C sensors. Controlled through the ASIair+ app.

Pixel size and focal length ratio needs to be calculated and thank Gawd for chat gpt cause now you can ask it to do the work for you and provide clear numbers that can guide you further.

4. Controller

The ZWO ecosystem is controlled by the ASIair+ device which handles *everything* from polar alignment to camera control, guiding, aligning and stacking. The interface is an app on your device and it solves plates.

5. Power

Power is supplied by a 220Wh source from Revolt. It is advised to power the mount and the ASIair+ separately, and not one through the other. I found that powering the ASIair+ from the mount is glitchy (the other way around works fine).

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