Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

Lunt CaK B1200 – New addition to the Imaging Family

April 21, 2009 Leave a comment

As the first part of the general upgrade to my solar imaging equipment I took delivery today of the Lunt CaK B1200 solar diagonal. The Euro price for this unit is currently £977 without shipping while the US price is £603 with shipping – guess where I went shopping! I ordered direct from Lunt in Tucson, Arizona and the unit was in the UK three days later!! The diagonal will be used on my Equinox ED80 and the Vixen 115s (stopped down to 100mm) refractors. Typically, just as the diagonal arrived, the sky clouded over almost immediately so no chance to test it today. There was very little to test it on anyway with just a tiny area of plage in the NW and no proms at all.

The next part of the upgrade will be a Solarscope SF-70 70mm Ha filter unit or the new Lunt 100mm Ha telescope. Not too sure which to go for yet. The Solarscope optical quality is renowned and well tested by the likes of Pete Lawrence, it is clearly a pedigree solar unit. The Lunts have got off to a shaky start with the LS60T and LS50 filters which do not appear to show much more than you can see in a PST and the tuners are certainly far less responsive. They have also failed so far to get rid of the uneven illumination effects unlike the Solarscope filters which have totally even illumination and full-size etalons. Unless the Lunt 100’s get rave reviews and I see some stunning images I will be getting a Solarscope SF-70 in September or October.

Categories: Equipment, Solar

10-9-08 – A PST CaK joins my solar imaging setup

September 10, 2008 Leave a comment

Just bought this used PST CaK from Ben Ritchie. It is a replacement unit for his first PST CaK which was very astigmatic and had to be returned. This one has perfect focus judging by the images Ben has posted on the CN Solar forum and on his own website. I was hoping to be able to give a first light report on its imaging potential today, but the cloud never parted long enough to set everything up.

The CaK scopes allow imaging of a layer of the chromosphere which is cooler and lower than the view via a Ha filter. The Calcium K wavelength is at 393.4 nanometres and allows views of super granulation cells. Emerging flux regions can sometimes be seen forming in this layer before they become visible in Ha light and active region detail can persist in the Calcium view long after detail has been lost in Ha.

Categories: Equipment, Solar

Lots of New Toys!

Back in July of last year I decided it was time to get back into amateur astronomy. I joined the British Astronomical Association and took out a substantial loan to buy equipment that would serve all of my developing interests within the subject. Mid Life Crisis ? Well, perhaps, but it was something I had been planning to do for a long time. I considered that I had done the naked eye/binoculars observing apprenticeship and I wanted to be able to see more and further than before. I also wanted to get into the exciting world of astrophotography now that the equipment is relatively affordable and of high quality.

So what equipment did I buy ? Well I had always loved the crispness and contrast of views through a good quality refractor and they require no cooling down time prior to use so I bought a Vixen ED 115s 4.5″ apochromat 890mm (F7.7) as the main imaging/observing scope and a Skywatcher Equinox ED 80 3.1″ apochromat 500mm (F6.25) as a portable imaging and observing scope which could also act as the guidescope for the Vixen when doing autoguided photography.

Knowing that I would get into solar astronomy and recording again I bought a secondhand Coronado Ha PST 40mm solarscope which will let me see prominences, filaments, sunspots and other surface detail.

The mount is a Skywatcher EQ6 SKyScan Pro german equatorial powered by a portable 12v battery power pack.

The imaging cameras include the Atik 16ic mono and an Atik 16HR-C one-shot colour. I also have the Canon 350d dslr which can be mounted on the telescopes.

Other accessories include:

  • Eyepieces: Meade Series 5000 (20mm, 9mm) plus a wonderful WO SWAN 32mm 2″ eyepiece for wide views. Celestron 2X Ultima Barlow.
  • Filters: Astronomik CLS, Ha, OIII, SII, UHC. Baader Solar Continuum. Atik UV/IR Block. Double Variable Polarizing. Aperture Solar Filters (white light)
  • William Optics Dielectric Diagonal
  • Aputure Canon 350d Remote Release/Timer
  • Kendrick DigiFire 7 Dew Heater
  • Celestron Alt/Az tripod for the solarscope
  • Maxim DL and DSLR imaging software
  • Noel’s Photoshop Astronomy Plugins
  • A spare Celestron 12v power pack for the cameras and dew heater
  • A refurbished Toshiba Tecra M3 Laptop
  • Numerous books on the subject!


Categories: Equipment